Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Selling books and selling out
I don't want to talk about Rumsfeld and his resignation. We kicked that horse to death over at Barry Eisler's fine new blog.
No, I want to talk about book promotion.
Tommy Franks showed up on MSNBC's Hardball, and what fascinated me was not Tommy's fellating the boss with the giant-headed Chris Matthews. No, what caught my eye was the strategic placement of Tommy's five million dollar memoir. Not one, but two copies flanked his military noggin, both ready for prime time. (I couldn't find a screen snap, so I threw together a facsimile in Photoshop, but trust me, it was this obvious.)
Joe Konrath has covered book promotion over at his place, and he's all for it. Really. But even Joe draws the line at this kind of blatant shill. In his excellent guide for conference panelists, he tells writers that it's inappropriate to prop their book up on the dais.
But here's Tommy Franks being interviewed about six generals' claim that the management of this war has been so disastrous in its incompetence that heads should roll, and Tommy sees it as a great opportunity to push a little paper.
I have a disclaimer to make here. I was one of the writers considered, very briefly, to co-write Tommy's memoirs, and if it had been my name in small type on the cover you can bet I'd be all up in this shameless promotion. Go Tommy Go!
But it was still chutzpa on a major scale. If it was me, and I was being interviewed about something as serious as mixing a fine vodka martini (I have few other areas of expertise), I don't think I'd put two copies of Beneath A Panamanian Moon up behind my jug-eared head.
One copy, maybe. But two?
Even whores have things they won't do.