Desperate Measures

I was all set to talk about house stuff this morning because that’s where my brain was.  Then I came across this article on Twitter and have totally changed my mind.

I am really disturbed by this.

So in a nutshell this writer guy has written a thriller about a writer who is driven to such desperation by rejection that he kidnaps an agent’s child in order to get published.  And as a marketing ploy, the author pretended to be his main character and faked a kidnapping for a publicity stunt.

Davis staged and filmed a kidnapping (“I checked with a lawyer first to make sure I wouldn’t get in trouble”) to post on the website, then sent an e-mail to a wide variety of agents. It began: “By the time you receive this, I will have already kidnapped your child.”

Davis eventually sorted through several offers and found a small imprint — South Carolina-based Poinsettia Publishing — willing to publish the book, on the condition that he receives the bulk of the on-line rights.

Sooooo, lemme get this straight.  You go through all these hoops and trouble to stage this huge publicity stunt and you wind up going with…not a real house? Not that there’s anything WRONG with small presses, but with a stunt of that level, obviously he was shooting for the big leagues.

That says to me that there weren’t any really good offers, he still didn’t land an agent (and what agent would sign him after a stunt like this?), and he’s probably failed to accomplish the number one fundamental first step: Write a really good book.

Because, really, while we have ALL written about writers as heroes and heroines at some point in our careers, that’s lame, and by the time we’re professionals, we recognize that it’s lame.  Susan and I were trying to remember the names of ours and realized we blocked it out.  It’s like a thinly veiled autobiography, which is almost never a good idea.  And while writer frustrated by rejection taking drastic measures might hold some measure of appeal to the legion of writers and writer wannabes out there, it’s probably not a situation that would appeal to the broader reading public.

Better to focus your energies on writing a really darn good book and developing your social media platform rather than counting on shock value to get you known.


11 thoughts on “Desperate Measures

  1. I’ve read a few stories with a writer protag and it works well when you need your character to be flexible in location but none of them came across as autobiographical…thank goodness.

    I agree this article is disturbing. Stunts like this always bug me no matter what the arena.

    Good luck on the house stuff 🙂

  2. That’s the worst publicity stunt I’ve ever heard. It’s one thing to make it engaging, it’s another to pretend you’re a criminal and fake kidnap someone. And then to go with a small press company, as if he didn’t just try to pull a ploy like the Why So Serious? from Batman… how weird.

  3. That’s very…disturbing. I can’t believe he would go to those lengths. Wow.

    I’m not sure I agree with not having a writer as your protagonist, though. Stephen King sure got by with it. Oh, wait…the King can get by with just about anything, can’t he? LOL.

    1. Well certainly writers can be protags. But while I know I’ve read some, I can’t think of any memorable ones. Mostly writers are a boring lot. 🙂 And really you can’t use anybody like Stephen King and La Nora as a yardstick because they get their own after their massive success.

        1. My mother calls often and is always like “what are you doing?”
          As someone….Zoe? said this morning…typing on a keyboard is just not all that exciting. Now if she really cared to hear all about the worlds I’m creating and the creatures and the characters like they’re real people (like another writer would), then that would be one thing, but while she’s finally getting to be supportive of the writing, she hasn’t quite graduated to the WHAT I’m writing, so…. we’re back to being boring 😀

  4. I get that imaginative people sometimes will have a warped sense of humor or maybe drama is a better term – I have been called warped in my lifetime so this is not a disparaging remark 🙂 However, being a mother and having been a professional in a position of accepting or rejecting bids (albeit not books) – I can think of no more heinous thing to do than to have a publicity stunt faking the harm of someone’s child. I can understand a book written with his premise in a thriller format and lord knows it has been done, but to take it this a step further is just wrong. Somethings are sacrosanct and it certainly should be our children. Fiction is one thing, everyone goes into it knowing, or should be knowing:), it is fiction – taking the step further and faking it as reality, I cannot say it any stronger, is just wrong. I would even wonder if there would be criminal consequences for this type of behavior. Thanks for sharing today.

  5. His lawyer may have given his stunt a ‘pass’ but that doesn’t mean it was ethical, just, smart, or bode well for ANYONE of note bothering to represent him in the future.

  6. A very disturbing stunt; as a mother, I’m almost disturbed that he got any deal at all out of it. As for writers being interesting protags, well, not so much. We can certainly have a blast with each other, as you say, but writing is one of those lots of work, little of fireworks and excitement kind of things. Katherine Winsor, author of Forever Amber, was asked if she had lived some of the sexual exploits of her heroine. To which she replied, “If I had, I’d have been too busy to write.” I put that quote on my writing notebook when I was 13; it remains one of my favorites.

  7. You’re right about all writers writing about a writer protagonist. I mean why shouldn’t we write about people like us? Mine was a best-selling author helping a homeless has-been actor get back to spotlight.

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