I've been using some of what I have learned in that process to tailor my own media releases, catalogue and how I approach potential review outlets. I've been privileged this year to have been taken under the wing by several successful people in the industry who have shared a lot of information and contacts with me. So many, in fact, that I need to tailor the promotion of each book because of the scale of the current projects. I have learned a lot about the review/publicity to sales ratio and have been tracking the success of different methods I have trialled this year.
One of the important things that has really been highlighted for me, is to tailor each request to the outlet or person I am approaching. Because my review copies are limited, I want to make sure that each free copy I send out works the best for me. This is why I research the outlets and the people I am sending my product to. I sent A book of Endings out to different places to where I sent Horn.
This all by way of contextualising something that happened to me yesterday. I've been very verbal in parts of this blog and elsewhere about works by self identifying Horror writers. You know, the stuff that's highly purile, simplistic, out for shock value without any depth to actually land a real punch and that revels in the torture, debasing and dehumanising of women. I haven't gone on about it lately cause I discovered this thing I could do, I could stop reading it.
Which is not the same as saying I don't enjoy dark fantasy, horror and thriller elements to stories. A lot of what I published this year was of that nature.
Anyway, I've had a tough week. I am tired and stressed and harried. And yesterday, I pulled a review copy sent to ASif! out of my PO Box. Very nice. I'd followed a bit of drama surrounding this work, piecing together tweets and facebook statuses and comments and replies. So it was nice to see that the book had made it out into the world. And I like to be able to support small press.
However, accompanying this book was a sealed envelope, inside which was a christmas card with a headless woman, scantily clad in christmas themed colours and a dripping knife with the inside that said "Have a bloody good Christmas" and when I turned it over the picture was titled "Santa's Little Bitch". As I said, I was tired and stressed out and as I skimmed this, my experience was: oh look, another objectification of the female body that doesn't deserve a face have a bloody good christmas santa's little bitch.
So what I walked away with was ... wait, did I just get called a bitch? No, not me, her. Oh. They've sent me this nice christmas card and they want me to promote their book for them and they haven't remotely considered that a woman might find that a little bit offensive.
I was tired, didn't sleep well and wasn't sure if I was over reacting. So I held off on this post. I tweeted and facebooked it and a lot of people seemed to agree that it was offensive and unpleasant.
Here's the thing. The book, clearly, is not aimed at me as a reader. And that's fine. I don't have to read it. But something that a publisher should really think long and hard about is, when I send this (request, email, mailout, media release) out to a person who is going to be opening the package (email, letter etc) harried, busy, drowning in other requests and is going to give it 5 secs glance at the end of their day, do I want to risk that those 5 secs could be misinterpreted, offend or be inappropriate to that person? Cause it takes 5 more secs to take the book and put it in the "to the second hand shop" box in my house.
Taking five seconds to read my blog or my facebook or hell, to ask anybody else in the scene, would have suggested that it might have been best to just omit the card from my package. It sure would have saved me being ropable for several hours last night.
I still support small press and I will make the review copy available for review by ASif! reviewers. Am I offended and pissed off that this kind of sexist shit still happens? Hell yes. Did I add it to what I already knew about certain people related to that project (not the publisher/editor) - yeah I did. Do editors and publishers in this country and in the scene in general talk? Yeah they do. Did every one already know about the card fiasco? Yeah they did.