Tag Archives: marketing

Bic Pens & Buying Men’s

I was just reminded, via this video from Ellen Degeneres, about the Bic Pen incident a year or two ago. And it got me thinking about how split marketing to men and women not only warps kids ‘ perspectives of themselves, but how it also actually costs us money. Us being women, who have less of it (as a rule, thanks pay gap) to begin with.

The video’s pretty funny, and very on point. Go Ellen.

But of course, we know, it’s not just about pens. I’ve talked about gendered products and marketing on here more than a little, and realized that one thing I don’t think I’ve blogged about is that I recently went to buy deodorant and realized that the exact same product was being sold in two aisles for a dollar’s price difference. The difference? They were in different aisles. The one in the men’s aisle was a dollar cheaper and fractions of an ounce larger, so I bought it.

The experience opened my eyes in a way that’s made a practical difference to my budget, and since I’m not sure there are many millionaires reading this right now (and for gods’ sake if there are, there’s a PAYPAL DONATE BUTTON IN THE UPPER LEFT HAND CORNER), and Men’s Pocky is a thing, I thought this might be something you all would like to know about.

Also, the Ellen clip was funny.

Man Candy (Because Chocolate is just SO femme)

wpid-bsrigp4cmaavltf.jpgSo, Men’s Pocky is a thing.

If you haven’t tried Pocky: it’s a really awesome chocolate-and-cracker treat from Japan.

However, it’s also apparently a very complicated candy, because I didn’t realize this – and I’m guessing you didn’t, either – but apparently, of all the flavors of Pocky that have ever been invented in the history of Pocky are…wait for it…POISON TO MEN.

But wait! Fear no more, dudes – now you can actually try this magical candy without fear of death. Because this Pocky? This is MEN’S Pocky.

(That sound you hear is me slamming my forehead against the wall. Really, Pocky-manufacturers? MEN’S CHOCOLATE? Because dark chocolate is just WAY TOO GIRLY for men to buy on their own?)

So what happens if a group of people, mixed in their genders, sit down to play girls’ monopoly while eating boys’ Pocky? Do worlds collide? Does the multiverse implode?

Also, sidenote: What does it say about Pocky’s feelings towards men that the flavor designated appropriate for them is the bitter chocolate?

Tracking eBook Sales With Authorgraph

paring down my libraryIf you look off to the right of this blog, you’ll see a drop-down menu from Authorgraph, a service that lets authors sign digital books. I joined up after reading about it a couple months ago, but have been — shall we say — underwhelmed by the number of readers who want to take advantage of the service. As they say on Shark Tank, I’m not sure this is a problem that needed a solution. Whether this is because people are still being educated on what a “digital author signature” looks like or because my readers just aren’t interested, who knows, but I’ve definitely given some thought to taking the plug-in off my page in order to open up some valuable sidebar real estate.

The other day, though, I got an interesting email from the service. It let me know how my books were faring on the Amazon sales ranking lists. One had gone up by several thousand places, another had fallen – and since I haven’t seen other places where this tracking-over-time has taken place, I thought it was interesting that this has now been added to the service.

Amazon Sales Ranking is calculated every hour or so and can fluctuate wildly. Since most self-published books don’t sell over 200 copies within their lifetime (I’m happy to say all but a couple of mine have exceeded that level) selling just a few copies a day is enough to drive a book up by thousands of “ranks,” and checking in on a sporadic basis doesn’t guarantee an accurate picture.

So while its primary use – as a tool for connecting with readers – still hasn’t proven itself to me, Authorgraph’s ability to provide authors with ebook tracking data has definitely become a significant reason for creating and maintaining an account with the service.

Win a $15 Gift Code to ThinkGeek.com!

2014-04-07 11Since Short Frictions, my upcoming short story collection, includes a number of science fiction stories, I thought it would be appropriate to offer a geeky gift code giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ThinkGeek.com is full of fun, nerdy collectibles. T-shirts, toys, robotic knick-knacks and more. Whatever your geeky obsession, from TV shows like Star TrekDoctor WhoGame of Thrones or Breaking Bad to tech-themed house or office gadgetry and beyond, ThinkGeek.com has loads of fun distractions.

From today through June 29th 2014, you can enter the contest by participating in this Rafflecopter giveaway.

Using the above Rafflecopter entry form, join my mailing list, then earn extra “credits” towards winning by sharing this giveaway on Facebook and Twitter – which you can do every day. If you’re already on the mailing list, go ahead and enter your address again – you’ll still only get one copy of each email, and that way your entry will still count towards the giveaway!

List members receive special previews and announcements of upcoming productions and publications, and as always, I promise not to share or sell your email address.

The giveaway results will be announced on June 30th – will you be the winner?

In addition to the giveaway, I’m also currently seeking beta readers/advance reviewers for SHORT FRICTIONS. If you’re interested in an advance copy, writing a review and being thanked in the digital copy’s acknowledgements, please click here to find out more!

The Independent’s New Stance on Gender-Biased Books

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/02/how-to-tell-if-a-toy-is-for-boys-or-girls_n_4372629.html

Graphic from The Huffington Post.

Reading my twitter feed this morning, I saw an article @AndrewDucker posted about the Independent on Sunday’s new policy towards reviewing children’s books:

“Any Girls’ Book of Boring Princesses that crosses my desk will go straight into the recycling pile along with every Great Big Book of Snot for Boys. If you are a publisher with enough faith in your new book that you think it will appeal to all children, we’ll be very happy to hear from you. But the next Harry Potter or Katniss Everdeen will not come in glittery pink covers. So we’d thank you not to send us such books at all.” – Katy Guest, Gender-specific books demean all our children, so the Independent on Sunday will no longer review anything marketed to exclude either sex

In theory, I think this is great idea.* Don’t offer free publicity to books that exclude one gender or another. Unfortunately, in describing how the policy will be executed, Guest stays fuzzy on the details, which makes it hard to figure out exactly what kinds of books — other than those with glittery pink covers – .the Independent on Sunday will no longer be offering column inches to.

While the headline statement – that the books will be excluded based on their marketing – seems fairly clear, I’m not comfortable with how Guest goes on to outline what books might or might not be covered. The Independent on Sunday won’t cover books with sparkly pink covers, but what about blue covers? Does her jibe at “Snot for Boys” includes the kids’ series “Captain Underpants,” which – for a time – was literally the only thing one of my younger cousins would even consider reading? The covers were done in bright, primary-colored colors, if I recall correctly. Would that wind up on the excluded list?

And although Guest speaks well of Harry Potter, as a high-placed member of the literary community, she must be aware that:

“Although she was christened Joanne Rowling, and is known as ‘Jo’ to her family and friends, millions of Harry Potter fans know the best-selling children’s author as ‘J.K. Rowling’.

The use of a pen name was suggested by her publisher, Barry Cunningham. He thought that young boys might be wary of a book written by a woman, so Joanne chose ‘K’, for ‘Kathleen’, the name of her paternal grandmother.”

http://www.jkrowling.com/en_US/#/timeline/pen-name/

Isn’t that a little more of an insidious marketing move than putting glitter on a book’s cover? “Sure, girls, you can be a famous and successful author, but only if you hide your name, because boys probably won’t read your stuff.

What about books with content that specifically promotes gender and class stereotypes? Alloy publishing’s Gossip Girl, with its oversexed rich teens? What about something like A Little Princess, which not only has a gender-specific title, but takes its orphaned heroine from waif to princess? What about The Princess Diaries, for that matter? 

I see Guest’s point. I really do. And I agree with her intention of helping kids access a wider range of books. There’s no reason for books that have wide appeal to be sectioned off into “for her” and “for him” sections. There’s no reason that a boy shouldn’t read Matilda without having to be self-conscious about sparkly pink glitter on the cover, except that some little boys might very much enjoy having a sparkly pink book and some books have themes that might be inclusive but which are appropriate for a sparkly pink book cover. And what about grown-ups? Will the paper still publish reviews that fall under the general category of “chick lit”? (Now that Bridget Jones is back, by the way, are we still calling it “chick lit”?)

Because Guest avoids giving specific examples of the books that will be excluded from review under the new policy and fails to list specific criteria which books must fulfill (other than the “no glitter” thing, and why the hell does she have such an issue with glitter, anyways?), it’s very difficult to see this as something other than a broad stroke to generate positive publicity for the paper. Why restrict the judgment of a book to its cover? What about looking at the content of a book and deciding whether it reinforces positive gender values? (And whose values?) Twilight has completely unobjectionable covers, according to the guideline of gender-based marketing, but they also promote what many consider to be an unhealthy teenage relationship (codependent and borderline emotionally abusive/controlling, according to a star of a new teen franchise, the Divergent books, and written about over and over on the web if you care to do a quick Google search).

There are other layers to exclusionary marketing that Guest doesn’t even touch on. As many authors know, the cover art decision lays far outside a writer’s purview when it comes to most traditionally-published novels. Rather than singling out and punishing a single author, wouldn’t it be more effective to also ban reviews of books from a publisher who endorses gender-marketed books? In most cases, the publisher is the one walking away with the payday, after all.

What about other types of exclusion that demean all readers? Specifically, the publishing industry’s tendency to “whitewash” heroes and heroines on their covers. I don’t want to drag specific authors into the conversation, but I’ve had friends whose books, when published, featured covers showing white people when the character supposedly being portrayed was a person of color. Is that more or less demeaning – both to the reader’s intelligence and the author’s original intention – than a copy of Matilda that comes with a sparkly pink cover?

Overall, I admire what Guest is trying to do. But from my pre-coffee Sunday morning perspective, it seems that (while the motivation for this new reviewing tactic comes from a positive place) it might have been helpful for Guest and the Independent to more clearly outline the solid criteria that, in their eyes, makes a book’s “marketing” identifiable as being for girls or boys – and why this “marketing” is such a valid litmus test. 

Speaking of tests – the real one will be the next time a mega-hit book rocks up the charts and the Independent on Sunday sits out reviewing or covering it in their literary pages. When that happens, please, somebody give me a shout.

What do you think of this new book reviewing policy? Is it a step in the right direction, or a self-congratulatory and probably ineffective PR move?

*For now, I’m not even going to touch on the implicit endorsement of a gender-binary society, but I’ll also grant Guest that at the moment I can’t think of a single children’s title that endorses anything but the identities of “girl” or “boy.”

Edit: I went looking to see if the Independent on Sunday was featured in this year’s VIDA study, which examines who is writing the material that winds up in literary magazines. It wasn’t included, but if anyone has access to that information I would be very appreciative if it were passed on to me for inclusion here.

Edit: On Sunday afternoon I asked Guest, who has a Twitter account, to have a look at this blog entry. She tweeted back two points:

 

 

independent independent2While my feeling is that this still leaves a lot to be desired in terms of clarifying a book – what makes something “explicitly aimed” at girls or boys? I appreciate Guest’s response.

Note that an earlier edit indicated the tweets no longer existed. This morning I retrieved them via HootSuite, which indicates the tweets are still in fact present and just didn’t show up under search; apologies for any confusion.

Edit, 4/2/14: Since its original posting, the Independent has clarified that they specifically mean books that include “For Boys” or “For Girls” in the title. I believe this was poorly explained in their initial statement and, particularly in light of the comment below regarding boys and reading skills, the policy may require further review.

Marketing stuff. (AKA John Scalzi is awesome.)

Once a year, John Scalzi (head of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America and a pretty freaking ace individual, from what I’ve seen of him online) opens his blog to those who have something they want to put on peoples’ Christmas lists. Writers, in other words (and artists, and other people who make things and sell them, too). Kind of like yours truly.

As long as last year’s requirements don’t change, here’s what I’m planning to post when he opens the guide to non-traditionally published authors tomorrow morning.

 

Thanks, John, for doing this again – and thanks everyone else for checking the comments! Here’s what I have to offer: an anthology of speculative fiction, which I edited, and 2 plays in e-book form (one fun for kids, the other dystopian for adults).

HOT MESS: speculative fiction about climate change.
Anthology. 6 short stories on the theme of climate change, ranging from realism to satire to fantasy. Top 20 Bestseller. Nominee, Best Anthology, 2013 eFestival of Words Award. Reviews
at Goodreads and AmazonNotes from other readersBuy the e-book today (Dec. 3rd) from Smashwords and take 50% off at! (COUPON CODE: VA69H). Print version available from CreateSpace and Amazon. Amazon print edition includes Kindle edition via Amazon Matchbook.

STUCK UP A TREE
Children’s play, ages 4-7. Runtime: 75 min. When a 2-headed traveler meets a baby bird at a fork in a road, it’s time for stories of friendship, adventure, love, loss and coming-of-age to inspire the bird to fly south for the winter. “Inventive and whimsical without being overwhelming and truly age-appropriate.” More reviews on Amazon.

MOUSEWINGS: a post-apocayptic urban fairy tale
Dystopian one-act play. Runtime: 50 min. Civilization has come to a gory, infectious end. Haunted by the ghost of her lover, a cancer researcher hides in her home — then it’s invaded by marauding hooligans. When it comes to survival, no one is what they seem. Reviews on Amazon.

For more information on my work, you can check out my blog at www.rlbrody.com, or check out my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/RachelLynnBrody. Enjoy, thank you again, and happy holidays!

 

Anybody want to give me a hand in punching this up for tomorrow morning? Or do you think it’s good to go?

And before I forget – happy holidays to all my readers, too!

Featured image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

Edit: Getting the name of the association he’s head of would be a good start, self. (Sorry about that, sigh. Fixed now.)

 

Giveaway, you say? STUCK UP A TREE, for free!

 

The original cast of "Stuck Up A Tree," from top (clockwise): Ceri Mills, Andreas Vaehi, Cameron Mowat, Hazel Darwin-Edwards and Scott Hoatson.

The original cast of “Stuck Up A Tree,” from top (clockwise): Ceri Mill, Andreas Vaehi, Cameron Mowat, Hazel Darwin-Edwards and Scott Hoatson.

If you’re on my mailing list, you should have gotten an email yesterday around 5pm, giving you the heads-up ahead of time for my Spring Giveaway over on Amazon. If not:

From now until Thursday, my play STUCK UP A TREE, currently available exclusively on Amazon Kindle, is free to download.

If you’re going to be around kids over the spring holidays, reading this play aloud with them is a great way to spend time together without going nuts from over-the-top cartoons and video games.

Not convinced yet? Check out some of what’s been said about the play:

Then download and enjoy!

STUCK UP A TREE will be free until Thursday, April 4th, (2013, EST, Earth, Sol, The Milky Way, The Universe…) so if you and your kids want to spread the word, please send it on to anyone you think might get a kick out of a whimsical children’s play!

Related Posts:
Plays of Place: Edinburgh Fringe Plays

(Note: Next month, in honor of Earth Day, there will be a list-subscribers-only giveaway based around my short story anthology Hot Mess: speculative fiction about climate change (which is not a children’s book but has some great reviews over on Amazon), with awesome prizes for the winner – so be sure to subscribe now so as not to miss anything.)

7:06am: Photo caption now corrected.