A couple of years ago, the Italian jewelry firm Bulgari commissioned author novelist Fay Weldon to write a book featuring their products. At the time, everyone shared scandalized whispers to big chuckles over the idea of a corporation sponsoring a literary novelist.
Never mind that big corporations pay much dinero to have their products and product names featured on TV, in movies, on the garments, sneakers, hats and accessories worn by athletes, NASCAR drivers, and pretty much anything famous that will stand still long enough to be dressed. Evidently authors are supposed to be above all that.
Well, I'm not.
Okay, the idea of sticking a mention of Reese's Pieces or Nike shoes into my plot in return for money doesn't particularly appeal to me, but giving a couple of pages in my book for a product endorsement or advertisement does. Newspapers do it. Magazines do it. Why not novels?
Novels already advertise to a certain degree. When we have excerpts of future books or books by other authors in the back of our novels, that's advertising. Pick up any Harlequin or Silhouette romance and look at the back pages. One book ad after another, plus upcoming titles in that line are printed -- with a short blurb -- inside the front or back cover.
Stay with me, this is an idea still in protean form. Hypothetical situation: my publisher offers an upcoming spooky film producer ad or endorsement space in the back my next Darkyn novel. They buy it from the publisher for a fee. Publisher uses the fee to publicize the book, or underwrite a larger first print run. Film maker gets to reach a target audience. Win/win.
Bulgari had 750 special editions of Weldon's novel printed to give to their special customers. Let's say in return for an ad in the back of an erotica novel, Victoria's secret agrees to sell a small portion of the first print run in their stores. That would get the books out of the bookstores and into the hands of potential new readers. What erotica author wouldn't want his or her book shelved next to the bridal shower gift section at Victoria's Secret?
I know, it would require a lot of cooperation on everyone's part, plus matching up advertisers to the right books, but wouldn't it be worth the effort to give it a shot?