Thursday, January 20, 2005

How Far is Too Far to Promote Your Book??

Okay, let's be honest. As authors we all hold our breath when the royalty check arrives and pray that it will be more than enough to pay the phone bill and maybe a new pair of shoes. And as we stare at those dismal numbers we are already plotting and planning... not the next great novel, but how we are going to sell a zillion copies of our next book. We ask ourselves: what haven't I tried, what seems to work, what did so-and-so do, how in the world did that crappy book make every list in America, how did "John Doe" wind up on the Morning Show touting his new book about housewives? Am I willing to spend my next advance on bookmarks, tinker toys for giveaways, a cross-country car tour, a helium balloon with my book cover on it?

As we mull and mull over the possiblities, using our creativity and every internet connection in our repertoire, someone sends out an email about a new book marketing campaign to "Marry Your Baby Daddy Day." Needless to say, we stop cold, read the article and realize that perhaps this is what is called "crossing the line." Below is the article that was published in the New York Daily News when they interviewed author Maryanne Reid who will soon be releasing her next book, "Marry Your Baby Daddy," just in time for guess what "Marry Your Baby Daddy Day."
Marrying moms, dads need apply


Unwed parents are being seduced into wedlock by a New York writer fighting to reverse an anti-marriage trend.
Author Maryann Reid is tempting couples with kids to take the plunge in a high-profile, all-expenses paid event - called Marry Your Baby Daddy Day.

She is looking for 10 couples who will tie the knot in an effort to halt a trend that, she claims, has 70% of black parents living outside wedlock.

"Everybody in the African-American community knows a baby mama or a baby daddy," she said, using slang terms to refer to single parents.

"It's almost become trendy in the black community to have children out of wedlock. I know women who feel discomfort about talking about marriage, as though this 'baby mama' stuff is the norm. It's embarrassing.

"I wanted to get the message out there that marriage is a good thing, that we should be increasing the amount of two-parent households.

"I want to turn baby mamas into wives."

Reid, 29, of Brooklyn, is planning to offer couples a dream ceremony complete with wedding planners, dress designers, catering, honeymoon - even celebrity guests.

"We're working on a guest list right now," she said.

"It's going to be an amazing day, but there's a lot of work to be done. We're still looking for the couples and for many of the vendors.

"It takes a year to organize a normal wedding. To bring together 10 weddings on one day is a huge undertaking."

Already on board is dress designer Therez Fleetwood, whose clients include actresses Queen Latifah, Angela Bassett and the singing group En Vogue.

The Rev. Herbert Daughtry has agreed to officiate the ceremony in Brooklyn's House of the Lord church on Sept. 29.

He said, "It falls within the values of the church that people should be married in a traditional sense, particularly where children are concerned."

The couples should already be living together, said Reid.

"We're not trying to fix broken relationships," she said. "We prefer them to already have a strong loving base."

Reid is known for writing about relationships in the black community.

The mass wedding is named after her latest book, Marry Your Baby Daddy, due for release in the fall. It tells of three sisters who must marry their children's fathers to inherit $3 million.

Originally published on January 5, 2005

Hmmm. Now I must admit, I have done the gift basket giveaways, CDs I've even turned over a portion of the proceeds from my book to an non-profit organization. I've done TV and radio ads and have even gone so far as to send personalized letters to bookstore owners as well as starting a non-profit organization based on the themes of one of my novels.

This however,turned promotion in a new direction. Is this exploitation? Are African Americans too ignorant, broke or disinterested in marriage that the only way a couple who have a child together will marry is to become a public spectacle. This is taking the Jerry Springer mentality to a new level. Or is it?

How far is too far?

I'd love to hear your comments


Anonymous said...

The author should really re-think what she's trying to do. People shouldn't be coaxed into marriage for any reason. Marriage alone does not guarantee that a child will be provided with the what he/she needs to be a healthy minded and productive person. It's more about the parents themselves and the values they instill in their child moreso than whether or not the parents are married. Besides, who's to say that these promotion-inspired marriages will last past the ceremony? If the author REALLY wanted to make a positive contribution to the African American community, maybe she should look into starting or funding programs that teach young men and women to respect themselves and their children by waiting until the proper foundations have been set before having sexual relationships and starting families.
-Janan Saadiq

Gwynne Forster said...

I am a demographer with a specialty in the determinants and consequences of fertility trends WORLD WIDE. For over twenty years I ran the United Nations research program in this field.Official data from the United States National Office of Vital Statistics definitely do not show that 70 percent of black couples/families are not legally married. This woman is an oportunist and very disingenuous one at that. She would besmirch African Americans as a people in order to promote a book that she obviously thinks won't stand on its own merits. I find this very sad, indeed. Gwynne Forster

Anonymous said...

at first glance, this sounds like a good thing, but after a little thought its not. Why must a woman and a man marry because they have a child together? They may have realized that a commited relationship won't work for them, however much they love their child. And, what about those men and women who have more than one baby mama or daddy?

Anonymous said...

This author is getting a lot of publicity. I'm seeing write-ups featuring her and her book in some major media. If getting hype for her book was her primary aim, the effort has been successful so far.

But "Marry Your Baby Daddy" seems somewhat degrading to young blacks. The message is that if you throw money and exposure to blacks who have children out of wedlock--that's all it takes for them to make an effort to create a family unit. It's not that simple at all.

I'm sure white corporations will donate money (probably with a snigger behind their hands) and the hype and hoopla could certainly be there.

But the event may leave a bad taste in the mouth of thoughtful people. Authors need to remember that for long-run success, they don't only need to promote their next book, they promote themselves and their image.

And taking young unwed blacks with children out of the inner city projects one day for a babydaddy and babymama mass wedding spectacle for white folks is kinda tacky.

Anonymous said...

This book promotion is in very bad taste. Some women are not ready to be wives and some men are not ready to be husbands. Simple as that. Why pressure them if they are not ready? You more than likely will be putting children into a worse situation by having a couple get married when neither party is ready for this type of serious committment.

The sad part about this promotion is that the tv media might look at this as the basis for a new reality tv show. Thereby, creating another avenue to negatively exploit African Americans.

Christine Battle-Ellington

Anonymous said...

I must say, this is taking promotion a bit far. It is embarrassing and as another comment said "tacky." It is apparent that the book market is flooded with books and that authors want to find some way to "stand out" and be noticed. However, your book, just as your promotional tactics are a reflection of you. She could have just as easily started a mentoring group or support group for young adults or single parents rather that fill her pockets on the backs of others. Pretty shameful.

Missy B said...

I sit here and I read the article and I realize that this is a idea that has been used by radio stations as a matter of fact the station that I work for in Charleston SC has a thing they do called Day of Love and they marry twenty five couples and its amazing to see that alot of the couples have stayed married and its going on the fifth year but to do it involving baby mammas and daddys I think thats to much a baby shouldn't be the reason someone marries it has to be loved and respect there if that's not there than nothing can ever become.

Anonymous said...

One comment, How tacky can one be. Is she trying to say marry someone if you cannot stand them.

I think this is beyond the pale. YUK

Anonymous said...

Once upon a time when the world of publishing was not so concerned with the profit and loss of a given book, there was no need for such stunts. Books and careers were nurtured, brought along to maturity, and seasoned to craftsmanship and respectability. Something happened to publishing as it has to the American arts and movies and other cultural pillars which this society has cheapened to vulgarity and perversity. Everything has gone the way of tabloids, reality shows, and Paris Hilton. And unfortunately, we are none the better for it. That's why when we as consumers see the artistry and special qualities of something extraordinary, we must salute it and give it our support. Those rare jewels are going to be much rarer if those wizards of accounting and Wall Street have their way.

Seek out the rarities. Support them so we can beat back the mediocre and mundune.

Cole Riley

Dee-Dee said...

I read the original promotional email and my first thought was is she kidding. Then I read it understood the concept. And though I am still up in the air on how I feel about it. (Ask me tomorrow and my opinion may change) I passed the information on. In the end this will lead to more sales and this is the promotion this author wants out there. In the end I am all about support the author in the forum they choose. Who knows maybe someone will gain something from this campaign. If nothing else she should she some decent sales.

Anonymous said...

I feel this is yet another marketing ploy by the publishing houses to degrade African Americans. The societal stigma has already been cast upon us and now it will be nationally displayed. I am quite disappointed by Ms. Reid as I feel she has sold her soul to the devil for the almighty dollar. A more positive marketing campaign could have been devised to promote her work but I guess when your readship is not what you had hoped it would be after 2 novels then.....

The little respect that she might have gained from her literary counterparts is surely lost now.

Anonymous said...

We all agree that as a promotion this makes us cringe. But marketing is just that, tacky or not it has no color.
People of every ethnicity have cultural laundry we'd rather not have aired on a national stage.

The author has, like many others, found a stereotype to exploit, and it looks like she is going to mine it for all it's worth. It is unfortunate that she couldn't be "bigger" about this, but face it: if it wasn't she, it would have been someone else (say FOX or UPN) who recognizes the money making potential of nightime soap called "Baby Mama Drama" or a reality series called "Who's Your Daddy". Oh wait, haven't they already done that - in white.

As soon as WE stop allowing ourselves and our situations to be exploited for
lowest-common-denominator entertainment, the interest WILL die away, and the marketers will be forced to go back to creativity.


Anonymous said...

I am happy to say that I am one of the winning couples set to be Married during the 'Marry Your Baby Daddy Day' event. It is amazing to look at some of the views that is posted on this website. As a society we tend to look at the negative in things instead of try to help support an idea that was not thought of by oneself. Is Maryann promoting her upcoming book release? Yes. At the same time she is making Ten very grateful couples dream come true. Hosting a wedding event that includes such amenities, if we were to have planed ourselves would not be able to afford.

Both my husband-to-be and myself are College Graduates who have been in a Healthy, Loving relationship for over several years with two children. This event sparked something in my partner that gave him the confirmation that he was ready to get married. It gives a chance to show BLACK Families in a Positive light. Completing the family circle with the Union of Marriage. The key element that I think is truly being missed by many of the readers is that Maryann had a vision to help promote marriage in the black community, using couples that have a strong family unit, with a genuine bond that has the possibility of making it through this whole process with a successful and healthy marriage.

I know this is all a matter of personal opinion. I just feel if you do not have anything nice to say, it is sometimes better not to say anything at all. Well wishers is what is needed to allow for the Best possible outcome for this upcoming event.

bride to be said...

Where do I start? First let me say that I am 1 of the 10 wives to be married on sept 29. I just want to say everyone is intitled to their oppinion. On that note, here is mine....I have read about 100 different comments about this wonderful event and 99 of them were bad...For some reason everyone is under the impression that Maryann got together with 10 baby mama's, the F.B.I, NYPD and we set out on a search for our childrens father... Each one of the couples have been together atleast 5yrs, Living "together" and raising our children "together"... We have been living as families, not raising our children alone looking for their daddy.. Their Daddy's have been there from the start..This is about marriage, a union in the eyes of god, not locate my baby daddy so i can marry him...

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