I'm a huge Harlan Coben fan.
I'm always pleased to see something new coming out from him, I took note when I saw his next book Fool Me Once will be out March 22, 2016, but there's something else about this book that caught my eye.
Harlan and his publisher are offering fans the chance to become a character in his next book (releasing in 2017). How fun is that?
Other authors have done this. I've seen it offered on the condition that the person who wants to be mentioned make a donation to charity. Presumably, a sizable donation. This time, however, it appears the winner will be chosen at random. All you have to do is submit your email address at http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/c/harlan-coben-sweepstakes before October 20, 2015.
Pretty cool, huh?
Also pretty sly.
Publishers have been criticized for acting as though bookstores are their customers. They've been told they don't know anything about their true customers, the reading public. Indie authors are told their best sales tool is a mailing list. So maybe what's really going on here is Penguin Random House has figured out that a mailing list is a great marketing tool. And they've just figured out a way to capture email addresses that will get a lot of email addresses for their actual customers at virtually no cost.
It's an astute marketing move.
And frankly, I'm jealous. Not so much because they thought of it and I didn't, but because they can be assured of a ton of people signing up because Harlan has a huge fan base, and I'm not sure anyone would even notice if I offered then the chance to have a character named after them.
But wouldn't it be a kick to see a character with your name in a best
seller? (Or even a not-so best seller?) What kind of character would you want to be? A sidekick? A
walk-on? Or maybe even the villain?
I know I have
characters whose names I couldn't change because the character and the
name are so tightly woven together and they wouldn't feel right with any
other name, but I also have characters whose names are something I
basically pulled out of a hat. I could change those. I know too though
that I'd be hesitant to use a real person's name as the villain, at
least unless I was dead certain the person was okay with it. Still, it's something I'd thought about more than once. I'll probably continue to think about, but I'll also remember the fairly lengthy terms and conditions PRH attached to this offer which makes me worry about the potential liability if someone decided they didn't like the character their name was attached to.
So what do you think about this? As a reader, would you be thrilled to see your name in a book?
And if you're an author, would you consider this type of promotion?