Thursday, 9 September 2010

Stuck on viral marketing

Coming soon to a viral marketing campaign near you
So here’s the thing. I’ve talked in the past about doing an animation to promote my first novel. (I’ve only written one novel so far but there are plans for a further three in the series, honest!) The book was published a few years ago but since then I’ve decided it needs more polish and would have a better chance in the pagan community if I corrected a few mistakes that some people can get a bit indignant about. (Interestingly these issues don't apply to my non-pagan readers who just take it at face value and laugh out loud on the train, apparently.) I’ve not been deliberately offensive, well not much anyway and those aren’t the bits they complain about; more that some people don’t like to be miscategorised. So the second edition is in the pipeline.

So here’s the other thing. I really, really ought to use viral marketing to promote my work. Back in 1989 I had some ideas that I put together into my first book. Satanic Viruses was a non fiction essay about how I thought the years ahead would see a change in society. The thesis suggested that the purely scientific perception of reality that had been taking hold of the world throughout the twentieth century would weaken and a more holistic perception would take its place. That holistic perception would have space for philosophical perspectives such as is evidenced in modern neo-paganism and there would be a weakening of more structured theological traditions. To this day I am convinced that the rise in religious fundamentalism that we have witnessed is a part of the death throes of the major religions. In the future religion will be much more bottom-up rather than hierarchical and structured.

Just add figures and darken the surrounding background
Anywho, at the same time I had another idea that, for the want of a better way of getting it out there, I tagged onto the end of the book. That idea was the information virus. Back in those days there was no Internet to speak of, only academics and a chosen few had email and there was no world wide web. However, it struck me that, if presented in the right form, easily copied and with a reward to pass it on, an idea could spread like a virus. Richard Dawkins had written about memes about ten years before but it wasn’t his idea and he hadn’t suggested a formalised mechanism. My solution was cumbersome and unworkable, involving photocopiers and chain letters, but the theory was there. About six years later Tim Berners-Lee came up with the web and viral communication became a real possibility. Satanic Viruses was republished in 2008 with considerable additions to the original text. I’ve looked and I can’t find anything published on viral marketing that predates the nineties and the whole idea may not have been written about other than on web sites until some time after the millennium.

There is a very real possibility that I came up with the idea that led to viral marketing, so it sort of makes sense that I use viral marketing to promote my work. But how do you make a viral about a book? After discussing this with a few people, including some people who work in the new field of viral marketing (I don’t remember getting a thank you for creating their jobs), the idea arose for an animation of a part of the Hidden Masters story. A scene from Chapter 7 was chosen as it shows the nature of the characters and contains good examples of the humour and magic.

Minor artefacts of construction, such as seams, will be removed in Photoshop
To cut a long story long I’ve built a 3D model of the location that I can move into any position to present the characters in front of. I’m currently trying to create a storyboard so that I can either continue with the project or hand it on to an animator to complete. An experience with an animator last year, while I was committed to other things, has taught me that I need a storyboard at least to be able to communicate my vision so I have to do that myself.

I’m currently trying to figure out if I can develop the skills to draw the characters onto the backgrounds. (Actually, at the moment, I’m writing this and not getting on with it.) I’m using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to sketch some characters in. Or should I just try to figure out why my scanner hasn’t worked for years and draw the figures on by hand and scan the whole lot in?

So ultimately, I’ve been stuck here for months. I need to produce a viral video to go with the second edition now I’ve learned that I have a potential readership. I know that if I can just reach enough people they will make comparisons to Dan Brown, Douglas Adams, Robert Rankin and even Terry Pratchett, though the last one is a bit of a stretch. I know they will make the comparisons because those comparisons have been made already. Should I be making these claims? No, my agent should be making them but I can’t seem to get the attention of anyone in the publishing industry. (A smart middle class woman at the Hay Festival once asked me who I was with when I handed her a flyer a few years ago. I fumbled my response and undoubtedly missed an opportunity.)

The camera can be put anywhere as in a virtual film set
This all has to be ready to run a campaign on Facebook, Twitter, the blog, and generally around the web.

Now I don’t really know why I started writing all this, probably to avoid trying to learn how to draw in Illustrator. So if you know an animator, graphic artist, agent or even a publisher, you could save me a whole load of crap because the second novel is there, ready to go with a couple of chapters written and I’d really rather be doing that.

Oh and I’m told that publishers these days are looking for writers with more than a single book and with the web and IT skills to take on some promotion. If that’s the case, see above!

In case you missed the link about here's the finished video

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