Speak Up Readers, What do you think?

During my leave of absence from the blog, I have finally finished a non-writing project that had been on hold while I launched my website and blog. And during the past two weeks, I have continued reading contributions from my favorite bloggers. Recently The Passive Voice posted a partial of a guest on Publishing Perspectives. It was a post by Jennifer Belle called "I Paid Them to Read My Book." I’m snipping a bit to run here.

"I Paid Them to Read My Book": Jennifer Belle's "The Laughter Project" Pays Dividends
August 2, 2010

By Jennifer Belle

• Author Jennifer Belle took her book publicity into her own hands by hiring actresses "to read my book on the subway and at New York City landmarks for $8/hr"

• Jennifer and her story of the publicity stunt ended up in the New York Times, the NY Post, on author blogs and on Judith Regan’s Sirius radio show.

A few weeks ago, going up in my elevator, a neighbor said to me, "I just saw someone in Washington Square Park reading your book!" She was very excited.

"I know," I said. "I paid her to do it."

My neighbor laughed. "No you didn’t."

"I did," I said. But she didn’t believe me.

Many years ago, I read an article about professional funeral wailers in China. In China, and in many countries, when a loved one died, you hired people to sit in the back and cry—sob, weep, bellow, really, really grieve the way only a stranger or someone who is being paid can—or it just wasn’t considered a good funeral. And it didn't mean you weren’t sad yourself, it was just for reinforcement. So for years I joked with my writer friends that one day, if I got desperate enough, I would hire people to read my book on the subway and laugh.

Read more at I Paid Them to Read My Book.

Or you can visit Jennifer’s website here.

Marketing of any product is a two edged sword. Currently there is an ad running on television where various characters start screaming at seemingly innocuous coupons and sales signs. So far, that ad has turned me completely away. I don't want to see or hear another screamer. But what if that person were laughing infectiously? Laughter always gets my attention. I love a good laugh. So, if I saw someone laughing joyously as they read a book, I would make a mental note, must be a funny book. I might even go to a bookstore and check out the book to see if I wanted to read it. But if I later learned that the author had paid actresses to pretend to enjoy the book how would I feel? Frankly, I don't know. It might depend upon whether I bought the book and enjoyed it. If I found it funny, I might feel the unique advertising campaign equally funny. But if I found the book lacking, I think I'd be a bit miffed if not downright angry.

I'm in the mid-west as opposed to the east or west coast. Does that affect how well or poorly this type of marketing would go over? You bet. The availability of talent, and the cost of said talent, and the places where people would notice paid readers is quite different here.

Do I think I'd ever do such a marketing campaign? I really don't know. I'm not one to rule it completely out, but it feels less than genuine to me. My husband who has been a art consultant in the advertising fields for many years isn't as bothered by this as I am.

So, my question to you readers and writers out there. What do you think? Was this good marketing? Or is this a turn-off?