Thinking Out Loud

April 8, 2010

U2 Concert Tickets Easier to Get Than Pete Wilson’s New Book

Filed under: books — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 1:45 pm

I’ve been a huge fan of Nashville pastor Pete Wilson’s online writing at the Without Wax blog since I stumbled on it about three years ago.   If I’m ever in Nashville, I know which church I’ll be visiting.

So when I heard around Christmas that he had a new book coming out, I was really looking forward to reviewing it here, especially since I was part of what was — at least so I thought — an elite group of bloggers who had been accepted into Thomas Nelson’s Book Bloggers program, currently operating under the dubious name “BookSneeze.”

However, the program is flawed.

Participants in an early marketing ‘teaser’ for Don Miller’s newest — notice the name in the coauthor spot at the bottom of the cover — weren’t necessarily guaranteed access to the book itself, and sure enough, they ran out of copies.    At that point I simply lost interest in reviewing it, and as I also work in the Christian bookstore business, I lost even more interest when it simply didn’t sell.

None of this is personal however.   I really enjoyed his sermon at Willow Creek which I linked to here last month.   I am increasingly become more and more of a fan of Donald Miller.

It’s my relationship with Thomas Nelson — which was never good — which is hitting the skids.

If you’ve ever tried to buy concert tickets online, you know what it’s like to keep hitting “try again” but for me this was a new experience.   I dutifully logged in to “BookSneeze” at 12:00 noon (1:00 EST) as I had been told to do.   I selected Pete’s new book Plan B, and then I got a description of the book.   ‘Did I really want to read this book?’ the site asked.   Yes, as a matter of fact I did.

Time was ticking.   The site was not responding.   I’ve never been online as a server has been crashing under the weight of demand.   Next question, ‘Did I understand that reviews must all be published on the same day, May 3rd?’   At that point I was looking for the button that said, ‘Yes, damn it;’ but the best I could find was one that read, ‘Select Book.’

That was as far as I got.   So, so very, very close.

My browser is still clicking “try again.”

I’m glad the publishers recognize the role that social media has played in promoting books.    Originally, there were a few key players in this, but now the playing field is wide open.   Yesterday I discovered that on Blogspot blogs, the “Next Blog” button is no longer random.   It will take you to one related blog after another.    In fifteen minutes I saw about a hundred Christian-themed blogs I’d never seen or heard of before.

There’s a lot of us out there.   But we really shouldn’t be treated like cattle in the process.   (And in case you’re wondering, my other blog, which is a Christian book industry blog, plus my ownership of two Christian bookstores affords me absolutely no advantage in this process.  None whatsoever.)  Nor should we be made to waste our time like concert-ticket buyers lining up for hours in the rain.

If the 500 copies were truly gone in less than ten minutes — which is what it looks like — there are probably going to be more people angered by this process than those who are pleased.     If social media is that important to publishers like Thomas Nelson, then this particular promotion — along with the Donald Miller one — has backfired; it has done more harm than good.

And for that I feel bad for Christian publishing in general, and authors like Pete Wilson in particular.

The old-school methodology was to print and distribute hard copy of sample chapters.   That way everyone out there gets an equal opportunity to discover the new generation of Christian writers.

It may not seem a valid option in 2010, but other than cutting down a few trees, it did a lot less damage.

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