Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Brad Parks...the, uh...girl next door

ROSEMARY HARRIS: It takes a very confident man to send to the internet for publication all over the known universe a picture of himself wearing a tiara and what can only be described - kindly - as a childlike grin. But that's Brad Parks, chick magnet, charm personified. Women want him and men want to be him. (Or do women want to be him?) We decided - for the sake of his children that we wouldn't post the picture of him in his tutu. Take it away, Brad!

BRAD PARKS: This is normally the place in a guest blog where the writer expresses his thanks for having been invited, but I gotta be honest: You JungleRed chicks ought to be thanking me. Because today I am going to share with you and your readers my hard-earned secrets about book marketing and promotion.1
I call it: How to Make The New York Times Bestseller List Without Even Trying.2 It includes tips and techniques that people like that Julio Spicer-Flemmish girl will never be able to tell you about, because she just doesn’t “get it” like I do.3
Being as I don’t want to slow down my genius by having to “show my work,” I have tasked my interns, those hard-working kids at, to do my “footnoting” for me.4
Now, why should you trust my instincts on this subject? Well, for one, pre-orders for my forthcoming work, The Girl Next Door, are approaching 100 million, making it the bestselling mystery novel of all time.5 And, hell, just look at me: I’m a privileged white male who always wears a nice blazer.6 I’m like a Republican Presidential candidate. And everyone trusts them, right?
Okay, so now that you realize my advice is beyond reproach, let’s begin with the good news: If you’re just starting out in this game, you’ll find it’s easy to get people to plunk down $24.99 for an author they’ve never heard of, because it’s sort of like gambling, which everyone likes. What reader wants to be safe and buy great Hank Flippippi Ryan novel when they can play the slot machines instead?7
Pull that lever, baby!
Still, you have to get yourself out there – for those odd moments when your publisher is between major media buys for your latest book – and when you do, all you have to remember is to BUZZ Your Book8, where BUZZ stands for:

B. As in BE late for book-signings! After all, authors are cool. And there’s nothing like a fashionably late arrival to make you look like the coolest author in the history of ever.9 Also, it shows booksellers how little you need them. It’ll make them try harder to win your affections.10

U. As in UNDERRATE libraries. That guy who called library users the welfare bums of the literary world? Right on, brother! I mean, seriously, they buy one book and then they let all those people read it for free?!? What good is that?11

Z. As in ZUSE, Konrad. This German engineer created the world’s first programmable automated binary computing device.12 And you know exactly why Konrad Zuse invented the computer: So people could post buy-my-book Amazon links on the Facebook walls of everyone they know at least once a month!13

Z. As in ZETA, as in blow most of your marketing budget to hire Catherine Zeta-Jones to star in your over-produced book trailer.14

These and other concepts are given further rumination in a book I wrote called Market or Lye15, the main point of which is that authors should use homemade soap to carve figurines of their main characters, and then give them away as swag at Malice Domestic. It also gives helpful hints about Twitter (which good for long-form narratives and essays); Skyping with book clubs (they can’t see you, so you don’t have to wear clothes!); blatant self-promotion (it’s what the MWA listserv was invented for, right?); and how to find your niche (Earth to Rosemary Harris: why do you keep trying to market your books to garden clubs, babe?16).
As a bonus, the book’s appendix includes templates for dirty limericks that will make your next novel a sure-fire winner of the Mary Higgins Clark Award! I think you’re beginning to understand why Patterson and Grisham begged me to be in a club with them called The Three Marketeers – we wear feathers in our hair and everything17 – and why my books have appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List for a record 390 consecutive weeks.18
I also give seminars in guest blogging, which I’m super good at. But don’t take my word for it. Just ask that Julio girl. She’ll tell you.19

1. Brad suffered a severe blow to the head this morning. He has been talking nonsensically ever since. We’d take him to the hospital but this is more fun.

2. This from a guy who hasn’t made the bestseller list. And, trust us, it hasn’t been for lack of trying.

3. It’s Julia Spencer-Fleming. And unlike Brad, she actually has made the New York Times Bestseller List.

4. We have no idea why Brad is suddenly putting so many things in quotes. But hopefully we’ll get him to “stop.”

5. Brad has his book confused with Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.

6. Yes, and the local prep school wants its jacket back.

7. It’s Phillippi. And did we mention it was a severe blow to the head?

8. Oh, God. M.J. Rose is gonna sue.

9. This is also a great way to get people to want to burn your book before you ever get a chance to sign it.

10. When they’re not throwing darts at the author photo on your dust jacket.

11. It’s called building an audience and it’s… oh, never mind. Maybe someone should
get him some Tylenol?

12. This may be the one sentence in this entire post that isn’t, in some way, deeply flawed.

13. Better yet, get us some Tylenol.

14. And the moral of the story: Never try to build an acronym with two Z’s in it.

15. Jennifer Fusco: Please accept our most sincere apologies.

16. Because the main character is a gar… ahh, forget it.

17. Patterson and Grisham would die first.

18. And now he has himself confused with Danielle Steel.

19. We’re putting Brad to bed. Feel free to, uh, “comment” on his post (damnit! Now we’re over-using quotation marks!). A randomly selected commenter will win a free advanced reader copy of The Girl Next Door.


  1. Brad is in the process of having his tongue surgically removed from his cheek but should be in recovery today and he'll stop by later with more "helpful" tips for budding novelists. OMG, whatever Brad has is contagious - I put quotes around an ordinary word. ;-) Any other tongue-in-cheek advice?

  2. Brad, we're glad you stopped by today and hope the straight jacket isn't too uncomfortable!

    Could you ask one of those lovely interns to tell us about your new book?

    and will you loan out the tiara?

  3. I love this post. Thanks for the morning chuckle.

  4. Wow. Honestly, Brad, I never knew ANY of this. I want your interns. Oh, and PS, congrats on the book!

    (This is when we start to think that that captcha has spawned an identity and taken over the blog.)

  5. I think I love Brad's interns even more than I love Brad. And, if you've read any of his books, his character, Carter Ross, is equally fond of interns. And, I don't mean "fond" as in the Bill Clinton context. I don't know what Carter Ross, or Brad Parks, would do without interns.

    So, everyone needs to buy Brad's latest book, The Girl Next Door, so the interns can keep their jobs.

  6. I plan to utilize each and every one of Brad's "tips" on my very first book! I just "know" it will displace his "book" on the bestseller list! He will want to keep an "eye" on his tiara, too. It just may turn up "missing".

    "Great" post!

  7. Please do not let this post "delude" you into thinking that this man seriously has a "screw loose" and that his book will be equally screwy. He actually writes "good books!"

  8. What do I have to do to get interns?

    Brad, have you considered a cat scan?:-)

    Feel better "soon".

  9. Hilarious post, Brad! And you look lovely in a tiara.

  10. What do I have to do to get interns?

    Brad, have you considered a cat scan?:-)

    Feel better "soon".

  11. Earth to Brad--oh, wait.

    This is Brad's brain.
    This is Brad's "brain" on "books."

    I have Brad's interns on the phone right now..they apparently have a list of demands, but I am trying to talk them off the ledge.

  12. Okay, for the record, I have no memory of having written this blog post.

    And I also should give credit for the Tiara where it's due: That is the property of Judy Bobalik. And, yes, it looks better on her.

  13. Dear Brad,

    Thank you for the valuable advice. I'm going to put this into practice "immediately." See you on the bestseller list. I'll bring my own tiara.


  14. @ Rosemary - Thanks for having me. Even though I know you'll "never have me back" after this...

    @Lucy - THE GIRL NEXT DOOR once again features Carter Ross, the sometimes-dashing investigative reporter. His latest story begins when he decides to write an obit about a newspaper carrier who is killed in a hit and run. Carter soon discovers the hit and run is no accident, launching him onto the trail of a killer. It's a tale of danger, of intrigue, and of an intern who asipires to the world's preeminent Philip Roth scholar.

    And, no, you can't have the tiara. As I said, talk to Judy.

  15. @Dru - Glad you got a laugh.

    @Hallie - Yes, you have a lot to learn from me. I give classes on writing, too, if you're interested. ;)

    @Lesa - You're right: I think the interns have more fans than I do. And I'm okay with that. At least I'm paid better. (Barely).

  16. @Jutta -- I wish you all the luck in the world. Though maybe, like certain religious texts, this post is better understood in a less literal fashion... :)

    @Rhys - Mwa! And congrats on another Agatha nod!

    @Alison - Just trying to set the bar really, really low for you later this week...

  17. @Deb - If you're lucky, the interns find you. Sort of like stray cats.

    @Hank - You're beginning to understand why, when people ask me where I get my ideas, I tell them that my brain is like a scary attic that I try not to visit too often...

  18. I just laughed my head off at this. And if you're loaning out the tiara...

  19. I'm curious as to the application process to become an intern?

    Great post and look forward to more.

  20. Are you kidding me, Brad? I'm *never* going to be able to follow this! Not to mention the fact, my whole afternoon's going to be taken up now, making my own soap...

  21. "Hilarious!"

    I first "met" Brad and his interns at TLC (though I believe he may have been suffering from a high fever during that post...?), and laughed all the way to the bookstore. I have been waiting "patiently" for The Girl Next Door (and it's finally almost here..."woo-hoo!").

  22. Excellent advice Brad. I think I'll do exactly what you say.


  23. Brad:

    I would apply for a job as one of your interns but I think there is probably a high "burn-out"rate,and anyway, I already have enough stress in my life!(Some of it is captcha related -this is my second attempt to post a comment!)

    I have been able to find one of your books so far,and I enjoyed it immensely. I plan to look for more. Those interns deserve a "raise". Be "kind" to them. (Oh, "heck"!)

  24. ...maybe I should have run the "tutu" picture..

  25. Rosemary,

    I'm afraid that would be "tutu" much!

    (Okay,lunch break over...back to The Real World.)

  26. Rosemary! You said the tutu picture was just between us!

  27. @Patricia -- I think Judy might have stolen the Tiara from Princess Kate. So she's got to be careful about letting it out in public...

    @Souleswanderer -- The screening process to be one of my interns is really quite rigorous. ("Breath in... breath out... okay, you're hired!")

    Alison -- As long as you make it from scratch. People can tell when you've used that crappy, just-add-water instant lye.

  28. @PaulaBuck -- Ah, the late-lamented Lipstick Chronicles. Miss that place. I mean, it's no Salon, but...

    @Jan -- Don't worry. Not all Dartmouth kids end up like me.

    @Deb -- If I gave the interns a raise, they'd start expecting benefits, too. I don't want them to get too coddled.

  29. Brad, lovely to meet you. You look better in a tiara than I would. Three cheers! If you have any leftover interns, please point them my way. xo

    Oh great... my captcha is yushood denovel.

  30. Fandabbydozey!

    "Never build an acronym with two zees in it" is joining "avoid dentists with blood in their hair" in my life-lesson embroidered-pillow collection.

    See you at LCC, Brad.

  31. Come back tomorrow for a visit with Alison Gaylin - Brad will be overnighting the tiara...

  32. Brad:

    I forgot to ask earlier: what color is the tutu? Does it clash with the tiara? Do the interns polish the tiara before you return it?

    Yes, I DO have vague memories of your visit to TLC some time ago...I seem to remember laughing until I couldn't breathe, and wondering how often you were let out on your own...Are you accompanied by an intern on these trips? Does that job fall to the new kid on the block? (Maybe it is part of the application process? I just cannot get my mind off those poor things!)

  33. @Rosemary Thank God! I was feeling so underdressed...

  34. Ah, but isn't that the great thing about Alison. She's so lovely she doesn't NEED a tiara for everyone to know she's royal stock...

  35. I believe I represent the "random" element in these "comments", which should give me a good chance at winning the "giveaway" book.
    Loved this interview and loved the first chapter of The Girl Next Door, which "graciously" allowed me to read.

  36. You had me at "the world's preeminent Philip Roth scholar". That HAS to be a funny book!

  37. I won't sue you if you give me the interns back and admit that its my tiara and you stole that from me too.

    (Good luck on the book, seriously like it!!!!)

  38. A fusion of charm and finesse That look is a total winner!

  39. I finished "The Girl Next Door" tonight ... it's good!