Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Selling what you advertise

I'm reading a book right now based solely on an editor's recommendation on her blog. I respect the editor and her tastes.

But I wish the book was what I thought it was.

I blame marketing. I'm not going to list the book here, because the way I see it, it's not the author's fault its marketing is misleading. I don't hate the book, I hate the way it was marketed.

So, here's how it got sold to me. A juvenile love story. On the cover, lots of bright colors like pink and yellow; a girl in very fashionable clothes, fashionable in that new retro-hippie but still super-cool way. On the back cover copy, a description of how two kids maybe sorta fall in love.

So I'm thinking, this is just a cute, modern love story, right?

Wrong. Oh, so wrong.

It's Southern. REALLY, really Southern. I'm from the South. I teach in a school where there are goats. There's a whole farming thing at my school. My closest neighbor is a cow. I was raised in the Appalachian mountains, I went crawfishin' down at the creek as a young 'un, and I know the proper way to spell y'all.

This book is more Southern than me.

I wouldn't mind, if the book had been marketed as Southern. It doesn't look Southern, it doesn't sound Southern on the back cover copy. And, to be honest, it sounds too Southern in the text...to me, it sounds like a gross exaggeration of the South, like redneck jokes. The kids talk like my granny used to talk (yes, I called her granny. I told you I was from the South). The kids in the story are obsessed with a sausage festival, go to a school with combined classes, and one kid has a leg brace. It sounds like a story from the deep South...in the 1950s. You know, with polio and stuff (hence the leg brace). Southern kids today do not want to associate themselves with the South, not this much. There are Goths and emos and yes, even scene kids at my Southern school, right next to the goats. There are not kids in leg braces saying things like "them skeeters are havin' a sit-down dinner on my back, let's go to da sausage festival y'all."

So, basically, that's how a pink and yellow book that claimed to be a romance novel for kids ruined a perfectly good Southern historical novel. If the book hadn't tried to dress up as something it wasn't, I might actually have liked it.
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