Next time you’re at a movie notice how many times you see a box of Dunkin Doughnuts or a Coke product. Product placement is common in movies, but novels? Sure, specific products are often mentioned but how can they be turned into tangible product placements to benefit a writer’s book promotion?
I named my mystery/suspense novel Scorpion Bay two years before the Scorpion Bay Marina was built. I had to create scenes based on the existing marina at the other side of Lake Pleasant in Arizona. Once the new marina was built at Scorpion Bay, I realized the deli I described didn’t exist. The only eating establishment was a wonderful restaurant called Dillons. Writing about a real location, I wanted to be accurate, so I contacted the owner, Rich Dillon, who welcomed my inquiry like I was a long lost brother. He not only gave me permission to use his restaurant in the story, he asked if he could sell the book, once the novel was published, at his store where boaters come up for supplies. Many of his customers spend half the year on the water. They need something to read right? He didn’t have to twist my arm.
When I asked whether I could have a launch party at his restaurant, Mr. Dillon said, “Absolutely. How can I help?”
Armed with a date and location, I approached the media. The media rarely does stories about a new novel being released, except by literary superstars of which I am not yet a member. However, the local weekly, Peoria Times and the state’s daily newspaper, The Arizona Republic , said yes to stories about the launch of Scorpion Bay the novel, at the real Scorpion Bay. I also approached the state’s highest rated morning news program, Good Morning Arizona. Two years earlier, one of their newscasters had been helpful in researching my story; the main character is a newscaster. Good Morning Arizona jumped at the chance to interview me in studio because they were the story, their newscaster helping an author.
When you read the articles, notice the stories are not about me or Scorpion Bay. They’re about Dillons Restaurant and the Scorpion Bay Marina. Those were real places mentioned in the novel. The locations give scenes authenticity and they became product placements like Coke or Dunkin Doughnuts. They resulted in tangible benefits to the book promotion efforts of my book release and more specifically the book launch.
The restaurant and the marina not only benefited from media publicity, but they profited from my promotional efforts through social media such as my Facebook page, twitter page, Goodreads and my website.
During the launch party I made a point of asking attendees what brought them there. Several had boats at the marina. Some had come for the food. Half said they came because they read about the event in the newspaper or saw it on television. I sold twice as many books at the launch party than any event I had for my six prior novels, because the launch party for Scorpion Bay was at the real Scorpion Bay. The title itself is product placement.
Writers whose manuscript involves a real location should look for ways to not only add authenticity by using real locations, but they should look for locations that potentially offer produce placement. Partner with businesses, obtain their approval and the author should see how a relationship can work to their advantage.
My main character, Parker Knight, road a high tech Harley Davidson. Maybe I should approach them and surprise my wife by riding home on a black gleaming Harley…naaah.