Some of you are old enough to remember my insinuations about a stealth marketing campaign in the works.
That campaign is now in full swing.
A Printing Mishap
I was quite excited to order a second print run of Advent 9, since the first had sold out so quickly. A few modest improvements were made to the book’s appearance to give the impression of a traditionally published work. And the new copies turned out sensationally well.
Except for one thing…
The proof copy I was sent by the printer had no issues, but the shipment copies I got after approving the order had a transparency error that was not present in any of the design files. The creature designs on the back cover are not supposed to be enclosed in black rectangles. The same goes for the Tristellation Media logo.
I got in touch with the printer, who without hesitation agreed to send me a new shipment with corrected covers, free of charge. I was delighted with the customer service, but this left me with a conundrum: what to do with the 100 books I had already been sent? I would not feel comfortable selling them, since they have such an obvious printing error, and yet, because the books are still functionally readable, I couldn’t throw them away.
In the end, there was only one acceptable compromise.
Donating the Flawed Copies
I’m hardly the first person to ever donate books. Libraries, schools, prisons, and the military all have book donation programs, doing what good they can with books that have no home.
There’s just one problem: none of these charities would accept 100 copies of the same book. Any library that was given more than two copies of the same book would attempt to sell the rest (and mulch whatever they cannot sell). Schools are the same. And the military only accepts donations of requested books, with many prisons bound by the same rule.
For a time, it seemed as if I had absolutely no options for donating these books in a way that would not result in the bulk of them being destroyed.
The Solution: Little Free Libraries
The Little Free Library organization is responsible for placing mailbox-sized book-swapping establishments in neighborhoods across the world. These micro-libraries operate under the rule of take-one or leave-one, with few, if any, restrictions.
And there are hundreds of them in my home state alone.
This presented me with an opportunity: leave signed copies of Advent 9 at LFLs in my area, then launch a modest publicity campaign to let people know about the treasures hidden in their midst. You might think of it as a citywide Easter egg hunt.
I ended up depositing two copies of the book at each LFL (it is considerably easier to make 50 stops than 100). And once I had wrapped up all the deliveries, I broadcast my deeds.
I decided to publicize this mass donation in the way most noticeable across a semi-urban American community: billboards.
Billboards announcing the giveaway are now showing in northern Utah. And while it is too early to tell if the campaign has led to anyone finding the free copies of Advent 9, I am satisfied that I have put the books to good use.
If by chance anyone manages to find a hidden book, they will be rewarded with a reading experience unlike any other. And I believe I already mentioned that every one of the hidden copies is signed.
If you’re reading this, and you live in or around northern Utah, you may find that a free copy of Advent 9 is hiding somewhere in your neighborhood.
If you’re looking for a hint, please be advised that the Little Free Library organization has a website with a world map, showing the location of every LFL in the world. This would be a good starting point for any Easter egg hunters.
I can’t guarantee that the free copies will be available for very long. The billboard campaign has been active since Friday. You’d better get a move on.
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