The Barking Dog Syndrom

Before I get started, I’d like to point out two new blogs posted by Christian writers. These are not new writers, mind you. Both are experienced and talented, albeit unpublished. The first is Rich Bullock, my long-time carpool buddy to the Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference. The other is Sally Apokedak, 2007 Genesis winner and good friend and writing partner. This is Sally’s second blog, the first one being All about Children’s Books. This busy woman also publishes a writing for children column for BellaOnline.

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Now we’re going to the dogs. 😀 Not in the cliched use of the phrase (at least I hope not!) I actually want to think about dogs—yapping dogs and deep-throated barking dogs—and promotion.

I live in a neighborhood in which twelve out of every sixteen houses have a dog (to spare you doing the math, that’s 75%. I could have said three fourths, too, but just wanted to be different. But it’s probably important to note that this is a pure guess on my part, but I think a pretty accurate one.) From my apartment where I work day in and day out, I am privy to the sounds of many of these dogs.

Repeated sounds. The bored yapping of the little white dog across the street. The incessant yip, yip of the dog on the corner whenever someone walks by the house, the chorus of barking from the four dogs whose yard borders a neighboring school whenever the children come out to play … or the maintenance man walks across the field … or a yard supervisor … well, you get the idea. The point is, dogs bark more often than not in my neighborhood.

And a good percentage of the time, I tune them out just as I do the sounds of traffic from the boulevard a block away or from the freeway a few blocks further on.

When I notice the barking is when it has been quiet and starts up suddenly, insistently, when it is louder than usual, and when the tone changes or when the dogs in the front and in the back all join in. In short, when the barking is out of the ordinary.

What does any of this have to do with promotion? I think consumers often feel like those wanting them to buy are yapping at them. A sort of bored, repetitive, refrain “Buy this, you need it, it’s the best one you’ll every find, and you can have it for the bargain price of …” Quite frankly, we’ve learned to tune a lot of it out, or turn it off. We can mute TV commercials or fast forward past them. We can have our names put on the do-not-call registry, and we can drop junk mail in the trash can on our way to the living room. We can delete spam or have it blocked for us. We can even block pop-up windows.

And still, ads pepper the sides of our roads and the sidebars of our blogs. So we’ve become adept at ignoring them, scrolling past them, clicking over to the next blog that isn’t running a promotion.

And yet, what do writers do when they have a book coming out? After all, how can people buy if they do not know a product exists, in this case, our baby we’ve worked for years to see in print. We promote, of course. But how can our promotion be something different from the yapping-dog promotion all around us?

That, I think, needs to be the writer’s job. Separation from the myriad of voices clamoring for consumer attention. Maybe we can explore some ideas this week.

Published in: on April 28, 2008 at 11:29 am  Comments (5)  
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  1. “And yet, what do writers do when they have a book coming out? After all, how can people buy if they do not know a product exists, in this case, our baby we’ve worked for years to see in print. We promote, of course. But how can our promotion be something different from the yapping-dog promotion all around us?”

    When you find out, Becky, let me know, will you?

    Honestly, I find the “stumping” for one’s book often embarrassing. Kind of sometimes for the already published authors particularly . . . Am I the only one?


  2. I began reading one of my favorite writer’s blog long before I sold my first book. I EXPECTED her to mention her work, and kind of hoped she’d give some fascinating tidbits into what went into the process of writing books. She talks about all kinds of stuff, but when something new regarding one of her novels comes about (audio, screenplays, funny fan mail), she lets us know that too.

    I write books now too, but also love the sea, and American Idol, and my kids. When I don’t mention one of them for awhile, I get emails asking me about them–I’m not kidding! I feel like I’m part of one big ol’ cool community, and it would be silly not to let them know about my latest project. Not every day, because that would be a big yawn, but as things happen. There’s nothing worse than when someone I’ve known for a long time (and this has happened) says, “You wrote a book? Why didn’t you tell me?” Sometimes in trying not to be obnoxious, you can end up making people feel left out.


  3. I’ve not read the post yet but… since you’re just guessing it really doesn’t matter but I just can’t help mentioning that 8 out of 12 houses would be 66.66 percent, I think. Two thirds. heh heh.


  4. OK now I’ve read the post. And it’s a good’un. You are so right–I ignore ads all the time. And yet, I know those companies aren’t spending all that money advertising only to have it not work. Some of the junk on those billboards leaks in, apparently.

    But effective advertising is targeted advertising.

    If my gutters are clogged and I pass a billboard for a gutter cleaning service I am likely going to remember the name. I pass a bail bondsman billboard all the time and I remember it because I think, “Ah, yes, in this neighborhood it makes sense to advertise such a thing. But since I haven’t needed bail I can’t remember the name of the guy, even though I’ve taken special notice of the board.

    So even if all the dogs start barking and get my attention, if I don’t need the service, I’m not going to pay attention.

    So I’ll pick on Julie since she posted. Even though I know she’s a good writer with a fresh voice and I love the look of her blog and she’s adorable in person (I enjoyed meeting her at Mount Hermon) Julie can’t really advertise in a way to get me to pay attention simply because I’m not her target audience. It would not pay her to advertise on children’s lit sites, in other words. She needs to advertise where women who like to read are. (I know I’m a woman who likes to read, but I’m not normal. I read maybe one adult book a year–I’d like to read more but there are so many books, keeping up with children’s publishing is all I can handle.) Anyway, my guess is that we not only have to bark with a cuter bark, we also have to bark in the right neighborhood.

    I know I’m not saying anything profound. Just thought I’d throw it onto the table anyway.

    hey, thanks for the links to me. You’re a pal. =0)


  5. Nicole, I have a few generalities to mention, but what Julie said is certainly critical. Readers won’t feel spammed if we have a connection. It’s one of the things that LL Barkat and Mark Goodyear said in their blogging seminar at MH—build a community, treat those who stop by your blog as guests, not customers. Since I have nothing to sell, I’d never considered any other option, but I can see how it would be tempting to do the other.

    Sally, your point is excellent. Targeted barking! Uh, and thanks for catching the math error. Too funny that I was sparing others from doing the work. I’ll go in and fix it, but for those who read this after the fact, suffice it to say, I butchered a simple equation!



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