The book in question is The Hunger Games. Massive bestseller, right?
I know what you're thinking. Bah,
kid's stuff! That's what I thought too. I was wrong.
Setting aside the merits of the
book, I wanted to track the path it took for this book to land in my
The Hunger Games comes out in
2008. Over the next year, it's in my peripheral vision. The book
seems to be everywhere but the cover doesn't reveal much about the
story. I dismiss it at the time as more YA lit. Harry Potter kid's
stuff. Not for me.
My nephew gives me a copy for
Christmas the next year. He tells me it's good. I don't even read the
blurb copy, my bias is that strong. Kid's stuff. Not for me.
The movie adaptation comes out in
2012 but it still doesn't register. I do, however, have a
vague idea of what the story is thanks to the movie trailer. I
dismiss it as a Battle Royale knock-off. The release of the sequel
the following year does nothing to sway me. Bias firmly in place.
Then a friend of mine mentions
the book a number of times. Heather Jackson is a member of the
Writeonsisters, an excellent blog about writing and publishing.
Heather is unabashed in her love for Suzanne Collins' book, often
referencing it in her posts about writing.
My ears perk up. Why? Two simple
reasons; I know Heather and I respect her tastes. If she loves the
book that much, then there's gotta be more to this than my bias is
The movie is on Netflix. Easy
peasy. I'm surprised at how much I enjoyed it, at how intelligent it
A week later, the sequel pops up
on Netflix too. Could I be any lazier? No. I watch this one. Same
By this point, I'm curious about
that first book. How did the writer establish the specific world of
Panem and its thirteen districts? How was the protagonist introduced
(something I'm always curious about)?
I download the sample of the
Hunger Games to my Kindle, start reading.
Sold. The book is on the
nightstand. I rip through it in two days.
Do I feel like a fool for
unfairly dismissing the book for so long? Sure. But I was struck more
by the winding path it took to get here. I bumbled along oblivious
and wilfully biased through the publishing phenomenon of the entire
series, a gift in my hand and two big Hollywood movies . What finally
convinced me to try it? The recommendation of someone whom I know and
trust. Simple as that.
So what's the take-away for
authors? Advertising doesn't sell anything. Marketing, at best,
builds awareness but that takes a long time and buckets of money.
Even blockbuster movie adaptations only go so far. In the end, what
gets a book into a reader's hands? The same method as always;
word of mouth.
You can decide whether that's
comforting or frightening.