Saturday, April 30, 2011

SELLING SCANDINAVIANS



Yesterday I was very relieved to discover that the Royal Wedding dress did not have a marketing sticker on it that said 'The Next Princess Diana'.

Is it not possible for publishers to ignore Stieg Larsson, and Henning Mankell, and try to sell authors on their own merits?

It was bizarre that Henning Mankell's The Man from Beijing was sold with a sticker of Kenneth Branagh playing Wallander, when the book had no connection with the Ystad detective at all except that part of the book was set in Sweden.

But then we also had Johan Theorin and Jo Nesbo both marketed as the 'Next Stieg Larsson'. Camilla Lackberg sold with 'If you like Jo Nesbo you will love this' stickers. Hakan Nessser was favourably compared with both Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell by someone who obviously thinks their books are similar.

Even Professor Leif G.W. Persson was sold with a sticker that proclaimed he was reminiscent of Henning Mankell and of course Stieg Larsson, but not as pretty as Camilla Lackberg. [I added that last bit myself, in case you wondered.]
Even Camilla Ceder's debut novel Frozen Moment comes with the blurb 'Move over Wallander'.

In my excitement I mistakenly posted on Friend Feed that Villain by Shuichi Yoshida did not mention any Scandinavians on the cover, but then remembered an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled Shuichi Yoshida, Japan's Stieg Larsson?

Enough is enough I thought as I viewed the cover of Camilla Lackberg's latest novel The Gallows Bird, sent to me by the very generous Maxine of Petrona.
No stickers, no mention of other Scandinavians with the blurbs on the front cover merely stating 'Seven Million Books Sold' and 'The hottest female writer in Sweden at the moment'.
Do male crime writers ever get described as the 'hottest'?
But in small print on the back cover is the sentence 'Translated by Stieg Larsson's and Henning Mankell's Steven T. Murray'.
Do writers get upset when their translator is marketed as another more famous writers property? I should not think so if it boosts sales, and I expect that will happen despite the very small print.
Read Steven T Murray's complete list of translations here.

Reviews of some excellent books translated by Steven T. Murray.


I would have pointed out that the photo of Camilla Lackberg on the back cover of The Gallows Bird is far too small, but for the fact that the Swedish female crime writer closest to my age is Maj Sjowall.

8 Comments:

Blogger Maxine said...

Excellent points, Norman, and sorry that the photo is so small ;-). I made the point about the translator being named on the cover in my review of this book, which isn't yet out (submitted to Euro Crime) - great minds think alike!

1:30 AM  
Blogger Kenneth said...

Your comment re the "next Princess Diana" was stupid and tasteless. Maybe you should just stick to book commentary.

5:25 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Kenneth-
My comment may have been slightly tasteless, but I do not believe it was stupid.
I apologise if anyone was offended, but I think it was a fair comment on the media's search for a new meal ticket to provide a stream of stories, and photographs for magazines and newspapers. As such it could be fairly compared to the Stieg Larsson-Henning Mankell marketing campaign.

The pressure the media put on Princess Diana will be repeated, possibly even increased, on the new Duchess of Cambridge. Hopefully she will receive the support and love from her husband that was so sadly lacking in Princess Diana's case.

6:08 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Maxine-I look forward to your review, and will read The Gallows Bird after Mankell, Vargas and Yoshida.
Mankell, Vargas and Yoshida sounds like an international firm of lawyers with mafia and yakuza clients. ;o)

6:11 AM  
Blogger Dorte H said...

LOL

I hope these writers (many of whom write better than Stieg Larsson) have a sense of humour. I wouldn´t mind being marketed as the next Camilla Läckberg (without a photo), but I have read a few Swedish debuts I wouldn´t be proud of being compared to.

11:32 AM  
Anonymous Beth said...

I agree with both comments, actually. The template of royal weddings meant it was impossible not to draw comparisons, but also impossible to not hope that many practical lessons have been learned by the royal family in the past 30 years. Good luck to the young(ish) couple.
And as to the marketing of Scandewegian books - it makes me howl with dismay. Possibly it is aimed at those time-poor people who grab books in airport newsagencies with 5 minutes to their next flight. However, in my experience those are the very people who use their e-tools to be particular about what they read. An example, perhaps, which marketers would be well advised to follow ...

8:40 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Beth.
I think those of us who are tired of these comparisons will have to wait a while for them to stop. It must sell books are they would not repeat the same theme again and again and again......................

9:31 AM  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Probably the "next Stieg Larson" craze will wind down eventually.

Sometimes these comparisons boggle my mind, as place of birth is the only similarity among some writers. None of them write the same way.

And on the comment on the "royal wedding," although I am no fan, I do hope that the media does not act destructively -- and like barracudas -- towards the young woman here as they did towards Diana. She had so many problems to contend with, and the media made her life miserable, and ultimately, destroyed it.

4:25 PM  

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