You might remember that in 2005, a woman paid $25,100 for the privilege of having a Stephen King character—a zombie, in fact—named after her brother. (The book was Cell, and the zombie’s name was “Huizenga.”) The proceeds, earned in an auction, went to the First Amendment Project, which has also allowed bidding for characters in John Grisham, Dave Eggers and Neil Gaiman books.
A news item in yesterday’s New York Times reminded me of this odd concept of reader participation: Tony Award-winning actress Patti LuPone is holding a contest for readers to name her forthcoming autobiography. She explains: “Dolls, I’ve been busy writing the story of my theatrical life and need your help to find a suitable and fabulous title.”
Romance novelist Robyn Carr is holding a similar contest (which you may have seen advertised on our site): Readers can enter for a chance to have a character named after them in one of her 2011 books, specifically, a kitchen colleague in the restaurant where we’ll first meet the story’s heroine. (Granted, the difference here is that Carr’s and King’s contests are all luck or money, whereas Lupone’s takes creativity. The NYT suggests “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina.”)
In October I blogged about The Amanda Project, a YA mystery series by Stella Lennon. The series is innovative because social media plays a role in the books’ editorial content; readers can interact on The Amanda Project website, and their comments could be incorporated into characters or subplots.
Commenters: What do you think about this marketing/fundraising technique? Would YOU like to have a character named for you in a book? Or your title splashed across a new hardcover? Or is editorial content best left to the experts—the authors themselves?