Things are getting curiouser and curiouser.
In selling spirits, that is. I don't mean the sort of thing that haunts you (well, maybe some of you). I'm talking about selling beer and wine. Yes. Selling beer and wine. Let's see if we can draw some parallels with romance writing.
First, some basics. We drink beer and wine because it tastes good. I live in wine country, where foodies from all over the world descend upon our little community for world class restaurants, scenery and the Wine Country Lifestyle. There are even places where they do olive and olive oil tasting, as well as a shop that does chocolate tasting. Who knew there were so many varieties of chocolate?
I must admit, we do live in a "charmed" place most people only get to experience for a few weeks during their lifetime. Let's do a be honest. Can you really tell the difference between Two Buck Chuck and a $100 bottle of cab? Many could not. Heck, I remember the days when, if you brought your own jug, you could fill up your bottle for .50 a gallon. And it was great, drinkable wine, too.
But how do you market wine when the buyer can't get to the winery, but buys their wines at, say Safeway, where the elevator music is blaring along with the clean up on Aisle 10 announcements? If you are smart, like Truett-Hurst partners of Hopland, you package it differently. Suddenly your bottles leap off the shelves with names like: Curious Beasts Blood Red Wine, Bewitched Pinor Noir and Fuscia with a Girls Gone Wild label. We live in stranger and stranger times, my friends.
Marketing execs have found what everyone else has discovered: packaging will sell wine. Some people buy wine to just look at. They buy wine with unusual labels.
In the recent sensation, Book 2 of the trilogy, Fifty Shades Darker, mention was made of a particular sweet wine. Sales for this wine went up so fast, they had little chance to keep up with the demand. It was a small windfall for the winery, Vin de Constance.
Was this wine so superb that it warranted all this attention, or did people buy it just because it was referred to in the now infamous book? (Note to self: use winery names in my vampire series, especially the sex scenes that take place there.) Perhaps I've found another outlet for my books. It might launch a new trend in wine tours: going AWOL and making it against a massive oak barrel.
Not to be outdone, beer brewers have come up with similar things for their labels. Ever tried Dead Guy Ale? It's actually excellent. How about Voodoo Donut Bacon and Maple Ale? And while we are at it, do the Voodoo Donuts taste any better because they are served by Nurse Nancy behind the counter, where you can get your sugar fix?
I've also enjoyed Damnation Ale at the Russian River Brewery, where they also serve Redemption, Temptation and other selections for your various moods.
Even Rachel Ray has gotten into the act.
Romance novels need great packaging too. We call them covers. This Book 2 of the Golden Vampires of Tuscany will be out on Valentine's Day. Naturally, I packaged it in red, for the occasion, but also in keeping with the theme. Jimmy Thomas does a good job being Paolo Monteleone here.
I do buy books based on the covers. If I want to read about commanding alpha males, I don't want to see a skinny kid who looks like he's right out of high school. Maybe my husband doesn't have shoulders like Jimmy, but my heroes sure do.
Just like the wine or the beer, perhaps my books aren't any better than anyone else's, but I think the packaging sure makes it stand out.
What do you think? Have you ever bought wine for the label? A book just because of the cover? Confessions wanted! I won't tell a soul.
Life is one fool thing after another.
Love is two fool things after each other.