[ PW Home ] [ Bestsellers ] [ Subscribe ] [ Search ]

Publishers Weekly News

A Publicity Stunt That's Skin Deep
Bridget Kinsella -- 6/5/00

It has been said in jest that a writer will give his right arm to get a book noticed, but a pound of flesh? In one of the most truly bizarre, if not gruesome, attempts at publicity we've heard about, this month at the Canadian Booksellers Association Convention, author Kenneth J. Harvey will give out limited-edition sample booklets for his novel Skin Hound: There Are No Words (The Mercury Press) with traces of his own skin embedded in the covers.

Skin Hound tells the story of the psychiatric evaluation of an English professor/serial killer who likes to cut away his victim's skin. Harvey weaves his own real journal entries into the fictional story line, in which the professor confesses to killing not only his family but scores of others.

Since he put so much of himself into the book, and the prototype jacket looked like the color of his skin, Harvey suggested to his wife, who designed the cover, that he put some of his own DNA into the booklets, "thus forensically linking me to the book," he said. "The reader could then carry me around with the booklet." For the squeamish, booklets not containing bits of Harvey will also be on hand at CBA to promote this fall title.

So far, only the Canadian press has picked up on this ghoulish promotional story, and Harvey was recently featured in the National Post and on Canada A.M., a morning TV show. (A little Hannibal Lector with your coffee, anyone?)

The National Post reported that Harvey, an award-winning author in Canada, was the subject of previous controversy when he criticized publishers in his native Newfoundland for being interested "only in stories about fishermen." Harvey told PW that his next book is about a daughter's reunion with her father in Newfoundland. "It's a quiet, gentle book. A switch for me," he said.
Back To News
Search | Bestsellers | News | Features | Children's Books | Bookselling
Interview | Industry Update | International | Classifieds | Authors On the Highway
About PW | Subscribe
Copyright 2000. Publishers Weekly. All rights reserved.