22 Apr 2011

Happy Easter and a case of brilliant marketing ...

In Norway Easter is about oranges, marzipan, snow - and crime novels. The oranges, snow and sweets are easy to understand - but what's with the crim novels, you may ask.
This article was published in Mystery Readers Journal - Scandinavian issue, in 2007.
The piece is about crime novels and Easter, but it's also about what brilliant marketing can do for a book - or in this case, for a genre.
Happy Easter everyone!

Crime at Easter
Singh & Normann
Norwegian crime writers have something no other writers in any other country have. Something other crime writers envy us, and love when it happens to their (translated) work.

About two-three weeks before the Easter holidays, there’s a crime wave in Norway. And by that we don’t mean criminals run free. No, it’s the crime writer’s that run free – or at least their books. Every publisher will have at least one or two crime novels in the bookstores for this season; it’s tradition. In Norway, a crime novel is as much a part of the Easter Holidays as snow, Easter eggs and fluffy bunnies.

It’s been going on for 84 years!
What happened was that two university students, low on cash, got a bright idea. They wrote a crime novel about six students robbing a train on Holy Saturday.
Not really a very original or sensational plot, you ask? You’re right.
The brilliance was in the advertising:
On 24 March, 1923, the headline in Norway’s largest paper read: “The train to Bergen robbed tonight!” in large captions. The headline scared people all over the country, and family and friends called the police to enquire about their loved ones on the night train. The police directed their attention to the small print in the corner of the ad: written by Jonathan Jerv. The brother of one of the students was the head of the largest publishing house at the time, and he agreed to print a small numbers of books. The advertising was his idea. The book became a huge success.
From there it grew, and now it’s A Tradition.
Something crime writers, their publisher and crime lovers are very grateful for. For the crime writer it means better chances for your book to be noticed. You rarely have to fight the celebrity bio, the latest “Great Novel of the Year” and so on at Christmas. (Of course, you do have to compete with all the other crime novels). People want crime fiction.
So, if you’re to be published in Norwegian, ask your Norwegian publisher for the Easter season. Chances are, you’ll be well received.

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