A Laughing Matter? Author Jennifer Belle Thinks So.

[2 June 2010]

By Peta Jinnath Andersen

Some authors go to great lengths to promote their books. Remember James Frey and the million little pieces Oprah broke him into after he lied about his novel (more fiction than memoir) on her show? According to the New York Post, author Jennifer Belle stepped up her own promotional efforts this weekend—a la When Harry met Sally. Hiring actresses to burst out laughing while reading her new novel, The Seven Year Bitch, in high traffic hot spots around New York, Belle hopes the laughter—and presumably the associated buzz—will boost sales. From the Post:

After receiving more than 500 résumés, she auditioned 100 actresses and hired 40 to fan out across the city and burst out laughing in public while reading her book. The actresses are being paid $8 an hour, a source said, and will hit high-traffic areas like the Red Steps above the TKTS booth in Times Square. Belle says it’s like in India where people hire professionals to cry at their loved ones’ funerals. “I’m hiring actors to laugh at my book,” Belle explains. “Publishing is no laughing matter these days.”

The Seven Year Bitch is about “the boredom, anger, and hurt that can creep into even the best of marriages—and affect even the calmest of wives. In The Seven Year Bitch, Belle delivers a dead-on, raw, and hilarious account of motherhood and marriage, and discovering that the life you have is exactly the one you wanted.”

What’s a fabulously fun New York City girl to do when she finds herself in a matrimonial rut—disillusioned, sex life with her husband on the wane, and quickly turning into a big-time nag? No, she hasn’t gotten the seven-year itch—taking care of the kids and her husband and rarely feeling that her needs come first has turned her into a seven-year bitch.

In any other genre, Belle’s idea would be, well, laughable. But the marriage-mommy-unhappily-ever-after plot is true enough in real life, relatable to women everywhere. And laughter gets women talking faster than a cute puppy, avocado smeared kid, or heavenly handbag.

Did the ploy work? It’s probably too early to tell, but a little Amazon sleuthing over the course of this week may offer some insight. At the time of this writing, Belle’s latest novel, The Seven Year Bitch is ranked a respectable 13,855th on Amazon. To put that in perspective, bestseller Candace Bushnell’s new YA novel, The Carrie Diaries is ranked at 81st, the latest Sophie Kinsella Shopaholic paperback (Shopaholic & Baby) is 9,988th, and Marion Keyes’ The Brightest Star in the Sky is 23,844th. Unlike it’s chick lit kin, though, The Seven Year Bitch has only one review so far. I’ll be checking in periodically this week to see if Belle gets any more reviews, or if there’s a jump in the sales rank.

Would you buy a book based on someone else’s laughing at it? Have you read any of Belle’s other novels (Going Down, High Maintenance, or Little Stalker?

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/126381-a-laughing-matter-author-jennifer-belle-thinks-so/