I can't believe I've never thought of this before.
For years I've been a fan of the documentarian Morgan Spurlock. With an easy ingratiating charm, Spurlock has created films about the fast-food plague in America (and everywhere else) by eating nothing but McDonald's food in SuperSize Me; he's looked (obviously, before this year) for Osama bin Laden; he's created a very good docu-TV series, 30 Days, in which a person tests his or her belief system by living with someone of very opposite views, for a month. Of course, 30 Days has been cancelled. That's TV.
Last year, Spurlock made a movie about product placement in the entertainment business and financed it entirely through--you guessed it--product placement. He called it Pom Wonderful Presents the Greatest Movie Ever Sold. And the pre-mise was that by draw-ing atten-tion to the "subtle" ways in which companies get their products noticed in movies, perhaps he could best educate people to what they are seeing, even if they usually don't notice it.
At around the same time, it was reported that the New Meadowlands Stadium (a name that was destined to test truth-in-advertising laws in only a few years), the home of the New York Giants and Jets--yes, they play in New Jersey, which makes you wonder how they're the New York Giants and Jets--had sold "naming rights" to MetLife for a cool $400-million. So it gets to be the MetLife Stadium for the next 25 years (or so).
I got the point, in spades.
In fact, I did everything but smite myself in the forehead. I should have considered this years ago. If the one thing that holds a writer back is the financial end of the business--and it is--then there's one way to eliminate the unpredictability of publishing and guarantee artistic freedom and a steady income.
That's right--I'm selling the naming rights to my next book.
Now, I should be clear about this, for many legal and ethical reasons. My REAL next book, OLD HAUNTS, is already named (it's called OLD HAUNTS) and will be on a bookshelf hopefully near you in February, which isn't nearly as far off as it used to be. So start saving your pennies, all 799 of them. (That's $7.99, and only if you're paying full retail.) I'll do the math for you--if you start now, that's a little over a nickel a day. But that's not the book we're discussing here.
And no, it's not even the book I'm writing at the moment, um, along with my dear friend E.J. Copperman (oh, we're the same person--there, I said it!). That book is #4 in the Haunted Guesthouse series, to be followed by--you guessed it!--#5 in the Haunted Guesthouse series. Since those are already contracted with Berkley Prime Crime, I'm sure they'd have some say in the naming rights and--the nerve!--expect some of the money. Good luck with that.
If you or your multinational corporation is interested in having its name plastered all over the cover of a bona fide Jeff Cohen novel (and who wouldn't be?), you'll be talking about a project not yet contracted to a publisher. There are two such works currently extant, and my agent Josh Getzler will be thrilled to discuss the naming rights with you. If you don't like either of those, don't worry; I'll write more.
I have a few ethical standards (not many, but a few), so tobacco companies, weapons manufacturers and Tea Party candidates will not be considered. Wait. Maybe the Tea Party people can name the book. What the hell; by the time it comes out, the election will be over anyway.
Companies that I believe are a perfect fit (since I already use their products):Apple, Coca-Cola (Caffeine-free Diet Coke--no spokesperson yet!), Toyota, the New York Times, the New York Yankees, Disney (both Land and World), Takamine (look it up), NBC/Universal (distributors of Marx Brothers DVDs), Hershey's, Nintendo (I work out with the help of the Wii every day and have lost 30 lbs--an endorsement opportunity if ever I saw one!), and more locally, Thomas Sweets ice cream and Sonny's Bagels (those last two were two reasons I had initially gained the 30 lbs.).
But I'll discuss any company you'd like to promote on the cover of my novel. Following Spurlock's lead, if you'd like me to mention the product inside the book, we can talk about it, but that will be extra. If a character suddenly settles down behind the wheel of a Volkswagen Jetta and happens to mention the 15.5 cubic feet of cargo space, you'll know why, dear reader.
I'll be happy to appear as a spokesauthor for your product, if you like. I can drive your car (assuming you comp me out one), wear your clothes (that is, your company's; not your own--that'd be creepy), eat your ice cream, play your guitar or write my next novel on your computer, assuming you work for Apple. That Windows stuff simply doesn't make any sense.
Now, I know what you're thinking--this seems too good to be true! Authors only make a couple of bucks for each book; they're used to living on cereal (I can endorse your cereal!) and huddling around a trash-can fire for warmth. You think you can place your product on my next book for peanuts. Well, not in the new Naming Rights economy.
Consider this: I have two kids in college AT THE SAME TIME. I expect the naming company to at least cover that. So cough up. Money.
Josh will be entertaining bidders (and by that, I mean sitting eagerly by his phone; he doesn't tap dance or anything--do you, Josh?). Imagine: (Your Company's Name) Presents: A Novel by Jeff Cohen.
It doesn't get better than that. Get bidding!