How Far is Too Far? — Extreme Book Marketing Efforts by Joan Rivers

Did you ever think about chaining yourself to a Costco shopping cart to promote your book?  No?  Well, if you had, I’m sorry to tell you Joan Rivers beat you to it.

According to Rivers, Costco refuses to stock her book, “I Hate Everyone … Starting with Me,” which has made the New York Times bestseller list. The store reportedly banned the book because it has “naughty” words on the back cover. Fighting back, Rivers chained herself to a shopping cart in the store and shouted through a bullhorn, protesting the ban and (simultaneously) promoting her book. Police were called to the scene, but no citations were issued.

Many believe the protest was a staged publicity stunt to help promote the book. Rivers had her own film crew present as she protested, and she willingly talked to the media after the event. Whether the intention was to protest or promote, the story is creating a lot of buzz about the author and her new book. Some might say the old cliché “there is no such thing as bad publicity” is true.

Rivers shows the extremes to which some authors are willing to go in order to market their books, but she also teaches self-publishing authors an important lesson: not every retailer will be willing to stock your book, even if you think they should. Retailers do have guidelines they follow when it comes to which books they stock in their stores.  If a celebrity such as Joan Rivers can’t get her book (which, I remind you, is a New York Times bestseller) onto the shelves at Costco, self-publishing authors will most likely experience similar hurdles.

If one of your book marketing goals is to get your book onto the shelves of a major retailer, think about the marketing efforts you are currently making and learn from your experiences (and rejections, if you have had any). I don’t encourage you to chain yourself to a shopping cart in a bookstore parking lot, but if a bookstore tells you no, consider what other avenues you might take in order to accomplish your goal.

I’d love to know, what do you think of the Joan Rivers protest?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press.  In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at

One thought on “How Far is Too Far? — Extreme Book Marketing Efforts by Joan Rivers

  1. I think she was moving away from the low hanging fruit with this one. I coach authors how to get on TV as that is where the big sales are, and of course Ms. Rivers is all over TV as it is. This stunt was just a waste of her time. Thanks, Edward Smith.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s