Marketing The Shack

I posted a short review of The Shack here, earlier. I would love to hear from my readers about another, related topic: the book’s marketing. In my opinion, the way in which The Shack has been marketed raises some disturbing questions, of a kind I don’t normally associate with “mainstream” “Christian” books.

First, there is the Missy Project, which is explained in a two-page blurb at the end of the physical copies of the book, as well as on the book’s official site. (Missy, for those who have not read the book, is the name of a little girl who is abducted and murdered in the book.) This blurb encourages people to blog about it, write reviews (especially positive ones, of course), display it, seek positive reviews from others, buy multiple copies to give away, and so on. My favorite:

Talk about the book on email lists you’re on, forums you frequent and other places you engage other people on the Internet. Don’t make it an advertisement, but share how this book impacted your life and offer people the link to The Shack website.

To me, this sounds like straight-up viral marketing. The proceeds of the book, so far as I can tell, are not being donated to any charitable cause, but are going to the publisher and the author. So, either the author and others are really very convinced that the book is life-changing and are committed to bringing their message to a wide audience (which, conveniently, sells more books), or this is a shameless plug.

Then, there is the author’s site, the home page of which opens with this:

If you are so inclined and would like to write a review for Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble, especially a 5 star review, we would greatly appreciate it.

If that’s not a shameless plug for a book, I don’t know what is. In fact, the entire site feels like one big marketing device. Look at it for yourself.

Loyal readers: what are your thoughts?

6 Replies to “Marketing The Shack”

  1. While reading The Shack, I kept thinking it would be great if there was a study/discussion guide to go with it. I finally decided that God was urging me to write one. I would be glad to send you a copy that you are welcome to copy and share with others. Email me at prayerdigm.bookstudy@yahoo.com
    Trish Pickard

  2. Hi Trish. I appreciate the offer and admire the intent behind your efforts. I think, though, that the best way to read any Christian book – fiction or non-fiction – is by comparing it to the contents of Scripture. I hope both the readers of The Shack and those who read your study guide will ultimately look to the Bible as they attempt to make sense of the book. God bless!

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