Mar 19

Buy Come Barbarians and Son of France – GET A FREE POEM


This is from a review of my new novel, Son of France:

“The second in the series after 2013’s lovely/harrowing Come Barbarians, the Edmonton writer’s first sequel follows the haunted ruins of its protagonist, Christopher Kruse. We now move past his origin story in a way that believably notes its catalogue of scabs. Impressionistically, imagine the depth of feeling in Catcher in the Rye — but add terrorists stripping flesh with a bolt cutter and a lot more punching.”

The headline of the review, by Fish Griwkowsky, includes the phrase, “Babiak reinventing thrillers.”

Come Barbarians only had good reviews. Great reviews! It was embarrassing. But something happened in the last five years or so, in the publishing industry: reviews don’t motivate readers. I don’t know why.

What I have found, with these two novels, is that if I can get you to read them… you’re happy you did. You share the books, recommend them (with caveats about vegetable peelers and bolt cutters).

The problem is getting you to buy or borrow the novels, to give Come Barbarians and Son of France a chance.

Of course, this isn’t a unique problem. A store will use incentives and price manipulations to get us into the place because marketers know once we’re inside we buy. Every day, I get emails from multiple airlines convincing me to buy flights at nutty prices.

I don’t control the price of Come Barbarians and Son of France. My publisher puts a price on the novels, and stores do what they like. Amazon and Indigo discount the books, if you purchase them online. If I have some copies I’ll sell them to you at a loss just to get you to read them.

Self-published authors give away scores of copies of their books, often to each other, with the understanding that you will exchange five-star reviews on Amazon. It’s good for the algorithm. I can’t do that either.

What can I do, as an enticement, an incentive, a manipulation?

I KNOW! I’ll write you a poem. Here is an example of my poetry-writing prowess.

If you send me a photograph of yourself with copies of COME BARBARIANS and SON OF FRANCE, I will write you a poem. A poem just for you! I will post the photograph of you, with your poem, on this website.

Mar 10

In search of a hummus sponsor

Dear Adam Carr,

As the CEO of the second-largest hummus maker in the United States and a major player in the global hummus industry, I know you understand the value of relationships.

Hummus is the most delicious food ever invented. But it’s more than that. It’s history and culture, it’s romance, it’s a bridge between peoples, and — as we all know — it’s the only appropriate snack for book clubs.

If not for hummus there would be no book clubs. If not for book clubs, there would be no books. If not for books, there would be no reason to live. If there were no reason to live, there would be no people.

There would only be pandas and jaguars. Think about it for a second.

Most book clubs happen after dinner and before sex. They are, as you know, an excuse for people with university degrees to drink too much wine. I did an informal market research study and learned that if you took wine and hummus away from attractive middle-aged people they would see the sham in what we call “democracy” and riot nightly in the streets: broken windows, crying children, piles of burning tires.

I am sure you understand the gravity of what you do every day at Tribe, the immense responsibility you have as a keeper of order and beauty on the continent. I just wanted to remind you and your entire team that most of what we take for granted in North America — commerce, love, literature, public transportation, jazz music, lingerie — would not exist if it were not for what you make every day.

That’s right: hummus.

Why am I telling you this? I am a novelist. My last book, Come Barbarians, and my latest one, Son of France, come with a promise to readers. If you read my novel and you invite me to your book club I will bring hummus and a bottle of red wine from the Southern Rhône Valley of France.

Now, I can make hummus. I do. But then I began thinking of you, Mr. Carr, and how deeply you value relationships. I can help you and you can help me.

How about it: I bring delicious Tribe hummus to the book club, the wine-buzzed readers taste it, and voilà: they’re hooked. You build market share in the coveted 35-85 mostly-female demographic and I don’t have to make so much damn hummus.

I await your response with gratitude for everything you do for all of us.


Todd Babiak


Mar 9

Book marketing tactic number two


A musician and scholar and mad scientist, Trevor Rockwell, suggested on The Facebook that I try to sell my novels on Kijiji.

He was joshing me, of course. But since I had promised to enact all of your ideas to sell the mysterious cultural artifact called the crime novel, I posted THIS AD ON KIJIJI.

This is a picture of Trevor Rockwell’s head with some colourful squiggles about it. Listen to his music, you.

Mar 8



Thank you for all your terrific book marketing ideas. More than half of them involve hummus. As a shameless fan of hummus, let me tell you there is nothing wrong with that. Son of France is on sale now, so I’ll start putting some of your fine ideas into practice.

Here is the first one: a book video.

“Come play with us, Daddy.” – from the Son of France video


Feb 23

BREAKING: white middle-aged man writes novel

I love writing novels. It keeps me happy and sane. It’s an honour, mostly because of you. That is, when you read what I write. It’s magical.

But I understand that “man publishes book” is about as fascinating, in itself, as the number of spiders who come up our drains in the springtime. This puts me in a vexing spot, as an author and a marketer. Somehow I have to encourage you to spend the equivalent of a night at the movies on Son of France but I can’t hector you into doing it.

I have to make an emotional connection with you.

But how?



For years I’ve struggled with this. One way authors get attention for their work is to solicit blurbs from more famous writers and celebrities. Those are the nice things other authors write on the back of your book. Once I stalked Richard Ford until he gave me a blurb. He should have had me arrested. My editor asked me to ask Jian Ghomeshi for a blurb, before the unpleasantness, because we were friendly, and he missed the deadline and wrote something about me being a good human. I’m pretty sure he didn’t read it.

For a while it was a good idea to make “book trailers.” I made a joke one, when I lived in France, for Toby: A Man. Then some friends and I made an absolutely insane book trailer for Come Barbarians and put it up on snooty Vimeo. There have been billboards and advertisements on bus benches. I offered to bring hummus and French wine to every book club that invites me as a guest. I even Skyped into a few, and arranged for hummus and French wine to be delivered. Many took me up on it. Some were spectacularly weird. I ADORED IT.

But still.

Son of France will be published on March 8. I want to see if there are any other ways to sell these book things. Between now and March 8 I’ll try just about anything.


Let me know at toddbabiak [at] shaw [dot] ca. I’ll DO and POST THE DOING of your finest schemes.