August 2, 2013

Fake Swedish blurbs seem like good marketing to Russian publisher


Eksmo, a Russian publishing company, wanted to tout Tsvet Boli Krasny (“Red is the Color of Pain”) as a Swedish detective novel in the tradition of Steig Larsson. What’s the best way to give a Russian book the Larsson treatment?

First, you give the author a Swedish-sounding pseudonym, like “Eva Hansen,” and package the book with a sexy cover. Why not make up a bunch of praise from Swedish publishers that don’t exist? And then print 20,000 copies.

“Advertising is advertising,” said Alexander Koshelev, the head of the book’s imprint Yauza, according to the New York Daily News. “A lot of books are printed with slogans claiming they had a certain rank on the New York Times Bestseller List, and no one checks whether it’s true.”

He admitted the blurbs were fake, and called them all part of the “literary game.”

The Moscow News reported that Svesk Nyheter (Swedish News) trumpeted the book as “The most impressive Swedish detective novel since Steig Larsson!” and Öppna TV Stockholm praised its gritty portrait of Stockholm as one “that Swedish literature has never before known.”


Kirsten Reach is an editor at Melville House.