Death to Kenny Rogers (and other shameless publicity stunts)


I have made so many mistakes in life. Not with regrettable tattoos or waking up next to former presidents from Georgia (Hi, Jimmy!) or anything like that. My most recent mistakes have all been PR-related. Specifically, book publicity.

When I actually had an incredible streak of good publicity it was due to things vastly out of my control. Jack Daniel’s simply sent me a very polite cease and desist.

Prior to that, everything I did to try and get people excited about my books usually ended in silence. Here are some of my bad ideas:

1. Sex Dungeon for Sale Coloring Contest. Who knows where I came up with this idea, but I loved it. My talented friend, Mackenzie Haley, actually made a four-page coloring book based on short stories in my book, Sex Dungeon for Sale!. We posted the pages online and the color job with the most votes won a stack of my favorite books from that year, which included Amelia Gray’s AM/PM and a bunch of others I’m forgetting.

2 Fonzie Bookplate Giveaway. I really loved giving stuff away, so, for whatever reason, I decided I’d draw custom bookplates for anyone who bought Sex Dungeon for Sale!. Anything you wanted, I’d draw. My favorite suggestion was a skeleton eating pizza. I randomly picked one book plate recipient to also win a copy of this Fonzie Record.

3. Death to Kenny Rogers. Kenny was the villain of Black Hole Blues, so I thought I’d let out my inner-Kardashian and start an online spat. For about four months I made posts consisting of entirely false facts about Kenny Rogers, like:

FACT: Kenny Rogers, sparked by jealousy at the popularity of Julia Child and Emeril, has vowed to win over the culinary community with his own “unique” dining style.

NEED PROOF? Chapters include:

“Human Flesh: The Poor Man’s Rotisserie Chicken.”

“If You’re Lucky Enough to Capture an Infant, They’re Delicious.”

“Macaroni Salads a la Kenny (Now with 20% more bald eagle chunks)”y

4. Death to Kenny Rogers: The Game Show. I loved doing the website so much I took it on the road. At my book readings for the Black Hole Blues tour I asked the audience questions similar to the blog posts. Correct answers won vintage Kenny Rogers puffy stickers, The Gambler 8-tracks and a bunch of other stuff nobody wanted. I still have hundreds of anti-Kenny buttons if anyone wants a gross or two.

5. Broken Piano for President Drinking Game. Broken Piano is about a guy who’s more productive when he’s drunk than when he’s sober. So, I give the audience little cards that tell you to drink when I read certain words, just like college drinking games based on movies. I drink along with the crowd. My record is finishing 3.5 beers in about a 15 minute reading.

6. Broken Piano for President, the book on tape. The book’s title stems from a cassette tape the band in the story releases. So, I teamed with LA’s Deathbomb Arc Records to release a cassette version, featuring a soundtrack by noise rock legends like Lightning Bolt’s Brian Chippendale and Foot Village’s Brian Miller. This actually wasn’t a failure, we sold out of both print runs quickly.

Previously: Self-inflicted bullet wounds and other literary stunts.


— Patrick Wensink is the author of Broken Piano for President and two other books. He has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Forbes and a host of other publications that are probably way too classy for him.

More Like This

In Defense of Sophie Turner, It’s Nearly Impossible to Be a “Good Mother”

The expectation of erasing oneself and sacrificing everything for your children is crushing

Sep 28 - Alicia Andrzejewski

7 Classic Novels That Help Us Understand Contemporary Zimbabwe 

Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu, author of the "City of Kings" trilogy, recommends books by Zimbabweans that examine race, gender, and the nation

Sep 28 - Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu

The Coolest Bookshelves from Our Contest

We've asked for the best shelfies, and you delivered

Sep 28 - Katie Robinson
Thank You!