Last week, I went to see a movie.

It was not what I expected.

Let me explain.

The movie, Magic Mike, is about a group of male strippers. So, I expected to see a lot of stripping. Which I did. That’s not what surprised me.

What surprised me was the plot. (And the previews, but more about that in a minute.) Not that it had a plot (which it did) or that the plot involved a romance (ditto) but that the plot was geared towards a male audience. A straight male audience.


Perhaps a little scene setting will help set the tone. The audience sitting in the theater for this particular movie was all women (various ages, various levels of sobriety). The reaction for the boyfriends who get dragged to see the movie, so the ticket takers told me, is one of timidity and embarrassment. It’s a movie about male strippers, after all. What straight guy wants to go see that?

Except that’s clearly who the moviemakers thought they were targeting. It’s evidenced by the style of dialogue in the movie, by the plot points, and by of all things, the previews.

Those previews — which were for a horror movie, a Will Farrell movie, a Ben Stiller movie and another movie so unappealing to me I can’t even remember what it was — left me wondering if I was in the right theater. But the audience was right for what I’d seen from the trailers. Which made me wonder what the heck was going on.

As the movie started, I was still expecting cotton candy soft porn. But just a couple of minutes in, what I found myself watching was men’s literary fiction (with some erotic dancing thrown in for confusion).

Why? My guess is the movie missed its mark. So, they used some marketing magic to change the message. To attract a completely different audience.

That’s a risky business (pun intended). Because what can happen is your new audience goes in with false expectations. And inevitably ends up dissatisfied.

This happens with books, too.

If the book cover, back cover blurb, description, etc. say one thing, but the book delivers another, it’s frustrating for the reader, discouraging for the author and detrimental for the publisher. In other words, no one wins.

That’s one of the reasons we at WMG are taking such a hard look at how we design our book covers and how we market our books. We want to target the right audience.

It’s the only way we’ll be satisfied.

Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer.