Friday, June 13, 2008

A seemingly odd, but nonetheless worthwhile, book promotion idea.

By now, you've discovered Wikipedia. Whatever you think of Wikipedia -- whether you love it or hate it -- you've surely noticed that, regardless of what you're "googling," a Wikipedia entry almost always seems to turn up first in the search results.

We all know that (to be polite about it) Wikipedia's information is only as good as those who have contributed to its entries. That, of course, can be anyone, which is why "Wikipedia" is called a "wiki." It's produced by anyone with something to add, which means that Wikipedia shouldn't be your primary source of information. It's just not as reliable as it would be if, say, it couldn't be updated instantly, by anyone, at any time (although, in fairness, the site's editorial board to try to keep an eye on those updates and have even challenged some of my entries when I've inadvertently "under"-footnoted).

Anyway, what brought Wikipedia to mind is that, unfortunately, Tim Russert has just passed away. I wanted to see Russert's bio, so I googled him and -- predictably -- his Wikipedia entry came up first. What really made my eyes pop was that Russert's entry notes his death. I checked the entry a few minutes ago, and the entry already had been updated to include an unexpected death that had occurred less than three hours before.

People are using Wikipedia, and you should be using it, too, whatever your feelings about a democratic encyclopedia that allows anyone, regardless of credentials, to offer suggestions. It's easy to enter your own bio in Wikipedia and, hopefully, score a backlink to your Web site and your fair share of Google's attention. Yes, it's an offbeat book promotion idea, but it's one that authors and publishers should be using, anyway. Try it, and don't be shy -- it's impossible to "break" Wikipedia or your own entry. I promise. You can always edit your offering once you've uploaded it to Wikipedia to test it out "live."

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