Friday, August 29, 2008

Book Promotion the Hard Way

When I heard about Dave Freeman's untimely death, I hadn't heard of Freeman -- and I barely had heard of his book, 100 Things To Do Before You Die. My second thought, after I slogged through the horror I felt at the way the 47-year-old author died -- he fell at home and hit his head and just, somehow, didn't make it -- was that this incident was going to sell a lot of books. What better book promotion opportunity could there be than the author's death? Book promotion opportunities, finally, are news items, and this was a big one. It was ironic, heart-wrenching, and unacceptable -- and, of course, every media outlet in the world gobbled it up. Here's an example of just one article about the Freeman's death that opens with the title of his book.

What I didn't realize, until later, was that Freeman's death wasn't only a horror show combined with a book promotion opportunity. It was also a chance to promote a movie -- in this case, "The Bucket List," that was apparently inspired by Freeman's work. This Reuter's article, published by, talks about how Freeman's death has inspired people to create their own "bucket lists" -- just like in the movie. Had I heard of the movie before Freeman's death? Vaguely -- but only in the sense that I hear about other movies with strong lead actors that I probably wouldn't schlep to a theater to see but would probably, eventually, put into my Netflix queue.

Book promotion and movie promotion -- Freeman's freak accident (at least, I hope it was a freak accident -- I think it was a freak accident, because people in their forties typically don't die in their homes because they slip and fall, do they?) was a two-fer. Book sales and movie ticket sales (or DVD sales, if the movie has moved on from theaters, at this point) are positioned to soar.

Book promotion and movie promotion opportunities aren't worth dying for, but this one is worth learning from. What makes a promotion opportunity? A news event. An attention-getting action. An unexpected happening.

Create one, if you can. But don't do it by dying.

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