Monday, July 20, 2009

Book Promotion by -- Oprah!

Whatever you think of Oprah's literary choices (and, personally, I'm a fan), you must admit that when Oprah Winfrey decides to promote a book, she really promotes a book!

Oprah's latest book promotion choice knocked my socks off today (and, remember, I'm supposed to be a jaded book publicist who cannot be easily impressed). I received an email from Oprah with the subject: "Download an Irresistible Novel for Free!"

When I clicked on the email, I found an invitation to download Jill Ciment's "irresistible novel" (I have to put that in quotes because I haven't read the novel yet), Heroic Measures. I -- along with the bazillion other people who received Oprah's email -- can download the novel for free from 11 a.m. ET Monday (July 20, 2009) until 10:59 a.m. ET Wednesday (July 22, 2009). The Web site where one can download the novel, for the benefit of those of you who aren't lucky enough to be on Oprah's email list, is right here.

Once you've downloaded your free copy of Jill Ciment's novel, I wish you tons of fun in printing it out and binding it so that you can read it, or in reading it on your monitor (always assuming you don't own an ebook reader or some device that will let you use the download as though it were a book -- and always assuming that the download is in a format that one can read on an ebook reader or another device). For the rest of the Jill Ciment-loving reading public, though, I'm afraid that owning a download of her irresistible novel won't be enough -- that you'll actually have to go out and buy (or log onto a bookstore and order) an actual hard copy of the book.

Yes, here is the voice of that jaded book publicist for which you were waiting. It says: If this book promotion strategy works, then Oprah isn't exactly going to help lots of people read Jill Ciment's novel for free. No, Oprah will do better than that (at least, from the author's perspective.) Oprah will inspire lots of people to buy Jill Ciment's novel. Yes, Oprah will inspire lots of people to pay cash -- money -- for Jill Ciment's novel.

Oprah, alas, will not get a cut of the ensuing royalties, nor should see. Oprah has been an integral part of book promotion since, well, since Jacquelyn Mitchard’s novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, was selected to be Oprah's first Book Club pick -- and, undoubtedly, since her show began featuring authors as experts. But her rewards have been spiritual (I presume) rather than financial. She feels good about sharing great books with her fans, and that's all the reward she gets for becoming part of book promotion campaigns.

But, cynical though I can sometimes be, I'm delighted to see Oprah spreading her book promotion wings and expanding the universe of the book promotion possibilities we can shoot for. You go, Oprah! You keep promoting books, even if you have to offer free books to get our attention. Do whatever it takes. You always keep this book publicist guessing, and that's a good thing!

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