Monday, December 26, 2005

Book Promotion Shortcuts: Are They Worth It?

There are trade secrets in all professions, and promoting books is no exception. But, recently, I've discovered the #1 best book publicity shortcut of all: not taking shortcuts.

Here's what happened. I've been submitting articles that were written by authors for years. I offer these articles to weekly newspaper editors around the country. The editors can print the article for free as long as they include the author's attribution -- book title, URL, and so forth.

But, lately, I've become pumped up by the possibilities of submitting articles online. So I did some research and, ultimately, bought a software package that promised magic: I'd cut-and-paste the article into the software, add information about the author, and hit the "go" button. Before I knew it, the article would be submitted to the appropriate Web sites. All I had to do was sit back and watch the software automatically work, and then check my email to find confirmations that the article had been published online.

Easy? Not very. It took me about 7 hours to set up the software so it would work. Then, once I'd taken another hour or so to carefully review the software, I realized that I could not successfully use the software to publish articles by various authors. In other words, I could use the software to submit my own articles online, but not my clients' articles.

I was not feeling good about the software at that point. Still, I conducted a test of the software using one of my articles to see whether the software would be useful to me at all. At least, then, I could recommend it to my clients. Almost immediately, the confirmations did start to come into my email box. This was good, so I checked each one of the sites that claimed to have published my article.

It's a good thing I checked, because here's what I found. In no case (so far) was the article published correctly. The article, as published, was either completely missing the appropriate attribution, or -- in a couple of cases -- it was a blank page that contained only a title (no text and, mercifully, no attribution). I'm assuming the software uploaded my information to the wrong fields, but since I'm not a programming expert, I don't know for certain what went wrong.

I only know that the software test proved one thing: Book promotion shortcuts can be counterproductive. This particular experiment cost me the price of the software and a great deal of embarrassment. I'm certainly not recommending it to my clients.

So, you see, there are valuable book publicity tricks and tools of the trade out there, but the old wisdom applies. If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Avoid the snake oil, and invest your time in money in those book promotion strategies that have been proven to work.

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