Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Book Promotion During the Holidays

Can you conduct an effective book promotion campaign during the holiday season? Maybe -- but it will take far more work to get book publicity during the last couple of weeks of December, and the first week of January, than it would during the rest of the year. You'll receive fewer responses from the media decision makers now than you typically would expect.

But does that mean that you shouldn't try? It depends on your tolerance for hard work, which is what book publicity campaigns require. If you don't mind making more phone calls, sending out more emails, and filling out more online forms to garner fewer book promotion opportunities, than go for it. You have the advantage of competing against fewer people than usual who are pitching producers and editors. Also, you have producers and editors with last-minute cancellations who might be inclined to cover your story, or grant you an interview, when ordinarily they wouldn't. On the other hand, the reason fewer people than usual are pitching during the holiday season is because fewer media decision makers than usual are at their posts, so it's a double-edged sword.

For those with a book to promote, think of the holidays as an opportunity to bond with people in the media who have the bad luck to be working now. Or, to those of us who work hard all year long pitching stories to the media, think of this as a good time to be working out a plan for approaching the media after the first of the year -- when newspapers, magazines, radio studios, and television studios are once again fully staffed and ready to go.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Book Promotion -- a 2006 Retrospective

Scandals. That's what book promotion was all about in 2006: scandals in the publishing industry. Check out the Newsweek article, "The Book Scandals: Can't We All Get a Life?, " by clicking here

Most of the publishing industry scandals cited in the article were free book promotion opportunities for the publishers and the authors. How many people had heard of Running with Scissors until everyone started buzzing about whether the autobiography were true or the bizarre (yet entertaining) imaginings of an advertising executive's mind?

But the scandals didn't result in book sales across the board. For example, the cancellation of O. J. Simpson's book didn't result in book sales because, of course, there wasn't any book to sell. It did result in the most media attention I've seen for any book in quite some time, but the book promotion didn't help anyone. Similarly, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life received way more than its fair share of book promotion opportunities, but where is the book now? Not in stores, unfortunately for its author and publisher.

The bottom line, I think, is that 2006 has taught us that scandal may be one way to garner book promotion opportunities. But book promotion opportunities are no guarantee of book sales. And, more importantly, those who participate -- willingly or unwillingly -- in book scandals rarely come away with their reputations and dignity intact.

Which would you rather have: a slot on a national TV show, or your soul? For me, that's a no-brainer. (Besides, there are other ways to get booked on a nation

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Worst book promotion idea ever - part 2.

Well, have you ever seen the author of a cancelled book get so many opportunities to promote himself? Okay, so Fox News is off the table now. But how many times have you seen O.J. Simpson's face, and heard his voice, in the past 24 hours?

Hey, let's make a deal. Let's promise to not tell Simpson about iUniverse. The last thing we want is for that person to publish the book himself.

We know that opportunities for O.J. Simpson to promote this particular book, even if it doesn't carry its intended imprint, would be limitless. And, somehow, I don't believe his children would be the beneficiaries of book sales . . . nor do I think Ron or Nicole's other relatives would get a penny of the proceeds.


Friday, November 17, 2006

Worst book promotion idea ever.

Here's the worst way ever to get a publisher interested in your book and to get an unlimited amount of publicity to go along with it: murder a couple of people. We've just read a story that makes us feel even worse about the Simpson story. Click here to read about why a publisher decided to publish, and help promote, Simpson's new book.

On a personal note, I just scheduled an interview for a client on Fox News Channel for this weekend. I checked with my client first to see whether he wanted to appear on the network that's helping promote Simpson's new book. He's perfectly comfortable with it. I wish I could say the same.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Buying Book Promotion

Q. I am a self-published novelist. How can I buy the media's attention to increase book sales?

A. You can buy advertising in the various media, and that might help book sales if your self-published novel has a very targeted readership. You can also buy a small number of book reviews. The book reviews you pay for can help publishers in limited ways (for example, the small press buyer for one of the national bookstore chains insists on seeing book reviews), but they're not going to convince other media decisionmakers that they have to cover your book. Your book has to do that on its own.

Can you pay a national television or radio show host to interview you? No. Can you bribe a reviewer to review your book, or an editor to assign your book to a beat editor? Sorry.

If there's a news story behind your novel, then let the media know about it, and you'll get book promotion opportunities the old-fashioned way: by earning them. Pitch, persuade, and work, and you'll see book promotion opportunities come your way -- if your book is newsworthy. But, no, you can't "buy" book promotion opportunities. No book publicist can buy media placements, nor are book promotion specialists connected enough to cooerce major media outlets to provide media coverage of their clients' work. Books have to stand on their own and, unfortunately, there's no way to buy a guarantee of book promotion opportunities...at any price.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Wondering About Writing.

This book promotion specialist has wondered and worried about the future of writing -- handwriting, that is.

Since I learned to touch-type, when I was eight years old, I have been slowly forgetting how to use a pen. My muscle memory is getting less and less reliable when it comes to cursive writing. I don't even feel comfortable signing a check in public for fear that I won't be able to write my name legibly (or even accurately) under pressure.

I used to think that it was just me, but an article from MSNBC.com makes me wonder if cursive writing is becoming difficult for all of us -- and, maybe, besides the point for the young 'uns. According to the MSBNC.com article, children with poor handwriting skills frequently have poor composition skills. Their sentences may be shorter than they would be if whatever cognitive skills were involved with handwriting were more highly developed, according to some academics, and the scary thing is that I tend to believe them.

The demise of cursive doesn't only mean that today's great writers won't leave behind handwritten manuscripts for future generations. It also means that the whole process of writing has changed, and I'm wondering whether we're progressing -- or not.

Sure, handwriting is only tangentally relate to book promotion. Still, the consequences of the demise of handwriting are interesting for this book publicist to ponder.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Keeping Up WIth Media Changes

When you're promoting your book, or when you're a book promotion specialist, it's important to keep up with media changes. For example, if there's a national television show that's launching this fall, you need to know about it so you can add the producer to your media contact list. If a major television show is folding, you need to know about that, too.

So I keep my eyes and ears open for such changes in the media, and I learned about one this morning. WLVI-TV, one of Boston's independent television stations, has just been bought by the company that already owns WHDH-TV in Boston. Here's the Boston Globe's story.

Regardless of what decisions are made about the future of WLVI-TV's original programming and staff, I say this news can't be good. A diversity of media ownership was supposed to keep our media honest. One of the things you had to love about Boston-area media was that it was local. Boston radio personalities (Jess Cain, Dave Maynard, Dale Dorman, et al.) were the narrators of our lives; it boasted two newspapers; and independent television stations provided their own treasures (WSBK-TV's "Movie Loft," WLVI-TV's "Creature Double Feature," and so on). Now, the times they are a-changin', and I think that's Boston's loss.

It also represents a loss of book promotion opportunities. Think about it: whereas, once, you could pitch a story idea to both WHDH-TV and WLVI-TV, now you'll pitch that story idea to one entity, with one perspective, and one agenda. Dissenting voices probably need not apply.

And, yes, on a personal note I'm just plain grumpy at the loss of WLVI-TV. As every Massachusetts-based adult who was ever a kid can tell you, WLVI-TV was the go-to station for the after-school programming that really mattered. I won't list the 1976 after-school television lineup on WLVI-TV here (although I could).

Suffice it to say that media changes seem to be happening with greater frequency these days, and it behooves everyone to follow those changes whether you're in the middle of a book promotion campaign or whether you're just trying to find a wonderful old movie to watch this a Sunday -- for free, with commercial interruptions, and without having to deal with a real-world or online video store.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Key Book Promotion Rule

Here's the key thing to remember about book promotion: no matter what happens, the journalist is always right.

That means that if you're not happy with something a radio host says on the air, or something a journalist forgets to include in his/her article, or the direction in which a television host takes an interview, then you'll just have to live with it. It's not your show, nor is it your newspaper or magazine. And it's not your Web site. It's theirs, and -- as someone on a book promotion tour -- you're an invited guest on their turf. You're the Kato Kalin to their O. J. Simpson.

You're the author who's asking for air time or space in a print (or digital) medium. If you get that time or space, then you're a winner. If your book is mentioned, then that's a plus. Otherwise, then chalk up that one radio interview as an opportunity to at least have gotten your name (and expertise) out there. Don't try to shout out your book title over the interviewer's "goodbye, thank you for being here." It won't work. The host or the producer has control over the audio controls. You don't.

I've had clients be disappointed that a radio show host didn't include a link to the author's site on the host's Web page. I've also had clients be disappointed that a newspaper's Web site that reprinted a client's article contained only the author's byline, but not a hyperlink to the author's Web site.

It's okay to feel disappointed. It's not okay to ask the radio show host or Webmaster or journlist or whomever you're dealing with to "fix the problem." There is no problem. The journalist is always right.

Just as you don't complain about the accomodations when you're staying overnight at a relative's home, you don't start making requests for special attention or editorial changes when you're an author who's on a book promotion tour. It's inappropriate, it's unprofessional, and it's not going to get you anywhere. And it's going to get your book publicist's dander up if you request that he or she do it for you. Your book publicist will have a relationship with those journalists long after you've moved onto your next project, and he or she will honor the key rule of book promotion -- the journalist is always right -- at all times.

Every media hit will not change your life, although some may. Just remember that, cummulatively, interviews work to promote your book even if there are individual disappointments along the way. There's never any excuse for telling a journalist how to do his or her job, or to insist on special treatment, during a book promotion campaign. Enjoy the ride, and know that -- if you follow the key rule about book promotion -- you will come away with friends in the media. Otherwise, you're on your own.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

More News Features Mean More Book Promotion Opportunities.

I'm not going to take sides on the Katie "is she serious and worthy enough to be a news anchor" Couric controversy. But I will say that my spirits were lifted by MSNBC and other news sources' criticism of her, which was largely that the features she is adding are out of place on the "CBS Evening News."

More features on national television mean more opportunities for authors to promote their books, and more opportunities for authors to promote their books mean more chances for book promotion specialists, like me, to create good news (no pun intended) for our clients.

So, Katie, keep up the good work. We want to see you continuing to emphasize features over hard news on the "CBS Evening News" -- just as long as the "Today Show" that you left behind doesn't jettison the feature stories in favor of more hard news.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A New Year in Book Promotion

Why does the first day back at work after Labor Day Weekend always seem like a new year -- in book promotion and beyond? Maybe because the kids are back at school, the weather is changing, the white cotton clothes have been packed away, and a new lunar year will soon begin. Besides all that, a long holiday weekend clears our minds and we all (book publicists , authors, publishers, and the media) come back to our tasks with fresh ideas and new enthusiasm.

So, to everyone who's in the middle of a book promotion campaign, I propose that we all start a new year -- with a fresh slate -- today. And, to everyone who's about to embark on a book promotion campaign, this will be a new project and a new adventure.

Let's make it a great one.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Book Promotion Without Alienating the Media

I enjoyed the movie, "Little Miss Sunshine," but there was one scene that made me squirm. It was when Greg Kinnear's character, Richard, confronts his literary agent about the agent's failure to sell his self-help book to a publisher. The agent explains that all the publishers had turned down the book.

"What's the next step?" Richard asks the agent.

Richard is counting on the advance that the book's sale will bring, because -- apparently -- he's quit his day job. The agent is left with the thankless task of explaining to Richard that there is no next step. No is no. No doesn't mean keep trying. No means try again with a new book idea, but drop the old idea. It was pitched. It was rejected. Finis.

That isn't what Richard wants to hear, and it's not what you want to hear when you're in the middle of a book promotion campaign and you've pitched an idea to the media that doesn't fly, but -- sometimes -- that's the way that it is.

When your pitch falls flat, and the media says no, you can change the pitch. You can reformulate the pitch, based on the feedback you've received, and try again with an angle that's better suited to the media's needs.

But what you can't do is tell the media decisionmakers that they have to do the story. You can't tell them they're being shortsighted or ignorant for turning it down, and they'd better reconsider if they know what's good for them.

If you try to force the media to promote your book, or you try to bully them, or you badger them in any way, you won't get them to change their mind. All you'll succeed in doing is alienating the media and burning bridges.

No isn't always an opportunity to close on the rejection. No is sometimes an opportunity to listen to why.

No is often a chance to go back out to the media with something far better and score a yes.

So what is the next step? The next step is to keep the faith that your book promotion campaign will be highly effective -- but learn when to take no for an answer and when to change strategies.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Book Promotion by Podcasting

Are you having a hard time launching your book promotion campaign through conventional media channels? Then try podcasting.

By podcasting, you can host your own radio program and talk about your book. Then, through the magic of the Internet, you can post your podcasts on the appropriate Websites and, using your email list (or purchased email lists), invite people to listen to it.

Boost your book promotion campaign by reading about the benefits of podcasting -- and how to set up a podcast -- here. And then, once you've built a fan base, try approaching the conventional media again. Being a recognized figure who is a proven fan favorite can make a big difference in your book promotion success.

Book Promotion by Podcasting

Are you having a hard time launching your book promotion campaign through conventional media channels? Then try podcasting.

By podcasting, you can host your own radio program and talk about your book. Then, through the magic of the Internet, you can post your podcasts on the appropriate Websites and, using your email list (or purchased email lists), invite people to listen to it.

Boost your book promotion campaign by reading about the benefits of podcasting -- and how to set up a podcast -- here. And then, once you've built a fan base, try approaching the conventional media again. Being a recognized figure who is a proven fan favorite can make a big difference in your book promotion success.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Book Promotion Firms Don't Work for Free

And neither do book publicists. Forgive me for venting, but I'm frustrated.

A few years ago, I promoted a novel for a small publishing company (the author and the publisher were two different individuals, but I worked with both of them during the course of the book promotion campaign).

About a year after the campaign was finished, I began to get media calls asking about books published by this small company. At first, I thought nothing of it except that someone was confused, and it would work itself out. But today I received another phone call from a reporter who told me that I was designatd on the publisher's Web site as the media contact for the publishing company and for all of their books.

Here's a snippet from the email I sent to the publisher:

I don't want your authors or you to miss media opportunities when those media inquiries come my way (obviously, the books/authors about whom the media is asking will not "ring a bell" with me), nor do I want to have my valuable time taken with media inquiries that are not meant for my clients. It's also not fair to those who are paying me for my time, and paying -- in part -- for the privilege of having their projects associated with professional media representation.

Please update your site at your earliest convenience, and let me know when you've taken care of the matter. Thank you in advance.]

Yes, I was annoyed, and I am hoping that the publisher hasn't known about his error for all this time that he was using my contact information as the go-to place for the media. As I said in my email to him, one of the things authors/publishers buy from me and other book publicists is the association of their work with a book promotion firm -- it's proof that they're taking their book seriously, and promoting it seriously.

I would no sooner lend my name and reputation to book promotion projects without fair compensation than I would expect my real estate agent to sell me a house without taking her commission.

It strikes me as a bad day when I feel cheated. And today, I felt cheated.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Starbucks Perks Up Book Promotion Campaign

Starbucks, in affiliation with Hyperion Books, will feature Mitch Albom's latest novel, "For One More Day," in its coffee shops beginning in October (the book's publication date is September). Of course, the visibility in Starbucks' coffee shops will perk up the visibility of Albom's book. But here's the question: does Albom's book promotion campaign really need the boost?

I'm an Albom fan, and I would have found my way to his latest novel even without the efforts put forth by Hyperion and Starbucks. His new novel will get reviews and shelf space in bookstores.

But what about all the novelists whose works will never enjoy the visibility that Albom's books receive? Why doesn't a major force such as Starbucks step forward and offer to give a boost to the book promotion campaigns -- where that boosts could do the most good?

Yes, you can pitch your book to Starbucks even if you don't have a Hyperion Books behind you. But good luck getting Starbucks' attention. If you're an unknown author, you'll need luck.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Book Promotion Opportunity for Marketing Books

MarketingSherpa has a book promotion opportunity for new books that relate to marketing, advertising, or publicity. You can read about it here.

If your new book relates to any of those areas -- and it's relevant to marketng professionals and a "good read" -- then you can send one copy of the book to Book Contest, MarketingSherpa Inc 499 Main Street Warren RI 02871 US. Include your contact information and the book's publication date.

If your book is chosen by MarketingSherpa's editors for their weekly Giveaway, then they'll request four more copies of your book. Marketing professionals can click here to register to win one of the books chosen for the Giveaway.

Your book competes with other books related to marketing for a book publicity opportunity, and marketing professionals compete with each other to win a free copy of winning marketing books. Sounds like a great idea to me, and a terrific book promotion opportunity for the right book.

Monday, August 07, 2006

A Book Promotion Don't-Do

Did you see the news item on MSBNC.com today, "Marie Osmond did not attempt suicide?" Ouch.

A tabloid ran a news story that, evidently, Marie's publicity camp disputed. The result was that MSNBC.com story that offered Marie's rebuttal to the tabloid's story.

Unfortunately, MSNBC.com ran that rebuttal in the most cringe-worthy way imaginable. They stated a memorable negative in a way that brings back memories of Nixon's "I am not a crook" and (to paraphrase Clinton) "I did not have intimate relations with that woman."

When you're in the midst of a book promotion campaign, you never want to answer a confrontational question (such as, "Did you try to commit suicide?") with a negative, "I didn't try to commit suicide." That would be repeating a negative, and if you do that, you can almost guarantee that the negative is the quotation people will remember.

Instead, you always want to state a positive. You might say, "I was very healthy and feeling quite positive, thank you for asking." Or, "I briefly experienced a bad reaction to my medication, but thank goodness, the doctors handled the whole affair beautifully and I'm fully recovered now."

For the sake of your book publicity campaign, steer clear of the trap the confrontational interviewers might be setting for you. Yes, some interviewers may want to be Howard Stern and infuse your book promotion campaign with questions that will make you squirm and want to walk off in a huff.

The best response is to stay calm and friendly in all interview situations that you find yourself in during a book promotion campaign. Don't take the interviewer's hostility personally; it's not meant personally. It's an act, and now that you know how to respond to it, you'll quickly take the wind out of the interviewer's sails and put an end to the negativity.

Just remember that headline about Marie Osmond, and be sure that doesn't happen to you. (And, for the record, I do believe Marie's publicity camp. She has a strong support system, and I have every confidence that it's working for her and will continue to do so in the future. But...please. No more feeding into a reporter's negativity, because I don't want to read anymore headlines like this one about Marie Osmond or anybody else.)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Book Promotion by Novel Giveaway

Something very cool is happening in Australia. according to an article in the Courier Mail, here's what's going on.

To promote book sales, and for the sake of encouraging people to read, an organization called Books Alive paid Monica McInerney to write a novel. Her book, which is called Odd One Out, will be given for free to consumers who buy any of fifty books that are featured in the Books Alive Great Read Guide.

What a great book promotion opportunity for McInerney! And the fifty other lucky authors benefit from book publicity, too.

And I'm thinking: this isn't such a bad deal for consumers.

Okay. So we're not doing something like this to promote book sales and to support authors and publishers in the States ... why?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Blogging Her Way to Book Promotion

How does novelist MJ Rose use the Internet to create a book publicity campaign that could only happen now? She blogs.

According to the Huffington Post, MJ Rose wants to link to 500 blogs as the main thrust of her book promotion campaign. To get out the word about her lastest book, The Venus Fix, Rose is asking bloggers to link to her multimedia book show and link to an interview about her book. In exchange for the "free" book promotion, Rose will donate five dollars to the blogger's choice of three charities. And, to sweeten the deal, a lucky blogger will win a signed copy of Rose's book.

Of course, by that time, the lucky blogger will presumably have already read Rose's book, but still ... it's the thought -- and the book publicity -- that counts.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Self-Esteem Aids Book Promotion Effort

Typically, shy or modest authors are under-promoted authors. I like to tell authors to get excited about their work, and to convey that enthusiasm to the media, or to their in-house book publicist or independent book promotion specialist. Wax eloquent about your topic, and get let everyone know about how important it is and all that you can add to the public's understanding about it.

And now I have another piece of self-promotional advice for authors: call yourself a genius, and let the media know how similar your work is to that of Pulitzer Prize winners. It can only help your book promotion campaign.

That's what novelist Omar Tyree ("What They Want," published by Simon & Schuster) decided. According to an Associated Press article, Tyree is a literary genius whose work would be similar to that of Toni Morrison -- if only the public would buy such impressive books. As it is, he has to slum it as a novelist who produces sexy, gritty tales instead of the work that would Morrison herself would envy.

As excited as he is about his own potential greatness, Tyree certainly toots his self-promotional horn loudly enough to get the attention of the media, his book publicist, and his publishing company. Now the question is: would you buy Tyree's books?

I think I'll put them on my "look-see" list for next time I'm in a bookstore. Maybe -- just maybe -- they have potential.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Book Publicity by ... John Irving and Stephen King?

Apparently, when you're J.K. Rowling, and you're in need of serious book promotion services, you call upon the world's strangest book publicists: John Irving and Stephen King.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not calling John Irving and Stephen King strange (although, surely, they wouldn't mind if I did). I'm just saying that it was a surprise to read this MSNBC.com story about a charity lovefest involving Rowling, Irving, and King.

It's interesting that three of today's top authors got together to talk about their books. But, from the perspective of this book publicist, what was most interesting was that the focus appears to have been on Rowling's work -- specifically, the upcoming final book in the Harry Potter series. Irving and King gave Rowling their editorial suggestions ("Let Harry live!"), and Rowling made no promises, one way or the other.

Sure, a couple of titles by Irving and King -- "The World According to Garp" and "The Dead Zone" -- received a token bit of book promotion in the article. But these plugs were eclipsed by the ostentatious plug Rowling received for her upcoming book.

I mean, who would not read an article about book promotion that contained the names Rowlings, Irving, and King? Irving and King probably aren't out to sell more copies of "Garp" or "The Dead Zone" right now. But Rowling's newest "Harry Potter" stands to benefit appreciably from this kind of book publicity.

So, if you're looking for endorsements from literary luminaries for your latest children's book, maybe you could ring up John Irving and Stephen King. Just tell them you're looking for some unusual book publicists ... and remind them that it's for a good cause.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

She Whined for Book Publicity.

She whined about the fact that her local newspaper hadn't reviewed her books in a decade. And it worked. She landed a book review.

"She" is Joni Rodgers, and she has a blog right here called BookWoman. In her July 30 entry, "Good grief, I finally get it," Rodgers explains how a "snarky comment" to the Houston Chronicle finally resulted in a book review.

Yes, Rodgers got to enjoy the Chronicle's review of her novel, The Secret Sisters. But I'd argue that she got that review despite the fact that she complained, rather than because of her complaining.

Reviewers don't owe authors book publicity. They are not obligated to provide book promotion to an author, local or not. They're not remiss when they overlook your book. They're making a choice about which authors to support and which books to promote -- and, whether we like it or not, that's their right.

The rule of thumb is this: if your book isn't reviewed by the publication that "should" review it, don't complain. Try a different beat editor, and pitch a story idea. Pitching different ideas to different editors, and to different media outlets, is a better idea than complaining about the lack of book publicity opportunitities 99.99 percent of the time.

Joni Rodgers' situation is the .01 percent of the time when whining worked. Congratulations to Joni, but as this book publicist likes to say, "Don't try it at home."

Monday, July 31, 2006

...And Book Publicity for All

It's nice to know that self-published novelists can grab their share of the book promotion limelight...at least, sometimes. An Asheville Citizen-Times article about the second annual Haywood Book Mania book fair focuses on about half a dozen of the more than fifty authors (a combination of mainstream and self-published novelists and nonfiction writers) who participated in the event.

Sure, the Citizen-Times is a local newspaper, but then again, the article is about local authors. Maybe the self-published novelists the article mentions won't turn up in the New York Times or on the bestseller lists just because a few thousand local newspaper subscribers learn about Asheville-area residents whose books sound fairly interesting. Or maybe they will. You never know . . . and it's just good to see self-published novelists mentioned in the same book promotion space as authors from the large publishing houses.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Paper Clip Beats Book Publicist

So this book publicist gets excited when she arranges to get an author on a single national television show. And yet a guy with a paper clip has gotten himself worldwide attention, and scored a book deal with Random House and a movie deal with DreamWorks.

Kyle MacDonald has me beaten.

As I watch Kyle MacDonald's pre-book promotion campaign, I wonder how many off-the-wall ideas there are out there in the world that can still get the attention of the media -- through wars, Mel Gibson's arrest and drunken tirade, tsunamis, heat waves, Big Dig fiascos, and so forth. How many offbeat ideas and stories are there, like Kyle MacDonald's, that are just waiting to be turned into the next publicity sensation and turn someone into an overnight celebrity? (If you missed Kyle MacDonald's story, click here. This book promotion expert learned a lot from him!)

I'm not sure, but I hope every single author out there finds one of them.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Book Promotion for Older Titles

If your book has been available for awhile, book reviewers will probably not be beating a path to your door to get a copy. (A notable exceptiron would be Midwest Book Review. Its editor-in-chief, James A. Cox, gives special consideration to books from small presses and goes out of his way to have his team of volunteers select self-published books to review. As a bonus, he also posts his reviews on Amazon.)

So book reviews may not best book promotion path for your title. What else can you do?

If your book has a media hook, then use it. Can you tie your topic, or your expertise, into a breaking news story; an upcoming holiday or season; or current events? If so, then pitch your story idea instead of your book to the media. Focus on beat editors rather than book reviewers at newspaper. Position yourself as an expert rather than as an author. Deemphasize your book's publication date on media materials. Highlight the subject matter, instead.

Book promotion is available for all titles, if you're a clever enough book publicist to see past book reviewers to bigger and better possible boo promotion channels for your book.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Everyone Wins

I'll admit it. Her large, blonde wig and flamboyant mode of dress once made me question her image. But I take it all back now.

Dolly Parton is my hero, and she's helping the cause of book promotion in a very commendable way. She's turning children into book lovers and promoting the cause of literacy. When families read together, they're on the right path, and everyone wins.

And Dolly Parton is doing more than her fair share to help the cause of getting kids and their adult family members hooked on books.

An article in the Mountain Times Online tells about the Dolly Parton Imagination Library which is the brainchild of the Dollywood Foundation. Their idea is to get really young children -- from birth to two-years-old -- involved in books. Parents will be able to register their children to receive free books (that sponsors will provide for $30 per year, per child).

And -- voila! That simply, a new generation of readers (and, okay, potential book buyers) will be created.

It's nice to hear some good news, for a change. Dolly, thank you. And I'll never snicker when I see you wearing that wig again, because I'm getting a sense of the wonderful mind that lives inside of it.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Book Promotion Through SEO

If you have a Web site for your book (and you should), then maximizing your book's search engine rankings should be a core part of your book promotion campaign.

Promote your web site in the media, and potential buyers will go back to Google and other search engines. There they'll look up whatever they remember hearing, or reading, about your book -- the title, the author's name, or the key concepts. Even if you mentioned your Web site's URL on the air, people will still look it up in the search engines. Let's face it. If someone is driving to work and hears you on the radio, that person may be awed and eager to read more about you, but he or she is still unlikely to pull over to the side of the road to jot down your URL.

So be sure to optimize your presence in the search engines. One way to do that is to encourage other high-quality Web sites to link back to your Web site. And the simplest, and most effective way to do THAT is to offer other Web sites bylined articles that they can use as content, for free, in exchange for providing attribution (and, hopefully, a link back to your Web site).

When you're thinking about your book promotion campaign, search engine optimization may not be the first thing that comes to mind. You might be more likely to think about radio interviews, television appearances, feature articles, book reviews, and bookstore signings. But your Web site is available to you, too, to enhance your book promotion campaign. So be sure your Web site is optimized for search engines. And, in particular, be sure that Google knows who you are!

She Strips for Book Sales

Have you heard of Diablo Cody, author of "Candy Girl?" Well, you probably will.

You'll understand why Cody's book promotion campaign is going so well (she appeared on Letterman show and the front page of CNN.com) when you hear the subtitle of her book: "A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper." Cody's unusual avocation (combined, apparently, with her writing skills) net her a highly promotable book and all the media attention anyone could crave.

So how can you mirror Cody's good fortune in launching an incredibly successful book promotion campaign? Start with a shocking (and well-written) book, and then be stunningly beautiful, and then be an uninhibited entertainer who is willing to talk about anything -- anything -- in public.

And I suppose it would help if you'd be willing to spend a year stripping in nightclubs and then write a book about it.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Being Clever About Book Promotion

In general, it's difficult for me to encourage authors to arrange bookstore appearances. The old model of bookstore signings is old and tired -- and ripe to be revitalized by someone who's serious about book promotion.

Enter Gerard Bianco.

This was the problem, and you're probably familiar with it.

Bookstore managers aren't interested in setting them up except for "big name" authors. Potential buyers aren't interested in attending. And it's frustrating and demoralizing for authors to perform a reading for eight bored people -- if authors are lucky enough to have eight people show up for the reading.

But here's a story from MaineToday.com about an author whose innovative approach to book promotion (and bookstore appearances) caught my attention, and I hope it gives you some ideas for moving forward with a new type of bookstore appearance, too.

Gerard Bianco, author of a mystery book titled, The Deal Master, doesn't read from his novel at bookstore appearances. He entertains the crowd with a fast-paced multimedia presentation, complete with sound effects appropriate for his murder-mystery theme. He captivates potential book buyers and makes them glad they took the time to come out and see him.

Bianco's example of how to make bookstore appearances exciting for everybody is worth noting. He proves that bookstore appearances can be part of a successful, exciting bookstore campaign...for every author who's willing to put innovation into the book tour.

Monday, July 24, 2006

When Does the Book Promotion Campaign End?

When your in-house book publicist tells you that she's finished with your book promotion campaign, is that the end of the book publicity for your book?

No, that's the end of your in-house book publicist's book promotion campaign. But, then again, it's your book, not hers, and you have more invested in book promoting your book than your publisher does.

So what do you do when your publisher's book promotion campaign ends? Roll up your sleeves and get to work. Here's what you do.

Ask your book publicist for as many specifics as she can offer about the book promotion campaign she conducted. If she'll give you her media contact list, ask whether you can continue following up on any pitches that might still represent book promotion opportunities. If Oprah's producer hasn't said "yes" or "no," can you go back to that person and try to get closure? What about the book review editor at the New York Times?

If your in-house book promotion specialist won't provide a media contact list, then ask for as much specificity as possible about the media overtures that she made. What types of media outlets did she contact, and what types of people (book review editor, lifestyle editors, hosts, producers, etc.) did she contact? Did she send them all copies of the book and media kit?

Once you know what your in-house book publicist has already done, then you can fill in any gaps in the campaign. For example, if the in-house publicist contacted book review editors at the top 25 daily newspapers, she may not have contacted business editors at those newspapers -- and that might be just the place in the newspapers to pitch a story about your business book. And maybe your in-house publicist didn't contact any weekly newspapers at all, or any radio shows, or any television shows...you get the picture. Find out everything you can about what hte in-house book publicist did so you can pick up the campaign where it left off, and build on the book promotion specialist's efforts.

Also, you can do something that your in-house book publicist can't do. You can check out the daily news for any hooks that might tie into your book. You can then approach the media about why you'd be the perfect, timely expert to speak about that current event or breaking news story. That's the way to extend a book promotion campaign for as long as it makes sense to you: keep finding ways to make your expertise (and, thus, your book) relevant to current events and breaking news stories. Then make contact with the media, and let the producers and editors know you're out there...on a regular basis.

Your in-house book publicist would probably love to do that for you, but she can't. Her publishing house has other books that have to be promoted, and she has to move onto the next catalogue, and the next book, and the next project.

You're far less likely to abandon your book and stop promoting it just because the "official" book promotion campaign is over. In fact, the book promotion campaign can go on as long as you have the time and energy and resources to put into it.

And, when you run out of steam, you can always contact an independent book promotion firm to pick up where you left off. Just keep yourself available for media interviews!

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Next Summer Blockbuster

If you're out there promoting your book this summer, it must be frustrating to read USA Today's article of July 19, "It's July, and there's still no hot beach book."

The article claims that, although some books are exciting readers (and booksellers and publishers) this summer, there isn't a specific breakaway book that everyone is buying.

That doesn't mean that authors aren't engaged in book promotion campaigns this summer. They are. And it doesn't mean they're receiving fewer book promotion opportunities than usual, because that isn't the case. Talk shows are featuring novelists and nonfiction authors, and newspapers and magazines are printing interviews with them.

There just isn't one particular author whose book everyone is bringing to the beach.

The article claims that there's no "Harry Potter" book to read this summer, and Oprah hasn't waved her magic wand on a favorite novel to turn it into an instant besteller.

But I wonder whether would-be book buyers are less eager than usual to go to the beach and relax when there's catastrophic fighting in the Middle East; political battles over funding for stem cell research; a 3-ton chunk of cement falling from a brand-new tunnel and effectively closing down a major metropolitan area; and other news items that are keeping people tuned to CNN rather than seagulls.

The good news is that, if you're in the midst of your own book promotion campaign, you have as much of a chance as any other author of creating a blockbuster this summer.

The bad news is that, if you're focused on your book and your book promotion successes this summer, your readers may not be.

Next summer, maybe the news will be better, and readers will get back to thinking about paperbacks and lemonade. But this year, apparently, readers have other things on their minds.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Your Publisher's Book Promotion Funds

Your publisher may not have hundreds of thousands of dollars earmarked for your book promotion campaign. But your publisher likely some money set aside for it, modest though that budget may be.

Unless you speak up and ask your publisher some targeted questions, the publisher (specifically, the publisher's publicity department) is likely to go spend its entire budget without your ever knowing where the money went -- and without your ever seeing any results.

Assume that the publicity department will put together a press release for you, and always ask to see it before anyone sends it out. Your name is on it, so it makes sense for you to provide your input (or at least correct any typos on it!).

Ask what the publicity department is planning to do with the press release. Are they launching a mass mailing? If so, are they sending review copies of the book (or galleys) along with the release? Are there other components to the media kit? Who will receive a copy of the media kit and book?

The publicity department may be reluctant to part with its proprietary list of contacts, but at least they should tell you, in general terms, who will be receiving materials about your book. The national broadcast media? Daily newspapers around the country (if so, which editors -- book review or feature or another beat)? National magazines?

Will the publicity department be running any ads for your book? If so, where? How much will these ads cost?

If you'd prefer that the publicity department not run those ads in favor of approaching more members of the media about the book, say so. If you have a "wish list" of media outlets that should receive copies of the book and media kits, offer to pass that list along.

Find out what you can do to help the publicity department. If you offer to buy media lists that are appropriate for your book, will they stuff the envelopes and pay the postage for the mailing? Will they provide a report of when materials were sent to the media, who responded to the mailing, and what those responses were? Will they allow you to get that mailing list to pass along to an independent publicist whom you might hire to pick up the book promotion campaign where your publisher's publicity department leaves off? Or will they allow you to have that mailing list to work from if you want to continue following up once the publicity department has exhausted its resources for the book prmomotion campaign?

If you ask the right questions of your publisher, you might well be able to maximize the effectiveness of its book promotion spending for your book. Also, click here to read about how J. A. Konrath, a Hyperion author, decided to spend the money that his publisher had set aside for his book promotion campaign. It wasn't a king's ransom, but you can rest assured that he's making the most of every one of those "free" dollars. It might inspire you to begin a grassroots book promotion effort of your own -- on your publisher's dime!

Your Publisher's Book Promotion Funds

Your publisher may not have hundreds of thousands of dollars earmarked for your book promotion campaign. But your publisher likely some money set aside for it, modest though that budget may be.

Unless you speak up and ask your publisher some targeted questions, the publisher (specifically, the publisher's publicity department) is likely to go spend its entire budget without your ever knowing where the money went -- and without your ever seeing any results.

Assume that the publicity department will put together a press release for you, and always ask to see it before anyone sends it out. Your name is on it, so it makes sense for you to provide your input (or at least correct any typos on it!).

Ask what the publicity department is planning to do with the press release. Are they launching a mass mailing? If so, are they sending review copies of the book (or galleys) along with the release? Are there other components to the media kit? Who will receive a copy of the media kit and book?

The publicity department may be reluctant to part with its proprietary list of contacts, but at least they should tell you, in general terms, who will be receiving materials about your book. The national broadcast media? Daily newspapers around the country (if so, which editors -- book review or feature or another beat)? National magazines?

Will the publicity department be running any ads for your book? If so, where? How much will these ads cost?

If you'd prefer that the publicity department not run those ads in favor of approaching more members of the media about the book, say so. If you have a "wish list" of media outlets that should receive copies of the book and media kits, offer to pass that list along.

Find out what you can do to help the publicity department. If you offer to buy media lists that are appropriate for your book, will they stuff the envelopes and pay the postage for the mailing? Will they provide a report of when materials were sent to the media, who responded to the mailing, and what those responses were? Will they allow you to get that mailing list to pass along to an independent publicist whom you might hire to pick up the book promotion campaign where your publisher's publicity department leaves off? Or will they allow you to have that mailing list to work from if you want to continue following up once the publicity department has exhausted its resources for the book prmomotion campaign?

If you ask the right questions of your publisher, you might well be able to maximize the effectiveness of its book promotion spending for your book. Also, click here to read about how J. A. Konrath, a Hyperion author, decided to spend the money that his publisher had set aside for his book promotion campaign. It wasn't a king's ransom, but you can rest assured that he's making the most of every one of those "free" dollars. It might inspire you to begin a grassroots book promotion effort of your own -- on your publisher's dime!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Get Ready for Competition.

Do you feel as though there are already too many authors, and too many books, vying for the media's attention? Well, get ready for even more competition as time goes on.

According to a June 21, 2006 press release, Colin Knecht of the BookMark Self Publishing (which calls itself a "full-service publishing business") predicts that, in 20 years, 50% of the population will be published authors.

The press release doesn't define "population," so we don't know whether Knecht is referring to the population of a particular country (BookMark is based in Canada) or whether he's referring to the North American -- or perhaps the worldwide -- population.

Whatever "population" in this context means, Knecht is predicting that your future book promotion campaigns might be a lot trickier than your current one. So now's the time to learn the book promotion ropes, build media contacts, acquire interviewing skills, and learn how to maintain relationiships with producers and editors -- all so that, when other authors are scrambling to promote their books, you'll have the inside track to a successful book promotion campaign.

Lay the groundwork now to promote your books successfully, and you'll certainly reap the rewards later.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Why Wait for a Publisher?

If you have a great book idea, why wait until you find a publisher? Publish it yourself. That's what Elizabeth Skinner Grumbach decided to do when she created travel journals for children. Check out her story.

Of course, self-publishing means learning a whole range of new skills, and it means connecting with a variety of professionals who can handle the tasks you're unable to, or have no interest in. And it means making an investment in terms of your time and money, and it means taking risks.

But, in the end, you might have a book that's highly promotable. Grumbach seems to be getting the hang of book promotion. In fact, Parents magazine ran a story about her three books, and I'm sure Grumbach could gain all the media attention she wanted if she approached parenting editors and producers from coast to coast.

Would the occasional editor or producer tell Grumbach that he/she doesn't cover self-published books? Probably, but the number of media decisionmakers who would turn down a self-published book because it's a self-published books was small to begin with, and it's diminishing all the time.

A book promotion campaign can be highly successful regardless of the publisher. In my experience, a book that's published by one of the well-known print-on-demand publishers has a special challenge when it comes to book promotion, but self-published books don't suffer from the same stigma. There's no history attached to an imprint that you create, which is a challenge -- but it can be a positive challenge if you remember that book promotion is a numbers game, and the more media decisionmakers you contact, the more positive responses you'll receive.

I'm glad that Grumbach, and people like Grumbach, don't feel the need to put their book ideas on hold while they wait for a publisher to show some interest. Publishers are great -- and they can be very helpful with production, marketing, and distribution -- but they don't make or break a book promotion campaign. And they certainly don't make or break a book, either.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

News Tie-Ins for Book Promotion

I often talk about how tying into news stories increases your chances of scoring interviews. That sounds good to most people. The New York Times runs a story, and that story ties into their book. So now it's time to move your book promotion campaign forward another notch.

But how?

I've recently learned that the link between news stories and book promotin isn't clear to every author, so it's worth commenting here about what you can do with a news story -- say, in the New York Times -- and what you can't do with it to enhance your book promotion campaign.

First, here's what you can't do with the story. You can't get publicity for the news story. The story is already in print (or on the air or on the Internet). It has publicity.

So what can you do with the news story? You can react to it. In a few sentences, you can: agree with the news story, disagree with the news story, offer a different perspective about the news story, or add something to the news story. Then you can go out to all the media outlets you know about (including the one that originally turned you onto the news story) and provide them with your comment. Writing a letter to the editor is a great way to some book publicity, but what I had in mind is pitching the beat editor related to the news item.

When you approach your book publicist with a news story that relates to your book, be sure to offer your view of the news story in one of the ways that I've described. A book publicist can use your statement as a building block of your book promotion campaign. She can't turn the news story itself into news -- that's already been done -- but, with your help, she can help you become a part of the news story.

One final tip: when you see a news story that you can build on, act quickly. A story that was in the New York Times on Thursday will be a powerful news hook for your book publicist to use on Thursday, and maybe even Friday . . . but, by Monday, it may be too late.

Keep watching the news, and keep deciding how your point of view and your expertise fits into it. Then let your book publicist know in a timely fashion, and you'll see results in your book promotion campaign.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Book Promotion Times Three

This idea was new to me. Instead of trying to arrange a book signing at a local bookstore, why not ask a couple of other authors to share a book signing with you? Annie's Book Stop of Sharon, Massachusetts is hosting a triple autograph party today for three novelists: Becky Motew, Marianne Mancusi, and Hannah Howell. You can read about it here.

That's smart.

If an unknown novelist, tries to set up a book signing, the events manager at the bookstore will ask her to quantify the number of people she'll bring into the store. If she can't guarantee a crowd, she won't be invited to have a book signing at that store.

But if an unknown novelist finds a couple of other unknown novelists in the area, and they set up a joint signing, that's a different matter. Together, they'll (theoretically, anyway) bring in three times the number of shoppers and make it worth the bookstore's while to host the event.

If you've been trying to set up a local bookstore signing and have been frustrated by the event nanager's lack of enthusiasm, consider ramping up your book promotion efforts by finding another author or two to join you. Together, you can pitch the bookstore on a book signing (or "autograph party," and together, you might get the results you're seeking.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Book Promotion: An Odd Tactic

We try all sorts of techniques in book promotion, but here is an idea for getting some book publicity that you probably would never think of: avoid the limelight, become a semi-recluse, and refuse to do interviews.

Sounds like a formula for killing a book rather than promoting it, right? And yet that is the book promotion tactic employed by Harper Lee, the genius behind "To Kill a Mockingbird." Read about her, and about a new biography about her, at the Christian Science Monitor Web site.

As a book publicist, I'm not sure I can endorse the avoidance of media attention as the best possible way of promotion your book. But if all else fails -- maybe Harper Lee is onto something after all. Perhaps the best book promotion campaign is to actively avoid a book promotion campaign, and to let the media and fans and biographers swarm around you and beg you to give them some time and attention.

Hmmm. Maybe that's not crazy at all.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Hate Hampers Book Promotion Campaigns

Have you ever wondered why a radio producer would turn down the opportunity to have you as a guest -- especially when you know that the information you want to impart would benefit that radio show's target audience? Well, let's figure it out.

Last night, I was listening to the "Paul Sullivan Show" on WBZ-AM, which is a Boston-based radio station that boasts a 50K-watts signal, and a listening area that includes most of the U.S. and parts of Canada. And who was the guest but the founder of an organization whose apparent mission is to ruin the lives of homosexuals and put an end to anything that might be even vaguely connected to homosexuality.

The founder and his organization has been given so much air time and print space that I don't want to give them even one more pixel here, so I will mention neither the organization nor its founder. But the jerk and his followers were all hot and bothered about some homosexual mannequins that were in a department store window yesterday, and they took to the media for help in bashing those mannequins and the store that displayed them, and expressing empathy for all of the victimized people who had to be subjected to them.

Yes. I listened to this idiot ramble on for about two hours on this theme, and I realized once again that talk radio loves hate, and it would invite this hater on the airwaves faster than it would welcome the doctor or medical team that finally invents a vaccine that can prevent AIDS.

While we're trying to arrange media interviews, and getting our share of rejections from producers, we have to realize that the people who are getting air time are not necessarily those who are the worthiest of media attention; the brightest people; or those with the most important media messages. Sometimes, the people who are getting interviews requests from the media are simply those who are doing their best to resemble one-celled, brainless lifeforms whose hateful messages are so simple and mindless that producers just can't resist.

Thanks, Paul Sullivan, for finding one of these cretins and having him on your show last night. I know you weren't the only talk show host who made this choice, but you know what? You were the one whose station I was listening to during prime time yesterday, and yours was the show from which I had expected better. Boston's top news station? Great. The person you interviewed last night is a newsmaker, of course. But then again, all hatemongers tend to be newsmakers.

Those homosexual mannnequins are no longer in that department store window, but their memory lingers on. Every time I encounter a producer who declines to interview one of my clients, the memory will flare up again.

Hate hampers everything and, yes, it does mess up book promotion campaigns -- mostly, because media consumers let it.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Devil Ignores Book Promotion Campaigns

Today is 06/06/06. So what has this book publicist laerned about the importance of that date? In a nutshell, it's this: if the devil is at work, he's found something to do other than to get involved in book promotion campaigns. I've been booking shows and placing articles, as usual. And, no, the devil didn't make me do it. At least, I don't think he did. Hmmmmm.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

After Book Promotion: Sales

After a book promotion hit, authors always want to see how many books they've sold. This information is not easily come by. Editors keep mum, and Amazon provides only a fraction of the information that authors need.

You know what I always say: there usually is only an indirect relationship between book promotion and book sales. Still, authors are always curious to know what that relationship is, and now I've caught onto a resource that might help them find out: Nielsen BookScan U.S.

You can read about Nielsen BookScan -- who uses it and why -- online at Slate or at Nielsen BookScan U.S.'s Web site.

In a nutshell, publishers and authors can subscribe to BookScan to get the closest thing to actual sales figures that are available. According to Slate's article, there's even a verb to go along with Nielsen BookScan U.S. It's called "BookScanning" as in: "You ought to try BookScanning Stephen King's latest novel." (Sure, you could try Googling Stephen King's latest novel, but somehow, that just wouldn't be as informational.)

The good news is that BookScanning is available, and it's democratic, and it's honest. It can provide information about how much, or how little, your book promotion campaign is affecting book sales, and how wise you'd be to invest additional funds in your book promotion campaign.

So now you can stop relying on Amazon for book sales information. BookScanning is here!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Literacy: The Big Read

The National Endowment for the Art is has a new program called “The Big Read.” According to this article in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, the program encourages people around the country to read a single book. These readers might participate in book clubs and events, and the idea is to get everyone to form one literary community that's talking about one title.

This year, a literary center in Minneapolis chose Zora Neale Hurston's novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, as it's Big Read. Hurston's niece, Lucy Ann Hurston, appeared at that literary center to promote her own book, Speak, So You Can Speak Again, The Life of Zora Neale Hurston (published by Doubleday).

So which is it? Is The Big Read a book promotion opportunity, or does it promote literacy? It sounds to me as though The Big Read is both of those things . . . and also, it provides an opportunity to build community and cultural awareness through books. It's a win/win for everybody.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

What Makes a British Bestseller?

What makes a British book a bestseller? According to this Times Online article, a British book becomes a bestseller the same way that a U.S. book gets there: publishers make deals with bookstores to push certain books, and the chosen books climb the bestseller lists.

Most of us want to believe that books on the bestseller lists are the books that enjoy the most successful book promotion campaigns; the most adulation from readers; and the best word-of-mouth from everyone. Alas, that's no truer in Britain than it is in the States.

Readers beware: the featured novel in the bookstore probably is not the novel that book club members are falling over each other to read. Rather, it's the book with a supportive publisher who is wealthy enough to cut a deal with the bookseller. Merit and money may sometimes go hand-in-hand, and bestsellers may sometimes deserve to be bestsellers. But the odds of that happening seem depressingly meager.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Defining an Effective Press Kit

As we were electronically tossing around a press kit draft yesterday, a client and I were working to come up with something we could rush out with the galleys in the next week or so. Under that deadline pressure, the client admitted that she still wasn't sure what the point of a press kit was.

My first reaction was to be a bit frustrated. After all, we'd talked about the purpose of a press kit extensively. However, now she wanted more...and it challenged me to really think about it. What are book publicists trying to achieve when we craft press kits? What do effective press kits add to book promotion campaigns? What's an ineffective press kit, and how can you avoid writing one, and what happens if you do?

My quick response to the question, what's the purpose of a press kit, is this. It's to capture the interest of a journalist and provide enough information about the author, and the potential story, so that the journalist can take the next step -- whether that means calling a book publicist to arrange an interview with the author, or simply writing a book review.

An effective press kit stands out in a positive way from the rest of the day's mail. It addds credibility to the author. It informs, it entices, and it leaves the journalist wanting more . . . and, one hopes, going to the source (whether it's the book, or the book's Web site, or the book publicist, or the author) to get more. It provides enough detail so that, if a journalist wanted to do a quick-and-easy story with little effort, he or she would be able to borrow enough copy from the press release to do that -- or, if the journalist wanted to do an intelligent interview with the author, the interview questions that would launch such an interview would be right there and ready to go. An effective press kit is tight, stays on topic, and is simple to read. It provides the key book information (title, author's name, publisher, ISBN, price, and so forth) in a discreet place.

In ineffective press kit sounds like a commercial for the book and/or the author. It hypes. It exaggerates. It throws too much information out at once, or it's disorganized or contains jargon, and is difficult to wade through. It lacks the key book information. It calls into question the credibility of the author and/or the book. An ineffective press kit will all but guarantee that the journalist will not interview the author, and it's probably a good bet that an ineffective press kit would also make a book review less likely to happen.

So what's the point of a press kit? I think the point of a press kit is to pitch a story to the media; to sell yourself as a credible resource; and to interest the media in finding out more. A press kit should be subtle and powerful. A press kit should launch a media story.

How can you blow a press kit? By turning the press kit into a overt advertisement, and by giving journalists an excuse to question your integrity and motives.

In other words, a press kit has to sell you as an expert, and it has to persuade the media to cover a story . . . but it has to do so without appearing to sell anything at all.

That's the challenge of creating an effective press kit.

Do it right, and you'll build a solid foundation for the book promotion campaign of your dreams. Do it wrong, and you'll hamper all of your other book promotion efforts.

There's a balance you have to strike, and it's up to your book promotion specialist, and/or your publisher, and/or you, to determine what that balance is.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Future of Book Publishing -- Maybe

BEA attendees have seen the possible future of book publishing -- maybe -- they're not all enthusiastic about it. You guessed it. Books will go electronic, and an unscanned book will be an irrelevant book.

Among those who were not happy about the digital revolution, John Updike looms large. To me, John Updike always looms large because he's one of my favorite novelists, but his quote about the possible transformation of the publishing industry is classic. in A Seattle Times article includes this observation. I'm quoting:

"As I read it," Updike said, "this is a pretty grisly scenario." He counted himself as one of the "surly hermits refusing to come out and play in the digital sunshine."

Well, I wonder how many book publicists are excited about the prospect of "playing in the digital sunshine." I have some ideas about how to construct a book promotion campaign so that you don't have to send physical copies of books to the media. For example, the production wizards behind the concept of "book trailers" and "bookpresenters" certainly have my attention, and I look forward to working closely with some of those production houses in the future on digital book promotion campaigns.

Sure, there's another part of me who would love to be a "surly hermit refusing to come out and play in the digital sunshine." But there can only be one John Updike, so for now, I'll cast about the digital sunshine for future book promotion opportunities -- even if they do bring me farther into the uncharted territories of the digital book world.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Diet Book Publishers: Beware

There's a new diet book in town, and it will not lack for book promotion opportunities. See, the author is Oprah Winfrey, and it's landed its author the best nonfiction book deal ever. You can read about it here.

So what would it be like to find yourself in the middle of a book promotion campaign for your diet or fitness book, at the same time as Oprah's book publicity machine gears up? I'll be honest. I'm one book publicist who would rather not find out.

Oprah's book promotion opportunities include appearances on any national television show she chooses, and in virtually any other media outlet that she'll grace with her presence. Moreover, Oprah's book promotion campaign will encompass visibility on her own TV show and in her own magazine. With book promotion opportunities like that, Oprah could turn her own version of the Yellow Pages into a bestseller.

What's the left for competing books, when Oprah gets done with her book promotion campaign? We shall see...but if I were in the market to promote a diet and fitness book, I'd begin immediately -- before the hoopla surrounding Oprah's diet and fitness book begins. Either that, or I'd wait until Oprah's book promotion campaign wrapped. Timing, in this case, will be everything.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Promoting Literary Fiction

The Sunday New York Times had a story about promoting literary fiction that drives home several few points.

1. Book promotion -- at least, of literary fiction -- depends on the support of a major publisher.

2. Even with the support of a major publisher, book promotion doesn't guarantee books sales.

3. Publishers can promote only a finite number of books per season, and that means some novelists -- even those with an excellent track record -- won't make the cut.

4. Even when a novel belongs to such a luminary as Philip Roth, it helps to have a nonfiction news hook (as did "The Plot Against America," which received all kinds of media attention because it was perceived to have political overtones).

Major houses lay plans for their A-list literary novels, and editors compete with one another within their own publishing companies to push their book ahead of all of the other competing books in the catalogue. If it's this difficult for a mainstream literary novel to succeed, can you imagine what it takes for a self-published book in the same genre to have a chance? This is why so many book publicists are reluctant to promote novels.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Biggest Book Promotion Party of the Year.

The annual bookselling convention, BEA, is the largest book promotion party of the year. It's a chance for publishers and authors to get their wares before booksellers and rights buyers from all around the world. And it all begins this afternoon at 4:00PM in Washington, DC. If you're not one of the lucky people who gets to attend BEA this year -- and, as the owner and operator of a one-person book promotion firm, I'm not one of the lucky people who gets to attend BEA this year -- you can read about the event all over the news, including at the Washington Post's Web site.

It's never too early to start planning to attend next year's BEA, if you're so inclined. Who knows? Maybe I'll see you there.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Would Desperate Housewives want to read your book?

Here's a book promotion scenario to make television show addicts squirm. Your publisher realizes that buying a commercial for your book during Desperate Housewives (or another TV show) will be ineffective because so many viewers use the latest technology to skip commercials. Therefore, your publisher instead pays the producer of the TV show to incorporate your book into the plot. Your book then becomes the reason Gabrielle is so unhappy, or Susan chases the wrong man. Your book wins, but the show suffers, and let's face it. Which do you care more about: book promotion or your favorite television show?

Okay, never mind that question. Still, you might want to check out MSNBC.com's article about product placement on television shows. The practice has been going on nearly as long as television has existed. I can still hear Lawrence Welk interrupting his show to explain why the benefits that viewers would derive from taking Geritol, or the goofiness of watching members of the original Star Trek crew acting oddly excited about some of their props that were being marketed as toys that season.

But that was before TiVo and other technologies have made commercials a difficult way to sell things, and have inadvertently encouraged soda companies and other vendors to get creative in their promotion efforts. Could the next product sold on a network television program be your book? Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The book publisher did it.

Who committed an act of libel? Was it the author of Paperback Poison: the Romance Writer and the Hit Man or its publisher, AuthorHouse? According to Claire Kirch's article in PW Daily, the book publisher did it.

Here's what's interesting to me. AuthorHouse doesn't call itself a publishing house. On its home page, AuthorHouse bills itself as a team of "author advocates" who can "help you choose the best book publishing options and the most effective marketing tools."

In other words, AuthorHouse allows authors to self publish, and they don't impose editorial standards on their clients' work.

AuthorHouse may have provided the mechanism that allowed a libelous book to be printed and marketed. But if I'd been on that Kansas jury, I would have noted that a company like AuthorHouse doesn't evaluate its clients' work, and probably doesn't even read it. That's the business model, and while it may leave book reviewers scratching their heads, it would seem to exonerate AuthorHouse from responsibility if anything goes wrong.

I'm surprised at the verdict. A jury said that the book publisher did it, but I wonder. What will this do to the future of print-on-demand publishing? If I were iUniverse, I'd be scared now. I'd be very scared.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Surprise from Bowker

The BusinessWire story's headline reads: "U.S. Book Production Plummets 18,000 in 2005, According to Bowker Statistics; Smaller Publishers Show the Largest Drop in New Titles...."

The decline in U.S. book production is the first since 1999, according to the story, which gets its information from Bowker's Books in Print database.

Fewer books means fewer authors promoting books, which could be good news for your next book promotion campaign. But before you book that flight for Chicago or New York, remember that every author (and every book publicist) in North America is still pitching story ideas to Oprah, Today, Good Morning America, the View, and so forth.

With the costs of paper and transportation rising, it probably should come as no surprise that publishers, large and small, are being especially cautious these days. And who knows? That may eventually lead to explosive growth in the world of ebooks.

One way or another, the media will find the authors it needs to speak as experts about every topic under the sun. Will the shrinking number of new books cause less competition among publishers and authors for book promotion opportunities? Stay tuned.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Online Book Promotion

Here's yet another reason to emphasize online book promotion campaigns over traditional book promotion campaigns. According to a new CNN.com article, the circulation of most (not all, but most) newspapers slipped still further in the last six months. The New York Times and USA Today's circulation has climbed slightly, but other newspapers -- including the San Francisco Chronicle and the Boston Globe -- have lost subscribers.

No book publicist would recommend avoiding newspapers and pursuing only online venues. But the truth is that newspapers are becoming less relevant while their online counterparts are becoming better trafficked all the time. Book promotion campaigns must include pitches to online venues as well as the bricks-and-mortar publications.

At the very least, there's no longer any need for an author to complain that an article mentioning his or her book appears "only online." Online is getting to be a more important venue every day.

Riddle: How do you get a bibliophile interested in switching to ebooks?

Give up? The way you get a bibliophile to jettison those precious paper relics and embrace the digital revolution is to tell him or her that books are now being made of elephant dung. You then let the image, um, ferment in the bibliophile's imagination.

Here‘s my proof from Sentinel.com that some enterprising Thai, elephant-embracing activitists are , indeed, making paper from elephant dung (well, you didn't think I'd make up a thing like that, did you?). The story goes on to suggest that cow poop and bison messes may be the next frontier.

Try putting adding those books to your valuable collections, book lovers! Not the sort of reading copy you'd bring to the beach, is it? Or snuggle with under the covers, flashlight in hand?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that a book made from animal feces is ineligible for book promotion -- far from it. I'm just saying that I'm probably not the best candidate to handle those particular book promotion campaigns. Too squeamish, am I.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Senator's Book Publicist

Who is Senator Ted Kennedy's book publicist? That's the question that was on my mind when I read an article in this morning's Boston Globe Magazine about Ted's new children's book.

In the article's second Q&A, the senator mentions his son, Congressman Patrick Kennedy. Here's the context. Ted tells us that Patrick's asthma is one of the reasons why Ted and his wife, Vicki, acquired the "non-allergic" dog, Splash, who is the subject of children's book Ted is currently promoting.

As someone who understands the motto, "the show must go on," I can sympathize with Ted's wanting his book promotion campaign to move ahead despite the personal problems he faces. However, I have a hard time understanding why Ted's book publicist may have thought the timing of this particular book promotion "hit" was a good idea.

Ted's asthmatic son, Patrick, was recently admitted to a drug rehab program a day or two after he was involved in a car accident. There are those who believe that Patrick should have been given a breathalizer test at the scene of the car accident. Additionally, there are those who say that Patrick has given conflicted statements about the quantity, and quality, of his memories of the car accident and what may have precipitated it.

In other words, Patrick is having serious problems right now, and since Patrick is Ted's son, it would be a fair statement that Ted is having serious problems right now as well. And what is Ted doing right now, as he sips his morning coffee? You guessed it. He's reading an article about his children's book.

There's a time to promote books and a time to not promote books. In my opinion, when your son is having serious problems is a good time to suspend a book promotion campaign for your children's book.

Maybe the senator's book publicist asked the Boston Globe Magazine's editor to kindly pull the article, and the editor refused. That would certainly call into question the editor's judgment, wouldn't it?

Ah, well. I'm a great fan of children's books, but I wasn't in the market to buy Ted's book, anyway . . . even before I saw that his son's drug problems didn't put a dent in his book promotion campaign efforts.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Blurbs -- Book Publicity or Editorial?

In practice, most book promotion campaigns begin about three months before a book's publication date. Therefore, as a book promotion specialist, I don't get involved in securing endorsements for books that I promote. That's an editorial function, and it's handled either by the book's editor or the author him- or herself.

That allows me to say, with impunity, that I got a chuckle out of the May 3, 2006 Dogmatika post titled "This book will not change your life." It discusses the fact that blurbs have become meaningless, since all books have blurbs that sound alike -- and they all sound over-the-top and difficult to swallow.

All readers have their own pet peeves when it comes to "blurbsters" -- the authors who apparently are willing to endorse anything, from fast food restaurants' placemats to books that were seemingly written in Sanskrit. In fact, books of a certain genre that lack an endorsement by these habitual "blurbsters" seem naked. Why didn't so-and-so endorse this book, a reader might wonder. Does it truly stink or something? Or is the author just completely out-of-the-loop?

When disingenuous praise of a book is mandatory, and a book looks naked without a blurb by specific blurbsters, you know something is goofy. Perhaps it's time to start a new trend in book marketing: honesty on book covers. How about if we see blurbs like this? "My husband wrote this novel, and I haven't actually read it yet, but darn, he worked hard on it, and I truly hope you'll support his efforts by taking a chance and buying the book."

Perhaps it won't wash, but you know what? I do wish that it would.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Rising Costs of Book Promotion

Is the cost of book promotion increasing? Yes, if the price of stamps rises again. The Associated Press story, which made it onto MSNBC.com, is threatening a three cent increase for first class stamps beginning as early as May of 2007. It doesn't mention the projected cost of mailing a flat-rate Priority envelope, which is the preferred mailing method of most book publicists with whom I've worked.

As snail-mailings become increasingly expensive, I'm growing increasingly fond of finding new ways to promote books online. (Of course, the pundits are always working on a way to charge us for sending emails -- and, some day, they might just figure out a practical way to do it.) Still, even in book promotion campaigns that rely heavily on online publicity strategies, interviewers will need copies of the book, and the least expensive way to send those books is to use the U.S. Postal Service.

Rate increases mean that the price of book promotion campaigns increase. There's no way around it. So if you're planning to promote your book in the summer of 2007 or thereafter . . . consider yourself forewarned.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

When You Can Get Audiobooks for Free

If you could get audiobooks for free, and if the process were as simple as bringing your MP3/WMA player into your local public library's computer and click on the right icons -- would you? That's the challenge posed for Boston-area library patrons by this story. Apparently, the Boston Public Library is the first library in New England to use OverDrive Download Stations. And, to add to the temptation, BPL library card holders don't even have to visit the library itself. Instead, we can log onto http://overdrive.bpl.org and snag our freebies there.

Some of the publishers who have contributed to the library's catalogue are: Brilliance Audio, Blackstone Audiobooks, HarperAudio, and Time Warner Audiobooks. If they're okay with making their work available to patrons for free through the Boston Public Library, then who am I do balk at the opportunity?

I'm a self-admitted book junkie, and yes, I like books. I love books. I want books. I need books.

But ... I also like authors. I need authors. And authors need book publicists to promote their books, not to help libraries give their books away for free.

What happens to royalty statements now, in this age of "Sure, I'll take that book for free. Why not?" That remains to be seen, I suppose.

In the meantime, I'll check out that Digital Library Reserve page. But I'm not ready to download anything quite yet.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Here's My Wish for All Books.

My tongue-in-cheek wish for all your book projects is that it be either plagerized or banned by a major world religion. The book promotion value of either of those events just can't be overstated. What happens when a Harvard student plagerizes your book? Sales shoot up. And what happens when the Vatican urges all good Catholics to stay away from a particular book (and now movie)? You know the answer to that one.

Ron Howard and his fellow movie-makers must be gleeful about the fact that his latest movie, "The Da Vinci Code" (which is opening on May 15 -- reserve the date now!), has been placed firmly on the Vatican's poop list (here's the Reuter's story on the topic). Of course, the book upon which the movie is based has long been on that list. That has to make Dan Brown a happy, as well as very wealthy, camper.

Here's what I wonder. Did Ronnie slip the Pope a quick million dollars or so to get the movie "banned?" Or is the Pope freely goading all of us to see the movie and trusting that a big, fat check from Ron Howard will follow? In any case, I think now would be a good time for both Mr. Brown and Mr. Howard to write thank-you notes to the Vatican. It's the least they can do for all the great publicity the Vatican has bought for them.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Here's Another Way to Promote Your Book.

Here's another way to promote your book: hope that another writer -- preferably a Harvard sophomore wunderkind (such as the now-infamous Kaavya Viswanathan) who's been awarded a three-book contract by Little, Brown -- to plagarize it. I can't be the only voracious reader out there who has both of Megan McCafferty's books (“Sloppy Firsts” and “Second Helpings”) on order.

In a situation like this, do you suppose that McCafferty owes Viswanathan a cut of her forthcoming royalty checks? I always thought George Carlin owed Mike Barnicle (Boston's own renowned word-borrower) a hefty portion of the proceeds from "Brain Droppings."

If only ... if only ... if only a high-profile person would rip off the words of one of my clients, that author's book would virtually promote itself. This publicist can only hope she, and her clients, have that kind of luck.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

There's a New Media Outlet Born Every Minute.

There's a new media outlet born every minute. But did we really need another one that features Martha Stewart?

As professionals who are intent upon book promotion -- and who are always looking for new venues to carry news items about our books' topics and areas of expertise -- it's worth noting that Martha's latest publication is called Blueprint, and it just went on sale to the public yesterday. Its target audience is younger than the Martha Stewart Living's demographic. You can read about Blueprint on MSBNC.com, if you're so inclined.

Look, I'm as eager as you are to find new outlets for promoting books. Really. If I sound cranky, it's only because I wish fewer new media outlets had convicted felons as their spokespeople rather than, say, people with whom we might enjoy doing business.

Oh, well.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Book Promotion - The Wrong Way

Have you heard about the latest brilliant writer who's been accused of wrongdoing? This kind of publicity, you don't need.

Too bad it's a Harvard woman this time.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Book Promotion Budget Under $100?

If your book promotion budget is less than $100, you can't afford to hire a book publicist. But that doesn't mean you can't afford to promote your book.

Do-it-yourself book promotion campaigns consist of:

* writing your own press materials
* compiling your own media lists
* getting contact information for those media targets
* isolating story ideas and news hooks
* creating a pitch
* scheduling media interviews
* following up

If you know your way around promotion, then you have an edge on authors who don't. But you still may want to learn key trade secrets, such as how to pitch the producers at the Oprah show or how to reach the editors at USA Today. Whether you're looking for tips on how to create the perfect pitch or ways to tap the book marketing potential of the Web, you might be able to find what you need at a pricet you can afford.

With several partners, I've just launched a book promotion tools site for those who want to publicize their books but can't afford to hire a book publicist (or who want to continue a book promotion campaign after a contract with a book publicity firm has run its course). The site is BookPromotionTools.com, and it's one way you might begin a book promotion campaign on a shoestring.

Another way to begin a modest book promotion campaign is to make a list of local media outlets, open up the phone book, and get contact information for each of those venues. When you can't afford to have a book promotion specialist do it for you, roll up your sleeves and get to work. A tight budget is no reason to delay promoting your book!

If Norman Mailer Had Asked Me...

If Norman Mailer had asked me, I would have told him to re-think the subtitle on his novel, The Big Empty : Dialogues on Politics, Sex, God, Boxing, Morality, Myth, Poker and Bad Conscience in America. Just whom, I would have asked him, do you expect to remember that subtitle? Do you even have it committed to memory? How do you expect that subtitle to just roll off the tongues of television and radio show hosts, and how do you propose that magazines and newspapers find space for it?

Then again, if Norman Mailer had asked me, I would have told him that nearly all the titles of his books (The Executioner's Song, The Naked and the Dead, et al.) were too depressing.

I'm right about the fact that Norman Mailer's book titles (and, in this case, his subtitle) aren't optimized for their book promotion value. But, okay, I will concede that, overall, Norman Mailer's career as a novelist has been pretty much on track -- even though he hasn't listened to my advice with regard to his books' titles and subtitles.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

To Create a Book Web Site

I've become a big believer in having a Web site for every book. Over the past few years, the media's tenuous question of "Is there a Web site for the book, by any chance?" has morphed into a matter-of-fact, "What's the book's URL?" Books without Web addresses have come to be regarded with as much suspicion and bewilderment as -- well -- as adults without phone numbers.

· So I've been insisting that my clients, and all other authors and publishers with whom I network, that they create Web sites for their books. The response from most of these people is, "Well, fine. Just tell me what needs to go on my Web site."

That question puts me into a strange situation, since I'm not a Web site designer. But, as a book promotion specialist, I can suggest to authors and publishers that these would be the ideal components of a book's Web site:

· A home page that includes descriptive content and a book cover (an author's photo might be nice, too, if the Web designer can fit it in).

· An excerpt

· Original bylined articles or other content (if book you're promoting is nonfiction)

· Online buying links (either to Amazon.com or BN.com, or both)

· Media page with a downloadable media kit, book cover, and author photos (both black-and-white and color)

· Guestbook

· Blog (you can get started for free at www.blogger.com)

· Sign-up page with opt-in mailing list manager

If you’re building your site in stages (and many authors and publishers do), then it's best to include whichever components your Web designer can create the most quickly. For many people, that's the home page, media page, and online buying links.

I have one more recommendation about building a Web site for books, and don't shoot the messenger, please. I'm sure your son/daughter/nephew/niece/neighbor/friend's child is as cute as punch and even more talented than Picasso, but he or she will not have the ability to design a high-quality site for your book. In fact, the high school/college student may do more harm than good, because whatever he/she creates, the search engines are bound to find -- and that Web site, with all its rough edges, is going to reflect how the media and potential buyers see your book.

Don't let your book pay the price because you'd rather not invest in a "real" Web site for your book. Yes, I twist arms to get people to realize that they need Web sites for their books. But I ask...no, I beg...people to realize that a Web site designed by a nonprofessional young person is worse than no Web site at all.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Does Book Promotion Increase Book Sales?

Does book promotion increase book sales? Probably. But should you hire a book publicist only for the purpose of increasing book sales? Probably not.

Here's why. A book promotion specialist doesn't sell books. He or she arranges media interviews, book reviews, article placements, search engine maximization, and the like. This raises the visibility of your book and your Web site. That may drive book sales, and it usually does. But, when it does, that's a great benefit of book promotion, but your book publicist will hope and trust it's not the only benefit you are receiving from the campaign.

Your book publicist will assume that you are promoting your book to disseminate your messages to as many people as possible. That's why you want to be on the air, and that's why you want to be quoted as an expert in newspaper and magazine articles, and that's why you want people to find your site through Google and other search engines. You have something to say, and your book is one outlet for saying it; the mass media provides additional venues for you to spread your messages.

In addition, many authors believe their visibility in the media will lead to great opportunities such as offers from corporations (perhaps speaking engagements or endorsement projects), additional clients or customers, or enhanced credibility in the professional world. This is usually what happens.

You benefit from media appearances in a myriad of ways. Book sales, when and if they happen, are a wonderful fringe benefit of your book promotion campaign. But they can't be the only reason why you hire a book promotion specialist.

An author from a mainstream publishing house was recently in discussions with me about promoting her book. She thought my book promotion plan looked great. Finally, she wanted to know how many books it would sell. I was taken aback by the question.

Another book publicist might have taken a guess and added a disclaimer such as "but no one really knows for sure." However, I opted to tell the author the whole truth which was that book sales weren't my area of expertise, and therefore, I had no idea of what number to give her. I could guess how many radio interviews I might be able to arrange for her (and that would only be a guess, because it's impossible to predict how radio show producers will respond to a particular pitch). But I couldn't make even a wild guess about how many books she'd sell if she hired me.

I received her emailed response earlier today. She asked me for a referral to a book publicist whose focus was on selling books.

Of course, I responded that there's no such book publicist. Distributors and salespeople sell books. (In the case of her book, since she's working through a major publishing company, she can't even hire an independent distributor -- she'll have to put her complete faith in the capabilities of her publisher.) Book promotion specialists arrange media appearances and reviews.

What I could have done, I suppose, is refer her to a book promotion firm that's able to toss around figures and promises that come from nowhere and are utterly meaningless. However, I don't have the heart to do that.

No, I don't want her as a client, because her goals are not in line with what I can provide for her, and the last thing in the world I want is a disappointed client. But another thing I don't want is for a book publicity firm to take advantage of her by, basically, telling her what she wants to hear.

What would King Solomon do in this situation? Hmmm.