Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Race, Creed, and Interviews

Yesterday, I conducted a mass email campaign for one of my clients. She's a novelist, and we had written a Valentine's Day pitch. We scored several interviews, and received even more interest from producers who wanted to receive the book and media kit. But one response just made me cringe.

"Is your author a [fill in the religion]," asked this particular producer. "I'd love to schedule an interview with her if she is, but I'll have to pass on the opportunity if she isn't." The producer went on to explain that her show incorporated a particular system of beliefs into all interviews, and if the author did not live according to that belief set, he or she wouldn't fit into the program.

This type of response from producers and editors is not unusual, but I'll never get used to it. Participating in a dialogue with a media decisionmaker who wants to know what religion my client subscribes to (or how tall she is, or what her skintone is, and so forth) is one of the ugliest parts of my job, and it's taken me years to know how to respond.

I think, yesterday, I hit on the solution. First, I checked in with my client and asked whether she might want me to respond in the affirmative ("Yes, my client is a fill-in-the-blank"). The client wisely (I think) wanted no part of it. Therefore, I emailed the producer and told her that, while I appreciated her interest, few of my clients fit her requirements, and it would therefore probably be best for all concerned if I removed her from my mailing list. I carbon copied my client on that email, and then I removed the producer from my media database. In doing so, I ensured that no future clients will ever be in the position of being screened by this producer on the basis of their religions. Ideally, I'll be able to use this technique in the future to create a media database free of those who would discriminate on the basis of someone's race, creed, and the like.

Don't get me wrong. I understand why there has to be a match between the media outlet and an author. I'm probably not going to book a client who wants to talk about a potential bird flu epidemic on an entertainment program. And I don't blame producers for wanting to know something about an author's background before they offer to schedule an interview. And, hey, I don't even mind when a woman's radio program insists on receiving only pitches about women authors.

But that's different from declining an interview with an author on the basis of race, creed, height, weight, hair length, eye color, or shoe size. My thinking is this: Any media decisionmaker who screens experts for reasons such as these is the gatekeeper for a media outlet I wouldn't want to deal with. Would you?

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Monday, January 30, 2006

Memoir, Fiction, Confusion . . . Pat Conroy

His name isn't James Frey. It's Pat Conroy, and he's a novelist, but what's going on with "The Water Is Wide?" I missed that particular novel, or memoir, or whatever it might be, but I didn't miss Hallmark's rendition of "The Water Is Wide" last night. As always, I was transfixed by Hallmark's production, but my, was I confused. The main character's name was "Pat Conroy," and I recognized the military father from several Pat Conroy novels I'd read, so I made the connection. All right, then, the movie (and book, I presumed) must have been autobiographical -- a memoir, if you will.

Fine, but then, what was up with the final disclaimer at the end of the movie that said (I'm paraphrasing): "The preceding was a work of fiction, and any resemblance to people living or dead is a mere coincidence."

Did I miss something here? Back in the days B.F. (Before Frey), I probably wouldn't have given it a thought. But now I'm wondering why we're all so squirrelish about using the phrase "semi-autobiographical" to describe a based-on-fact story about our lives. Is it because of the legal implications? Or is it because we're no longer sure what's true and what isn't, so we want to keep our options open just in case we're ever asked to prove that personal histories are what we say they are.

All I can say is, thanks for the movie, Hallmark. I love your work. But, Pat, could you please clarify for me what we just saw? Was it real, or was it Memorex? Thank you in advance for your cooperation with this matter.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Book Promotion: Because You're Entitled.

It always amazes me to hear popular misconceptions about book promotion. One of the most frequent statements is that everyone who writes a book is entitled to media exposure. Here's a quote I found in The Miami Herald from author/wrestler Shawn Michaels: "...it was sort of ironic that every other book gets a ton of publicity when it comes out, and this one didn't, but I really didn't have the time to publicize it."

Shawn, I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but maybe you need a reality check about book promotion. Some books enjoy visibility in the media because their authors (and/or their book publicists) work their socks off letting book reviewers, beat editors, assignment editors, and producers know about a story opportunity. They give the media something of value -- a news hook -- and keep on plugging away at it until they find what works. Then, having launched their book in the media, they build on what works until, finally, they've created a successful book promotion campaign.

They don't have publicity handed to them because they wrote a book. They're not entitled to the media's attention. They earn it the old-fashioned way: through creativity and hard work.

So, Shawn, I'm glad to see your book was mentioned in at least one major media outlet. That's a good beginning. Now keep going and see whether you can interest other feature editors in your story. And then move on to radio show producers. And so on. Your book deserves the effort. But it's not entitled to the results. You have to earn that yourself.

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Friday, January 27, 2006

How Sex Can Help You Promote Books

How can you prepare for interviews related to book promotion? Try deep breathing and stretches, indulge in some exercise, do a vocal warmup -- and have sex. A story on Reuters wire service suggests that pre-interview sex can have a calming effect on you. The more relaxed you are, in theory, the more credibility you'll convey on the air and the better you'll be able to articulate your messages during the interview.

What if the timing of your interview is less than perfect with relation to your partner's availability? Not to worry. Stuart Brody, the clever psychologist who thought up this study (thank you, Stu!), said -- and I'm paraphrasing -- that the benefits of intercourse should last at least a week. So if you have a phone interview at five o'clock in the morning, there's no need to wake up your partner in the middle of the night. Just tune into the memory of what you shared, and know that you're in fine form for your performance.

Sex and book promotion. They go together like, well, Amazon and dotcom.

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Will Your Book Be a New York Times Bestseller?

That may depend on its title.

So, if you want to predict whether or not your book will make it to the New York Times bestseller list, use the Titlescorer tool on Lulu.com to check on how likely it is that your book will make the New York Times bestseller list.

The people who developed the Titlescorer relied on 50 years worth of statistics to do so. Worth a click? Maybe. Check out the Star Tribune story to find out more.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Beyond Castle Rock

Well, what do we have here? The first two chapters of Stephen King's latest novel, "Cell," available online here.

I couldn't wait to dive in, but I wish someone had forewarned me. Stephen King seems to be done blowing up his fictional locale of Castle Rock, Maine, and now he's moved onto my neck of the woods: the Back Bay of Boston. By the end of chapter two, there's already been at least one murder on Boylston Street, a blood-curdling scream in the Boston Common, and a crash of one kind or another on Newbury Street.

Hey, Stephen, this time you're hitting a little bit too close to home. Okay, I'm still planning to buy your book and indulge in reading it from cover to cover at my earliest opportunity. But please, promise me you've left the Boston Public Library alone. Stephen, the BPL is just about a mile away from where the "incident" that launches the action in the rest of your novel takes place. Tell me that the BPL remains intact in your new novel. Please! Tell me. Some things are supposed to be sacred.

When a Library Rebuffs the FBI

Which is greater: the privacy that we enjoy at public libraries or the might of the Federal Bureau of Investigation? The former, if the latter fails to get a search warrant.

Here's the story, which you can read in full at the Boston Herald's Website. A "terrorist" threat was emailed to Brandeis University (in Waltham, Massachusetts) from a computer at the Newton Free Library (Newton, too, is a suburb of Boston).

So the FBI burst into the Newton Free Library and demanded access to the computers, and wanted to lock down the library. The library's director sent them packing until the FBI had obtained a search warrant. By that time, the library was closed for the day and, presumably, all the terrorists had long since gone home.

I'm not sure the library I frequented in my childhood would have dared to turn away a member of the local police department, let alone a Federal agent, for any reason. Then again, when I was a kid, most of the library's patrons were there to read books or periodicals. Computers, as far as I knew, hadn't been invented then, and neither had terrorists.

At least, that's the way it seemed to me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Bad Book Idea

Are you an author or a publisher who's in need of a book idea? Here's a topic to not choose: Donald Trump.

Businesswire is running tells the tale of a lawsuit that Donald Trump just filed against the author and publisher of TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald.

And lest you think Mr. Trump is picking on some poor clueless slobs, here's a bit more information you might want. The author is New York Times reporter Timothy L. O'Brien, and the publisher is Warner Books, Inc.

File under: Defamation lawsuits can happen to anyone -- anyone who's misguided enough to mess with The Donald, that is. Name recognition of your own and credibility up the kazoo may not help you when it comes time to face Mr. Trump's wrath in that boardroom more commonly known as civil court.

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Here's Another Way to Get the Media's Attention.

A 19-year-old youg man, formerly called Chris Garnett, had his name legally changed to KentuckyFriedCrueltyDotCom. As a member of PETA, he wanted to get some attention for what he believes to be the plight of chickens who encounter the Colonel's organization and wind up on a plate with a side of mashed potatoes, gravy, and probably some cole slaw. You can read about it here.

So how does Ken's bid (yes, some people really do call him Ken) for media attention relate to your book promotion campaign? Granted, Ken isn't promoting a book, but he does know an awful lot about promotion, and the strategies he's used to get the media's attention are certainly worthy of your consideration:

* Get passionate about something.
* Act on your conviction -- in other words, "walk the walk" -- in an unconventional way.
* Let the media know.
* Be prepared to defend your position intelligently when the media calls.

You don't have to be a PETA member, or a KFC detractor, to appreciate the fact that KentuckyFriedCrueltyDotCom is smart about self-promotion. His PR campaign probably hasn't cost him more than the price of legally changing his name and a few postage stamps (unless he's conducting strictly an email media campaign). But look at the results of his promotion campaign, and think about why he's achieving those results. If you were the producer of a national TV show, would you be able to resist the story of 19-year-old Chris Garnett who changed his name to KentuckyFriedCrueltyDotCom?

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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Off-the-Wall, Fun Books Promote Themselves

If your book is silly, off-beat, or just plain goofy, it may very well attract all the media coverage you can handle. In my experience, media hooks that can serve as foils for tragic, fightening news stories always seem to have a place in newspapers and magazines, and on radio and TV, and online.

For example, check out this Mississippi Press article about a neat book called "How to Meditate with your Dog" by James Jacobson.

I don't live with a dog, and I'm not sure I'd invite one to meditate with me if I did, but still -- I wouldn't mind reading a copy of that book. (And, no, I'm not in the market to meditate with my cats, either.) The book looks clever, and it looks light-hearted, and that's often enough for me, as a book buyer. Apparently, editors and producers feel the same attraction to "cute" topics as the rest of us do enough of the time so that you'll nearly always spot a "fluffy" (no pun intended) news feature or two somewhere on a broadcast or in a publication.

With that in mind, I often try to find an offbeat news angle for a serious (and sometimes even an academic) book that seems to be underwhelming media decisionmakers. If you can figure out how to pitch your book in a just-for-fun or even outrageous way, you might find some media takers who resisted your more straight-on story ideas.

It's worth a try, anyway, if you have a sense of humor and are willing to laugh at yourself. You might find media decisionmakers -- and book buyers -- are willing to laugh with you, too.

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Riddle: What's the Worst Way to Promote Your Book?

Answer: The worst way to promote your book is to have Osama bin Laden endorse it.

This story from Salon.com nearly made me lose my Saturday morning breakfast. It seems that, in his latest tape, Osama bin Laden plugged William Blum's book, "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower."

Now, I have to tell you, Osama bin Laden's book recommendations wouldn't send me scurrying to my favorite bookseller. But apparently, his reading list does hold weight with a whole host of other people, because Blum's book, which ranked No. 205,763 B.O. (Before Osama), stands at #20 as I blog.

Who's buying this book, is what I'd like to know? Second of all, if you can think of a dirtier, more offensive way to promote your book and increase your visibility than to get a terrorist's endorsement, let me know.

On second thought...yuck.

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Friday, January 20, 2006

An Unlikely Response to a Story Pitch

I never know what to expect when I pitch a book to the media, so I'm seldom shocked by any individual's responses. But yesterday I received some static for a story pitch that did, indeed, surprise me.

I'd asked the author of a novel that was published by a mainstream New York house for her reaction to the James Frey controversy. Her book, after all, is semi-autobiographical, and she might have chosen to call it a memoir, too -- but she didn't. The author said that she supported Frey and, indeed, if she'd been braver, she might have chosen to call her novel a memoir as well. I included her quotation in a pitch that went out via email to a couple of thousand major book review editors, feature editors, producers, and so forth.

Well, that will teach me.

Almost as soon as I began the email campaign, I received an email from the book editor at one of the top daily U.S. newspapers. The email reads something like this:

"I think you and [the novelist] should pitch this trash to those people Frey has hurt for his own mercenary reasons. Shame on you."

Which leads me to the conclusion that the book editor at this top daily U.S. newspaper disagreed with my client's position. (By the way, I'm paraphrasing the email. When I emailed the reporter this morning to ask for her permission to quote her in this space, she declined to respond. Oh, well.)

Anyway, the reporter's email also has me pondering two questions.

When did it became a shame for one writer to support the right of another writer? And when did I, as a book publicist, become an advocate for my client's position? Last time I checked, I promoted books and disseminated press materials. I did not necessarily endorse the ideas expressed in those books or press materials.

As it happens, I would choose to not represent a book or an author whose work violated my moral code, but that's just my personal style, and I would never inflict that choice on a fellow book promotion specialist. If a liberally-oriented colleague chose to promote a book written by a conservative author, for example, that wouldn't trouble me.

I get troubled when promoting somebody's work or disseminating somebody's message can cause harm to authors. Otherwise, I'm fine about putting ideas out there, for the media's consideration, because that's what my clients engage me to do. I'm not a partner in any of my clients' business ventures or their legal representative. I'm their liason to the media, and with that, I agree with some of their opinions, and I disagree with others -- but I put them all out there for others to judge which, I think, is what a book publicist is supposed to do.

To that anonymous book review editor, I'd like to say this. Thank you for a thought-provoking email. I'm continually amazed by how comfortable media decisionmakers feel clicking the "reply" button on their email software to provide instant feedback -- both positive and negative.

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Go, Amazon!

How will Stephen King promote his latest novel (the first in way too long, according to this long-time rabid fan)? On Amazon.com's new TV show!

According to the Los Angeles Times
, Bill Maher host a new online TV show (yes, I'm still trying to figure out what that means, too) called -- what else? -- "Amazon Fishbowl With Bill Maher."

King will be among the guests of the first episode of "Fishbowl," and twelve more shows (so far) will follow. He will appear on no other TV shows to promote his book. And UPS will sponser the commercial-free show.

As far as I'm concerned, this is awesome. Amazon's new online TV show may change book promotion forever. I'm so excited that we're along for the ride!

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Elie Wiesel Needs Oprah's Book Club Like...

Elie Wiesel needs Oprah's book club as much as Leo Tolstoy needs it. Maybe less. I strongly suspect that Mr. Wiesel's memoir about his experiences during World War II would have garnered worldwide interest without Oprah's endorsement, just as Anna Karenina would have maintained its healthy book sales without Oprah's help.

At this point, I'm wondering whether Oprah's book club logo might actually hurt Mr. Wiesel's book, Night, which has supplanted James Frey's A Million Little Pieces as Amazon's number one bestseller.

We all know that the veracity of Frey's book has been called into question. Will Mr. Wiesel's book, which is also a memoir, be similarly scrutinized? Reuters suggests that Oprah has already offered a disclaimer on her Web site that says, essentially, the book might not accurately represent every small detail of Mr. Wiesel's family history, but that it's true enough to be called an autobiography.

Well, then, the book has Oprah's endorsement. Sort of.

But will that endorsement, and the associated disclaimer, just fuel the nonsense of those who demand proof of that which is true? Will Oprah's endorsement of Night delight Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and people of his ilk?

Is this one time when it really would have made sense for an author to turn down Oprah's invitation to join her book club? Perhaps.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Novelists: Beware

If you're a novelist, perhaps this isn't the blog to read today. This is not the good news or encouragement you're probably hoping to find.

Nonetheless, it still may be worth knowing.

According to Fairfax Digital's The Age, novelists might want to focus more on achieving fame than on the quality of their work. According to that publication, The British Sunday Times recently tried an experiment in which they sent off the first chapter of a prize-winning novel penned by the 2001 Nobel prize winner for literature -- changing only the author's name and the names of the characters -- to 20 literary agents and publishing companies. All of them passed on the opportunity to publish the novel.

If the work of a Nobel prize winner isn't good enough to make the cut, then what chance does your novel have of taking New York publishing companies by storm?

Still, novelists write, and still, they submit their manuscripts to major publishing houses, and it's a good thing they do. We need to read great novels the way we need to see great paintings.

And, by great novels, I'm afraid I don't mean the work of a few famous romance or crime authors whose names are far larger than their gifts for creating prose. I mean novels that are created by fresh voices and talented people whose perceptions, ideas, and life experiences beg to be shared with the rest of us.

So novelists: keep writing, and keep submitting, and keep hoping. But please don't take rejection personally, and don't ever succumb to the temptation to believe you're unworthy just because the movers and shakers in the publishing community told you so. Their feedback is unhelpful because their credibility is suspect, as the British Sunday Times has proved.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

For Some, Words Don't Count

I was born in 1963. Everything I know about World War II, and about the Holocaust, I learned from other people's words.

Now Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad requires more than people's words to prove that the Holocaust happened. (In case you've missed the story, you can read it here.)

One has to assume that, if books aren't sufficient proof of the horror that occurred, and if the testimony of survivors is untrustworthy, and if films and photos are inadmissible, then nothing short of a lightning bolt -- or perhaps a trip via a time machine back to 1930's Europe -- will constitute evidence of the holocaust for Mr. Ahmadinejad.

For some people, words just don't count.

Besides words, though, what do we have?

For Some, Words Don't Count

I was born in 1963. Everything I know about World War II, and about the Holocaust, I learned from other people's words.

Now Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad requires more than people's words to prove that the Holocaust happened. (In case you've missed the story, you can read it here.)

One has to assume that, if books aren't sufficient proof of the horror that occurred, and if the testimony of survivors is untrustworthy, and if films and photos are inadmissible, then nothing short of a lightning bolt -- or perhaps a trip via a time machine back to 1930's Europe -- will constitute evidence of the holocaust for Mr. Ahmadinejad.

For some people, words just don't count.

Besides words, though, what do we have?

For Some, Words Don't Count

I was born in 1963. Everything I know about World War II, and about the Holocaust, I learned from other people's words.

Now Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad requires more than people's words to prove that the Holocaust happened. (In case you've missed the story, you can read it here.)

One has to assume that, if books aren't sufficient proof of the horror that occurred, and if the testimony of survivors is untrustworthy, and if films and photos are inadmissible, then nothing short of a lightning bolt -- or perhaps a trip via a time machine back to 1930's Europe -- will constitute evidence of the holocaust for Mr. Ahmadinejad.

For some people, words just don't count.

Besides words, though, what do we have?

For Some, Words Don't Count

I was born in 1963. Everything I know about World War II, and about the Holocaust, I learned from other people's words.

Now Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad requires more than people's words to prove that the Holocaust happened. (In case you've missed the story, you can read it here.)

One has to assume that, if books aren't sufficient proof of the horror that occurred, and if the testimony of survivors is untrustworthy, and if films and photos are inadmissible, then nothing short of a lightning bolt -- or perhaps a trip via a time machine back to 1930's Europe -- will constitute evidence of the holocaust for Mr. Ahmadinejad.

For some people, words just don't count.

Besides words, though, what do we have?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Online Newspapers vs. Real Newspapers

Some would say that a newspaper story isn't an actual newspaper story unless it appears in the "real" version of the newspaper. I disagree.

So would Adam Palmer, author of a 2001 book called Something About Nothing. You can read the story here.

A Wisconsin-based newspaper ran a story about Palmer. Someone posted a link to the story on fark.com, a Web site with a cult following. That link stayed active for two days, and 12,000 visitors clicked on it which was a book promotion coup for Palmer and his five-year-old book.

Now Something About Nothing is poised to receive even more publicity from other media outlets, and Palmer is hoping to see some good news on his next royalty statement -- and all because of some online book promotion that has no real-world counterpart.

I'm sold on the value of online-only newspaper articles. Are you?

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

Coffee, Tea, or Books?

There are three kinds of people in this world: those who love Starbucks, those who do not love Starbucks, and those who may or may not love Starbucks . . . but still hope to sell their books there. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Starbucks is moving beyond musical CDs (Dylan, anyone?) to promote books and movies.

Is anyone buying books these days?

Yes, it would seem so. According to the same article, Borders' book sales rose by 6 percent in the fourth quarter.

Did someone postulate that ebooks would one day render "real" books -- the kind you had to kill some trees to produce -- obsolete? Or that most Americans are just too busy, or too stupid, to open up a book these days? Not so fast. Apparently, some people are still looking for a good read in a clean, well-lighted place. And soon, I'm glad to report, they'll be able to find some possibilities at their local coffee shop.

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

To Refund or Not to Refund. That Is the Question.

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm becoming gleeful over the "A Million Little Pieces" saga. Update: contrary to recent reports, Random House will not offer refunds to customers who have bought copies of James Frey’s memoir directly from the publisher. Plus, if they were offering refunds (which, once again, they are not), those refunds would be given only to nonexistent customers -- or at least, I have to assume the customers are nonexistent since I've never met an actual person who bought a book directly from Random House or any other major publishing house.

For anyone who's similarly enjoying the story of the memoir that isn't, do check out Jackie Michard's blog entry, called "MISS WINFREY REGRETS" where the "MISS WINFREY" in queston is the Oprah Winfrey who phoned into the Larry King Live television show on CNN last night to defend her book club pick. Here's the story on that.

I strongly suspect someone will get another book out of this whole thing before the "A Million Little Pieces" concludes.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Bad Book Reviews -- Bad PR

In keeping with yesterday's theme (about whether any book promotion is bad book promotion), I'd offer up two bad book reviews from today's Boston Herald. If you'd rather not read the entire article, I'll offer up the title, anyway: These words of wisdom are more likely to make you laugh. I think you get the point. In the event you want to see the reviews for yourself, click here.

Talk about a roller coaster for authors. First you get the good news from the Boston Herald's book review editor ("your book is slated for review on Wednesday"), and then you click on the review and -- wham! The reality may be that not many readers will rush out to buy a self-help book at which everyone is snickering. Or, if they do, they won't be excited about reading it in public for awhile.

Which brings us back to the question of whether any PR is bad PR. In the case of book reviews, I'd have to believe the answer is: yes. A book review can go a long way toward convincing readers that someone, somewhere, is taking your book seriously. That's a good thing.

On the other hand, a scathing book review can have the same effect on book sales that you'd expect an awful movie review would have on ticket sales. Have you run into anyone, besides a long-suffering movie reviewer who had no choice in the matter, who actually caught Ben Affleck's flick, "Gigli?" Me either.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Is Any PR Bad PR?

I've been pondering the question since I read the New York Times article about how "A Million Little Pieces" by James Frey -- yes, the Oprah Winfrey-endorsed James Frey -- may not be as factual as we were led to believe it was.

Now, I don't have to believe every word of a memoir in order to enjoy it. The jury is still out on whether Augusten Burrough's depiction of his childhood in "Running With Scissors" was one hundred percent accurate, and I wasn't too disturbed by the pending lawsuit against Burrough (by some of the people depicted in his book) as I chomped my way through his tantalizing narrative.

But I do wonder whether Frey's publisher, Doubleday, feels as good about their investment in Frey as they did before the New York Times article. And I have to wonder whether Doubleday feels good enough about Frey to treat his next two books as royally as they did "A Million Little Pieces."

Book promotion is what all authors hope for. But sometimes, authors should be careful what they wish for, because they might get it -- and who knows what will happen then?

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Monday, January 09, 2006

Promoting Children's Books

If you want some visibility for your children's book, here's my suggestion: be a celebrity. Otherwise, you'll have to compete with celebrities.

Here's the bad news: Senator Edward Kennedy's new children's book, "My Senator and Me," will be published by Scholastic Inc. in May of 2006. (And you were wondering why Scholastic Inc. didn't offer to publish your book?) Now, don't get me wrong. I'm from Massachusetts, and I worship the Kennedy family despite everything, and so on and so forth (it's a regional issue I can't seem to do a whole lot about, similar to saying "pizzer" when I mean "pizza"). But it does strike me as unfortunate that Kennedy's book will receive instant publicity because, well, it's Kennedy's book, whereas you'll have to work hard at it to get attention for your children's book.

You can read all about Kennedy's book on MSNBC.com, by the way. Your challenge: to get MSNBC.com to feature your children's book. You can do it, potentially, by attaching your book to a news hook or trend. It just pains me to think that it would be so much easier to do if your name were, say, Kennedy.

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Saturday, January 07, 2006

A Book Promotion Riddle

Here's a book promotion riddle. You're Andy Rooney of "Sixty Minutes" fame. You're on the Larry King Show to promote your latest book. The interview begins, and a few minutes into the interview, Larry notes, for the benefit of his viewers, "You can get his book, "Years of Minutes."

Okay, now remember. You're Andy Rooney, and this is your book that Larry King has just plugged to his international audience of thousands upon thousands of potential book buyers -- all of whom have tuned in to see this interview. Do you:

A. Thank Larry for mentioning your book and graciously continue the interview.
B. Chastise Larry for wearing suspenders instead of a suit jacket and diss his mother.
C. Scowl and diss your own book by saying: "You can't get it anymore. That book sold about nine copies."

The answer to the riddle, naturally, is C. No, seriously. Talk the viewers out of buying your book. That's the actual answer to the book promotion riddle.

If you don't believe that Andy Rooney would do such a thing (and I'm convinced his publisher doesn't believe it yet, either), then do click on the transcript for the Friday, January 6 Larry King Live television interview.

Authors often ask me how they should handle themselves during interviews. I provide some tips for successfully negotiating an interview, to which I would now add the following.

Note the mistake that Andy Rooney made last night and never, ever make it. Never, ever do what Andy Rooney did on the Larry King Live show last night. Just never, ever do it.

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