Sunday, February 26, 2006

Did You Cut-and-Paste Your Novel's Plot?

If the storyline of your novel bears an unhealthy resemblance to another author's work, then a book promotion campaign could land you in court for plagarism. That's what this article suggests.

Call me skeptical, but I doubt that anyone is purposely ripping off anyone else's work. You know the old saw about all those monkeys and all those typewriters . . . well, that's probably the way two writers's works wind up with the same plot points once in awhile.

Does that warrant a lawsuit? No, I don't think so. It would be a shame to miss such thought-provoking reads as "The Da Vinci Code" just because some other author/researcher had developed a similar theory about something that happened two thousand years ago to the one Dan Brown came up with.

Writers, writers. Can't you all just try to get along with each other?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Banning as Book Promotion?

At first, I was a bit chagrined to see that the Vista San Gabriel Elementary School library in Southern California had banned Clifford the Big Red Dog.

Actually, they've banned three bilingual versions of the book. Which might be a good thing. After all, who knows what dangerous concepts an evil translator might have slipped into the plot. Maybe, in the banned versions, Clifford refuses to become housebroken. Or maybe he barks at cats without provocation. Dastardly, but who knows? It could be true.

Okay. Clifford is probably innocent of wrongdoing, as is Harry Potter, who -- as you might have guessed -- was also banned from the Vista San Gabriel Elementary School library.

But perhaps there's a mitigating factor here. A banned book scores instant visibility. So maybe having your book banned is one of the best book promotion strategies you can employ. At least, that's what I'm telling myself this morning after reading this.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Is This Book on Your Reading List?

I've just added it to mine. It's "How to Write & Publish Your Own Book: From Conception to Book Store in 90 Days" by self-published author Kathleen Mailer. I'm not Kathleen's book promotion specialist and, in fact, we've never met. Nor do I get a cut of her book sales. However, according to this article, she pre-sold 80,000 copies of her book. Yes, I'm impressed. If you are, too, you can read about the book here. Just thought it was worth passing along.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Digital Books -- Again.

Maybe, one day, we'll get digital books figured out. There's an MSNBC story today that suggests we may already have done so. Maybe.

But the challenge for a book publicist is this: how would you promote a digital book? Would you send a hyperlink to producers and editors, and suggest that they click on the book -- and that will be their review copy? Or do you burn the book onto a CD and then distribute review copies of the CD? Or do you produce a short-run of "real" books, send them off to the media as review copies, and then go on to sell only the digital books?

Maybe publishers have figured out everything they need to know about digital books, and maybe readers are onto the truth about digital books, too.

But book promotion specialists -- or this one, anyway -- is still pondering the perplexities of publicizing digital books. It's a challenge I'll looking forward to meeting, eagerly and with a bit of trepidation.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

You Still Have to Tell the Truth

You might be a famous researcher and celebrated author, and you might be in the middle of a high-profile book promotion campaign, but you still have to tell the truth. That's the lesson David Irving is about to learn. Irving has been sentenced to three years in jail for denying the Holocaust and, perhaps indirectly, inciting people to commit violence against Israelis. Read the story at

The lesson here isn't that, if you lie during a book promotion campaign, you'll serve jail time. Rather, the take-away is that it's always best to sell books from a position of integrity. People know the difference, and people do care.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Is It a Book or a Film?

Or is it both a book and a film? Random House and Focus Features (part of NBC Universal)are teaming up to develop two new projects. The creative team that produces the books also will produce the movies. You can read about it here. So will the films be a vehicle for book promotion, or will the books be a way to publicize the films? Stay tuned.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Is Manga the Next Big Thing in Book Publishing?

Edward Wyatt of the New York Times seems to think so. Graphic novels, he says in this article, is one of the few fast-growing area of book publishing right now, and major publishers are vying for the opportunity to distribute these comic books.

Coincidentally, I just took on my first manga book promotion project: the work of Jim Balent and his wife, Holly Golightly, of Jim Balent's Studio. You can visit their Web site here.

I've been reading and seeing the popularity of manga. Now we'll see whether the media appreciates the opportunity to feature American manga creators in the months to come.

Monday, February 13, 2006

A Sunday Blizzard Paralyzed the Eastern Seaboard.

But today is Monday, and fortunately, New Yorkers (and others who live and work in the Northeast) are working again. The subway is running, planes are flying, roads are plowed, and producers, editors, hosts, and reporters are back at their desks. Publicists are, too. Book promotion campaigns: full steam ahead!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Truth About Book Clubs

Given the chance, would you make in-person visits to book clubs as part of your book promotion campaign? Before you decide, read Curtis Sittenfeld's essay in the New York Times called "You Hate Me, You Really Hate Me."

Curtis talks about visiting book clubs where the primary topic is, well, let's just say more physiological than literary. Yes, we'll all do a lot to promote books. But will we listen to discussions about how irritating a specific hero (or heroine) might be? Or will we be a fly on the wall while book club members discuss bodily functions, diet, and other issues that have nothing at all to do with books?

Probably not. Book clubs can be an integral part of book promotion campaigns -- but only for very brave, and very thick-skinned -- authors who can let criticism roll off of them.

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Book Promotion by Book Giveaways

Every time I read an article like this one about, it strikes me that giving books away is a great book promotion idea. Why doesn't everyone get involved in Everyone wins: readers get free books, people get to pass along enjoyable books they've finished reading and don't know what else to do with, and bookstore owners get more foot traffic. What could be a more perfect way to create buzz about a book than to watch it travel all around the country, passing from hand to hand, creating small ripples of visibility and interest wherever it goes?

This isn't about, though. Any time you give away a book, you're creating book promotion potential. A radio station that gives away three copies of your book will have to mention your book on the radio, and the winners will have to mention your book to friends, coworkers, and relatives. Even if you stand outside your local library and hand out copies of your book, you'll be promoting your book.

So why don't all authors get excited about book giveaways as part of their book promotion campaigns? Well, when one national radio interview can get thousands, or tens of thousands, of people talking about a book, perhaps it's less exciting to think about three or five or seven people at a time finding out about your book via giveaways.

Still, if each of those three or five or seven people tell their friends about your book, and they tell their friends, and so on . . . how many book sales might that generate? Book giveaways can be a smart (and inexpensive part) of an effective book promotion campaign. Why not give it a try?

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

What Do Oprah Winfrey and Howard Stern Have in Common?

Oprah Winfrey and Howard Stern now both enjoy lucrative contracts with XM Satellite Radio, although Howard's deal is worth a lot more than Oprah's. Stern inked a $600 million five-year contract with XM Satellite Radio. Oprah will earn $55 million dollars for a three-year commitment to a new radio "channel" called Oprah & Friends.

Will Oprah be hungry for guests to fill that radio time? Is this a book promotion opportunity made in heaven (or, at least, on the XM Satellite airwaves)? Not so much. The MSNBC news story implies that she'll be recycling personalities who have already appeared on her TV show and in her magazine.

At least, that's what the MSNBC news story says. But who knows? Oprah & Friends. Okay. It's on my A-list now. Everyone who's currently promoting a book ought to take heart that now, finally, it may be possible to appear on Oprah's show.

Technorati Tags: book promotion , book publicity , Oprah Winfrey , Howard Stern , XM Satellite Radio

For the Love of Books?

Is a library patron who "borrows" 402 volumes and never returns them (and scores a three-year prison sentence) a book lover? Here's the story. It's not as though this type of thing has never happened before, but it does leave me wondering what kind of thief steals books instead of, say, jewelry or laptop computers. Is this a book-loving thief? Or is the inverse true -- do you have to really hate books to drain them from a library? One way or another, I'm glad the Baltimore County Library is prosecuting this book thief. Maybe three years of jail time will deter another "book lover" from ripping off all of us.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Where Has Publishing Gone? To France.

Maybe now is a good time to brush up on my fourth-grade French. Lagardere SCA of France is acquiring Time Warner Book Group to create the third largest book publishing company in the world. Here's the story.

Who would have thought that the France, the country that has not been the biggest fan of the United States of late, would resort to this type of behavior to make its point. Okay, we get it, France. You're not happy with us. We understand that.

But did you have to go and steal our publishing company?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Who's Blogging Now?

Who's blogging now? Just about any author who's interested in book promotion -- or that soon will be the case. Amazon has implemented a new feature called Author Connect (read about it here) to host authors' blogs. Amazon has found that proving content (such as readers' reviews and previews of books) encourages people to buy.

Good for Amazon. Good for book buyers. Good for us all.

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Friday, February 03, 2006

Book Promotion Campaigns Only Work If. . .

Book promotion campaigns only work if . . . you have a book. If you're still in the process of writing your book, then pay special attention to today's news about the latest computer virus. The virus, say all the news reports (including this story), will activate itself on the third of every month, if your computer becomes infected. This virus is bad in that it can destroy all the data on your computer.

That means: practice safe computing. Click on only such email attachments as you are expecting -- otherwise, use the telephone to find out from the sender what the files are before you open them. Also, zealously back up the manuscript you're working on. The back up the back up, and back up the back up of the backup up. Make sure you store your (minumum of) three back ups of your manuscript in different places -- and, preferably, on three different media. Who among us hasn't had the experience of discovering that a CD or floppy disk no longer works, or that you used the wrong settings for your offline backup system, or that (and this is the ugliest of all) you only thought you were backing up your data when, in fact, something went wrong during the process so you have no backed-up data to restore when you need it. Once you've backed up the files, be sure they are what they are supposed to be, and be sure you know where they'll be if and when you need to restore them.

If you take the proper precauthions, then you'll know that, when it comes time to launch your book publicity campaign, you'll have a book to promote.

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Punxsutawney Phil Is in the News This Morning

Why aren't you? Well, for one thing, you're not a groundhog, and he is. Secondly, you can't predict the weather, and he can. (Well, okay, he can't predict the weather, either, but he's conned a lot of otherwise clever humans into believing he can.)

Also, another reason that Punxsutawney Phil in the news this morning is because his schtick ties directly into a holiday: Groundhog Day. Now, if you'd written a book about Groundhog Day, or if you could find a Groundhog Day angle to your book, then you'd undoubtedly be in the news this morning, too.

Groundhog Day books are scarce, and tie-ins to Groundhog Day are tough to conjure up. So perhaps you'd best look ahead to Valentine's Day. (It isn't too late to pitch producers and editors on your Valentine's Day angle.)

And next year, who knows? Perhaps you'll figure out how to turn Groundhog Day into a boon for your book promotion campaign.

Happy Groundhog Day, and don't blame Punxsutawney Phil too much if we have to endure another six weeks of winter weather. He knows not what he does when he sees his shadow and burrows back into his hole to hide.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Book Promotion Opportunities Are Handed to Some Journalists -- But So What?

The Book Standard has published an article about another new trend: journalists who write books and then have book promotion opportunities handed to them on a silver platter via "serious" news venues that may well ignore other authors who are not as well connected. The article cites, as an example, Fox News Channel's John Gibson who wrote The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought and then received automatic invitations to promote his book from his colleagues, FNC hosts Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity.

Well, yes. Isn't that the way it's always been? If a celebrity has a book or movie or television show to plug, doesn't he or she score any and all opportunities to promote that project just for the asking? I remember looking at my local newspaper's TV listings one recent morning to find that John Travolta would appear on no fewer than three television shows that day. Three! And who knows how many newspapers and radio shows would also have the pleasure of promoting whichever movie Travolta was promoting at the time.

I'm not sure why a journalist is any less entitled than a movie star, sports personality, or musical legend to embark upon a serious book promotion campaign. If it's an issue of credibility, then that begs the question: Is someone less credible if the name of his or her book is on everyone's lips? I doubt it. Of course, I'm biased, but I just don't see how a book promotion campaign can hurt the reputation of a trusted and skilled journalist -- or anybody else, for that matter. I just don't see it.

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