Thursday, March 30, 2006

Books for CEOs

What's a CEO supposed to do if he or she wants a book to use as a calling card but lacks a book? At least one "turnkey solution" publisher says that having a book isn't a huge stumbling block. Milli Brown of Brown Book Publishing Group in Dallas heads of team of freelancers who, according to an article in the Houston Daily Business News, produce books for CEOs. All the necessary services are included: ghostwriting, editing, printing, warehousing, distribution, and more. Brown calls this "relationship publishing." I call it clever.

I've yet to see any of Brown Book Publishing Group's books, so I can't endorse the company. But I think their model is a good one, and if you're a CEO or entrepreneur who's in need of a book . . . you could do worse than take a look at Brown Book Publishing Group and see what they offer.

Monday, March 27, 2006

No promotion at all.

I've just read a Newsweek article about one of my favorite children's book novelists, Beverly Cleary (author of the Henry Huggins books, the Ramona and Beezus books, and more). Ms. Cleary, a Newbery Award-winning author, has sold more than 91 million copies of her books. By comparison, J. K. Rowling as sold 120 million copies of "Harry Potter." That's not a huge numerical difference, is it?

So what's the major difference between Cleary and Rowling? Visibility. Cleary has chosen to keep a low profile while Rowling has not.

Has her failure to appear in media outlets around the world hurt the sales of Cleary's books? Somehow, I doubt it.

But does reading the Newsweek article make me want to go to a bookstore right now, in the middle of the workday, to pick up a few "Ramona" books to add to my collection? Yes, it does. (I'll resist the temptation for now, but I make no promises about what I'll do after six o'clock tonight.)

If you're a fellow Cleary fan, you'll be interested to know that Ms. Cleary is about to turn 90 years old. Good for her.

Good for us.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Many Happy Returns?

According to a recent New York Times article, between one-half and three-quarters of the hardcover literary novels that mainstream houses sell to bookstores are returned to the publisher. Even the most prestigious houses, such as Random House, aren't exempt from the rule. Literary novels are a tough sell. They're tough to promote. And if that's the case for the best-known authors, can you imagine what it's like for unestablished (or even self-published or print-on-demand) novelists?

One way to solve the problem, according to the NYT's article, is to publish original trade paperback editions of literary novels. Trade paperback editions sell better than do hardcover novels because they're less expensive.

And yet ... will book reviewers even consider trade paperback editions as they wade through the stacks of worthy candidates? To be determined . . .

Friday, March 17, 2006

It Takes Books to Promote Books

There are times when authors send out review copies of their books to media decision makers, and those books wind up on an auction Web site or in an online second-hand bookstore. That's unfortunate. I wish all producers and journalists -- and all people -- were honest. I wish they'd donate the extra review copies of books to library book sales, hospitals, and prisons.

Then again, I wish I were Irish today so that I could fully get into the spirit of St. Patrick's Day.

In other words, don't check the search engines incessantly to track the final dispensation of the books you've sent to the media. Some will wind up being re-sold. Some will end up donated to charities. Some will become gifts for talk show callers who guess the right answers to trivia questions. And some will become part of the personal libraries of book reviewers.

Yes, I know that books cost you money, and when you send out books in good faith to producers and journalists, you'd like to 1) score an interview or review an 2) see the books end up somewhere other than on eBay or American Book Exchange's Web site.

Unfortunately, you can't control the destiny of review copies of books -- nor can you get media visibility for your book without sending out books to the media. So consider those mailings as part of the cost of doing business, and don't dwell on the obvious fact that some people are using your book to make a couple of undeserved dollars.

If you spend your time positively, and let the books go once they're out of your hands, you'll enjoy your book promotion campaign far more than if you dwell on whether your books might be falling into the wrong hands. Do find qualified media decision makers who are supposed to receive review copies of your books (they're available from commercial media lists, via phone calls to media outlets, and on their Web sites). But, if you've been diligent about choosing the right producers and journalists to pitch your book to, then just remember it takes books to promote books . . . and don't sweat the small ripoffs. It just isn't worth it.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Autographs--Sort Of

Well, look at what one of my favorite novelists is up to. Margaret Atwood doesn't want to disappoint her legions of fans, so she's transformed book signings (which would only please handfuls of her fans) into electronic exchanges (which, she presumably thinks, would please the rest of us).

Not so, Margaret. I love your work, but not enough to accept a digital signature fron you (or anyone) instead of a real one. Come to think of it, I wasn't all that interested in getting your autograph, anyway, but I do take the old-fashioned stance that one's signature should written rather than beamed across the planet through whatever technology might be available.

However, I do admire Margaret's creative spirit enough to share's article about her LongPen. Read all about it, and see what you think.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Book Promotion in Reverse

Is there such a thing as a reverse book promotion campaign? That is, does it ever make sense for some authors to strive to not get publicity for a book, and to turn away any book promotion that you might get?

An article in The American Daily asserts that John Kerry turned down publicity for his book, The Winter Soldiers Investigations, when he ran for president. The article also puts forth that Kerry refused permission for his book to be reprinted -- presumably, so potential voters wouldn't read it and, on the basis of doing so, decide not to vote for him.

I'd have to do some independent research into the article's claim to see whether or not it holds water. In the meantime, I'm left to ponder the question of how book publicity -- and book sales -- could be of harm. Well, okay. I guess my clients should have such problems. . . . .