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 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 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 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 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.