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.