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.