Monday, December 31, 2007

It is what it is -- and other worn-out phrases to avoid using in 2008.

On behalf of readers everywhere, this book publicist urges authors to read this Reuters article (posted on before typing a single keystroke in 2008: ‘Perfect storm’ of cliches make bad English list: University targets 'surge' of words and phrases that deserve to be banned .

Okay, maybe a book that's loaded with tired old phrases such as "it is what it is" and "at the end of the day" can still enjoy terrific book promotion opportunities in the new year. But please, authors: when you're working on your next title, give your readers a break. Resolve that, in 2008, it won't be what it doesn't have to be, or even, it might not be what it should have been but probably won't be ... because of one too many cliches.

Yes. It's still the holiday season, and this book publicist is in avery silly holiday mood. But do read the Reuters article, when you have a chance...and do resolve to enjoy the new year safely and in good health. A productive and successful 2008 for all, filled with limitless book promotion opportunities!

Friday, December 28, 2007

A book promotion opportunity no publisher or book publicist wants.

Here's an example of what book publicists and publishers mean by "book promotion opportunity": HarperCollins was about to publish a book written by Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto when...well, you know what happened. Now, of course, that book, Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy and the West, has been fast-tracked and will be published in February of 2008. Here's the Reuter's article, as published by

Any book publicist will tell you that, if you can find a news hook to promote your book, you'll exponentially increase your book promotion opportunities. Book publicists don't want to find news hooks like Bhutto's murder in order to promote books, and publishers don't want to find their authors' obituaries in the news, either. HarperCollins advanced $75,000 to Bhutto. That wasn't a king's ransom, nor was it a prime minister's fortune.

But now? The sales potential of Bhuto's book is almost immeasurable, and the book promotion opportunities are limitless.

HarperCollins has a goldmine here. I'm sure the good people at HarperCollins are glad to have the book on its list for February. But...someone...I also have to believe that, given a choice, HarperCollins would rather have its author, Bhutto, alive and looking forward to winning the election in Pakistan.

If only this particular book promotion opportunity had not presented itself....

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Book Promotion Idea: Host Your Own Radio Show

Here's a book promotion idea: host your own radio show. As an on-air personality, you can talk about your book as much as you'd like. You can even invite listeners to pose their questions by phone. You can build a following, and potentially, you could turn each of your radio broadcasts into an instant and effective book promotion opportunity.

In the not-so-distant past, getting the opportunity to host your own radio show was neither easy nor inexpensive. You would have had to convince a radio station to hire you as a talk show host (which could be tricky if you lacked broadcasting experience), or you would have had to pay for air time. With the advent of such new Internet tools such as BlogTalkRadio and Skypecasts, the barrier to entry for wannabe radio show hosts has been eliminated. Well, okay, there's still a slight barrier to entry; you do need a computer, Internet access, and a phone line. But, with those items -- along with the desire to spread the message about your book and the willingness to learn some of the tricks of the broadcasting trade -- you're set to go on the air with your own radio show anytime you'd like. For more information, click here to read a Reuter's article about hosting your own radio show. Hey! Maybe hosting a radio show would be a good idea for book publicists, too!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A smart publishing decision.

Actually, this is about a smart decision to not publish. You guessed it: Lynn Spears's much-promoted parenting book has run into a slight snag -- very likely because her 16-year-old daughter, Jamie Lynn, has just announced to the world that she is with child. While Lynn's book, Pop Culture Mom: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World, would undoubtedly have offered a wealth of top-notch parenting advice, its publication has been delayed. Thomas Nelson Inc., by the way, is a Christian book publishing company, and that religious orientation may have been at odds with the outcome of Lynn's parenting skills, as they've manifested themselves thus far.

Well, there you go. All that book promotion that Lynn has received has been wasted. Unless...well, you never know. Perhaps some other publisher decides to pick up the project and take advantage of Jamie Lynn's upcoming, um, blessed event.

Good luck to the publisher that chooses to do that. Personally, I hope the book promotion that Pop Culture Mom: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World has already received has been wasted. Call me socially conservative, but it always did scare me that Britney Spears's mom was going to have an opportunity to pass along her parenting advice -- and that was before the announcement that Lynn was expecting another grandchild.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A new challenge for book promotion

Were you worried about media consolidation before? Did you notice that book promotion opportunities with smaller media outlets, such as local radio stations (that used to be hosted by local radio personalities), were drying up as smaller media outlets were bought by bigger media outlets, and bigger media outlets were bought by huge conglomerates such as Clear Channel?

Well, the news from the book promotion trenches just got even more frightening with the Federal Trade Commission's most recent decision. According to a story in USA Today, the Federal Trade Commission voted on Tuesday to retract at law that had been on the books for 32 years to prevent one company from owning both a newspaper and a radio or television station in the same media market.

So now it's going to be perfectly legitimate for the New York Times and WABC-TV to be owned by the same company, and it will be absolutely legal for the Boston Globe to be operated by the same people who run WBZ-TV. I'm not saying those particular media marriages will come to pass, but certainly, similar alliances will be formed now that the FCC is allowing it.

What does further media consolidation mean for the media consumer? There will be fewer checks and balances on our news (and even our entertainment), and we're coming one step closer to giving just one powerful company, institution, or even person the right to influence what we believe, what we want, how we vote, and what we value.

What does further media consolidation mean for book promotion campaigns? Although it remains to be seen whether an author or a publisher with opinions or agendas that opose those of the media outlets will have a tougher time disseminating messages in the very near future, inevitably, that is what will happen.

In other words, get on the good side of any corporation that's poised to become a larger and more influential media owner in the major media markets -- and stay there. Some day soon, your book promotion opportunities may depend on it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Visibility for your book: the good news and the bad news.

In trolling the Web, I found good book promotion news and bad book promotion news. Let's start with the bad book promotion news.

According to a MediaBistro article, "The More Book Critics Change, The More They Stay the Same," the state of the art in book cricism is what I like to call the Oprah's Book Club Syndrome -- that is, if you're John Steinbeck or Pearl S. Buck or Sidney Poitier, then you'll receive all the visibility you could want for your book. On the other hand, if you're an unknown author, you have to work a hundred times harder for book promotion opportunities.

Now, according to MediaBistro, the National Book Critics Circle has fallen into the same rut. The NBCC has asked 500 people to recommend books and, of course, those 500 people are recommending books we've all heard about already. So we're all reminded to go out and buy Philip Roth's latest book and, of course, that's not newsworthy, and it's not necessary. Roth doesn't need book promotion opportunities. And those who do need book promotion opportunities, MediaBistro's article seems to rub in, are not going to get those book publicity opportunities from the NBCC anytime soon.

That's the bad book promotion news.

Now for the good book promotion news.

In a recent article called "Crossover Dreams: Turning Free Web Work Into Real Book Sales," the New York Times tells the tale of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, a children's book that began its life as a free online publication and that, subsequently, was acquired by Amulet, an imprint of Harry N. Abrams. The Times points out that the book already has sold 147,000 copies even though the publication is still available for free at

Publishing your work for free online, the Times tells us, can lead anywhere, including -- just possibly -- to a lucrative book contract. If you find an audience for your online work, and a publisher notices you, then this type of "overnight success" can happen to you. The opportunity to turn online publication success into real-world publication success is available to everyone. You don't have to be a household name, and you don't have to be the winner of literary prizes. You can just be a brilliant online publisher who scores a lot of book promotion buzz, and who knows what can happen?

That's the good book promotion news, and -- as this book publicist continues to dig out from the weekend's snowstorm -- it's just what I needed to read this morning.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Here's how to make money selling books

Here's how to make money selling books: be JK Rowling. Way to, Jo!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Book Promotion Post-mortem

Well, now that the year's almost concluded, it's easy to know which book promotion strategies would have worked in 2007. has a list of the top pop-culture moments of 2007 that range from "Grey's Anatomy" actor Isaiah Washington's offensive utterance at the Golden Globes award ceremony in January to the relaunch of Don Imus's radio show in December.

All of these pop culture phenomenons had people talking. More than that, these events had over-the-top media coverage, with producers and editors vying for new angles and competing to find fresh slants on the stories. Of course, that would have provided a golden opportunity for any author or publisher who was willing to provide that news hook. Are you an expert on drug abuse? Bam! Anna Nicole Simpson's demise could have provided a book promotion bonanza for you, beginning in February of 2007. Were you promoting a book about child custody or divorce? You would have had Britney Spears (and your own instinct for book publicity opportunities) to thank when your phone rang off the hook with requests from the media for your insights and input ... each of which was an opportunity to tie your book into a media frenzy.

Do book publicists wish bad luck on celebrities? No, we don't. Do book publicists check out pop culture, and stay on top of "what's hot" in the news so we can figure out how to position you as an expert on the issues all media consumers are talking about? You bet we do.

So if you missed book promotion opportunities in 2007, keep in mind that -- in 2008 -- part of your job as an author or publisher is to keep an eye on pop culture, and figure out how your messages tie into the news. Book publicists certainly don't hope that celebrities will overdose, lose custody of their kids, offend their fans, or otherwise make headlines for all the wrong reasons. But book publicists don't have to wish for these things to happen. They do happen, over and over and over again. Next year, stay on top of those happenings, and you'll come out ahead in the book promotion game.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Nice way to say good morning!

Congratulations to Jeremy Haft, author of the Penguin/Portfolio book, All the Tea in China. His in-house book publicist just alerted me that has published Jeremy's article, "Top Five China Recall Lessons." about book promotion opportunities!...the editor of has invited Jeremy to contribute future articles for publication, as well.

I'm sorry about all the angst that's befallen American companies who are sourcing from China, and I'm sorry about the consumers (that's us) who have become fearful of all imported products (particularly, during the holiday season when you sort of want the toys you buy to be safe). But I'm glad that the situation has provided book promotion opporutnities for an author who richly deserves them. Nice job, Jeremy, and I hope to read future bylined articles written by you in, too!

Friday, December 07, 2007

What's happened to book promotion?

What's happened to book promotion? Specifically, what's happened to the traditional book tour? According to a recent article in the Christian Science Monitor, traditional book tours may be passé. Authors and publishers who are seeking book promotion opportunities may be ditching the multi-city book tour -- which is expensive, time-consuming, and disruptive -- in favor of virtual book tours. Virtual book tours, it turns out, are the latest trend in book promotion because they're new, they're sexy, and they're cost-effective and efficient -- in fact, they're everything that traditional book tours are not.

So what is a virtual book tour? Again, according to that Christian Science Monitor article, a virtual book tour includes saturating the Internet with your multimedia trailer ("book trailer," from what I've read, is a trademarked term, so I'm cautious about using it) and podcasts. It includes a blog tour. It includes maintaining your own Web site and getting attention for that site to maximize the number of hits.

To that, I'd add that a virtual book tour also includes blogging and bringing visitors to your blog (your blog may, or may not, be a part of your Web site), self-publishing your press release (or multiple press releases), publishing a bylined article (or multiple bylined articles), and snagging as many online book reviews as possible.

And, while your virtual book tour is a big part of your book promotion effort, keep working on your traditional book promotion efforts. You don't have to go anywhere, or make s series of bookstore and library stops in various cities, to feel good about your traditional book promotion efforts. Every radio show appearance, and every newspaper and magazine interview, that you can do by telephone adds to your visibility and gives your overall book promotion effort a boost. And a national television show appearance is still worth going to a major city, such as New York or Chicago, to do, if you're lucky enough to score an invitation. It probably will always be the Holy Grail of the book promotion world.

Virtual book promotion -- also called online book promotion -- is an important shift in the book publicity arena. But I wouldn't stop pitching "Oprah," either.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Bad timing.

Here's a serious case of bad timing. Just when Amazon is trying to sell its new eBook reader, Kindle, there's a thief -- or thiefs -- out there who have figured out how to add fraudulent charges for eBooks to credit card statements. Check your credit card statement -- and hope that you don't find a ten dollar charge from a company that sells eBooks (unless you've bought eBooks recently). Otherwise, you could be the victim of this particular scam. Read what little is known about it here.

This book publicist hasn't had the privilege of promoting eBooks yet. In fact, this book publicist is eager to promote eBooks -- when the time comes. (And I'm confident the time will come when "book promotion" includes the promotion of eBooks. It will.)

And I was hopeful about Kindle. All signs looked good; apart from the initial version 1.0 goofiness (and absurdly high price point) of the product, Kindle promised to turn all book lovers into eBook buyers -- eventually.

And now this: charges for eBooks that were never purchased turning up on credit card statements, and are causing aggravation from the very people we hoped would turn into eBook fans. This is a case, I think, of very, very bad timing.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Be a Kennedy, or Just Publish Like One.

A client with a self-published book asked me the other day how he could get a mainstream publisher interested in taking on his book. Turn your book into a bestseller, I told him. Then the publishers will pursue you. Otherwise, find a literary agent...and good luck.

The rule of the publishing industry is that there's no such thing as "coming out of nowhere" and being an overnight success. A major publisher may nuture an unknown author and help that author's book become a bestseller, but it will not happen instantly. It will take consistent hard work, and the stars in the universe will have to line up in that author's favor...and then, it will still be mostly a question of luck. The best book publicist in the world can only arrange media interviews. The most successful book promotion campaign can only ensure that people know about a book. But that won't ensure that people will the a book or that a book will reach the New York Times Bestseller List.

However, rules are made to be broken, and they're especially likely to be broken if you are a name brand -- for instance, the way that Senator Edward Kennedy is. Ted's upcoming memoir (to be published in 2010) has already been covered by the Associated Press, Fox News, local newspapers, and radio stations from coast to coast. In case you missed the story, read it here. Nine publishing houses participated in an auction to buy Ted's memoir. The lucky winner was the Hachette Book Group USA.

Is that the end of Ted Kennedy's book promotion campaign? Please. Don't make me laugh. Ted's memoir will receive all the book publicity in the world, because its author is...Ted Kennedy. As the publication date nears, media attention will be Ted's for a snap of the fingers, just as an astronomical advance was his for the twitch of his magical nose.

And that is the story of Ted Kennedy's memoir -- years away from publication, and already a phenomenal success in the making. So if my client were to ask me now what he could do to interest a major publishing house in purchasing his self-published book, I'd have a different response. I'd suggest figuring out a way to marry into the Kennedy clan. Hyannisport can be a nice place to vacation in the summertime.'s on the water, anyway.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Book promotion and self-esteem

What can we learn from Howard Stern? He likes himself. He really, really likes himself. Although this book publicist isn't sure why Howard Stern likes himself, he does. He likes his show, he feels good in his own skin, and apparently, he thinks he's a good human being with something positive to offer the world. Here's an Associated Press article in which he waxes eloquent about, well, himself.

Okay, I'm sure many skeptics are thinking that there's a fine line between self-esteem and narcissism, and I'm not going to argue that here. I'm just saying that Howard Stern clearly feels good about himself, and that's probably a key part of why he's successful.

Now here's the part of my thesis that will strike many as bad news. When you're in the middle of a book promotion campaign, you have to tap into that sense of self-worth to make your book promotion campaign work for you. You must feel good about yourself and your book, and you must be able to communicate that good feeling to media audiences to maximize your credibility and convince them that your message is worth hearing, and your book is worth buying.

Howard Stern is not my role model, and I'll understand if he's not yours, either. But I'll take the lesson that I've learned from him and pass it along. Self-esteem is an integral part of a successful book promotion campaign. Not a Stern fan? Okay, then here's another example. Think: Judge Judy. Whatever it takes to motivate you to suspend your modesty and self-doubt for the duration of your book promotion campaign, do it! Book publicists want to hear that you feel confident. That will help them feel confident about you, and that could make all the difference when they're pitching you to the media. So tap into that reserve of good feelings about yourself, and convey it to the media. Your book promotion campaign will thank you for it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The media never sleeps.

The media never takes a vacation, even if it is the day before Thanksgiving. This book publicist has been getting calls from the media, non-stop, all week. And, perhaps, the media's a bit needy now because so many experts and authors are taking a break from their book promotion campaigns to celebrate the holiday. Good! More book promotion opportunities for my clients!

If you're in the midst of a book promotion campaign, it's your call -- but I wouldn't take the day off, if I were you. Today promises to be a productive one for anyone who needs book publicity opportunities and is available to answer the telephone or respond to email.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, but stick with book promotion just a little bit longer today, if you can. I think it will pay off for you.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Skeptical about online book promotion?

There are many authors and publishers out there (and you may be one of them) who believe the impact of online book promotion efforts is negligible, and that the only book publicity that matters is real-world buzz (that is, getting book reviews in traditional magazines and newspapers, and scoring interviews on radio and television shows). Traditionalists, beware: you might want to reconsider the power of the Internet.

Here's a tale from Reuters (as it appears on about a young man who was looking for a needle in the haystack. The young man spied the woman of his dreams on a subway train, and then the object of his desires got off the train and walked off into the sunset. Except her would-be suitor couldn't get her out of his mind, so he set up a Web site specifically to find her. Yes, this brave and optimistic soul posted his cell phone number as well as his artistic rendering of his Fantasy Woman from the train on the site, and the leads started to pour in. Media attention came his way (of course). And, believe it or not, he found the woman. (According to the Reuters story, the Prince Charming removed his cell phone number from the Web site and now is making a bid to regain his privacy.)

No, the intrepid man isn't an author (at least, he's not an author yet). But he did want to promote his cause, and didn't turn to "Oprah" or "Good Morning America" or "All Things Considered" or "USA Today" to do it.

He turned to online promotion.

And it worked.

Food for thought, isn't it? Next time you're tempted to "stick to what's been proven to work for decades" in your own book promotion campaign, remember the man who found his mate (or, at least, he hopes so) by creating Internet buzz about his search. If an Internet promotion campaign worked for him, isn't it reasonable to try it and see what effect it might have on your book promotion campaign?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Marie Osmond Is Not Having a Good Day.

Marie Osmond hasn't been having a good couple of weeks. I don't mean to be flippant. Marie and her famous siblings lost their father yestday, and that's horrible. A few days before that , Marie fainted on a live television show (she's all right, apparently). And now this: a now-defunct publishing company that she once owned published a sex telephone number in a series of books aimed at little girls. Here's the story.

Marie says -- and I believe her -- that the phone number was given to another company once Marie's company no longer needed it, and Marie didn't know who ended up with the number and, therefore, didn't realize that the children's books containing the phone number would be problematic.

Fair enough. But, huge fan of the Osmonds (okay, it was Donny Osmond, but still) that I was, I really don't want to hear another word about Marie Osmond for a long, long time.

Book promotion means getting your name into print, onto the airwaves, and on the Internet, and that's all good. But, for heaven's sakes, let's give someone who has had a rough couple of weeks a break.

Marie, be well, and know that no one can seriously blame you for failing to check out the new owners of the phone number that your company published in its children's books. And I'm so sorry about your father. He must have been an amazing human being. Look at his wonderful children -- and, yes, I am partial to your brother, Donny.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What makes the news?

What makes the news? A Parade magazine reader posed that question to columnist Marilyn vos Savant on October 28, 2007.

The reader, Brian VerHage of Fort Mill, S.C., asked Marilyn why news stories always seem to report bad news exclusively. Here's the Parade column.

Marilyn answers the reader's question, and as I read her response, I thought: Well, yes. Here's where Marilyn's celebrated high I.Q. and common sense would really help us out with book promotion campaigns. If only we could get inside the minds of assignment editors and news producers, then just think how effective would our book promotion campaigns be!

I'm fond of Marilyn's column, and I have a lot of respect for her high intelligence (and that facile mind of hers that can work through just about any puzzle a reader can pose -- seemingly, in an instant). But I'm not sure she was 100% on target with her perspective about what makes news.

She was partly correct. Yes, news is a sudden happening. Non-news is a non-happening, of course, or something that happened so gradually that no one noticed it (and, presumably, nobody cared about it), as Marilyn points out.

But let's take it a step farther. News is what happens when someone says, "Hey! Wait! I've reached a conclusion, and here it is!" or "Let me be the first to point this out: there's a trend happening here!" And news, of course, is when the media reports that the someone in question is saying it.

Also, let me take a stab at answering the reader's question. To quote Brian VerHage exactly, the question was: Why do nearly all the stories on newscasts focus on negative events?

I just want to reassure Brian that, sometimes, the media is all over good news. In fact, sometimes the media is so saturated with good news that it makes some media consumers (or this media consumer, anyway) squirm.

Here in Massachusetts, the Boston Red Sox World Championship win has been saturating all the local news outlets. In fact, everywhere you turn -- TV, newspapers, radio, and the Net -- it's Sox, Sox, Sox! There's so much good news for Boston sports enthusiasts that there's little room for any other type of news.

This was not the week to get mugged. Nobody cares. It was not the week to have your house catch on fire. No sympathy from the press. It was not the week for a strange infection to hit a local school. Wouldn't even make the radar screen.

No, this week, Boston-area news is about one thing, and one thing only. The Boston Red Sox have brought good news to the Red Sox Nation, and have brought grim news to any author who's trying to conduct a book promotion tour in the Boston area for the past week or so.

Good news, as it turns out, is not necessarily good news for authors and publishers who are trying to do some book marketing in the media.

Of course, Massachusetts' good news isn't good news for everyone. Thank goodness, there's always Colorado for those who are seeking book promotion opportunities.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Scrap that book promotion opportunity!

I told you about an experiment that Massachusetts' mass transit system -- the MBTA -- was trying. It was called T Radio, and it was going to replace ipods, newspapers, and conversation as ways for Boston-area commuters to pass their time while they were riding around on trains. It was also going to present book promotion opportunities for intrepid authors who didn't mind trying to market their books while aggressive commuters jockeyed for seats on crowded trains during rush hour.

Well, scrap that book promotion opportunity. The MBTA riders didn't like T Radio. They really, really didn't like it. They sent emails to the authorities in charge of the mass transit system and complained about what they called "Torture Radio," and asked that the plug be pulled permanently. And the MBTA authorities listened. Here's the story, from the Boston Globe.

This story leaves me feeling the way I do when a TV show that I meant to watch because the critics rave about it gets cancelled, and I haven't had a chance to take a look at it yet. Well, okay, the analogy breaks down here because Boston's subway riders didn't rave about T Radio. They hated it. Still, I think the medium had potential, and I might have liked to check it out for myself. Okay, let's face it. I would have hated it, too -- but I'm sorry I didn't make a trip into Boston via train so that I could hear T Radio just once before the station went dark just so that I could have heard what it was that everyone hated so I could decide for myself that it was, indeed, terrible and deserved to leave the airwaves.

Oh, well. Another book promotion for authors has bitten the dust. That probably means about 46 new book promotion opportunities will arise next week to take its place. And it's our lot in life, as book marketers, to find out just what those new book promotion opportunities are.

Book promotion, book promotion, book promotion. If ever there were a moving target, book promotion is it. Pity the book publicist who has to keep up with the media changes to make a living!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Boston Globe reporter speaks out about book reviews

Just read an interesting Boston Globe article, "Internet offers book reviewers a new chapter," by Alex Beam.

In that article, Beam points out that newspapers accept a lot of advertising dollars in their book review sections. Thus, by trimming back (or by eliminating) their book review sections, they're actually sabotaging themselves. I never thought about it that way, but now that I have, I'm curious about why newspapers have been so willing to cut out a section of their publications that, potentially, was a moneymaker for them.

Is it because the switch from paper-based book reviews to Internet-based book reviews is inevitable? Will readers switch their allegiances from, say, the Boston Globe's book review section to the online Barnes and Noble bookstore ( reviews, regardless of what newspapers want?

In fact, if book reviews are moving to the Net, then can feature stories be far behind? How long will it be before the Boston Globe whacks back all its editorial content in favor of putting it up on its Web site -- perhaps for the benefit of subscribers only?

It's a strange new world, the idea of online book reviews. And yet it's happening all around us. Alex Beam's article suggests to me that there's nothing readers can do to change that. I wonder....

Monday, October 22, 2007

From Tinky Winky to Dumbledore

Note to J.K. Rowling: I don't care about Dumbledore's sexual orientation.

I don't mean that I was sort of busy the day that the huge revelation about Dumbledore's attraction to another male character in the Harry Potter book series appeared everywhere in the media, all at once.

I mean: I don't care. I just really and truly can't get my mind wrapped around the fictional sexual orientation of fictional characters in a fictional world. This is a consistent theme with me. Not only do I not care who the imaginary Dumbledore might have been fictionally attracted to, but I also didn't care which doll the Tinky Winky teletubby would have been attracted to, if he/she/it had been attracted to another teletubby doll.

I similarly don't care much about David Copperfield's sexual orientation although, admittedly, that saga promises to be a bit more interesting -- but only a bit. David Copperfield is an assumed name of a man who makes a living pretending to be able to perform magic, which makes him another fictional character, of sorts, as far as I'm concerned. Need we go into my feelings about Michael Jackson's romantic persuasion? I think not.

Okay, the Harry Potter books have outsold every book you can name since the 1997 release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Good for Rowling.

But, now that the series has been concluded, do I really have to hear the back story of each and every one of the 12 million fictional characters (including the owls and rats and who-knows-what other creatures) that populate Rowling's imaginary world?

Today, we know that Dumbledore is gay. Tomorrow, must we find out that Hermione had acne? Or, perhaps, that Ron needed braces?

Come one. Give me a break. Sometimes, there's such a thing as too much book promotion.

Rowling, could you leave this one alone now? Please?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Jon Keller, Part Two.

In the event that you were waiting at the edge of your seat to learn what Jon Keller's editor had to say about Jon Keller's book, here's part two of the Jon Keller saga. Jon Keller, as you'll recall from yesterday's blog entry, is the Boston-area media personality whose new book, The Bluest State, contains a multitude of quotations that, apparently, are unattributed to the sources from which they were originally appropriated. The Boston Herald broke the story yesterday and followed up on it today.

The Boston Herald (to which Keller frequently contributes, by the way), touched base with Michael Flamini who edited The Bluest State for St. Martin's Press. Flamini is quoted as saying (I'm psraphrasing here) that, since Keller's book is for the trade rather than the academic press, it doesn't need footnotes or a meticulous bibliography.

Well, then.

Equally frightening to this book publicist is the fact that Jeff Kiernan, the news director at WBZ-TV -- one of the two Boston-area television stations for which Jon Keller is a political analyst -- says (and here I'm quoting the Boston Herald article) that he has "full confidence in Jon’s integrity and in the excellent work he does.”

Unfortunately for those of us who receive at least some of our information on a daily basis from Boston-area media outlets, Kiernan doesn't explain why he has full confidence in Jon Keller or what, exactly, he means by the word "integrity." Perhaps the Boston Herald truncated Kiernan's comments. If so, then I would appreciate hearing the rest of what Kiernan had to say, and I trust other media consumers would be interested as well.

For the entire Boston Herald article, click here.

Oh, and to conclude the tale about the middle schooler I mentioned yesterday who failed to footnote that encyclopedia entry in her seventh grade homework assignment.... She was given a consequence. She was asked to pen an admission of guilt (for committing the p-word offense) along with an apology to both her classroom teacher and the principal of her school. And she did, and as a result, that young woman will remember to include footnotes in all of her future homework assignments for a long time to come.

This youngster was in middle school. She now knows better than to leave herself open to the charge of plagarism.

How interesting it is to me that some professional journalists out there haven't learned that lesson yet.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The type of book promotion nobody wants.

As an author, you're hungry for media attention...but not the type that political analyst Jon Keller received from the Boston Herald today. According to the Boston Herald, Keller may have used without attribution quotations from a variety of print sources in his new book, The Bluest State.

Keller is a high visibility media personality in the Boston area. He has a regular gig as a political commentator on television and radio, and he's a regular contributor -- interestingly enough -- to the very publication that just outed him as a potential, well, borrower of quotations without attribution.

I hesitate to use the p-word, but that's the word that was used to describe the act of a middle school child I know who once used an encyclopedia entry to round out a homework assignment and failed to footnote that source at the bottom of her seventh-grade paper. That child came home from school crying. Jon Keller? Well, I don't know what his response to the Boston Herald's allegations are, because the paper didn't print his response.

But here's what I couldn't help but notice. To date, Keller's book (which, by the way, was published by St. Martin’s Press) has sold about 2,000 copies. That's a fair number of books for an unknown, first-time author. (Well, okay, it's not a fair number of books for anyone -- but it does at least represent the first printing of a cash-strapped publisher with very modest expectations for an unknown, first-time author.) It's less impressive a number when you consider the fact that Jon Keller is everywhere, all the time, including in many venues that have given him airtime and space to promote his book.

Everyone wants book promotion opportunities. And everyone presumes that all book promotion is good, and all media attention -- good or bad -- will eventually lead to book sales. That's what book publicists hope, too. Generally speaking.

In this case, though, we may be finding that sometimes authors get exactly what they deserve.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Doris Lessing has a MySpace page. Do you?

Doris Lessing has something you may not have. Yes, yes, Doris Lessing has a Nobel Prize in literature, but that's not what I was talking about. Doris Lessing has something far more impressive than a Nobel Prize (shoot -- any author can get one of those if, say, that author generates one of the world's most noteworthy bodies of literary work over the course of her lifetime).

Doris Lessing has a MySpace page.

The New York Times broke the news to me with this article.

Doris Lessing, at age 87, "gets it." Or, at least, she understands that she doesn't "get it," so she's partnered with somebody who does -- and she has 240 MySpace "friends" -- and counting -- to show for it.

Now here's a literary genius who probably wouldn't know an email account from an iPod. Yet she's taken the advice of a technically-savvy admirer, Jan Hanford, and developed a Web site as well as a MySpace page where fans can connect with her, express their admiration of her work, find out about future projects, and so forth. It's especially wonderful to think that Lessing found her way to Cyberpace and the world of online book marketing when you consider the fact that her publisher, HarperCollins, wasn't in on the deal. In fact, according to the NYT, Lessing's adventures in social network were "news to the HarperCollins online marketing manager, Jeffrey Yamaguchi."

Social networking is similar to blogging in that, while it seems to create online buzz "somehow," few of us over the age of 21 have a firm grasp of how, exactly, it works. But that's okay. As Doris Lessing has demonstrated, understanding the mechanism behind cyberspace community building isn't the point.

Partnering with someone who "gets it" is the point. Suspending disbelief, getting creative, and taking the plunge...that's the path to creating online buzz for your book. And, come to think of it, it's probably at least part of the blueprint Lessing would endorse for scoring a Nobel Prize in literature, too.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Charles Adler Book Club

Every author wants to score a national television show appearance. But can national radio shows have a major effect on book sales? Yes, and perhaps that's truer now than it ever was before. The first radio-based book club (that this book publicist has heard of, anyway) has been launched. Corus Radio and the Penguin Group are working together to launch the Charles Adler Book Club. Click here to find out more.

The book club will focus solely on fiction, as do the major TV book clubs. But that's okay. For a novelist, it's a dream-come-true for a book club to select his or her work. Nonfiction authors have so many other book promotion opportunities. Experts can be interviewed in the national media because they're experts, and finding an interesting media hook is frequently a matter of time, experience, and luck. But, for novelists, snagging a book promotion opportunity in the national media can be far more difficult -- even if the novelist is established and well known.

If the Charles Adler Book Club takes off, perhaps other influential radio shows will decide to launch competing book clubs, too. This could be the start of a beautiful new book promotion possibility....

Monday, October 15, 2007

Some good news!

Congratulations to my client, Jeremy Haft. He appeared on CNBC-TV's "Squawk on the Street" on Friday and had a chance to plug his Penguin/Portfolio book, All the Tea in China. Go, Jeremy!

And, also on Friday, a producer from the Rachael Ray's nationally syndicated TV show called to request a copy of Debra Fine's book, The Fine Art of Small Talk. Yay! It would be a natural fit. Debra has a new book coming out in a few months, and I'm hoping she'll have an opportunity to plug both books -- her upcoming book and her "classic" book, on the show. More later on that book promotion opportunity, if it develops....

In the meantime, who said that book promotion sleeps on Fridays? That's not always true....

Thursday, October 11, 2007

And we need this...why?

A radio network aimed specifically at Boston's mass transit riders is about to be launched. Major train hubs in the city (well, in what we Massachusetts types call the city -- in New York, I realize that "the city" has a whole other connotation) will air news, music, weather reports, and more on T-Radio. And, if riders are enthusiastic about the pilot program, the concept will spread to other subway stations throughout Massachusetts, and all riders throughout the system will get to listen to a prescribed radio station for the duration of their commute.

And we need this ... why?

I was a Red Line rider for years, and one thing I always managed to do during my commute was to entertain myself. How did I do this? I read books! Don't gasp. It's true. I did read books. And, if I was looking for additional diversions, there was always a street musician available to entertain me (Tracy Chapman, it should be pointed out, honed her singing skills by performing for the masses at subway stops in the Boston area).

I'm not sure what T-Radio will do to the popularity of the free newspaper that subway riders can pick up and peruse during their rides around Boston. I'm also unsure about whether T-Radio will cut into book sales in the near future. (Who knows? Maybe T-Radio will even turn out to be a book promotion venue if author interviews are included as in their "entertainment features.")

Still ... given a choice between having to listen to a radio station during my commute to the city, and being able to read a book (or newspaper) of my choosing, I'd have to go with the written word. Yes, I'm biased, because I make a living in an industry that relies on book sales, and I'd probably be flipping burgers at a fast-food restaurant if book sales were seriously diminished.

However ... T-Radio in place of street musicians? T-Radio instead of books? T-Radio as a substitute for meeting someone who's sitting next to you and makes a friendly comment or witty observation?

No, thanks. I'll stick with entertaining myself on the T. I think other subway riders will figure out how to entertain themselves, too, even if -- in the "worst-case scenario" -- T-Radio doesn't quite work out as planned and commuters must fall back on their own resources once again.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

In other Oprah Winfrey news....

In other Oprah Winfrey news:

NBC Universal has just committed to buying the Oxygen television network that Oprah founded. The selling price? About $925 million.

Here's the story.

Seems to me that, the more television networks we have, the fewer entities that own them. The same is true for radio stations, newspapers, and magazines.

So what does all this consolidation mean for book promotion possibilities?

Well, on the positive side, bigger is better. The tiny cable TV show that wasn't worth appearing on hardly exists anymore...and, maybe, it won't exist in the very near future. When the big media conglomerates finish their shopping sprees, even the humblest media outlets will have the largest potential audience that technology -- and money -- can buy. An appearance on any media outlet is going to be a book promotion bonanza. There won't be any such thing as only appearing on the Oxygen Network in a very short time. Which "insignificant" media outlet is next?

On the negative side, if your book's message or theme is idiosyncratic, ahead of its time, subversive, or just plain unpopular -- watch out. Unless your book appeals to the masses, it's going to get increasingly difficult to find book promotion opportunities for it, unless you figure out how to spin your story so that the media decision makers see it as mainstream.

But...back to the sale of the Oxygen Network. And that $925 million. What is $925 million, anyway? Are there any book publishing profesionals out there who are making anywhere in the neighborhood of that kind of money? Oh, well. We can only dream....

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The most obvious, simplest book promotion trick.

If you're an as-yet-unknown author, sometimes you'll go to extraordinary lengths to score a book promotion opportunity or two. Successful authors, too, sometimes have to struggle to compete for the traditional media's limited space and airtime.

Let's face it. How many authors do you know who have all the book promotion opportunities they could possibly hope for? Not many ... so it never hurts to be reminded of an easy book promotion secret.

The secret works as well for veteran authors as it does for first-time authors. It's so obvious that you've known it all along, but I was just reminded of it, so I thought I'd share it with you while it's on my mind.

Be gracious. Charm people, and they'll make a special effort to tell their friends and relatives, "Buy so and so's book! You'll love it!" How do you do that? It's not rocket science. If a reader emails you to say something positive, hit the reply button and craft a warm, heartfelt response. If a reporter interviews you, send him or her a personal thank-you note. It makes a difference: people who work in the media are always telling me that they don't receive thank-you notes often enough, and it makes their day when they do get one.

What brought that to mind was that, a couple of days ago, I started a book review blog (more about that another time, when I've added more content to it and I have some bragging rights to a more robust book review venue). I was inspired to start the blog by a novel I'd just bought by Mark Childress, with whom I'd been smitten since I found Crazy in Alabama (which, for my money, is one of the funniest and most poignant books about Southern life that I've ever read). His latest book, One Mississippi, was calling out to me at Barnes and Noble. So I bought it, inhaled it (the way you'll inhale a book you love), and blogged about it. Then, because it was the first book review I'd penned for my new blog, I found an email address for Mark Childress on his Web site and emailed him a copy of the book review.

And what do you know? I just received a gracious, witty response from an author who didn't need my review, but was delighted to connect with someone who'd taken the time to write it, anyway. How cool is that -- to receive an email from a favorite writer who wasn't thinking about the promotional value of that email. He was just being a nice guy.

Many famous novelists (and not-so-famous authors) wouldn't have taken the time to write. (In fact, many relatives wouldn't have taken the time to write, but that's a whole other story.) And I'm sure Mark Childress had no ulterior motive in mind when he responded to my email -- nice people don't need any special motivation to be nice. But ... you know what? If Mark emails every fan who emails him with the same warmth that he just exhibited, and if he sends a thank-you note to every reporter who takes the time to interview him, and if he smiles at everyone in the bookstore who's flipping through a copy of his book -- he'll be rewarded.

You can't buy the word-of-mouth you'll gain from just being a good soul. But, surprisingly, the simplest book promotion "trick" is probably the one that fewest authors are inclined to employ. They overlook it because it's too simple and too obvious --- and, perhaps, too time-consuming. What a pity.

Oh, yeah. And please snag a copy of One Mississippi at your earliest convenience. You will love it, and you'll be reminded of what it was you loved about books all along.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The public speaks about book promotion.

What does the public have to say about which books receive their share of book promotion opportunities, and which books languish in obscurity? Well, in this age of social networking, the public might just be the final decision-maker of what's worthy of potential book buyers' time and attention, and what's unworthy.

I can Digg it. Sort of.

Well, here's the news of the day. has just acquired a journalism-by-committee Web site called Newsvine. That brings to the book promotion table terms and concepts such as "citizen journalism," "social media," and "non-professional reporting." Here's's brag about their new partner, Newsvine, and all that their partnership will contribute to the democratizing of news coverage.

This could be seriously good news for unknown authors who are launching, or who are about to launch, book promotion campaigns. I mean, with potential buyers getting involved with social networking sites -- some of which have gone terribly mainstream in recent months, there's more of a chance that your book will come to the attention of your potential readers even if you don't land an appearance on a major television show. All you have to do is create Internet buzz, and your book is on its way.

On the other hand, for unknown authors who are over the age of, say, 20, all of the social networking skills necessary to create Internet buzz are about as simple to acquire as, say, the ability to perform "Swan Lake" while wearing cement-filled sneakers and a down-filled parka -- underwater.

Ah, well. It's a strange, new world. Anyone who wants to play in the new arena of book promotion would do well to learn its ins-and-outs, despite the fact that the rules seem to change every second, on the second.

I'm up for it. And you?

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Oops! She picked it again!

Oprah's Book Club strikes again. Yes. Once again, the good folks at the Oprah Winfrey Show decided to choose a book that didn't need any more publicity with its book club logo. The offering? Love in the Time of Cholera. Granted, it's a nice, cheerful title (as usual), and will certainly provide Oprah fans with hours of light entertainment (which is what we've all come to expect of Oprah Book Club selections).

But why doesn't Oprah choose fresh, new authors who could benefit from the book promotion that her endorsement would provide? Why doesn't Oprah choose to introduce her audience to books they wouldn't hear about, if it weren't for Oprah's recommendation?

In days of yore, Oprah's book club catapulted unknown authors -- say, Jacquelyn Mitchard -- to the top of bestseller lists. (Remember The Deep End of the Ocean? That was worthy of Oprah's magic book club logo, and many of us wouldn't have had the pleasure of discovering it if Oprah Winfrey hadn't pointed the way to it.)

But Gabriel Garcia Marque, the latest recipient of Oprah's endorsement, won the 1982 Nobel Prize for literature, for pity's sake! He's already a luminary in the literary world. Why does he need the visibility that Oprah Winfrey's book club offers? Well, for the same reason that Tolstoy, Pearl S. Buck, and John Steinbeck needed it, I suppose.

But just once ... just once! ... I wish Oprah and her book-loving staff would harken back to their beginnings find a wonderful, budding novelist whose work is worthy of our notice, and whom we haven't yet discovered for ourselves, and that they'd grace that novelist with all the book promotion potential that her book club logo would provide. I know a book publicist or two who would help Oprah's producers find these gems.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Audio Book as Book Promotion Tool?

Would you buy a book after you've listened to the audio version of it? Stephen Colbert seems to think you will. He's selling an audiobook version of I Am America (And So Can You!) as a book promotion vehicle. In other words, he's hoping that people who pay $17.49 to download his audiobook from will be so enchanted with the book that they'll spring for an actual copy of it ($16.19 for a new copy at


In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to confess that I'm not a huge fan of audiobooks. But, if I wanted to use an audiobook as a book promotion vehicle, I'd probably want to give the audiobook away at a discounted price. Yes, I know that audiobooks usually cost more than their hard copy counterparts. But if your goal is to sell the hard copies and the audio copies of your book, then something has to give. Are you really expecting your potential readers to be so enamored with your book that they'll pay for it -- twice?

Well, maybe Stephen Colbert can expect that of his fans. But for the rest of us? I think I'd stick to other book promotion vehicles, such as media appearances and blogging, and keep readers purchasing hard copies of the book.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Blogging for Book Promotion

Here's one of the best articles I've seen on how to promote your book by using a blog. It's key message is that you should create a blog as a first step in every book promotion campaign, which is what I've been saying since the advent of blogs. People read blogs, and search engines love blogs. If you want people to hear about your book, and you want Google to recognize your book...yes...create a blog for it.

If you want some guidance on how to create a blog for your book, you might check out an ebook called Blog Your Book to the Top. At $29.95, it could be a worthwhile investment and give you some ideas to launch your online book promotion campaign. Disclaimer: I haven't yet read the book, but it's on my list of reference materials to get to "in my spare time."

Blogging for book's not as sexy as getting a call from Oprah Winfrey's producer, but every little thing you do to promote your book adds up. So why not give it a try?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Why crime pays and presents a book promotion opportunity

Nearly anything can be a book promotion opportunity. A longtime fugitive from justice (and, allegedly a mass murderer) named Whitey Bulger may have been spotted, and photographed, in Italy.

The Boston Herald boasts a columnist by the name of Howie Carr who apparently once got on the wrong side of Whitey Bulger and his gang, and as a result, was threatened by them with bodily harm. Which would tend to make one like Carr, except I don't know very many Bostonians who can stand him (his arrogance and intolerance for everyone and everything shine through every one of his Boston Herald columns), but that's a whole other story. Anyway, it turns out that Carr wrote a book about Bulger called The Brothers Bulger (for those of you who live outside of New England -- yes, Whitey Bulger is one of several siblings, although he seems to be the only brother who was overtly involved in organized crime).

Today's Herald printed a Howie Carr column that talked about the potential Whitey Bulger siting in Italy and...yes. You guessed it. Howie Carr managed to mention his book twice in his column. Both times, he got in there the complete title of the book.

The column closes with a conversation that Carr had with someone who had heard that Bulger may have been spotted in Italy. Carr's conclusion: "I hope he’s right. Think of my book sales."

Yes. Nearly anything -- even the potential capture of a mobster who has been on the F.B.I's Most Wanted List for years -- can be turned into a book promotion opportunity. I'm glad that Howie Carr sees this thug's potential capture as his big break.

To others, Bulger's capture would mean that he can finally be tried and, hopefully, convicted of multiple murders and terrorizing on of Boston's neighborhoods. To Carr, Bulger's capture would mean that book sales would soar.


Monday, September 03, 2007

Book Promotion via Blog Tours

Do you want some quick and easy visibility for your book? Ask bloggers to provide it.

Yes, blog tours represent a book promotion opportunity that most authors, publishers, and book publicists have known about for awhile. But now blog tours have made it into the mainstream press. The New York Times published an article about Amy Cohen's blog tour for her book, The Late Bloomer’s Revolution.

A Times-reading colleague sent me a link to this article and asked, "Yes, but how do they do this?"

It isn't rocket science. To arrange a blog tour, you contact bloggers and request that they review your book (or publish a Q&A, or that they come up with their own idea for featuring your book). How do you find bloggers? Use a blog search engine. Technorati's blog search engine gets all the press, but I prefer Google's. Make a list of prospects, draft your pitch, and then start making those overtures.

Arranging a blog tour isn't as easy as, say, buying a media list, and sending out your media kit and book to everyone on it. There don't seem to be an prefabricated list of bloggers who might participate in blog tours. There hardly could be, given the fact that most books would need to be promoted on blogs that are narrowly focused on a particular topic and reach small numbers of highly targeted readers.

Nonetheless, arranging a blog tour is worthwhile. Even the New York Times says so!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Well, at least Barnes and Noble has a good reason for its reversal.

Barnes and Noble has decided to stock the O.J. Simpson book, If I Did It, which is now owned by Fred Goldman because "enough customers have expressed interest in buying the book to warrant stocking it in our stores."

At least Barnes and Noble isn't making an arbitrary decision. The bookstore chain has clearly thought this through.

That makes it okay.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bye, Bye P.O.D. Stigma

Sorry about the informal title of this post, but -- dang! -- I heard Don McLean's song, "American Pie," a few hours ago, and I haven't been able to get rid of that earworm ever since. Oh, well, there are bigger challenges in life than earworms, although I can't think of very many at the moment.

While my head was wrapped around Don McLean, I decided to look him up on the Net and see what he was up to these days. And, much to my delight, I discovered that he's just used a P.O.D. publisher ( to release an autobiography -- well, sort of an autobiography. Actually, technically, it's a biography. The Don McLean Story: Killing Us Softly With His Song (it seems McLean was the inspiration for Roberta Flack's song, "Killing Me Softly" -- who knew?) was actually written by Alan Howard, but McLean claims the book tells his (McLean's) side of the story. You can read all about the book at

No, it's not a review in Publishers Weekly or Library Journal. Maybe the mainstream book reviewers will avoid Don McLean's life story, even though it is Don McLean's life story, because it has been released by a P.O.D. publisher. Maybe, to that degree, McLean's book promotion potential is limited.

But you know what? This is Don McLean we're talking about. I can't think of a newspaper or magazine in the country that wouldn't mention the book as part of a feature/lifestyle/entertainment story, and I can't imagine a radio or television show that would turn down the opportunity to do an interview with this particular personality and let him promote his book.

It's always wonderful to see "name brands" such as McLean (and, yes, even Amy Fisher, although I'm sorry to use those two names in the same sentence) choose to publish through a company such as Each time that happens, the old P.O.D. stigma gets more and more difficult to justify. I, for one, would like to see it fade away completely, and I'd like to see all members of the media offer the same book promotion opportunities to P.O.D.-published books that they do to mainstream-published books.

One day, perhaps, that will happen. For now...does anyone know how to get rid of an earworm? I love Don McLean dearly, but after listening to him sing his trademark song in my head for the last five hours or so, I am ready for a change. Perhaps I can just switch tunes. No! No! Not that! Starry, starry night.... No! No! No!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Hold onto book publicity interview information!

When you're in the middle of a book promotion campaign, every interview opportunity is precious. Make sure to capture the details of every book promotion interview you have planned, and then have a backup of that information in another place, and then -- for real security -- back up that information again, in some other way.

The book promotion interview will probably go on, as planned. The interviewer probably has your phone number, and he or she will probably call at the appointed time, on the agreed-upon date. But you know what? Sometimes, not so much. That's why you have to take careful note of the name of the interview, and how you can contact him/her in the event that you need to. When you're scheduling the interview, or your book publicist is scheduling the interview, ask for a backup line (explain that you'll be using it for "Plan B," just in case there's a mixup the day of the interview). Then write down that information so you'll have a hard copy of it. Compose an email with that information, and send it to yourself. Type the information into the calendar section of your email client, and into any online calendars you might use. Write it down in your appointment book....

You get the picture. Make sure to memorialize the details of the interview, and then make sure you have as many copies of that information as you'll need to ensure that, if you should need it, you'll have it.

And don't expect your book publicist to act as your only repository of this information. Book publcists are human. We do our best to hold onto information, but our computers crash. We misplace things. We try not to, but it happens. And even a theoretically perfect book publicist has to heed the call of nature (or take the calls of other clients) sometimes.

Therefore, when you get the information about the book promotion opportunity, capture it, and guard it carefully. Don't count on somebody else, however well intentioned, to do it for you. It's your book promotion campaign, and you can keep it on course by being the best data keeper imaginable.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Will ignorance save books?

Sometimes, this book publicist questions the scientific method. Take the example of according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll that was released yesterday. It claims that Americans are reading fewer books than ever before. Well, okay. We've been hearing that Americans' interest books has been diminishing every year since I was old enough to read.

That sort of reminds me of a friend's mother who, whenever I run into her, greets me with, "Oh, you've lost so much weight!" If I'd lost weight every time she said I did, then I'd long since be buried. But I digress.

Here's what interests me. It's the paradox that less educated people read more books than, well, better educated people. (After rereading that sentence, I'm not sure which camp I fall into, but I'll nonethess keep going. Please bear with me.)

See, according to the survey, two-thirds of the population (or, at least, the surveyed population) read religiously-oriented books when they read books at all. And, to quote from the Associated Press article about the survey, that subset of the population includes "...lower earners, minorities, lesser educated people, Southerners, rural residents, Republicans and conservatives."

Hmmm. Okay. So, according to this survey, book publicists ought to think about gearing their book promotion campaigns to those Americans who are ill-educated enough actually read books. I can handle that.

I'm just wondering: is there any way we could do this survey over again? This time, I'd like to see the survey questions. First on my list of hoped-for questions would be, "Which Harry Potter book do you think was the best of the series?" Because I don't know a person who hasn't read, or doesn't plan to read, at least a few books lately. People I know may not admit to being Rowling's fans, but my guess is that, while their kids are asleep, they're dipping into Potter #7, regardless of what they're telling those AP-Ipsos pollsters. I'll bet you they are. I'll betcha ANYTHING!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

No book promotion by Borders.

According to an Associated Press story, Borders Group Inc. will be carrying If I Did It, the abomination written by a ghostwriter for O.J. Simpson. Borders, however, won't be promoting the book.

The real hero, for my money, is Barnes and Noble which just announced that it will be neither stocking nor promoting Simpson's (well, actually, Fred Goldman's) book. Apparently, they don't want to dirty their bookshelves with this hurtful trash. And I deeply respect, and admire, their decision.

Way to go, Barnes and Noble. And a secondary nod in the direction of Borders. At least, as you say, you won't be actively promoting the book. We won't be seeing Fred Goldman or, worse, O.J. Simpson at a book signing at any of your stores.

At this point, I'm grateful for small favors.

Instant book promotion

Want some instant book promotion opportunities for your next title? Then get it published by the new house that's opening up at -- New York City's Bellevue Hospital.

That's a possibility because the Bellevue Literary Press opened its doors in the spring of 2007. Nope, I couldn't make up something like that. Well, okay, I could, but the proof that I didn't is here.

As I think about potential headlines for this publisher's hypothetical press releases ("Readers Are Insane for This Title" and "Publisher Goes Crazy Trying to Keep Up With the Demand"), it occurs to me that a place like Bellevue is an ironic venue for a new publishing company. Yes, its locale with generate instant book promotion opportunities for its titles, and yes, the media will have a joyful time of it, playing with gleefully insensitive story angles and irreverent headlines. But, in an ecomomic climate where you almost do have to be certifiably nuts to decide to launch a publishing company, is this book publicity dream-come-true going to sell enough books to keep this company in the black, or will the publishing executives be ready for straitjackets within another season or two?

You can't say there aren't any surprises, or any book promotion opportunities, left in the world of book publishing! Stay tuned for further developments from Bellevue, and beyond.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Here's the good news.

As an author, publisher, or book publicist -- or perhaps all three -- you're a charter member of the book publishing industry. You have a bit of power in your hands. You can use that power wisely or unwisely, and sometimes, good people do both. (The latter, we hope, they do inadvertently.)

We'd all like our balance sheet to be positive, at the end of the day. We'd like our good deeds to vastly outweigh our bad deeds.

The good news for all of us who sometimes fail is this: regardless of how we mess up, we will never, ever do anything more hurtful than to publish O.J. Simpson's confession to a double murder. Nor will we ever tape an interview in which we try to justify ourselves.

If this interview makes you ashamed to be a part of the publishing industry, take a deep breath. I share your feelings. I just celebrate the fact that choices of this sort are seldom made by people in our industry and that this is an anomaly. Hopefully, we'll never see anything like it again in our lifetimes.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Don Imus? Back again?

I fervently hope Don Imus stays off the airwaves. Here's a news story from that seems to indicate that Imus might return to do his show.

To any authors and publishers who are grinning right now about the potential of pitching the new (and, undoubtedly, not-improved) "Don Imus Show" as part of future book promotion campaigns, this book publicist has just one question to ask: haven't you moved on yet?

Don Imus is soooo over. Book promotion opportunities remain (trust me -- they do), but Imus's insults and epithets are gone.

Can't we leave well enough alone?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Natalie Jacobson

For anyone who's been watching television in the Boston area for the past 35 years, Natalie Jacobson's final WCVB-TV newscast last night was bittersweet. New England is losing a familiar, trusted face on its nightly newscast.

But, on the positive side, Natalie Jacobson -- as all the journalists have pointed out -- retained her grace, credibility, and charisma to the last phoneme of her final world on her last local television news broadcast. She didn't go into details about Lindsay Lohan's post-rehab plans or about Paris Hilton's post-prison earning potential. No. She talked about the news and then said a quiet, understated, heartfelt goodbye.

Natalie Jacobson's familiarity and predictability has meant more to me than I understood until it struck me that she'd no longer be there, reporting the news, and helping me to understand what was happening in my world, night after night. Natalie, I'll miss you. Have you ever thought about writing a biography? If so, I know a local book publicist who might give you some book promotion tips.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

New Book Promotion Strategies Level the Playing Field

In a recent American Chronicle article, publisher Valerie Connelly raises a good point. With so many books out there -- 80,000 more books were published in 2006 than were published in 2005 -- it's growing more and more difficult for authors to get their books noticed.

For a mainstream publisher, getting media attention for a new title can be as easy as saying, "We're behind this book. Interview the author, please."

Authors who have enjoyed relationships with major publishers know this good fortune only accrues to A-list authors. The rest of the authors whose books are published by even the most prestigious houses have to wait in the line like everyone else for the media's attention. It doesn't help you to have a huge publishing brand name stamped on your book if you're not one of that publisher's favored authors.

Authors who are working with small- to mid-sized publishers, or whose work is self-published, can't topple Rowlings from her perch while Harry Potter is everywhere -- in movie theaters and in every nook and cranny of the media -- all at the same time. Regular authors won't get the media attention that Rowlings is enjoying using traditional book promotion techniques alone. So what are they to do?

News hooks. That's this book publicist's trick of the trade. Find news hooks in what you've written. If you're in the process of writing -- and this applies to whatever you're writing, whether it's fiction or nonfiction -- build news hooks into your book.

You'll be able to promote yourself, as an expert, in connection to news stories using cutting-edge book promotion techniques and tried-and-true book promotion strategies. The twist is that, instead of setting your book up to compete against other books, you're setting yourself up as an expert who doesn't even have to compete against other experts. After all, you're the expert! That makes book promotion a snap -- as long as you find, or build in that news hook, and as long as the media believes that what you're calling news is, indeed, topical and worthy of media attention.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Book Promotion and July 4

Yes, it's a holiday week. Everyone seems to be taking some days off to celebrate July Fourth, and this might not be the most productive time to put forth book promotion efforts.

Still...there are all sorts of book promotion activities that you can engage in that do not depend on real humans being at the other end of their email accounts or telephones. Those are the book promoton activties that this book publicist will engage in this week. Those book promotion activities include, but aren't limited to: lining up book blog tours and publishing book promotion press releases online.

So...if everyone seems to be off for July Fourth, but you're still working, know that there's plenty that you could be doing to promote your book. What are you just sitting around staring at your monitor for?

technorati claim

Technorati Profile

Why should you care about search engine placement?

You've written a book, and you're launching a book promotion campaign. You want to be on "Oprah," in Family Circle, and you want the Associated Press wire to run a story on your book. Plus, you want to do twenty or so major market radio shows in your spare time. That would make for the perfect book promotion campaign.

Sure, you have a Web site, but you don't really see that as an integral part of your book promotion campaign. So why should you care about its placement in search engines?

An article, reprinted by, called Calling in pros to refine your Google image: Search engine has given rise to the online identity management industry offers a persuasive argument that, if you don't control what search engines "see," then others will control it. The Web sites and blogs of your competitors and, if you have them, your detractors will show up in the search engines, and they'll never go away unless positive news about your book and you -- the news you generate yourself -- push them out of the top of the search engines' rankings.

Spin control, these days, means making sure Web surfers see what you want them to see. It means getting visibility for your Web site, and making sure that your visibility stays optimized for the Web. You may not be able to get others to delete their mean-spirited contributions to the Internet, but you can make sure that you balance their views with a positive portrayal of who you are, how you treat others, and what you have to offer.

By all means, focus on your book promotion campaign. Just make sure that part of your book promotion campaign is focusing on your Web site -- creating it, maintaining it, promoting it, and optimizing it for search engine placement.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Saturday Treat

This afternoon, when I heard the mail truck roll by, I happened to be gardening. (I call it gardening. Some might call it the legalized torture of hapless flowering plants, but that's another story.) Anyway, I chased the truck like a puppy to retrieve my mail a few moments before the delivery guy would have put it into my mailbox. (Saturdays in the New England summertime can be laid-back and lazy.)

What did the delivery guy hand me? Among other non-bills (somehow, bills never get delivered on Saturdays in the summertime), he gave me a promising manila envelope addressed to -- one of my clients. Hmmm. Well, it's the book publicist's perogative to open such envelopes(particularly, when the return address lets her know that the envelope is from Going Bonkers magazine).

A package addressed to Deborah Collins Stephens from Going Bonkers magazine? That's fun! I thumbed through the magazine and, indeed, found her bylined article, "Dealing with Life's Unexpected Turns: 7 Ways to Keep Your Head Above Water During Difficult Times," on page 43. Great article, and a great placement for it (her byline mentions her book, This Is Not the Life I Ordered: 50 Ways to Keep Your Head Above Water When Life Keeps Dragging You Down and her Website,"

But here was my real Saturday treat. I continued to thumb through the magazine, and on page 58, I found another client's bylined article. It's called "Bing Eating Disorder: Are You at Risk," and, again, the byline references Trisha Gura's book, Lying in Weight: the Hidden Epidemic of Eating Disorders in Adult Women. Lucky Dr. Gura: the byline also cites her publisher, Harper Collins, the book's publication date, and her Web site,

Two clients, two bylned articles, great book promotion opportunities, and nice, breezy July hours to spend outside messing around with a spade and pulling weeds. That's what I call a Saturday treat. Of course, the biggest treat is yet to come: emailing Deborah and Trisha, and letting them know their bylined articles have been published!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Are you using video for book promotion?

Are you using videos, such as multimedia book presenters, as part of your book promotion campaign? One of my favorite vendors for multimedia book presenters, by the way, is AuthorBytes, which designs sites for many of my clients and a whole host of bestselling authors, fiction and nonfiction, whose names you'll recognize.

Anyway, if you are using multimedia book presenters or video of any kind as part of your book promotion campaign, you'll want your book publicist to send the links to media contacts. In addition, you've already thought of using YouTube (along with your own Web site) to house your video. But you may be wondering: where else should I upload my video?

The answer, according to a WebProNews article, is that, once you've uploaded your site to YouTube, you can consider your task done. At least for now, YouTube has crushed the competition. Its videos show up ahead of every other site's videos in the search engines, so if you want to upload your video to the place that most people will go to by default, that place is YouTube.

At least until the next big video site comes along.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Book promotion or overexposure?

Do book excerpts in newspapers and magazines whet the public's appetite for a book, or does it discourage people from buying the book because they've already heard its message?

That's the question posed by the United Kingdom's Press Gazette. In a recent article called "U.S. newspapers thinking twice about book extracts," the columnist postulates: "There is a growing fear that some readers might feel they have had their fill and never bother to buy the book." Perhaps publishers should turn their attention away from excerpts and toward broadcast media interviews, the article goes on to suggest.

Well, I would agree and disagree with that strategy. I agree that book excerpts might deter people from actually buying the book, but I worry that advance broadcast publicity can do the same.

While it's true that book excerpts (which are amazingly hard to score, by the way, unless you're a known author or writing about a newsworthy topic) may "spill all the secrets" and leave readers with no reason to buy a copy of the book, broadcast media interviews have the same potential drawback. If potential book buyers already know what the author has to say -- and if potential book buyers have already read it or, have heard the author say it -- then perhaps those potential book buyers are going to be investing their book buying dollars elsewhere. Why not buy a book that you haven't already dipped into, rather than get a longer, more drawn-out version of the book you've already had a chance to get a snapshot of? Attention spans being what they are, maybe too many book buyers only skim the book, anyway, or flip through the book to get the gist of it. Why offer readers a snapshot of the book via an excerpt, or a television or radio interview, if a snapshot of the book is likely to satisfy the readers' underwhelming appetite for that topic?

There's also the problem of book buyers' short memories and desire to hold onto hard-earned cash. We all have a lot on our minds. What are the odds that someone who's really, really interested in buying a book in June will remember to buy that book when it's published in September? Slim. What are the chances that someone will preorder a book in June, and pay for it in June, knowing that the book won't ship until September? Slimmer.

So, as a book publicist, I prefer to have my clients hold onto their book's main messages until the book is available. That means holding off on interviews related to the book's core messages until the book is available, and the book promotion campaign can begin in earnest.

However, there are some things an author can do ahead of time that don't present a risk of overexposing a book before it's available. They include creating a Web site for the book, and focusing on creating online buzz for that Web site; building an online community so that people visit that Web site again and again (and stick around on that Web site for a long period of time during each visit); and using promotional techniques such as bylined article placement campaigns that will bring visitors to that Web site. All of that can be done before the book's publication date without taking a chance that you'll "shoot your wad" too soon or turn off potential buyers for your book by giving them all the information they want without asking them to pay for it.

So, if you're on a limited book promotion budget and can't afford to approach the major publications about excerpting your book, don't feel guilty. The book promotion strategy you can't afford may be counterproductive, anyway. Focus on doing what you can to bring visitors -- and potential future book buyers -- to your Web site for now, and begin the book promotion campaign when your book is available and can benefit from media attention.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Breaking news from nowhere.

Imagine this. You're in the middle of a book promotion campaign. You've been lucky enough to score a live national radio interview. You're about to go n the air. And then -- out of nowhere -- there's a breaking news story, and your interview has been bumped to make way for the story that every media outlet needs to cover.

Yes. Paris Hilton has been released from jail -- during your big moment.

Anyone who's in the middle of a book promotion campaign today and has been forced to reschedule an interview has my sympathy. It's one thing to have a disappointment or two along the way when promoting a book. It's another thing to have a celebrity story involving Paris Hilton come out of nowhere and squash your big book promotion moment.

Drunk driving? Yes, that's a good reason to be outraged at Paris Hilton. Getting special treatment? That's still another. And messing up book promotion campaigns? You've got it. That's the perfect cap on the reasons why all of us can be steaming mad about Paris Hilton's early release from prison today.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Does this make you appreciate books?

In 2002, the National Endowment for the Arts found that fewer than half of adults surveyed read for pleasure (presumably, some of those adults still read because they must), and that number had declined since 1987. Quick math check: that was about five years ago. Right?

Okay. So now the owner of a Missouri-based independent bookstore has pondered the problem and come up with a solution. He'll burn his books. That'll teach 'em to love books!

I'm serious. Here's the Associated Press article about Tom Wayne, owner of Prospero's Books who'd rather see books destroyed than wait for a good home.

Here's the thing. I'm a book publicist who conducts book promotion campaigns to encourage people to read books. I love books. I love words. I love the people who write them. I love the companies that publish them. I love the people who read them. I love everything there is to love about books.

But this book publicist's quirk is: I don't love books enough to burn them. And I don't love books enough to understand, or to try to defend, anyone who thinks burning books is a way to pay homage to books.

Forgive me, Tom Wayne, but what you're doing strikes me as destructive. I hope you don't get a permit that would allow you to burn tens of thousands of additional books.

As a matter of fact, I fervently hope that you lose the privilege of being able to legally light a match.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The book promotion dream -- and the book promotion nightmare.

Here's the book promotion dream.

You'll schedule an interview for yourself (or your book publicist will schedule an interview) on a national radio show that reaches tens of thousands -- or maybe even millions -- of people, and many of them will rush out, or click online, to buy your book.

That's the book promotion dream.

Now here's the book promotion nightmare.

That interview will be scheduled on a show that airs exclusively via the XM Satellite Radio network during the time period when, due to a technical glitch of some sort, the network is partially down, and you don't know exactly how many subscribers will still be able to listen to the show, but you know it isn't the number that you were expecting. And there goes that opportunity to sell books -- up in high-tech smoke.

Of course, glitches happen in media outlets that don't rely on satellite technology. So, if your national radio interview is scheduled on a more traditional show, keep up your guard. Anyything can happen and, in the world of book promotion, it often does. Breaking news blows your topic off the host's top shelf and forces the producer to reschedule (or not to reschedule, as the case may be). And, as we approach yet another holiday weekend, remember that, even if the interview proceeds as scheduled, timing matters, too. There are fewer people listening to the radio during long holiday weekends, so bear that in mind as you're scheduling interviews. There's nothing like scheduling that national radio interview and then looking at your calendar and noticing that you've locked yourself in for a time when there just won't be the usual number of listeners.

There you have it. The book promotion dream (scheduling a national radio show) and the book promotion nightmare (having the timing of that national radio show, because of a high-tech failure or just bad timing) dash your hopes of selling thousands of books.

To authors whose interviews have aired on the XM Satellite Radio network in the past couple of days, or will air before the technical issue is resolved, my sympathies. Know that you're not alone. This time, you've lived the book promotion nightmare. Next time, you're entitled to enjoy the book promotion dream.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Dr. Phil for Promotion?

I'll be brutally honest with you. I'm a rabid "Brady Bunch" fan. It's not an intellectual choice. It's a primal problem -- a gene with which I was born that somehow predisposed me to love, love, love anything to do with that show. I've suffered through reruns since the show ended, I've watched all the movies, and -- I swear to you -- I even suffered through that darned variety show of theirs. And, yes, I own a copy of Barry Williams' book, Growing Up Brady, and have read it several times.

Look, we all have our issues.

All of this is to explain why, when I watched a promo for tomorrow's episode of "Dr. Phil" that featured a sobbing Maureen McCormick, I sat up and paid close attention. Three o'clock tomorrow, Eastern Time. Dr. Phil. Maureen McCormick. I'm there (or my DVD recorder is, anyway). I will watch anything that has to do with The Brady Bunch. I won't even try to defend myself. I know. I know! But I can't help it.

To put this into a more professional context, I'm wondering what's going on here. (Yes, I want to know -- I desperately want to know -- what's upsetting Marcia Brady so, but that's a whole other issue.) The little cynical other that resides in me (and who, evidently, didn't watch enough "Brady Bunch" episodes) wonders: what's in this for Maureen? Surely, the woman isn't in such dire financial straits that she can't afford to see a therapist if she needs one. I mean, surely, she could borrow the money from one of her siblings ... but there I go again. Never mind. What I'm trying to say is, what's Maureen McCormick doing on tmorrow's "Dr. Phil?" Is she looking to the big doctor for help the way an actual, you know, person would? Or is she promotin' a project, and perhaps she saw (or her publicist saw) the "Dr. Phil" show as a way to get some quick national media attention for it?

See? This is why all of us, and not just refugees from the planet Seventies, should wish every day of our lives that Mr. Brady were still among us. He, and he alone, could resolve all of our problems in 30 minutes (less, if you subtract the time that the commercials took). Mrs. Brady? Alice? Not even close. Sam the Butcher? Forget about it. Mr. Brady was the original Dr. Phil, and doggone it, his methodology worked. His kids turned out fine. His dog and cat probably turned out fine, too, although we can't be sure since Fluff wasn't seen after the pilot episode and we lost track of Tiger sometimes after Jan realized she wasn't allergic to him but, rather, to the dog shampoo he was using, where was I? Oh, yes.

Robert Reed, we miss you. We really, really miss you. Especially when we consider the fact that, if you were here now, we probably wouldn't have to watch "Dr. Phil" tomorrow. Which we will, for strictly professional reasons. We have to know: are celebrities (and former celebrities) using the "Dr. Phil" show to plug their projects? Is "Dr. Phil" becoming another way to enhance celebrity, and sell more movie tickets? Is it more than just a way for unknown nonfiction authors to get some book promotion? Is "Dr. Phil" becoming...a platform for B-celebrities? Stay tuned....

A few minutes lovers at the New York book fair

If you watched "60 Minutes" last night, then you were treated to an Andy Rooney segment that was unusually poignant -- for those of us who love books, anyway. Rooney's segment was about the New York Antiquarian Book Fair. Where was Rooney's cynicism? He left it at home, for this segment. Instead, he seemed genuinely humbled to be in the presence of books and book-loving people, and he capped with a comment about how -- I'm paraphrasing -- the Book Fair made him believe there's still hope for our civilazation, after all.

Sure, there was a little bit of promotion in the segment -- promotion for an amazing annual event -- but, more importantly, it was a lovefest. Rooney, the crotchedy journalist, has loved books along. And we, who write, publish, and promote books, have loved them all along, too. What's not to love about this "60 Minutes" segment? You can watch it yourself by clicking here.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Does book promotion make a bestselling book?

Does a successful book promotion campaign lead to a bestseller? Sometimes...but, more typically, a book becomes a bestseller by accident. So says a recent New York Times article, "The Greatest Mystery: Making a Best Seller."

We all know that booksellers become bestsellers for a combination of reasons: great distribution, awesome writing, super cover, and terrific word-of-mouth. To this list, the New York Times adds another component: the stars' alignment.

The frustration is that, you can do everything right, and still not earn enough money to pay your expenses/meet your advance -- even with the best book promotion campaign in the world. The flip side of that is, if creating a bestseller is at least partly a matter of luck, then that stroke of luck can happen to anyone.

Yes. It can happen to you.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Blame the publicist, part II.

Paris Hilton doesn't blame her publicist anymore, you'll be glad to know. Okay, I was being polite. You probably don't care. But I offer this article as comic relief and because I brought up the subject of Paris Hilton's woes yesterday. I guess that will teach me, huh?

By the way, I do have some advice for Paris Hilton's publicist: quit. Why would you want to promote this woman when there are so many worthier candidates for media attention -- and yours?

Monday, May 07, 2007

A tough and ugly way to get publicity.

You can get publicity the easy way -- by writing a newsworthy book, for example. Or you can promote yourself the tough way -- by doing something horrible, showing no remorse, and scoring 45 days in prison. I particularly love the way she blames her publicist for "getting her into this mess." And her publicist did I read Hilton's whining accusation, and I still can't make any sense of her theory about why this whole mess has anything at all to do with her now-former publicist. Maybe you can make sense out of it -- click here if you'd like to try.

I guess, if you're interested in book promotion, either technique would work. But I don't recommend the route that Paris Hilton took. I just don't. (And I wish she could be sentenced to an additional 45 days just on the basis of her reaction -- or the lack thereof -- to the sentence.)