Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Book promotion for academic and professional titles

Most authors believe in the value of book promotion. Not all authors can invest their time and resources in robust book promotion campaigns, but nearly every author I've run into over the years wishes he or she could do some book promotion. It's simply very unsual for an author to care enough to write a book, and publish a book, but to not care enough to back it with a book promotion campaign.

The only exception to the rule would seem to be professional book authors and academic book authors. Their target audiences can be so specific that it would be difficult to reach them through the usual channels. Book promotion campaigns that revolve around the mass media just don't always work for these very specifically aimed books.

But even authors of professional books and academic books need to do more than publish their work and hope their intended readers find it. They need to proactively make sure their intended readers find it.

Some sort of book promotion campaign is in order. Even if those book promotion efforts don't include pitching national television shows, book review editors, and so forth, those book promotion strategies might well include writing articles for niche publications, maintaining a blog, and -- of course -- creating a book Web site that's rich with information and resources.

Book promotion campaigns do make sense for professional and academic books. Those book promotion campaigns might take a different form than book promotion campaigns for trade books, but make no mistake about it. If you want to get the word out about your book, you have to actively take all the right steps to make it happen. That's what book promotion is all about.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"The Secret" to Book Promotion

One of the secrets to book promotion is to, well, write the book, "The Secret." That's what Rhonda Byrne did, and look at the result. According to a Newsweek article titled "Decoding 'The Secret,'" Byrne's book's will have an estimated 1.75 million copies projected to be in print by March 2, which will be slightly more than three months after its publicaton. Plus, Oprah Winfrey is all over it; she's already devoted two of her shows to the author and her book.

That's some secret.

What delighted me about the Newsweek article was that I saw many familiar names in it -- among them, Joe Vitale, who is a long-time client of this book publicist (and I'll be promoting his upcoming book, Zero Limits: The Secret Hawaiian System for Wealth, Health, Peace and More (Wiley and Sons).

So perhaps Byrne's secret to book promotion is that she shares the media spotlight with other authors -- and, perhaps, competing authors whom she doesn't see as competition at all but rather as others who can reinforce her perspective and help spread it to others. However Byrne is doing it, her book seems to be this decade's shining example of book promotion at its best. You go, Rhonda!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Book Promotion Arena Gets More Crowded

Your book promotion campaign just got tougher. Acording to an article in the New York Times, "Time to Throw Their Books Into the Ring," every presidential candidate has written a book and is using his or her book promotion tour to test the political waters. A presidential candidate whose book scores a lot of media attention, the reasoning goes, will get a lot of support for his or her presidential campaign. Conversely, a presidential candidate who can't kick-start a book publicity campaign might as well through in the towel politically, too.

A book promotion campaign really is rough. Authors and book publicists are not only competing with peers for interviews, book reviews, and attention from the Web. But we're also competing with Senator Barack Obama (his book is called "The Audacity of Hope," and his book "Dreams of My Father" has just been reissued), Governor Bill Richardson (author of "Between Worlds,"), Senator Hillary Rodham (her book, "It Takes a Village," is ten years old now, but still, it's getting media attention), and others.

So if you're goal isn't as lofty as, say, becoming president of the United States, and you're willing to settle for an appearance or two on a major television show, you might just succeed. But realize that you just might be competing for those coveted media interview slots against the next U.S. president. May the best candidate win.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Book Promotion Gets Complicated

When this book publicist reads a news story that relates to book publicity twice, and feels the beginnings of a headache during her second pass through the article, one of two things is happening. Either the book publicist had too much coffee this morning, or book promotion has become more complicated.

I think it's the latter. And I hope it's the latter, because I really don't want to give up my one daily cup of coffee -- particularly, during wintertime in New England.

Here's the article that caused my head to spin. Read it along with me, and see what you make of it. Here's what I'm seeing:

One of National Public Radio's programs, "Tech Nation," will be broadcast with podcasts airing before the actual program. Each podcast will feature an interview with someone who has used a service called Blurb ( to publish his or her book.

But here's the thing. People who use to publish their books -- if I'm reading the story correctly -- aren't full-time authors or even aspiring full-time authors. They're people who might want to turn their poetry or cookbook into a handsome bound manuscript, or who might want to turn the story of their success into bound manuscripts that look good enough to present to clients and prospects.

By the way, this sent me flying to the site. What is it? Why haven't I heard about it? Perhaps the answer can be found in the fact that -- again, if I'm getting an accurate reading of the pricing at a quick glance -- a 201-page trade paperback would cost $44.95, before shipping. Okay, I haven't comparison shopped. Perhaps iUniverse's prices are similarly difficult to swallow, so I'm not in a position to judge But I would need to see whether Blurb's books come equipped with an ISBN number, and can be posted on and and listed with Ingram, before I got excited enough about the service to recommend it.

Anyway, back to book publicity. NPR's "Tech Nation" seems to be saying, yes, we endorse Blurb. And we'll be glad to interview Blurb's customers. But we'll be glad to interview only Blurb's customers.

In other words, NPR is offering a new book promotion opportunity (Author interviews via podcasts aired nationally! How cool!). But NPR is offering that book publicity opportunity only to a small segment of authors. (And, unless I get an epiphany of some sort during a complete reading of the Blurb Website when I have some downtime, I'm not so sure that I would go so far as to call Blurb's customer base "authors.")

Hmm. Is this what book promotion will be, in the future? Will "Oprah" interview only Random House authors? Will "Today" offer a forum only to Penguin's writers? Will Larry King only talk with McGraw Hill people?

I guess it's possible that, one day, book publicity will become the process of matching authors who publish in specific ways with media outlets that promote only works by those particular authors. But for now, this book publicist needs a second cup of coffee. It's okay, just this once.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Easy Path to Promoting a Children's Book

Book promotion requires creativity, enthusiasm, persistance, and elbow grease -- ordinarily. For authors who are interested in book publicity but don't feel like rolling up their sleeves and getting to work on a book promotion campaign, there's an alternative -- particularly, if you are a children's book author.

Plant the "s-word" in your children's book, and book promotion will follow.

That's not the course I'd recommend, because I happen to think children should be sheltered from clinical terms that refer to body parts during reading time. (Don't get me wrong. I'm not against sharing clinical terms that refer to body parts during other times of the day. Just, please, let's apare small children who are settling down for their naps.)

To see all the fuss that the "s-word" can create in a children's book, and all the book promotion potential of using such a word, click here.

Sort of makes you want to kick yourself, doesn't it? Here you are, actually working for your book publicity opportunities. And along comes a children's book author, Susan Patron, who happens onto the idea of using the word "scrotum" in her children's book, and -- wham! -- she creates instead book promotion and buzz for her title.

I'll bet you wish you had thought of it.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Domains: the Latest Book Promotion Problem.

As you may know, I'm always preaching the value of book Web sites. My mantra is: grab the URL as soon as you come up with your book title. In fact, grab the .net while you're at it (you won't need it, but it would be a lousy feeling to watch someone else grabbed "your" .net while you weren't looking).

That said, I own a lot of domain names. I probably own too many domain names, most of which I'll never use and many of which I don't even recall buying. I have a few URLS that I use, and they mean something to my business, and I need them. And I need for there to be no confusion about them.

But here's a new problem. Did you know that it's possible for someone to buy a URL, own it for a few days, and then just drop that URL and evaporate into thin air? I've just read an article about the possibilities for abuse at MSNBC ("Entrepreneurs profit from free Web names: Five-day grace period allows for ‘tasting’ before buying URLs").

The legitimate reason for the service was this. Let's say you meant to buy "," but a typo caused you to buy "" instead. With the five-day grace period, you can undo your purchase of "" and buy "" instead, as you had intended.

As with most things related to the Net, every offering seems to bring ill-intentioned people out of the woodwork. The five-day grace period for URLs seems to have inspired a whole crop of cybersquatters who buy as many misspellings as they can think of, put up a site that damages the original site, and then vanishes into thin air before anyone can be sued for damages. The example the article sites is "," which someone bought and used to advertise Neiman Marcus's competitors (Target, Nordstrom, and so forth). Neiman Marcus could have chosen to place an ad on that site back to its own Web site, but the company didn't think it should have to ... and I agree.

If you have a book that's selling very well, and your book promotion campaign is in full swing -- and you're lucky enough to have secured the book's title as your URL -- why should you let a URL speculator grab a misspelling of that domain and, perhaps, profit by it?

So here's my new recommendation. When you're buying your domain, be sure to grab any misspellings you can think of at the same time. It's not a huge monetary investment, and what you're buying is peace of mind. At least you'll know that your book's Web site won't fall prey to this new breed of cybersquatters -- or, at least, they'll have to work a whole lot harder at tricking your readers to go to their sites instead.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Book Promotion Can Be Fun--Even for the Reluctant

Would anyone like to switch places with "Pip," whose February 18, 2007 Type M for Murder blog entry cites this response to the publisher's book promotion efforts: "...varying degrees of terror/success – but mostly terror...."

Book promotion doesn't have to incite terror. Book publicity can, in fact, be the reward for having written and published your book.

Well, I can understand that not everyone enjoys the "media frenzy" that comes along with a successful book promotion campaign. The limelight is not necessarily what writers have in mind when they spend 50 weeks a year writing, alone, and enjoying the solitude as much as the creative process.

I know that everyone says "I want to jump-start my book promotion campaign. Tell me how I can do that." But, when it comes down to it, some authors find book promotion to be rather terrifying. Pip is just one example of an author who's honest about it.

Pip writes, "Any suggestions about how to deal with all this with grace, charm and the minimum of terror would be gratefully accepted." Okay, Pip. Here are a couple of suggestions to get you started.

First, tell your book publicist that your telephone is in perfect working order, and that you're interested in using it. You do not need to be "wheeled out" to appear on radio shows. Your book publicist can arrange telephone interviews instead that you can do from your home or office (just be sure to have a land line and a quiet place for your interview, and use a telephone line that does not have call waiting on it). Think of how much more relaxed you'll be when you're in a "safe space" wearing comfortable clothes, and all you have to focus on is the voice on the other end of the telephone.

Second, expect the worst from interviewers (although you're free to hope for the best). Expect them to be too tired to be lucid. (Or expect them to be too revved up on, um, coffee, to hold a decent conversation.) Expect them to be incapable of listening to you. Expect them to know nothing about your background or your book or your Web site. Shoot -- expect them to know nothing about any author, or any book, or any Web site. And expect them to think that the confrontational interview is hugely entertaining, whether your book is about politics, abortion, gun control, or how bake fat-free cookies.

Seriously, don't expect your interviews to go well because the interviewers know what they're doing. Expect your interviews to go well because you know what you're doing. Prepare questions ahead of time, and ask your book publicist to add them to the media kit. These suggested interview questions will serve as guidelines for well-meaning interviewers. And even when interviewers aren't well-intentioned, your suggested interview questions will at least help you remember what it is that you want to talk about. Then, when the interview's questions or comments start to get silly, you can respond to the silly question or comments by bridging back to one of the questions on your list. "Indeed, there are a lot of tractors on the road around here. And, just as importantly, why do you suppose this candidate has the upper hand right now? I'll tell you, it's because...."

In other words, be prepared to guide all of your interviews into the areas that matter to you. If the interviewer helps you do that, great. If not, then take control of the interview without being obnoxious or belligerent, and take the conversation where you need for it to go.

And about that feeling of terror...see whether you can turn that rush of adrenaline into something positive. It's always a good thing to be pumped up for interviews, and to be humble enough to prepare for every interview. Remember that book promotion has a purpose. Every interview provides you with an opportunity to showcase your expertise, disseminate your messages, and win new friends and admirers.

Your book publicist wants to hear some excitement from you when he or she schedules interviews, so see whether you can feel some of that. Try it. Book Promotion can be fun, if you'll let it.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Book Reviews Are Only One Book Promotion Possibility.

Book reviews are only one book promotion possibility, and they're the book promotion strategy least likely to be successful.

It always confuses authors when I tell them that, to get their book into the print media, they must think beyond book reviews. For so many people, book reviews are the only worthwhile reason to approach the print media. Sometimes, authors feel that book reviews are the only reason to even approach the media. No book reviews, no happiness. It's even tougher when authors have their hearts set on a particular publication's book review editor and, even after garnering other book reviews, come back and say, "I simply don't understand why publication A didn't review my book. Did you remember to contact the book editor there, or did you drop the ball? Would it be worthwhile if I contact the book editor myself?"

And it's hard to convince these authors that book reviewers usually say "no" to books. They have to. They have a lot of books on their desks, and it's their job to select a handful of books to review or to assign for review. It is not their job to review every book that is sent to them.

There are tricks to finding book promotion opportunities in the print media beyond trying to garner book reviews. You can pitch yourself as an expert to beat editors. You can write an article and pitch it to the editor, and ask that the attribution include your book title. You can also write an op-ed piece and submit it with the same request.

And, certainly, do approach book review editors while bearing in mind that many of them cannot review books that have already been published. If you have the lead time that the larger publications require, and perhaps if you have available advance reader copies or galleys, then sure -- send them off to book review editors, and hope for the best.

But expect to continue your book promotion efforts long after the window of opportunity to get book reviews has closed. There are so many ways to go after book promotion in newspapers and magazines ... keep an open mind to all of them, and don't focus all of your energies on book reviewers who might just be the most overwhelmed employees at the publications that matter most to you.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A book publicist's perspective on getting published.

Sometimes, during a book promotion campaign, I run across an editor with a couple of manuscripts in the closet who takes a deep breath for courage and then asks, "are you by any chance a literary agent as well as a book publicist?"

I always take the time to offer my thoughts to anyone who wants advice on how to get published. In a nutshell, my advice is: don't.

Maybe my point of view will be clearer if I offer part of the emailed response I sent to an editor this morning:

Although I'm not a literary agent, I can refer you to the Association of Authors' Representatives. You can find them online at An agent would certainly be interested in working with your titles, particularly, if you emphasize your credentials (someone with a 35-year background in journalism would have to taken seriously by an agent).

However, my particular bias is against waiting to "be published" and to self publish. I encounter a stigma from the media not toward self-published books in general but specifically toward books that are published by a print-on-demand press (that is, iUniverse, xlibris, PublishAmerica, and so on). When authors set up their own imprint, and create their own track records in terms of quality and content -- and if they get distribution, which is easy to do when they sign up with online bookstores in addition to using a printer that is part of Ingram and which is called Lightning Source (they're based in Tennessee, and you can find them online at -- then their works are on a level playing field with those published by major houses. In fact, their books are perhaps in an even better position because self-published authors don't get tired of their books in a month or two, and they stick with them, and promote them, and that effort can pay off over the long term. There are gazillions of self-published books out there, and it's a competitive arena -- but, from where I'm sitting, it surely beats passively waiting for a literary agent to sell the book to a publishing company. Self-publishing sounds difficult and overwhelming, and it brings to mind the world of vanity publishing, but that is not what it is at all, and that's not how it's perceived. The new technologies that are available to us all have changed the landscape of publishing, for the better, I believe.

Anyway, I hope this information helps a bit. Do check out the resources I've mentioned, and let me know what you decide to do...

Agree or disagree, that's my position on "waiting to get published." As you can tell, this book publicist doesn't appreciate having to "wait" for anything. She's committed to being proactive, whenever possible, and to getting results!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Confessions of a book publicist.

When you're conducting a book promotion campaign, be professional at all times. I forgot that today with an editor, and I regret it.

The editor emailed me to let me know he'd be using one of my clients' bylined articles in his publication and to request a copy of the book cover. That was good news for my client. Every published article by my clients leads back to my clients' book websites and, potentially, brings them more readers.

What was my complaint? Unfortunately, he addressed the email to "Dear sir," and I got huffy. So I hit the reply button, and I attached the book cover .jpg to an email in which I brusquely pointed out that I wasn't a "sir," and never had been a "sir," and never expected to be a "sir," and that I prefer to be addressed as "Stacey."

There's no excuse for that. Book promotion comes first, and the fact that it was a Friday afternoon and that I'd had a long week shouldn't matter. You know the old expression, "the customer is always right?" Well, a book publicity specialist's mantra should be "the media is always right." Period.

I was wrong, and I'm confessing only so that you handle your interactions with the media -- whether they address you as "he," "she," or "it," with professionalism and a smile at all times. Even if it is the beginning of a weekend.

(My interaction with the editor was salvaged by an apology from me, by the way. He took it with good humor, and I think we'll be friends from now on. And this serves as a reminder, I hope, to be nice to everyone -- but especially to members of the media when you're in the middle of a book promotion campaign.)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I'm a proud book promotion specialist.

I'm proud to be a book publicist. I flatter myself that I come up with creative, attention-getting book publicity campaigns. I'm eager to execute my ideas and watch book promotion campaigns take off.

Promotion is whatI do for a living, and I've always been very pleased about that.

Yesterday, some jerks spoiled it for me. Here's the story, in case you missed it. In planting devices that looked a lot like bombs throughout Boston, Massachusetts, these marketers terrorized everyone in, and around, the Boston area (and beyond); caused a highway to be shut down and a hospital to be partially evacuated; cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars; and created panic in the streets, in office buildings, and in the subway system.

The judgment of these marketing gurus was in the toilet. As far as I'm concerned, the only message they've spread clear and strong is that they belong in jail, and if they ever get out, all the rest of their lives should be devoted to making up for the harm they caused.

Today, I am ashamed to belong to the same profession that these marketers belong to. But something good may come from this experience. Perhaps it will serve as a reminder to all promoters as a reminder that, no matter what you're publicizing, the key to success is to always put integrity, common decency, and empathy first. Treat the Golden Rule as though your business -- and your freedom -- depend on it.

As we'll see (I fervently hope and expect), those promoters who lose sight of what's important lose their businesses and their freedom faster than you can say, "I'm not watching that cartoon -- ever."