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?