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.