Friday, January 26, 2007

You Have to Love Oprah

You have to love Oprah Winfrey and her book club picks. You have to. Either that, or -- if you are promoting a book and interested in book publicity opportunities of your own -- you will drive yourself crazy at the injustice of it all.

John Steinbeck. Pearl S. Buck. Leo Tolstoy. All of these authors, wonderful and worthy (and yet deceased and beyond reaping the benefits of book promotion opportunities), have had their books selected by the most famous book club of them all.

And who is the latest author to join the ranks of the Chosen Ones? You guessed it: Sidney Poitier. According to, Oprah has just selected Poitier's autobiography, "The Measure of a Man, for her book club.

Look: a bigger Poitier fan than this book publicist you will not find. I love Sidney Poitier. Always have. Always will. I will certainly buy a copy of his book.

But is Sidney Poitier a poor, struggling writer in need of the career boost that admittance to the Book Club would provide? Hardly. Sidney Poitier needs more prestige and adulation the way Jay Leno needs another automobile.

Does Oprah have a right to choose the books for her club? Sure.

I just wish she'd get back to choosing authors whose lives would change because of Oprah's Book Club ... and who could be given the opportunity to change others' lives because of it, as well.

Blogger Claims There's No Book Promotion. Hmmm.

A Simply Audiobooks Blog entry by Sanjay took me by surprise. Sanjay asks why book publishers "don't really promote anything at all." Sanjay cites the lack of advertising as proof that book promotion doesn't happen.

Apparently, Sanjay is confusing ads for books with other types of book promotion.

Apart from the fact that you do see ads for books (in book review sections of newspapers, in trade magazines, on banner ads, all over search engines, and so forth), you certainly see authors interviewed as experts in all the media. And each of those interviews is a book promotion opportunity for the author.

Try watching television, or listening to the radio, for an hour without hearing an author mention his or her book. And try reading anything without seeing the phrase " the author of..." or "...his/her book is called..."

Doesn't happen. The media is hungry for experts, and experts answer the calls for interviews because they have something to sell: their services, their goods, or their books.

Sanjay is right about one thing. You don't hear a whole lot of radio or television commercials for books. Then again, you don't have to. Authors -- because they are authors -- have opportunities to promote their books on radio and television for free all the time. Why, then, would they pay for book promotion opportunities that they can get for free (or for the price of hiring a book publicist)?