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.