Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The type of book promotion story that isn't.

When I discuss book promotion, I'm talking about working with authors, and sometimes publishers, to disseminate messages to the media. I'm talking about the reward for writing, and publishing, a book. Book promotion is supposed to be fun and creative, and it's supposed to be the payoff you receive for all your hard work. It's supposed to be a time when you're treated as the expert you are, and afforded the respect you deserve.

So I don't want to hear about book promotion ripoffs. I don't want to hear about book promotion campaigns that aren't. I don't want to hear about book promotion coaches who don't. I don't want to hear about authors who experience a nightmare with someone who calls him- or herself a book publicist.

I don't want that.

But I sometimes do hear book promotion nightmares, like this one. I don't know anymore about the situation than what the author tells us, and I don't know what the other party's position is. Perhaps there are two sides to this story, as there are to most.

But I do know that I have a hard-and-fast rule: I will consider representing only authors whose work I feel connected to, and whose books will help my credibility. That means that all prospective clients must have a completed manuscript that I can see, and must have publication plans in place. I will never agree to represent a manuscript that's in process, or a manuscript that's making the rounds of publishers.

Book promotion campaigns work only when book publicists can get behind the book. That doesn't mean that book publicists agree with the messages in every book we promote. Sometimes, we strongly disagree with them. But book publicists agree to make the authors' case during book promoton campaigns, and we agree to help find venues for the authors to give voice to their visions. Book promotion campaigns obviously cannot work when a book publicist has agreed to promote a book, sight unseen. And, even more obviously, a book promotion campaign cannot succeed when there is no published book to promote.

It's not tough these days to publish a book. It requires doing your homework to find the best publication method, and then moving forward with the information you've gleaned from books on publishing and self publishing.

And it's also not tough these days to have a successful book promotion campaign. Again, it requires doing your homework to find a book promotion specialist who is excited about representing your book and you. It means checking references. It means choosing a book publicist based on the rapport you develop with that individual.

Book promotion campaigns require an investment, and I urge potential clients to stay within their comfort zones financially whether they hire my book promotion firm or another. Book publicity is a crapshoot. You never know what book promotion opportunities you'll garner when you embark on a book promotion campaign and, presuming you garner a great number of media opportunities, you never know how well those media opportunities will translate into book sales.

Yes, book promotion is expensive, and yes, book promotion is a risk. But book promotion is supposed to be a fun gamble and an informed risk, and it's supposed to be your reward for all the hard work you've done as an author and, perhaps, as a publisher.

It is not supposed to be a nightmare, and it pains me to think that, in some cases, it can be.