Thursday, October 18, 2007

The type of book promotion nobody wants.

As an author, you're hungry for media attention...but not the type that political analyst Jon Keller received from the Boston Herald today. According to the Boston Herald, Keller may have used without attribution quotations from a variety of print sources in his new book, The Bluest State.

Keller is a high visibility media personality in the Boston area. He has a regular gig as a political commentator on television and radio, and he's a regular contributor -- interestingly enough -- to the very publication that just outed him as a potential, well, borrower of quotations without attribution.

I hesitate to use the p-word, but that's the word that was used to describe the act of a middle school child I know who once used an encyclopedia entry to round out a homework assignment and failed to footnote that source at the bottom of her seventh-grade paper. That child came home from school crying. Jon Keller? Well, I don't know what his response to the Boston Herald's allegations are, because the paper didn't print his response.

But here's what I couldn't help but notice. To date, Keller's book (which, by the way, was published by St. Martin’s Press) has sold about 2,000 copies. That's a fair number of books for an unknown, first-time author. (Well, okay, it's not a fair number of books for anyone -- but it does at least represent the first printing of a cash-strapped publisher with very modest expectations for an unknown, first-time author.) It's less impressive a number when you consider the fact that Jon Keller is everywhere, all the time, including in many venues that have given him airtime and space to promote his book.

Everyone wants book promotion opportunities. And everyone presumes that all book promotion is good, and all media attention -- good or bad -- will eventually lead to book sales. That's what book publicists hope, too. Generally speaking.

In this case, though, we may be finding that sometimes authors get exactly what they deserve.