Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Be a Kennedy, or Just Publish Like One.

A client with a self-published book asked me the other day how he could get a mainstream publisher interested in taking on his book. Turn your book into a bestseller, I told him. Then the publishers will pursue you. Otherwise, find a literary agent...and good luck.

The rule of the publishing industry is that there's no such thing as "coming out of nowhere" and being an overnight success. A major publisher may nuture an unknown author and help that author's book become a bestseller, but it will not happen instantly. It will take consistent hard work, and the stars in the universe will have to line up in that author's favor...and then, it will still be mostly a question of luck. The best book publicist in the world can only arrange media interviews. The most successful book promotion campaign can only ensure that people know about a book. But that won't ensure that people will the a book or that a book will reach the New York Times Bestseller List.

However, rules are made to be broken, and they're especially likely to be broken if you are a name brand -- for instance, the way that Senator Edward Kennedy is. Ted's upcoming memoir (to be published in 2010) has already been covered by the Associated Press, Fox News, local newspapers, and radio stations from coast to coast. In case you missed the story, read it here. Nine publishing houses participated in an auction to buy Ted's memoir. The lucky winner was the Hachette Book Group USA.

Is that the end of Ted Kennedy's book promotion campaign? Please. Don't make me laugh. Ted's memoir will receive all the book publicity in the world, because its author is...Ted Kennedy. As the publication date nears, media attention will be Ted's for a snap of the fingers, just as an astronomical advance was his for the twitch of his magical nose.

And that is the story of Ted Kennedy's memoir -- years away from publication, and already a phenomenal success in the making. So if my client were to ask me now what he could do to interest a major publishing house in purchasing his self-published book, I'd have a different response. I'd suggest figuring out a way to marry into the Kennedy clan. Hyannisport can be a nice place to vacation in the summertime. Hey...it's on the water, anyway.