Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Visibility for your book: the good news and the bad news.

In trolling the Web, I found good book promotion news and bad book promotion news. Let's start with the bad book promotion news.

According to a MediaBistro article, "The More Book Critics Change, The More They Stay the Same," the state of the art in book cricism is what I like to call the Oprah's Book Club Syndrome -- that is, if you're John Steinbeck or Pearl S. Buck or Sidney Poitier, then you'll receive all the visibility you could want for your book. On the other hand, if you're an unknown author, you have to work a hundred times harder for book promotion opportunities.

Now, according to MediaBistro, the National Book Critics Circle has fallen into the same rut. The NBCC has asked 500 people to recommend books and, of course, those 500 people are recommending books we've all heard about already. So we're all reminded to go out and buy Philip Roth's latest book and, of course, that's not newsworthy, and it's not necessary. Roth doesn't need book promotion opportunities. And those who do need book promotion opportunities, MediaBistro's article seems to rub in, are not going to get those book publicity opportunities from the NBCC anytime soon.

That's the bad book promotion news.

Now for the good book promotion news.

In a recent article called "Crossover Dreams: Turning Free Web Work Into Real Book Sales," the New York Times tells the tale of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, a children's book that began its life as a free online publication and that, subsequently, was acquired by Amulet, an imprint of Harry N. Abrams. The Times points out that the book already has sold 147,000 copies even though the publication is still available for free at Funbrain.com.

Publishing your work for free online, the Times tells us, can lead anywhere, including -- just possibly -- to a lucrative book contract. If you find an audience for your online work, and a publisher notices you, then this type of "overnight success" can happen to you. The opportunity to turn online publication success into real-world publication success is available to everyone. You don't have to be a household name, and you don't have to be the winner of literary prizes. You can just be a brilliant online publisher who scores a lot of book promotion buzz, and who knows what can happen?

That's the good book promotion news, and -- as this book publicist continues to dig out from the weekend's snowstorm -- it's just what I needed to read this morning.