Thursday, February 21, 2008

"If it ain't broke, break it."

This is only tangentally related to book promotion, but since it affects those of us who want to continue to watch television with our lower-tech TV sets after the Digital TV Revolution overthrows the Analog TV Regime (or something like that -- sadly, the details escape this book promotion specialist), I'll share what I just learned.

The NTIA (The Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration) is offering up to two discount coupons for each TV-watching household for digital converter boxes for its much-hyped Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Coupon Program. So, if you still want to watch television on your less than state-of-the-art TV set after the Revolution -- and you'd like a discount coupon from the government to help you pay for this privilege -- then you can call the FCC's Digital Converter Box Hotline at 1-888-388-2009. Alternatively, you can click here.

If you're far braver than this book publicist and want to try to figure out what in the world the Digital TV Revolution is all about, and how it will/won't/may affect your television-watching life, then click here.

If anyone can wade through all that information and make sense of it, I invite him or her to pass along the geek-free details here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Are book tours part of your book promotion strategy?

If conventional book tours (as opposed to online book tours) are a part of your book promotion campaign, then you might want to consider memorializing your book tour stops on The site allows fans who are in the market to go to book signings to connect with authors who will be in the neighborhood as part of a book tour.

You can read more about the site and its benefits here, at author Connie Briscoe's site. As Connie implies, one of the site's fringe benefits is that it lets search engines know about your book tour by getting your book's title "out there" on the Net. So not only do authors get to connect with their fans through, but they also get to connect with search engines. And is free (at least, it's free for now).

So, if you are using book tours as part of your book promotion strategy, why not take a look at You have nothing to lose, and who knows? You might even bring a few extra people into your book signings.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Book promotion ups and downs.

Book promotion ups and downs: every author who has ever engaged in a book publicity campaign can tell the same story. This particular tale belongs to a blogger whose blog is called Shoshanahala's Weblog. Check out the experiences of a first-time nonfiction author here.

To veteran book promoters out there, does any of this sound familiar? Any thoughts about which is less stressful: television or radio interviews?

Friday, February 15, 2008

As Judge Judy says....

Say what you will about Judge Judy Sheindlin's shortcomings as a gracious and kind adjudicator, but she's inarguably right about at least one thing: when you tell the truth, you don't ever have to worry about getting your story straight.

I was reminded of that as I read the news reports of Roger Clemens' and Brian McNamee's recent testimony at the Congressional hearings. Both of them, according to all the sources I checked, looked and sounded suspiciously as though they were, at best, covering up something and not telling the whole truth.

There's a lesson in here for authors who are promoting their books and granting media interviews as part of their book promotion campaigns. If you want to look and sound credible, keep your answers simple and above board. Be sure your pitch is honest, too. Using a headline such as "Local author has just discovered a cure for AIDS" may get you the interview, but it will also earn you instant animosity when the reporter or host finds out it just isn't true.

Be honest. Always. Tell the truth, and present yourself as you are -- nothing more, and nothing less.

Hyperbole isn't your friend. Stammering, pausing, and twitching nervously while you try to figure out which version of the story you're supposed to be sharing with the media is the enemy of a successful book promotion campaign. And it wouldn't score any points with Judge Judy Sheindlin, either.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Do you want to know how important radio is? Think: Jess Cain.

Do you want to know how important radio is to listeners? Here's how important it is.

A friend left a voice mail message for me this morning at work. It said, "Jess Cain died." And I started to sob.

So who was Jess Cain? If you have to ask, then you probably didn't live within range of the old WHDH-AM Boston-area radio signal anytime between 1958 and 1991 or, if you did, then you probably weren't an early riser.

Jess sent me off to school each morning. He was the first person to talk to me when I awoke, he was the first person to make me smile each day, and he was usually the first person to break the really, really bad news to me each morning, too (my mom actually woke me in the wee hours of a particular morning in December of 1981 expressly so that I wouldn't hear about John Lennon's murder from Jess) -- and to share the really, really good news (snow day! yay!) with me.

I still remember his last day on the air as clearly as I remember other huge losses in my life. I'm sure I have plenty of company in feeling that Jess Cain, and all those larger-than-life, local radio personalities of the time -- smart and talented, respectful and kind -- were never replaced, and never will be.

The intimacy of radio persists, though, and if authors and publishers ever question whether it's worth it to do an interview on a small radio station, this blog entry is my response. Yes. Do it. It's worth it. There's nothing as intimate and satisfying as connecting with a radio audience.

Jess was almost a member of my family. His successors (at other area radio stations -- WHDH radio doesn't even exist any longer, alas) aren't in his league, but I still feel a strong bond with some of the on-air personalities who populate the airwaves these days. They're an important part of my life, and my newsgathering, and my entertainment, and my waking up in the morning -- and they're an integral part of the lives of other members of their listeners, too. Who wouldn't want to tap into that powerful relationship as part of a book promotion campaign?

If you love Jess Cain, the way that I do, you might want to read about him. Click here to do so at the Boston Globe's Web site.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Free eBook, anyone? An experiment in book publishing.

Free eBook download, anyone? Or would you just like to read part of a book online at a really great discount (it would have to be at a really great discount if you only get to read part of the book, obviously)?

Well, they're doing it again. Yes. Two major publishing houses, HarperCollins and Random House, are making some of their novels available online either for free, or nearly for free, to entice people to read for recreation. Here's an article from Guardian Unlimited Books that will tell you all about the experiment.

Is it naive of this book publicist to believe that HarperCollins and Random House are trying a little bit too hard to entice people to read their books? I mean, how many of us who work in, and around, the publishing industry balk at the idea of reading books?

Okay, okay, I know. I've read the statistics, too. People aren't reading now as much as they used to. But do we change people's reading habits -- and, not so coincidentally, do we increase book sales -- by giving away free books?

I'd hate to think we have to resort to giving away the store to entice people to read good books. And what if people just don't want to read novels online? Is that supposed to tell HarperCollins and Random House that novels are dead?

I don't even want to think about what will happen if this book publishing experiment fails.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Going first class?

Is anyone going first class? If you're mailing your book promotion materials via first class mail these days, then it's time to stock up on the United States Postal Service's Forever Stamps. The USPS has just announced that, beginning in May, the price of a first class postage stamp will increase by a penny.

Now, I'm not petty. I won't argue a one-cent increase on an annual basis is going to break the bank for authors, publishers, and book publicists.

But I will say this. The USPS has announced that the price of a first class postage stamp will increase by a penny. No word from their spokeperson yet on what will happen to the price of flat-rate Priority mail (which I use all the time) or the rates for mailing books via media mail (which I rarely use, but still...).

Just thought I'd mention the price increases to come in May so that you can plan your book promotion mailings accordingly. If you can finish the bulk of them before the postal rate increases, so much the better for you.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Are printed galleys a thing of the past?

Well, no. You still have to print galleys if you want such industry publications as "Publishers Weekly" and "Library Journal" to consider reviewing your book. But will that always be the case?

Maybe not.

According to an article in PW Daily, Rosetta Solutions is now providing a service called netGalley that might one day render printed ARCs and galleys obselete. For now, "Publishers Weekly" is using netGalley to capture such information as press materials and promotional plans, when publishers and authors submit their books for review.

But it sounds as though stage two of netGalley -- eliminating that short print run of galleys and sending the advance review media a digital copy of galleys -- is just around the corner. That's good news for those of us who love the thought of saving trees and postage even as we increase our efficiency. But it's bad news for those publishers and authors (and book publicists) who have been slow to adapt to the online world, or who just don't want to see how the Internet relates to book promotion.

Bob Dylan was right. The times, they are a'changing. And now would be a really good time to commit to moving forward with those changes so that, at the very least, you're still in the publishing game five years down the road.

Who decides what Google sees?

What Google finds when someone searches for your name, or for your book, is key to your reputation and credibility. So who decides what Google sees? There's an article in the Technology section of called "Google Yourself—And Enjoy It" that talks about how such companies as ReputationHawk, ReputationDefender, and International Reputation Management provide damage control when your online image is compromised.

But those companies don't do anything we can't do ourselves. The most important point the article makes is that, to control what Google sees, just keep creating content. The more positive the content you create, the more positive your online reputation will be -- and the more positive an impression you'll make when others Google you. Keep writing articles and press releases, and keep creating blog entries. The positive will soon outweigh the negative -- or, at least -- the negative will be pushed off the front page of Google's results.

Online book promotion is a lot like online personal promotion. Sure, everything that's posted on the Net about your book won't read just the way it would if you'd written it yourself. But there's one way to cure that problem: get your keyboard going, and start typing. Google sees what you tell it to see. That's the good news. Take advantage of it!

Friday, February 01, 2008

A book promotion newsletter.

Here's a book promotion newsletter that I'd recommmend: Build Book Buzz. It's a free e-newsletter published monthly by Beckwith Communications. To subscribe, visit Its editor and publisher, Sandra Beckwith, can be reached through the Web site or you can write to her at sb at

Scanning an archived newsletter -- the October edition, I believe it was -- I learned a different perspective on submitting op ed pieces to newspapers, and that's a good thing. Meditating on your own strategy doesn't help you grow as a book publicist (or as an author or publisher who's promoting books); finding out how your associates have created their successes, on the other hand, opens up the possibility of doing things more effectively all the time. So thank you, Sandra, and I hope everyone who wants proven advice from a book promotion professional with a great track record considers giving your Build Book Buzz newsletter a try!