Monday, March 31, 2008

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

One of the responsibilities of a book publicist -- or of anyone who's organizing a book promotion campaign -- is to keep abreast of changes in the media. Producers, editors, and hosts come and go, and keeping up with those changes can be disheartening (as when Don Imus lands another on-air gig) or puzzling (as when Kathie Lee Gifford is hired to be part of the "Today Show" team).

Kathie Lee Gifford? The fluffy co-host of "Live with Regis and Kathie Lee?" The perky half of morning television's fluffiest, perkiest show ever? On the "Today Show?"

I'm puzzled. What could Kathie Lee Gifford bring to a news program that includes -- but doesn't focus on -- lighter features?

Well, like everyone else who promotes books, I'll find out soon, I suppose. Stay tuned....

Friday, March 28, 2008

Could blogs ever replace books?

Could blogs ever replace books in the hearts and souls of book lovers? Of course not. But will there ever be a generation that grows up without books -- favoring, instead, the chunks of information they can get by logging onto the Internet and reading Web sites, ezines, and blogs? Maybe. Check out this article on

Another survey -- this one, done in Great Britain, I'm pleased to say -- finds that young people are reading fewer books than their parents did. And how many books will their children read? That's the really disturbing question.

If young people today prefer reading blogs to curling up with a good book, then what will become of the generation that follows them? And the generation after that? And the generation after that?

Book promotion is difficult enough with all the competition for readers' attention. What will happen when the definition of "reader" changes to mean "someone who frequently logs onto the Internet and scans information that might be of interest?"

To whom will we promote our books then?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Thinking Outside the Blog: An Update

Since I last posted about Gary David Goldberg's blog entry, "WWAKD: What Would Alex Keaton Do," there have been two major developments.

To backtrack a bit, Gary David Goldberg (creator of "Family Ties" and author of the new book, Sit, Ubu, Sit) posted a blog entry on his Web site. I'm fortunate enough to be handling the online portion of Gary's comprehensive book promotion campaign.

The article moved me, and I asked for (and received) permission to "think outside the blog" and pitch the article to other media outlets. Within 24 hours, the New York Times blog, Campaign Stop, posted Gary's article. That was on March 3.

A couple of days later, on a hunch, I checked Google and discovered that the blog entry had spread virally. Blogs ranging from Politico to the Atlantic had linked back to Gary's article (as published by the New York Times blog). I published, in my previous blog entry (Thinking Outside the Blog) a partial list of the links back to the article I'd found as of a couple of days ago.

I'm excited to report that the article is still spreading around the Internet in the best example of viral marketing that I've ever been involved with. New York Magazine's Web site has linked back to the article, and the Los Angeles Times' LA Funny Pages 2.0 blog has also featured part of the article and a link back to the complete text on the New York Times blog.

And if that weren't enough, the real-world version of the Chicago Tribune ran the article yesterday, and its Web site featured the article, as well. The (Allentown, PA) Morning Call also ran the article yesterday and featured it on its Web site. And the LA Daily News is running the article this Sunday (and I feel confident that it will show up on their Web site, too).

Gary David Goldberg is a fantastic writer with an unmatched instinct for choosing topics that are current, poignant, and controversial. His work has inspired "water cooler chats" for decades. So it's not surprising that his thoughts about how an iconic character whom he created, Alex P. Keaton of "Family Ties," would vote in the upcoming presidential election has garnered a tremendous amount of interest and discussion (as of now, there are 215 readers' comments posted on the New York Times blog).

Good for him. Gary David Goldberg is a man who's earned success and found it many times over, and it's unsurprising that he's found more of it with this article. But there's a lesson for all of us to be drawn here, and that is simply this: blog! And when you think you don't have time to blog, blog anyway! And then extend your blog entries beyond the blog. See how far you can take them. You might be able to launch a viral marketing campaign of your own just because of one great piece of writing. It's hard to overlook the success this particular blog entry, "What Would Alex Keaton Do," has enjoyed.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Open letter to the National Enquirer editors

Dear National Enquirer editors:

You could publish that story, NATIONAL ENQUIRER WORLD EXCLUSIVE: PATRICK SWAYZE HAS 5 WEEKS TO LIVE, so you did. You get the glory of scoring an exclusive on a "breaking news story."

And what do members of Mr. Swayze's inner circle get?


And what do his fans get?

Sadness. And anger.

This fan didn't want to find out about Mr. Swayze's health condition from you, dear editors. She wanted to find out -- when and if appropriate -- from Mr. Swayze himself or those who are authorized to speak on his behalf.

Shame on you for depriving the Swazye family, and those who care about them, of that opportunity. Shame on you for deciding to publish what best served your purposes just because you could -- regardless of the consequences.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Thinking Outside the Blog

Why blog? It's a lot of work, and it's time-consuming, even for professional writers and those who just love to write. So why do it?

Because one blog entry -- if you think outside the blog -- can get your message all over cyberspace (and, by extension, all over the globe) just about instantly. Could that benefit your book promotion campaign?

Are you serious?

Here's an example of how it can work.

A client, Gary David Goldberg, recently wrote a blog entry called "WWAKD (What Would Alex Keaton Do)" He posted it on his personal blog on his Web site. His site, which is new, is already building a very respectable following and helping to promote his new book, Sit, Ubu, Sit: How I went from Brooklyn to Hollywood with the Same Woman, the Same Dog, and a Lot Less Hair .

The article is about how the fictional character, Alex P. Keaton of "Family Ties," might vote in the upcoming presidential election, and I think it's insightful and witty and compassionate and touching (and I'd expect no less from its author).

Because I believe in the power of "thinking outside the blog," I pitched the article as an op-ed piece to various media contacts at the same time as Goldberg uploaded it to his Web site.

The New York Times asked for (and received) permission to publish the article in their own political blog called Campaign Stops. The Times posted the article on the evening of March 3, and the next morning, there was a hyperlink to the story on the home page (with a vintage file photograph of Michael J. Fox dressed to play the role of Alex P. Keaton). As of this writing, the story has elicted 196 readers' comments on the New York Times' blog (which run the gamut, by the way, from "Who is Alex Keaton? I’ve never heard of him before" to "To see a picture of Alex P. Keaton on the New York Times is worth this article alone").

On an inspired hunch, I Googled the phrase "What Would Alex Keaton Do" this morning and found that the following Web sites -- many of which you'll recognize -- have linked to the NYT blog:
Wilshire and Washington
North American Patriot
Suburban Correspondent
Intermedia Outdoors Forums
Abram’s Nickels
Democratic Underground
Red Blue America blog

And I've begun the process of submitting a press release I drafted about how Alex Keaton might vote, and the fact that the New York Times cares about the topic, all over the Web. The release has already appeared in Google News along with a photo of the Sit, Ubu, Sit book cover.

Also, about a dozen newspapers (including one of the major dailies) from coast to coast have asked for an author's photo in anticipation of publishing the article -- both on their Web sites and in their real-world newspapers.

All that media coverage has come from one really great, well-conceived, and well-written blog entry. Granted, the blog entry was written by Gary David Goldberg, who has been a household name in many TV-watching households for more than two decades, so you might ask what Gary's success in promoting his article has to do with the exposure your blog entry is likely to receive.

Well, okay. You can say, "Forget it. No one cares about my blog entry. I'll upload it to my Web site and move on. Let's think of some more realistic book promotion strategies, please."

Or you can think outside the blog.

And who knows what might happen?

It's your choice.