Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A media marriage made in heaven -- for promoters.

The two satellite radio networks, XM Satellite and Sirius, have finally merged. The name of the new network will be Sirius XM Radio Inc., and the total number of subscribers will 18.5 million. Here's the story.

For this book publicist, that's a media marriage made in heaven. XM Satellite and Sirius radio shows were always relatively easy bookings. Of course, there are no easy bookings, but some media outlets are more approachable than others, and both XM Satellite and Sirius have both been notably open to guest suggestions and even, perhaps, "hungry" for experts to fill their airtime. So how cool is it that the listening audiences of XM Satellite and Sirius will double (I presume, based on my assumption that subscribers of either former network will now be able to hear shows on both networks -- which, naturally, is the new network).

See? This is what happens when book publicists have a cup of coffee in the morning and then blog. Okay. Time to book some interviews....

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Steve Wasserman isn't happy, and neither am I.

Steve Wasserman, a former editor of the Los Angeles Times Book Review, isn't happy. According to a July 21 article in Publisher Weekly's online edition, the Los Angeles Times is cutting out its standalone book review section. Two book review editors will lose their jobs, and countless of publishers and authors will lose yet another opportunity to have their books reviewed by a credible daily newspaper.

As a book publicist whose clients' works range from mainstream to self-published, I've never relied solely on book reviews. I've always sought book promotion opportunities from a wide range of broadcast, print, and online media outlets. And, these days, the reviewers with whom I've having the most success connecting are Amazon's top reviewers -- lay people, if you will, who have become top authorities on "what's hot and what's not" in the literary world.

Okay. Times change, and the media must change, too.

Top daily newspapers have their business considerations, just as authors and publishers must watch their own bottom lines. If standalone book review sections aren't producing profits, then they must be sacrificed, along with the editors who were the lifeblood of those standalone book review sections and the authors and publishers who relied upon those standalone book review sections for book publicity.

I understand that this is all about money and not a statement about the worthiness of book reviews or a statement that literature doesn't matter anymore. I understand that.

But that doesn't make me any happier about the whole thing.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Choose book promotion opportunities with caution.

Choose book promotion opportunities with caution. This is new advice and, coming from a book publicist, it's counter-intuitive advice. You'd think that a book publicist would want authors and publishers to take advantage of every book promotion opportunity that comes their way, and to err on the side of doing any interview that might win some exposure for the book, wouldn't you?

Well, this just in. Some media personalities have such objectionable messages to disseminate that you don't want to accept their interview invitations. In short, you don't have to deal with jerks.

Case in point: Radio show host Michael Savage said, on the air, that 99% of children who are labeled "autistic" are actually undisciplined brats. Read the Associated Press's story about it here, via MSNBC.com. If a more ignorant statement than that has been uttered about any child, I don't want to know about it. Does Savage believe the nonsense he spouted, or did he just say those things to get attention? In either case, no author, no matter how worthy the book he or she is promoting, should feel the need to appear as a guest that's hosted by people who say objectionable things on the air for any reason.

Don't feel guilty for turning down a book promotion opportunity if you feel that accepting that opportunity would force you to compromise yourself. Most book promotion opportunities are worthwhile, and they can even be wonderful. But if it doesn't feel good to you, then don't do it. That is this book publicist's advice of the day.

Monday, July 21, 2008

When Hannah Montana is old news.

When was the first time you heard the phrase "Miley Ray Cyrus?" For those of us who don't have kids who are glued to the Disney Channel, and who begged for Hannah Montana merchandise or concert tickets, the answer might well be "within the year" (or, specifically, when a magazine published some "artistic" photos of her with her father that some people found troubling).

Anyway, Miley Ray Cyrus was going to be the next...well, whomever teenage singers and actors are hoping to grow up to be these days.

And now, according to a Baltimore Sun article, Miley is, like, so over. Her popularity is dwindling as other tween crowd pleasers, such as the Jonas Brothers, push her right out of the media and out of our collective consciousness.

Miley, of course, enjoyed her 15 minutes of fame. She sold lots of merchandise and concert tickets, (hopefully) saved at least some of the salary that Disney paid her, and (again, hopefully) will be enjoying royalty checks from her CDs and acting career for many years to come.

Some authors believe that if they enjoy even 5 minutes of airtime on a national television show, their lives will be changed forever. Their books will become bestsellers, and when their stay on the bestseller lists is over, they will continue to be strong sellers forever. Their careers will be made, and their futures will be assured.

That's the fantasy, but just one look at Miley Ray Cyrus and other "It" celebrities of short duration can tell you that it isn't enough. Success isn't a one-time event that happens when the producers of a national media outlet pluck you out of the crowd and ask you to appear as a guest, or as an expert, on a show or in a publication. Success is what happens when you work on achieving it, and then maintaining it, throughout your career.

Success is what happens when you get lucky and stay lucky...and, to stay lucky, you have to work at staying lucky.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Good news for me, and bad news for some cable TV subscibers

This is a day when, for one reason or another, I am finding answers to my burning questions -- well, two of them, anyway. I thought I'd share them with you.

First, I've been adding a lot of links to my Firefox toolbar. Finally, I out-linked myself. Most of the links that I wanted to show up on my Firefox toolbar, so that I could have that one-click convenience, were truncated -- and I learned, to my chagrin, that unless you're a programmer, you can't add a second toolbar to Firefox that will let you incorporate your own links (turns out, the type of toolbar that accepts links in Firefox is called a book marks toolbar, and you only get one of those unless you've taken serious geek lessons).

But there's a fix. You can expand the bookmarks toolbar in Firefox so that all of your links show simultaneously. The answer? An add-on, available from Mozilla, called Multi Row Bookmarks Toolbar. It's free, it works, and you can download it here (you just have to sign up as a user, but I can deal with that).

The second burning question to which I received an answer this morning -- and it was not the answer I wanted -- was: Will I really need to rent a box from my cable TV company once the switchover from analog to digital takes place? The bad news is that I probably will, and so will everyone (supposedly) who connects their coaxial cable directly from the wall to their television set. Seems that there are two conversions taking place simultaneously: the conversion of all television signals from analog to digital, and the separate (and highly annoying) conversion of only cable television signals to digital cable television signals.

In a nutshell, everyone who wasn't impressed when the local cable company offered an upgrade to digital service will now have to get impressed -- or live without television-watching capabilities. The latter could be a tough road for a book publicist to traverse. Can you imagine booking an author on "Oprah," and then not being able to watch it? Or imagine not being able to keep up with the new shows on TV?

Or, from the author's perspective -- imagine getting on "Oprah" and not being able to view it? That won't work!

So all cable TV viewers will soon become digital cable TV watchers (read about it here). That will mean renting a digital converter box from the local cable TV company. And that will also mean hooking up the digital converter box to the TV set and the DVD player and the VCR, and figuring out how to use a new remote control, and probably putting up with several additional indignities and inconveniences that I haven't even thought of yet.

So it's off to get a digital converter box from the cable company. And I thought I could avold that hassle.

Oh, well.