Monday, September 29, 2008

Paul Newman brings book promotion reality home.

It's morbid, but true. A fool-proof way to getting media coverage of your book is to do what Paul Newman did: live a heroic life, win the admiration of billions of people, and then pass away suddenly (well, suddenly for those of us who couldn't bring ourselves to believe that cancer would ever dare to mess with such a beloved, strong, and unutterably generous person). Do all those things, and your books, too, will win the book promotion that Newman's books are receiving.

Here's a Los Angeles Times article about the books that Newman either wrote, or that revolve around him. You bet: book sales are poised to soar, economically difficult times notwithstanding.

Full disclosure: This book publicist just snagged a vintage copy of Newman's Own Cookbook. Okay. I'm human. I loved the man, and I've bought his products to support his causes whenever I could (and I'm gratified to learn that Newman's charitable foundation will continue, even though the man now lives on only on film and in the hearts and memoriess of those who loved him). Here's an Asssociatd Press story that promises Newman's Own legacy will continue, and another story from on the same topic -- so I'd say we can have faith that Paul Newman's legacy will endure. I hope we can all celebrate Newman's life by trying to follow his example of unselfishness and compassion.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Brief History of Oprah's Book Club

If your book is an Oprah's Book Club selection, you will be rich and famous, and your book will be successful. Whatever book promotion you've received before Oprah chooses you will be beside the point, and whatever book promotion you garner afterwards will be irrelevant. Oprah's Book Club will be the focal point of your book's visibility, and it will be the reason why readers know who you are. offers a brief history of Oprah's Book Club written by Kate Pickert here. If that article doesn't convince you to get a copy of your book off to the producers of "Oprah," nothing will. For information about how to contact the producers of "Oprah" (or any national television show, for that matter), read my article, "May I Have Your Contact Information for the 'Oprah' Show?" by clicking here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Are you an Amazon addict?

In his blog, Andrew Crofts writes about Paranoia on the Amazon Roller Coaster. I've seen that condition, many times, in authors who are in the midst of book promotion campaigns.

The way it usually works is that an author who gets a book publicity media hit runs to the computer after a live radio interview to check his/her Amazon rank. If the rank hasn't changed, I get an email dripping with frustration. "The radio interview didn't sell any books," says the author. "What else can we do to promote my book?"

In the spirit of full disclosure, I"m not exactly sure how Amazon's ranking system works. I've heard rumors, but I don't know the facts. To the extent that Amazon's rankings reflect book promotion-related media hits, the relationship is not instantenous, nor is it permanent. I know that. The rest, as far as I can tell, is information that's more closely guarded that the Hope Diamond -- and perhaps rightfully so, since authors and publishers can drive themselves crazy by staring at those numbers, hour after hour, and trying to figure out how to change them for the better, and then how to maintain their rankings.

I always tell authors that Amazon rankings are probably a fine measure of something. The problem is, since we don't know what Amazon rankings measure, exactly, it doesn't seem to be a good investment of one's energy to focus them.

Focus on the book promotion campaign and on delivering the messages you want to convey, is what I tell authors. Get the word out. Let potential book buyers see your expertise for themselves. Woo them. Let them come to rely on you and respect your credility. Over the long haul, this focus on your mesaging and your brand usually help sell your book.

Check out Amazon's rankings, once in a while -- but not every hour, on the hour, and certainly not after every media hit when you're conducting a book promotion campaign. Checking out Amazon's numbers all the time when you're in the middle of a book promotion campaign is like weighing yourself constantly when you're on a diet. You'll drive yourself crazy, and you won't accomplish anything positive. So stop obsessing about the numbers, and remember the point of a book promotion campaign: to gain as much visibility for your book, and for you, as possible, and let people come to the conclusion -- over the long haul -- that they want to buy your book.

It doesn't always happen right away. But, if your book promotion campaign goes well, then it will happen. Have faith. And stop making yourself nuts with those elusive Amazon numbers.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Would NPR Help Your Book Promotion Efforts?

Would an appearance on National Public Radio help your book promotion campaign efforts? Every author wants to appear on such NPR shows as "All Things Considered," because that type of media hit is the making of any book promotion campaign. But how can you get past the gatekeepers at NPR?

Well, in truth, you can't. You can't slink your way past an NPR producer, because NPR producers hold all the power. You can't convince them to cover a topic that's not appropriate for them, because they receive too many pitches from too many authors and publishers to need on-air cnotent. You'll never find a less "hungry" crowd than NPR producers.

But, if you'd like to give NPR your best shot, then listen to a podcast with Carol Klinger, a booker for "All Things Considered," as she explains how she finds guests for her show, and the best ways to pitch her. Thanks, Carol, for letting us in on your secrets!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Book promotion...for altruistic reasons.

Here's the scenario: Professor R. Preston McAfee of Cal Tech is lucky enough to be featured as the author of Introduction to Economic Analysis in the New York Times -- and he doesn't stand to make a whole lot of money on the media hit. He could have. Dr. McAfee's textbook is used at enough prestigious colleges around the country that he could have received a $100,000 advance on the book from a major publisher. But he chose instead to offer his book available online, for free, to students who needed it in order to protest the skyrocketing costs of textbooks. For students who want printed versions of the textbook, they can buy one online from Lulu or Flat World for between $11 and $59.95 (I'm going to take a quick guess here that most of the revenue would accrue to the publisher as printing costs rather than provide a profit to the professor).

It turns out that Professor McAfee isn't alone in enjoying the book promotion opportunity that the Times article, "Don’t Buy That Textbook, Download It Free," provided on Sunday. Engineering professor Richard G. Baraniuk of Rice University founded a company called Connexions to allow instructors to make their textbooks and information available for free online, too. Connexions uses Creative Commons license to allow students and their instructors to interact so that students can ask questions about the information in their textbooks -- and they can receive answers.

Ordinarily, an article in the New York Times reflects one of the best imaginable book promotion opportunities for authors. In this case, the Times' article provides an opportunity for giving instructors -- and their grateful students, as well. Spend hundreds of dollars on textbooks? Why not save your money instead...and, hopefully, use it to do something good for the next person in need.

Friday, September 12, 2008

When book promotion successses makes readers unhappy.

There are times, and seasons, when a book gets too much media coverage, or when it gets media coverage for all the wrong reasons. That's when book promotion makes readers unhappy -- and when book promotion can blow up in the author's (or the publisher's) metaphorical face.

Two cases in point. First, Lynn Spears' new book about her daughter, Brittney. Once "delayed indefinitely" (at least, according to a People magazine article, which cited the fact that a younger teenage daughter had become pregnant), Spears' book is now getting so much publicity that I can't get away from it. Everywhere I click, every page that I flip, and every station that I tune into seems to be providing another book promotion opportunity for Lynn Spears. Do we need that? Not me...I was already convinced that I didn't need to hear Lynn Spears' ideas about parenting before the media became saturated with "news" about the book.

Second case: Stephenie Meyer's new novel, Midnight Sun, that was apparently supposed to be the last book in the strangely popular Twilight series. It seems that Meyer sent out a rough draft of Midnight Sun to a few people in her inner circle, and one of those "trusted" friends posted it online without permission. Meyer was unhappy enough to cancel the book's publication, according to virtually every media source that covers books including this one (in case you care to read the story again. I'll admit it. I bought a copy of the first novel in the series because I wanted to see what all the hype was about before Meyer's unpublished novel received all this publicity. Got to say: I didn't make it through the book. Maybe it was the vampires, or maybe it was the dubious characterizations and plotting -- but I gave up on it with about 30 or 40 pages to go (which is never a good sign -- especially when the someone who gives up on it is an avid reader of Young Adult novels). Anyway, Meyer may publish the novel eventually, and will all that book promoton help sales? I think it will. Sadly, I really do think it will.

So there you have it. Two books that I don't want to read, and two smashing book promotion campaigns that I wish hadn't happened.

Call me selfish, but I'd rather see book promotion opportunities go to authors whose works I respect. Oh, well.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Need promotion? Write a book.

It seems obvious to me: if you need some media attention for your company, write a book and use it as a media hook. Then again, I'm a book publicist, so I see what may not be apparent to everyone who's trying to promote a company or disseminate a message. Authors have instant credibility. If you want to promote yourself, and you have a book, great. The media will listen. If you want to promote yourself, and you lack the platform that a book provides, then good luck.

Book promotion is easy. (So says the book publicist.) Self-promotion is trickier.

Need a book? Len Stein of wrote an excellent article on the topic. Click here to read it.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Keep an eye out for book promotion opportunities

National media opportunities come, and national media opportunities go. Every new national TV show that hits the airwaves represents anoher book promotion opportunity, so stay on top of what's airing ... and what isn't.

I just read about a new television personality who wants to be the biggest thing since Oprah (here's the article). And who knows? She might just succeed. Her name is Wendy Williams, and her show has been test-marketed in just a few cities so far: New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Detroit. But, in 2009, her television show will be seen nationally.

So, while you might not make it onto the Oprah Winfrey Show, here's another book promotion opportunity for you: the Wendy Williams Show. Hey, I'll pitch her producers on behalf of my clients. This book publicist is about to do her research now and get the names, and contact information, for those producers right now!

Can your opinion buy you a book promotion opportunity?

Can your opinion buy you a book promotion opportunity? Yes, if it appears in a major daily newspaper's op-ed section.

Here's a case in point: Wendy Grolnick and Kathy Seal's cowrote an op-ed piece called "Pay to Learn Shortchanges Kids." The Los Angeles Times published the article in today's edition. The byline credits Grolnick and Seal as the coauthors of the book, Pressured Parents, Stressed-out Kids: Dealing With Competition While Raising a Successful Child.

Granted, the Los Angeles Times requires exclusivity for editorials they print. But, according to Cision Media Source, the daily circulation of the paper is 773,884. That provides quite an opportunity for book publicity! To reach 773,884 readers, it's just fine to give one of the top U.S. daily newspapers the exclusive right to print your opinion piece.

Congratulations to my clients, Wendy and Kathy! It took two days from the time we pitched the op-ed piece to the LA Times before it appeared in print. Not bad at all!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

One question before I hire a book publicist...

An author visited my site last night and was impressed by this book publicist's list of services. He just had one question before he asked me for a book promotion proposal: Do you take any responsibility for attaining any actual sales volumes for books?

No. As I told him, I'm a book publicist, not a salesperson. Book promotion is only tangentally related to book sales. Selling books is the publisher's job, not the book publicist's job.

I might have said that when book promotion campaigns are successful, and when the stars line up (that is, when you have top-notch distribution and a high-quality book), then media hits can drive traffic to book-selling venues which may result in book sales. And I might have added that, without a book promotion campaign, your book will undoubtedly languish in obscurity, unsold and -- in these days of P.O.D. -- perhaps unprinted.

But that would have served no purpose. An author who thinks that a book promotion campaign is a turnkey solution for selling books would be better off not hiring a book publicist. And an author who expects a book publicist to produce increased book sales would be difficult, if not impossible, to I'll take a pass on this project. This book publicist likes to please her clients, and she can only control what she can control.

This book promotion project would be a lose/lose proposition.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Books benefit from strange publicity opportunity

Did you read about how Angels and Demons (by Dan Brown) and White Oleander (by Janet Finch) recently scored a book promotion opportunity? Well, here's a link to the story.

It seems that Heidi Dalibor borrowed the books from the Grafton Library and never returned them. She was notified, via mail, that she's have to either pay the library a $30 fine or appear in court. Sadly, Heidi was working that day in what was certainly an important job and was unable to tear herself away to make her court appearance. The next day, the police arrested her at home. (She must have a very, very important job at home, too, because she was too busy to put shoes on her feet to accompany the police to the station when they arrested her.)

Ultimately, Heidi's mother helpfully brought $201 to the police station to spring her daughter from prison. That included the $30 she owed in library fees and the $131 she owed in court costs. Heidi gleefully landed an appearance on NBC's "Today Show" to assure her adoring public that she'd learned a valuable lesson: she won't be borrowing books from the library anymore. Also, she endorsed both Angels and Demons and White Oleander as "good books."

Well, let's hope they were good books. She paid $201 for them. Plus, she lost all those precious hours of work time while she stewed in prison -- and in the green room -- thinking about where she'd gone wrong in life.

Congratulations to Dan Brown and Janet Finch. They didn't need the book promotion opportunity, or the endorsement, but they received both. Gee. Maybe Heidi Dalibor will start her own book club now.