Thursday, November 13, 2008

Proofread book promotion materials.

Proofread book promotion materials. All book publicists, and everyone who promotes a book, does that automatically. Media kits are proofread from top to bottom, multiple times, before you stuff them into Jiffy bags with books and send them on their way. Media kits that are riddled with typos lose credibility (just as books would, if they were similarly afflicted), and they're likely to end up in the trash. We don't want that, so we take the time and make every effort to prevent that from happening.

However, the Internet is far less forgiving than any other medium. Paradoxically, we tend to be far more casual about proofreading when we use the Web to disseminate our book promotion materials.

So much of the time, we're sending out email pitches, and you know the problem with email. It's so immediate that we devalue it, and we're so quick to hit "send" that we often don't take the time to proofread each message before it goes out. Plus, we can be cocky. I know I can be cocky. I was practically born with a keyboard extending from my fingertips, and my accuracy has always been decent ... so I can send off email pitches with impunity after giving them a casual once-over most of the time. Ah, but it's the other times that are the problems. I know, from experience, that producers and editors hold onto my email pitches. Sometimes, media decision makers respond to my emails months, or even years, after I've sent them a particular pitch. Can you imagine finding a typographical error in an email that you sent 18 months ago, and that a reporter has held onto all that time? Not good.

Similarly, it's so easy to publish materials online that we think almost nothing of letting press releases and even blog entries "go live" after giving them the most perfunctory double-check. But ... no one is perfect, and you don't know "awful" until you've found a typo you created memorialized -- forever -- all over the Web.

Typos don't help your credibility, and they don't add credibility to your book promotion campaign. So learn from a book publicist who's been there. Proofread. Make the time. Use a dictionary; don't rely on your spell-checker.

Once Google finds your typo, your typo takes on a life of its own. Google believes (and, consequently, people who use Google believe) that you're uncaring, illiterate, lazy ... and you can't prove differently.

Try telling Google that you've found the typo, and you've fixed it. Impossible. On the Internet, metaphorically speaking, your book is always in its first printing, because that first printing is always archived and available. Typos are forever, and so is remorse.

So take the time to proofread before you publish book promotion materials and blog entries. It's worth the time you put into it.