Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Who needs actual newspapers for book promotion?

This really happened. A few years ago, I scored an interview for one of my clients with the New York Times. The Times reporter was nice enough to send me a link to the article which I promptly forwarded to the client.

His reaction? It was just what you'd expect -- maybe -- if you had no pride in your work. He clicked on the link, called me, and said, "So...did this article only make it onto the Web site, or is it the actual newspaper?"

How book promotion times have changed.

You've probably seen the story by now, or at least you've heard the news. The Detroit Free Press and Detroit News -- two different newspapers, apparently owned by the same company -- have been forced to save money by changing their subscription model. Henceforth, subscribers to the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News will receive their newspapers three days a week. The other four days of the week, they can read their newspapers online, provided the subscribers have a broadband connection.

What does that mean for authors and publishers who routinely pitch newspaper editors as part of their book promotion campaigns? One of the obvious points is this: If a newspaper mentions your book, whether it's an online or "actual" newspaper, take the mention and smile. Take-away number two? Keep pitching newspapers, because it will always be nice to have visibility in a newspaper -- whatever form that newspaper takes -- but broaden your book promotion campaign so that you're also seeking publicity opportunities in other media outlets.

Newspapers may be the first industry to enjoy a healing economy when the recession finally ends. Or newspapers may be as scarce as white tigers in a couple of years. In any case, book publicists, and authors and publishers who conduct book publicity campaigns, shouldn't count on newspaper exposure as the core of their book promotion campaigns. The times are changing in the world of newspapers, and the times need to change in the world of those who conduct book promotion campaigns, too -- or we'll be left with no plan when it comes time to promote books.