Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Does book promotion take a break the last week of December?

Does book promotion take a break the last week of December?

It's tempting to think that everyone -- authors, publishers, producers, editors, reporters, book publicists, and even people who don't work in the publishing industry or the media -- has the last week of the year off, and that everyone who's in the office is playing computer games. But that's not the way it is.

Book promotion never takes a holiday.

I've booked two radio interviews, so far, this morning, and I've had a book request from an editor at a major newspaper -- so I'm headed to the post office later this afternoon. Even though one might be tempted to argue it's a holiday. And even though, here in Massachusetts, the temperature is about 15 degrees Fahrenheit. And even though it's easy to believe that nothing important will be done, by way of book promotion or a whole lot else, until the first of the year.

If I subscribed to the theory that book promotion takes a holiday, my clients would have missed two radio interviews, and possibly a newspaper hit. I'm therefore grateful to be in the office today, and I'm glad to be working on book promotion campaigns.

But on January 1, I do think book promotion might take a few hours off -- at least, for this book publicist. Not that I have any hot and heavy plans for New Year's Eve, but you do have to stay up until midnight to ring in the new decade. It's a tradition!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

This could change book promotion as we know it.

I've just read an Associated Press article via saying that, because of declining advertising dollars, free broadcast television could disappear in favor of pay-only services. In other words, in the not-so-distant future, if we don't subscribe to television networks, we might not be able to view their programming.

What does that mean to those of us who are seeking book publicity opportunities? Well, getting an opportunity to appear on a nationally-aired television show has been the Holy Grail for most book publicists, publishers, and authors for as long as I've been a book promotion specialist. That was because national television shows usually drew larger audiences than, say, a nationally-syndicated radio show, and it garnered "more eyeballs" (an ugly, but apt, phrase) than, for example, a daily newspaper.

But the reason so many of us watch the same television shows is, at least in part, because those television shows are free. A show that's aired on a cable network -- for instance, "Curb Your Enthusiasm" -- couldn't capture the audience that a show aired on a broadcast network -- say, "Seinfeld" -- could.

The smart book marketing decision has always been to target media venues so that the greatest possible number of the "right" people. Before, national television shows that aired on broadcast stations had the greatest potential for doing that. Now, who knows where the greatest number of viewers (or listeners, or readers, or surfers) will gather?

Perhaps broadcast television fans have such a strong allegiance to their favorite shows that they won't be persuaded to switch to other media outlets even when they have to pay for their old one. Or, more realistically, perhaps we have to be honest about the fact that broadcast television's potential new business model may change the way all of us conduct book promotion campaigns.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A very few books need no additional promotion.

Some books deserve as many book promotion opportunities as they can garner. Other books -- classics, for the most part -- need no further book publicity. They are an integral part of our culture, and they will always be part of our lives.

Exodus, by Leon Uris, is an example of a book that stands on its own. It's an example of a book that spawned a successful movie but, far more than that, it's an example of a book that changed lives -- and maybe the world -- for the better. I know that Exodus influenced me and changed the way I view the world.

Which is the long way around saying that I came across a sad news item just now. The Associated Press (via has reported that Yitzhak "Ike" Ahronovitch, the captain of the real-life ship that inspired the book, Exodus, passed away at the age of 86.

Ahronovitch was, and always will be, a hero. His courage, I hope, inspired people around the world to do what's right.

And, in his passing, I hope Ahronovitch inspires people to go back and read Leon Uris's amazing book and, perhaps, take another look at the movie, "Exodus."

Yitzhak Ahronovitch's death isn't a book promotion opportunity. It's a poignant event and a chance for everyone to reflect upon the meaning of "Exodus" and the message of all people (of all races, creeds, religions, genders, shapes, and sizes), the world over, who need refuge, safety, hope, and acceptance.

Isn't that, finally, the real Christmas message?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Creating a viral book promotion campaign.

Authors sometimes ask me, "Cay you create a viral book promotion campaign?" I wish I could but, by definition, a viral marketing campaign isn't something you create. It's something that happens.

Viral marketing campaigns, however unpredictable, often do share certain elements. For book promotion campaigns, some of the elements that help a campaign "go viral" are:

1. The book is good to begin with.
2. The author and his/her message is compelling, in some way.
3. There's a timeliness to the book.
4. Multimedia (a book trailer or some other type of video that can be uploaded to video-sharing sites, with YouTube chief among them) are an integral part of the campaign.

For a look at what makes a multimedia show "go viral," check out Pete Cashmore's article -- "YouTube: Why do we watch?" -- on CNNTech. Cashmore has isolated some of the reasons why we love to watch Susan Boyle's performance or even Tay Zonday's, um, singing of "Chocolate Rain." It's worth noting that Cashmore's takeaway is that it's impossible to predict when a video will go viral until we see it and decide to pass the link along to everybody we know.

And the same is true for a book promotion campaign that goes viral. Many authors would like to hire someone to create a viral book promotion campaign for them.

I wish it were possible.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Can Social Networking Jinx a Book Promotion Campaign?

Jason Pinter, writing for the Huffington Post, asks whether social networking helps, or hinders, a book promotion campaign. Can too much visibility, Pinter wonders, diminish an author's mystique and make it less likely that readers will buy his or her book?

Pinter presents both sides of the argument. He reasons that, if Steven Spielberg rejects the possibility of providing commentaries for his DVDs, perhaps literary icons should consider sharing less of themselves via Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and other social networking venues.

Perhaps the public prefers Greta Garbo's cloak of privacy to, say, Paris Hilton's public strutting. However, media consumers -- and that includes readers -- have become accustomed to public figures' revealing their inner lives. We no longer accept the talented sportsmanship of a Tiger Woods; we want an explanation of his 14 liaisons (and we're just spoiling to know how quickly Elin will divorce him, how much money she'll get in the deal, the dispensation of their home, the custody arrangement of their children, and so on).

Of course, you can argue that Tiger Woods' publicity and new infamy isn't helping him sell his brand. On the other hand, perhaps if Woods will find his redemption and repair his image through social networking.

And most authors, I hope and trust, can afford a bit more transparency than the erstwhile golfing hero. So does Pinter have a point about how too much online networking can threaten book sales? Perhaps ... but, from what I've seen, social networking -- when employed with common sense and integrity -- can be a healthy part of most successful book promotion campaigns. The bottom line: connect with your readers, and they may well decide to connect with you by reading your books. That's what so many authors are finding. And it seems as if, every day, a new author joins the world of social networking. It's evidently working.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Should you pay for book reviews?

I've just come across a blog entry titled "The Power of Book Reviewers in Book Marketing" The article calls book reviews an "investment" that authors can make in their books.

Since is a technical blog, I wouldn't expect its writer to know that which should be obvious to authors, publishers, book publicists, and other book publishing professionals: one doesn't pay for legitimate book reviews.

Unpaid book reviews can be part of a successful book promotion campaign (although it's true that book reviews are becoming increasingly difficult to get, even for well-known authors and publishers). That is why so many authors and publishers are switching to blog tours and Amazon book review campaigns as part of their book promotion efforts.

But to buy a book review isn't going to help an author's (or a publisher's) credibility. In fact, in the opinion of this book publicist, buying a book review (and, worse, boasting about it by incorporating into a media kit) marks the buyer as an amateur.

The money you may be tempted to spend on buying book reviews can be either saved or spent in other aspects of your book promotion campaign. In any case, book reviews aren't an investment. They're simply reflect a failure to understand how book promotion works.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

I've taken on a new book promotion client.

I've taken on a new book promotion client. That's usually something I don't blog about (although, these days, I sometimes Twitter about it or make note of it in a Facebook update). But, then again, this is an unusual situation. My new book promotion client is -- well, me.

I've written and self-published (using my own imprint, BPT Press, through LightningSource, a P.O.D. printer that is affiliated with Ingram) a book called 101 Microwave Mug Cakes: Single-Serving Snacks in Less Than 10 Minutes. The publication date was October 15, 2009. I've had all the help in the world with web site design (I'm in the rarified company of authors who have been lucky enough, and smart enough, to engage a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based firm called AuthorBytes), but the book promotion campaign has been entirely my own.

Here's where it's interesting to be a book publicist who is promoting her own book.

On the one hand, it's a luxury to promote your own book, because your budget and the time you put into garnering book publicity opportunities are determined by -- and only limited by -- you. So far, I haven't declined anything my book publicist has recommended. :)

I've been trying all sorts of new and cutting-edge book publicity tricks and techniques that I strongly suspected would work but, until now, hadn't had the opportunity to attempt. Also, on the traditional book promotion side of things, I've done it all: online publicity, radio interviews, print, bylined article placement, blogging, and national TV.

I'll say it now: I am in love with Rachael Ray and "The Rachael Ray Show" producers and "The Rachael Ray Show" viewers. "The Rachael Ray Show" producers were kind enough to invite me to appear on their show, and they were gracious enough to air the taped segment on December 4, 2009.

If ever a book publicist (or her potential clients) needed validation that a robust book promotion campaign that included outreach to as many media outlets as possible -- even "long-shot" national television shows, was worthwhile and could result in phenomenal exposure, my experience in promoting 101 Recipes for Microwave Mug Cakes is it. I now have "proof of concept," and I'd like to share it with you.

First, you might want to take a look at the clip of my appearance on "The Rachael Ray Show" that the show's webmaster was kind enough to include on "The Rachael Ray Show" web site. This short segment (most of which was taped in Massachusetts, before I was brought into New York to do an in-studio shoot), combined with the New York segment in which I appeared, was nationally syndicated by Harpo Productions from coast to coast at various times of the day on Friday, October 4.

Naturally, during that day, I "watched the numbers" very closely. Of course, I'm referring here to the book's rankings on Barnes and Noble online and Amazon. The book peaked at number 3 on (and has been holding steadily at number 4 as of this writing, which means that the book cover has been featured since Friday on Barnes and Noble's home page).

On Amazon, I had similar luck. My book reached a ranking of 126 and then (and this is the only sour note in my otherwise completely upbeat story) an apparent computer glitch occurred. Amazon (beginning on Friday) began to erroneously warn book buyers that the book would take between 1 and 2 months to ship. Of course, that's not the case. LightningSource supplies books to Amazon as fast as Amazon's buyers order them...but that's an issue that, I trust, I will resolve one way or another on Monday. Surprisingly, that hasn't even affected the book's ranking all that much. As of this writing, the Amazon ranking is still 351.

Traffic to the 101 Recipes for Microwave Mug Cakes web site has been phenomenal. Again, my appreciation goes out to AuthorBytes for making the site as appealing as it has and keeping up with the changes that I've requested, in real time -- along with keeping the server working even through an incredible surge of traffic!

To say that I'm awestruck by the success of my book promotion campaign for 101 Recipes for Microwave Mug Cakes would be the understatement of the year. To say that I'm humbled by it, and that it's taken my breath away, would be on target ... but neither statement would go far enough.

Although I've been a book publicist for 20 years, and I've been involved in some incredibly successful book promotion campaigns, it always takes my breath away to see a book rise from obscurity to national prominence. And, since this particular book promotion campaign involves my book -- which I wrote to amuse and challenge myself, and I self-published and have been promoting as an experiment -- it has been particularly gratifying.

I wanted to share my story now because I'm hoping you will take something away from it: if I can do it, so can you! With the right book, and the right book promotion campaign, your dream of having a successful book can come true.

I've made it happen for myself. It's been (and continues to be) a delight and a wonderful learning experience.

Now let's make it happen for you.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Usually, my blog focuses on book promotion.

Usually, my blog focuses on book promotion. For the next few minutes, it will focus on promotion for a site that promotes and sells independent book. That site is, and its owner, author Amy Edleman, just sent me an email that I'm delighted to share here:

Dear Friends and Family,

I asked for your help when I was looking for a husband...and look at how well that turned out! I'm hoping this time we can help each other. is a venue for discriminating readers to find and purchase books published and produced by the people who wrote them. In other words...GREAT HOLIDAY GIFTS!!! Llike Sundance for writers--the books you'll find at IR are special and unique....just like the people on your holiday gift list.

We're also eco-friendly. Because most IR books are Print On Demand, no trees are killed until after the books are sold.'re not just supporting some fine indie writers, you're helping the environment too.

If you find something that you like at IR, PLEASE BUY IT...and forward this email to a friend (we're offering free, first-class shipping through December 1st!).

Thanks as always for your support. And remember...
everytime you buy a book from IR, an indie writer gets their wings!

Happy Holidays!

Amy Edelman
Founder, IndieReader

PS Check out December's The Indie Reader, our monthly, online magazine, featuring iconic designer Isaac Mizrahi dishing on "The Book That Changed My Life".

The publishing industry can still surprise me.

The publishing industry can still surprise me. After all this time, I can still read an item (in Publishers Weekly or elsewhere) that floors me.

Here's a very odd development that I just found in BookSurge and CreateSpace are merging. (Remember that old joke, or maybe it's just a New England joke, about how Stop & Shop and the A & P are merging? Well, never mind.)

Anyway, I'm actually a CreateSpace author. My book is How To Market, Sell, Distribute, And Promote Your Book: Critical, Hard-To-Find Information For Authors And Publishers , and it represents my first foray into self publishing. I chose to use CreateSpace because the price was right, although the distribution was limited to my site (or selling back-of-the-room copies) and Amazon. I chose to avoid BookSurge because, although it offered better distribution than CreateSpace (was my impression, although I didn't look into it too closely, at the time), that distribution came with a cost. Besides which, I didn't need the publishing services that BookSurge offered because I was able to handle page design, editing, book cover design, and so forth in house.

So here's what amazes me. BookSurge and CreateSpace are merging, but instead of creating the obvious merger (a new BookSurge that has CreateSpace folded into it), the far more unlikely choice has been made (there will be a new-and-improved CreateSpace that now will have BookSurge folded into it).

So what does that mean? CreateSpace will no longer be free? Or BookSurge will be free (or it will lower its fees for its various offerings)? The article doesn't say, so I guess the only way to find out is to wait and see.

In the meantime, I'm puzzled. I have conducted a couple of book promotion campaigns for BookSurge projects and, unless you count the very limited book promotion campaign (limited because, again, the distribution was so limited) I conducted for my book, I've never engaged in a book publicity campaign for a CreateSpace book. I suppose that will change now ... maybe. We'll just have to see whether the new-and-improved CreateSpace offers new distribution channels for book. (As a book publicist who wants her clients to get their money's worth, I do need to see that a book enjoys some distribution beyond Amazon before I take on a book promotion project.)

So, yes, I'm surprised ... yet again ... by a choice that some publishing industry leaders have made. Surprised, but not exactly chagrined. Let's just say I'm curious to see what happens next.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Kindle or Nook? Nook or Kindle?

Which would you prefer to own (or to buy as a gift): a Kindle or a Nook? As you most likely know (if you've logged onto Amazon and to buy gifts this holiday season), both Amazon and are hyping their ereaders with all their virtual might. Both the Kindle and the Nook are featured on Amazon and's home pages, respectively. And both boast the same selling price ($259 and free shipping).

For those of us who haven't compared the Kindle and the Nook for ourselves (and I believe you'd have to "live" with both for awhile to really be able to do that), the Kindle and the Nook would appear similarly attractive to shoppers except for one key difference. The Kindle is currently available (in fact, Amazon is apparently claiming that the Kindle is outselling any of its books), and the Nook is not. A quick click from's home page to the Nook page itself indicates that the Nook, which it calls the "hottest holiday gift," is out of stock.

As someone who has spent an hour or three hunting down a Zhu Zhu Pet (don't ask), I can tell you that an item isn't much of a hot holiday gift if it's out of stock.

So I think the "Kindle vs. Nook" dilemma is solved, for now. Next up: are book lovers really ready to swap their anytime, anywhere, no-batteries-needed hard copies for an ebook reader experience?

Maybe, but this book publicist isn't quite ready to go there yet. And, for my book promotion campaigns, I'm still sending out hard copies of books instead of presuming that TV and radio producers, and newspaper and magazine editors, have ebook readers and would except a digital book from my clients.

So I'm not morally convinced that the ebook reader's time is at hand quite yet. But talk to me next year when everything might be different ... and, most likely, will be.

Monday, November 30, 2009

What's A.O. (Ater Oprah) for Book Promotion?

Here's a question that I've been pondering lately. After Oprah Winfrey's show, what will be the next hot venue for authors? An Associated Press (via article throws out a handful of possibilities: Dr. Phil, Ellen DeGeneres, Dr. Oz, Rachael Ray, and Tyra Banks. But, as the article says, one of the other national talk show hosts have the drawing power of an Oprah Winfrey. Therefore, none of the other national talk show hosts will have the same effect on a book promotion campaign as Oprah Winfrey has had.

Oprah's show doesn't end until 2012. That gives us all two more years to get Oprah Winfrey to boost our media visibility by giving us a slot on her show. Two more years ... and what happens next for book promotion campaign miracles? That remains to be seen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Book promotion has authors wearing a new hat.

According to an article in the business section of today's Miami Herald, many authors at mainstream publishing houses have become responsible for creating their own book publicity opportunities. Many traditional publishing houses, the article points out, have trimmed down their publicity and marketing departments. That means they have little time to spend on book promotion campaigns, and authors who want media opportunities frequently have to find those opportunities themselves.

And that's if authors are lucky enough to have a traditional publishing house behind their books. Most authors, of course, self publish, and those authors expect to manage their own book promotion campaigns.

As the article points out, it can be tough for authors to wear so many hats: writer, book marketer, book publicist and, perhaps, book publisher. In addition, many authors have day jobs and full-time professions (doctor, lawyer, speaker, educator, and the like). Obviously, authors also have (or are trying to have!) personal lives and to make time for their families and friends.

That's what keeps book publicists like me in business. We provide book promotion support for authors who simply can't find enough hours in the day to do it all. Book publicists are glad to help make authors' lives easier. And I'm sure authors will be glad, upon reading that Miami Herald article, to discover their book publishers aren't picking on them or purposely ignoring their book promotion needs. Economic hard times have hit the book publishing industry, and in-house book publicists are doing the best they can. Many of them are thrilled to have the support of authors and any independent book publicity help they might have. Teamwork is what book promotion is all about!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A book promotion revelation from the New York Times.

The New York Times has called Glenn Beck the new Oprah for thriller writers. There's a revelation for Oprah fans!

As a book publicist, I'm always eager to keep on top of changes in the book promotion landscape. So I'm grateful to know that, when I'm promoting a thriller, Glenn Beck's endorsement is the Holy Grail.

I haven't been this excited since I found out that Don Imus could create a bestseller -- apparently, Imus's fan base reads when it isn't listening to Don Imus (or maybe it reads at the same time as it's listening to Don Imus, but I digress).

Glenn Beck. Who would have though it. Glenn Beck.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Memoirs Can Be Book Promotion Heaven

A few weeks ago, MacKenzie Phillips and her memoir, High on Arrival, were everywhere. If there was a news-related television show, or a television talk show, that didn't have MacKenzie Phillips on as a guest at least once, then I can't imagine what that television show might be. So how did MacKenzie score an appearance on "Larry King Live," "Oprah," "The Today Show," and other national TV outlets? MacKenzie wrote -- and subsequently, talked -- about an unimaginable scandal in her own life (in case you haven't heard what that scandal is, I'd suggest you check it out here, because I don't want to be the one to break the news to you). That was all it took: MacKenzie's big revelation as well as "filler" about stardom, living in the fast lane, drug addiction, and redemption.

I'll confess to reading MacKenzie's autobiography - and then grabbing a copy of Valerie Bertinelli's memoir, Losing It: And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time (you get the pun on "One Day at a Time," the television show in which MacKenzie and Valerie co-starred as teenagers, don't you?). Ahem. Anyway, to round things off (and all in the same weekend), I bought and read a copy of Melissa Gilbert's autobiography, Prairie Tale: A Memoir. Yes, the three books had a lot in common: childhood stardom, drug-related issues, unhappiness, adult angst, and scandal. And, yes, all three of those authors had appeared all over the media to promote their respective memoirs. And, yes, I chomped my way through each and every word of them, and I found myself fascinated by every sordid word.

Which is pretty much the point made by Ben Yagoda, a journalism professor from the University of Delaware and author of his own book, Memoir: A History. In a Reuter's article, Yagoda talks about why people like MacKenzie, Valerie, and Melissa choose to write memoirs, and why those memoirs sell so well. He attributes the memoirs' popularity to two issues: first, that we love scandal (as long as the scandals in question don't involve us, personally), and second, that talk shows love to feature celebrities who write tell-all books.

So if you're a celebrity, and you write a memoir full of scandal (we can't all be lucky enough to boast about drug addiction and wasted childhoods, but surely, if you're a celebrity, you can come up with something shocking), you'll have as many book promotion opportunities as you can handle. If you're an ordinary person, then you can still shock the world with your memoir -- provided your scandal-ridden autobiography is either true or you can convince us that it's true. (You don't want to be the next James Frey, and incur the wrath of Oprah as well as your commiserating public, so do keep your scandals above board, if you can.)

In short, if you write a pain-filled memoir, and you have a shot at book promotion heaven. Not bad for sharing your innermost secrets and baring your soul to strangers. It's all for a good cause -- invitations from national media outlets and, ultimately, book sales. It's a book publicity dream come true. Think about it. And let me know when your autobiography is published. Clearly, I'll read anything of that genre. Yes, I'm an addict, too ... but, fortunately for me, my addictive tendencies are limited to reading books.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Can Skype be part of a successful book promotion campaign?

Can Skype be part of a successful book promotion campaign? Yes, it can, from what I've been reading. Webwire has an account of Cecelia Ahern's virtual book tour that represented a coordinated book publicity effort by the author, HarperCollins (her publisher), Skype, and several intrepid, forward-thinking bookstores in various countries.

The Skype virtual book tour gives Ahem a chance to connect with fans in Singapore, South Africa, German, Australia, and the UK, which is great for Ahern, and terrific for her fans, and stupendous for book sales (one would imagine).

However, note that Ahem is an internationally bestselling author.

Would a Skype virtual book tour work for a midlist author or, for example, a self-published author who's just beginning to build his or her brand? Maybe it would, but name the bookstore that would be willing to take a chance on setting up a Skype virtual book tour (it's tough enough to arrange a book signing for self-published -- or even lesser known mainstream published -- authors!).

I'm sure that Skype, and similar technologies, will strongly influence the way people connect with each other. It already has changed the way that this book publicist makes overseas phone calls.

But, although it's interesting to see how Skype virtual book tours can be integrated into book promotion campaigns, I'm guessing that world-famous authors will be in a far better position to take advantage of the book publicity opportunity than the rest of us ... now, and for a long, long time to come.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Online networking is part of your book promotion campaign.

Online networking is part of your book promotion campaign, and the blogosphere is the hub of your online book publicity efforts.

Having said that, I've only recently begun to learn just how powerful a networking tool a blog can be. I always knew a blog was a powerful networking tool, and I saw very quickly that blogs can be an important part of a book promotion campaign. But it's been hard to sell authors on blogging if they aren't blogging already because I didn't understand the mechanics of why blogging was such a powerful way of networking.

I could tell authors that, if they blogged, potential readers would find their blogs and read their messages. I could tell authors that blogs would drive traffic to their Web sites. But I couldn't tell them how it happened.

And, while I'm still a book publicist and not a blogging expert, I am learning more about how blogs fit into book promotion campaigns every day. I've been lately reading about how trackbacks and pinging work. You can check out the explanations here and here.

In a nutshell, trackbacks and pinging (but especially trackbacks) allow you to have an actual exchange of communication with other bloggers. With trackbacks, you can add your comments to others' blogs on your blog, and your comments will show up on the other bloggers' blogs as comments. So your comment is seen on two blogs: yours and theirs. That provides you with twice the visibility as you'd receive if you'd only made your comment on your own blog. Pinging doesn't double your visibility, because when you ping, your comment is posted only on your own blog. Still, when you ping about someone else's blog, that other blogger is made aware that you've referenced his or her blog in your blog -- so you've still initiated a communication with another person.

In other words, you can use trackbacks or pinging to communicate with other bloggers. That means trackbacks and pinging increase your capacity to network, and networking is the name of the game when it comes to online book promotion.

I hope you'll give it a try and see how it works. Blog about it. You can then use trackbacks and pinging on your own blog to let me know .... and I can root for your book's success with you!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bylined Articles and Op-Eds for Book Promotion

As part of a book promotion campaign, you can write bylined articles and op-eds, disseminate them, and gain visibility through your byline (which can include your name, the name of your book, and your URL). I've had great luck in placing bylined articles and op-eds for authors, but it's far easier for me to get mileage out of a bylined article. There are so many ways to leverage bylined articles. They work as filler in weekly (and even daily) newspapers, magazines, ezines, authors' Web sites, sites that revolve around the articles' topics (for example, a parenting article might fit in on, and web sites for articles and even news stories.

The trick to conducting a successful bylined article campaign is to choose a topic that's general enough to fit in almost anywhere but somehow relates back to your book. That's an art, not a science, by the way, but it gets easier with practice. The second trick is to use a proven format for writing bylined article. My clients (and, the book publicist shamelessly says, I have many who are taking advantage of my $495 bylined article campaigns and am open to taking on more, if the topic is right) receive my writing guidelines as well as sample articles.

Bylined articles are something that works for nearly all authors who, of course, are great (and often prolific) writers and can adapt to a variety of writing styles. Because getting pickup for a bylined article is relatively easy (compared to, say, arranging an interview with a media outlet), I tout bylined article placement campaigns as an integral part of book promotion campaigns. In addition, I can begin bylined article placement campaigns even before a book's publication. A bylined article placement campaign opens the window of book promotion potential before the publication date, and keeps it open once the publication date is long past (sometimes, even many years afterwards).

Once you sign on as a client, I make my writing guidelines and sample articles immediately available to you, and I typically schedule a byline article placement campaign within two weeks of receiving (and approving) your article. Clients' articles recently have landed in the Huffington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Christian Science Monitor. Where could your article land? Better still, who should know about your book ... and who should be clicking on the link to visit your Web site? Click here to find out more.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Too much information about television talk show hosts?

Can you have too much information about television talk show hosts? Those who are involved in book publicity efforts wouldn't think so. Getting book promotion hits requires knowing your venues -- listening to the radio show, reading the newspaper column, watching the television show, and knowing the preferences and, yes, the eccentricities of each host or editor or journalist so that you can play to them.

But from MSNBC comes an interview Rosie O'Donnell that, if you ask this book publicist, provides just way too much information about Rosie and Oprah. Way too much.

I always look for tidbits about the media that will help me in my book promotion campaigns. But do I need information about hosts' relationships? Not so much, is my personal opinion.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Boston Book Festival Is Alive and Well

Even in this scary time for those of us who work in the book publishing industry (and for those of us who handle book promotion), the Boston Book Festival is alive and well. Or so say the organizers of the event. Check out the piece about how the and Amazon price wars, and other oddities, have affected the Boston Book Festival -- or not -- at the Boston Globe's site.

Monday, October 05, 2009

When publishers won't blog

Here's an odd story, and it comes from the Huffington Post. In an article called "Bound and Gagged: Publishers Remain Silent," the Huffington Post reveals that it asked publishing professionals to contribute to a new Books section, and most turned down the opportunity.

As a book publicist who'd probably give up several of her favorite limbs (or, at least, we could negotiate) for the opportunity to contribute to the Huffington Post's new Books section, let me just say this: any publisher who turns away the opportunity to become a Huffington Post blogger is snubbing a chance to reside in book promotion nirvana. I don't get it.

Can it be that there are still book publishers out there who don't see the relationship between blogging and book promotion? If that's the case, I can't imagine what it will take to make book publishers see the light. To say they're behind the curve is an understatement. I think it's far more accurate to just use the adjective "clueless."

Oh, well. Huffington Post editors, if you ever need another blogger, here I am. I understand and appreciate the value of your venue. And I'd be the last book publicist in the world to turn away the world's most perfect opportunity for promotion.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This book publicist wants her newspapers!

Rumors of newspapers' death have been greatly exaggerated. Daniel Lyons penned a Newsweek column, "Techtonic Shifts," in which he gloats about the demise of newspapers. Lyons would like to see newspapers die quickly so that we can all get our information online, and he boasts that he's already cancelled two of his newspaper subscriptions.

Well, Lyons may be right about one thing. Newspapers do appear to be on a downward spiral. More of us seem to be catching breaking news through the broadcast or online media, and an increasing number of people are using handheld devices to carry around with them all the information they'll need throughout the day. The role of newspapers is changing, and it would be impossible to deny that.

But a changing role doesn't necessarily mean death. The emergence of television didn't mean the death of radio. The coming of television didn't mean the death of film. Media find different niches as new media emerge, but that doesn't mean they become irrelevant or inconsequential. It just means their roles change, and we rely on them for different reasons.

I'm a huge fan of slowly reading the Sunday newspapers over a cup of coffee and breakfast. And, when I say "Sunday newspapers," I do mean the paper goods. I want to turn the physical pages, and I want to pull out the actual sections, and I want to clip actual articles. I've incorporated Sunday newspaper-reading into my Sunday ritual, and I would be bereft without that ritual. Sorry, but hauling my breakfast in front of a computer monitor, or laying my food out beside a hand-held gadget, just won't fill that void. This book publicist wants her newspapers!

I'll get some type of e-reader, eventually, and I do look forward to reading certain types of information on this gadget. But I don't think my e-reader, whatever type it turns out to be, will threaten my newspaper subscriptions. The price of my newspaper subscriptions might threaten my newspaper subscriptions -- that's a whole separate issue -- but, as long as newspaper subscriptions are affordable, I can justify them. And want them. And expect to continue them...and, certainly, do not expect to see the opportunity to enjoy them die just because pundits such as Lyons say they must.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sometimes, any book publicity can be too much book publicity.

They say that all book promotion is good book promotion, and I used to believe that, but here's a story that's changed my mind. Raise your hand if you wanted to know that John Phillips (founder of the Mamas and the Papas, who sang so lightheartedly and harmoniously about how "California dreamin' was becoming a reality" back in the sixties) raped his drug-addled daughter, Mackenzie Phillips, and that rape eventually devolved into a "consensual relationship."

Mackenzie is all over the media -- Oprah, People, CNN, and much more -- airing unspeakably horrible stories about her father, her own arrest for possession of heroin at an airport, and the like. All of those media appearances are the Holy Grail for authors, publishers, and book publicists. I mean, who doesn't see an appearance on "Oprah" as the greatest book promotion opportunity of all time?

But my original question was: do you really want to know that John Phillips daughter, who played the elder fictional daughter on a Norman Lear sit-com called "One Day at a Time," has lived a nightmarish life? Do you honestly want to see the details of that nightmare?

I suspect that, for many of us, some nightmares are best left unexamined, and Mackenzie's media blitz may be an example of wasted book promotion opportunities. I'm a huge fan of the Mamas and the Papas, and I don't think I missed an episode of any series Norman Lear ever produced, but Mackenzie's story (true or not) is not on the list of those I'd want to read. I have to believe I'm not alone.

No one's denying a former child star the right to catharsis, and I hope Mackenzie is on the road to recovery and health. But buy her book? I don't think that's going to happen for me. I don't even feel moved to mention the title of it here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Amazon has recently implemented a policy change that may or may not affect all of us in the publishing industry. I can't quite figure out what policy Amazon is changing, however, and I've been scratching my head over this for two days. I've now read three articles on the subject (here's one article from LibraryThing itself), and I'm no wiser than I was before.

Here's the part that I think I understand. LibraryThing is moving book-buying links to all booksellers besides Amazon from its main pages to subsidiary pages. It's doing that, if I understand correctly, because Amazon will no longer share information with any subsidiaries that have links to booksellers other than Amazon on their home pages.

Here's the part that puzzles me, as a book publicist. All of my clients, it would be fair to say, have web sites (authors and publishers should know, at this point, that book web sites are an integral part of any book promotion campaign). And most of them -- not all of them, but most of them -- work with multiple booksellers and link to them on their web sites. What does Amazon want from these authors? Does Amazon want these authors to only provide book-buying links to Amazon on their sites? Well, yes, I'm sure they want that. But does Amazon's policy change mean that authors will be penalized if they include book-buying links to, say, Borders and on their sites?

At first blush, I'd say that authors' web sites will not be affected by Amazon's policy change. I say that because an author doesn't have to be an Amazon affiliate in order to have a book-buying link to Amazon on his or her web site. Authors can put generic links to Amazon on the home pages of their web sites (or, for that matter, on subsidiary pages), and then they'll be flying under Amazon's radar -- I think. However, I don't know for sure. I don't know for sure that authors would be penalized by Amazon for having book-buying links to booksellers other than Amazon on their home pages if they catch Amazon's attention -- say, by having a bestselling book.

I can't make sense of Amazon's policy change, and I'm wondering whether anyone can. Is Amazon acting like a toddler who needs to test his/her limits, or is it actually setting sensible policy rules? That probably remains to be seen.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Scary stuff.

When the Wall Street Journal publishes an article called "Booksellers See Savior in 'Symbol,'" that's scary stuff. Why do booksellers need a savior, wonders this book publicist? Have booksellers so hurt by the recession and the evolution to ebooks that they'll only survive if one book sells phenomenally well?

Typically, I'd say that the article's headline is hyperbolic, but typically, the Wall Street Journal is one of the publications that's not guilty of exaggeration.

The WSJ is arguing that, because of all the book publicity that Dan Brown's latest work has already received, and will continue to receive, that it's poised to sell well enough through the holiday season to keep booksellers on track. Really? Dan Brown is that important to the survival of the bookselling industry?

Hmm...that is scary stuff, indeed. No single book (or publisher, by the way) should have life-and-death power over booksellers. Also, it goes without saying that no single book, publisher, or author should have that might control over the future of the publishing industry. The publishing industry is made up of too many authors, publishers, books, book publicists, editors, designers, marketers, distributors, wholesalers, and booksellers -- and readers -- to let one particular project determine the future of the whole world of books. At least, that's what I've always believed and experienced. Perhaps the Wall Street Journal is onto something...but -- with all due respect -- I hope that, just this once, it's wrong.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Love book promotion, but hate to stuff envelopes?

Do you love the results of your book promotion campaigns, but hate stuffing envelopes and working out the logistics of mass mailings to the media to promote your book? Then you'll be delighted to read yet another article that says ebooks are making steady inroads in the industry and predicts that, by the year 2014, 20% of all books will be ebooks.

Book publicists, and those who conduct book publicity campaigns, will be delighted about that evolution to digital books if it actually comes to pass. How cool and easy will it be for book publicists to beam an ebook at a producer, editor, producer, or hosts who requests a copy of the book? How great will be when, instead of spending hours stuffing envelopes and lugging them to the post office, book publicists can send out emails to the media saying "click here to download the book?" Count this book publicist in! If it's quicker and less expensive, and gets great results, every book publicist should be excited about the opportunity to upgrade to ebooks -- at least, for promotional copies.

Sounds to me as though the only losers are postal service employees and those who work for those companies that specialize in overnight delivery of packages. It would be unspeakable to see jobs lost and an industry that's already hurting lose yet another source of revenue.

So I'm sending my good wishes out to workers at the U.S. Postal Service, UPS, and Fedex...while sincerely hoping that, somehow, ebooks can do good without doing harm. If that's possible...then this book publicist is on the side of progress.

Friday, September 11, 2009

David Letterman Show may be a liability for Seinfeld

Jessica Seinfeld has been cleared of plagiarism charges leveled against her by Missy Chase Lapine, a cookbook author. Turns out, Seinfeld didn't need anyone's help to figure out how to sneak carrots into spaghetti sauce, or whatever it is that she endorses in her cookbook, Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food.

So Jessica Seinfeld has been vindicated, but her husband, the inimitable Jerry ("Master of the Domain") Seinfeld, sort of wrecked everything by making a comment about Lapine (he figured out how to compare her to Lee Harvey Oswald, apparently) on the Letterman show. Now the family Seinfeld could be in for another lawsuit -- this one, because Jerry turned what could have been a book promotion (for his wife's book, but still) on David Letterman's show into an opportunity to further ruffle the feathers of Ms. Lapine.

Those of us who followed Jerry's sitcom knows how this story is likely to end: four old friends, sitting in a jail cell, bickering with one another while simultaneously figuring out how to sneak some veggies into the prison food.

Ah, Jerry. Jerry, Jerry, Jerry. Leave it to you to turn a book promotion opportunity into a potential fiasco. What are we going to do with you, my friend?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Blogs are alive and well as part of book promotion campaigns.

You want people to know about your book Web site, so you need to drive traffic to your book Web site. It's part of your book promotion strategy.

That's why blogging has been part of your book promotion strategy for so long. You blog, and -- assuming your blog lives on the Web site for your book -- visitors (and potential book buyers) come to your site.

But with the rise of social networking venues such as Twitter and Facebook, has blogging become irrelevant to a publicity campaign? No, according to the pundits at Webpronews. In fact, the writer Chris Crum cited the case of which sells household goods directly to consumers and bypasses retailers as an example of a site whose traffic comes primarily through the word-of-mouth created by bloggers.

Granted, isn't a book Web site, and household goods don't include books. However, the principle still applies: blogging creates buzz, and creating buzz is the goal of every book publicity campaign.

So if you're tempted to switch from blogging to micro-blogging, wait awhile. The time may come when distilling your messages to 140 characters is the only way to go ... but that time isn't here yet.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Death by brain tumor is a lousy way to get book publicity opportunities.

Death by brain tumor is a lousy way to get book publicity opportunities. But it is one way to do it.

You may have heard by now that the first print run for Senator Ted Kennedy's posthumous memoir is -- are you sitting down? -- 1.5 million copies. That's not a typo. Hachette Book Group actually is printing 1.5 million copies of a memoir.

I found that memoir in the news three times this morning without even trying -- once in the newspaper I was reading with my coffee (the Boston Herald), once in the online version of the Washington Post, and once on MediaBistro. If I'd spent 3 minutes proactively looking for mentions of True Compass, I would probably have found 20 of them.

And do you want to hear the strangest prediction? I'll bet those 1.5 million copies of Ted's memoir will sell. They'll sell not only because of all the book promotion the memoir will receive, but they will sell because of the respect we have for the senator. They will sell because of the grief we feel because of his passing. Finally, they will sell because who in the world doesn't want to know what Ted Kennedy has to say about JFK's assassination, and how it really felt to lose two brothers to those maniacs?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Dying for book promotion opportunities can backfire.

Dying for book promotion opportunities can backfire. Of course, the authors of Brave New World and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe had plenty of book publicity opportunities before they went to meet that fabled Great Publisher in the Sky. However, the demises of Aldous Huxley and C.S. Lewis faded into the background because of their lousy timing. According to an eerie Newsweek article (that notes the irony of Dominick Dunne's passing occurring at about the same time as the world went into mourning about Senator Edward Kennedy (you remember how hard Dunne lobbied to get justice for the extended Kennedy family member he presumed responsible for the death of young Martha Moxley), Huxley and Lewis plummeted from the earthly bestseller lists (so to speak) by dying on the same day as President Kennedy was assassinated. Plain and simply, that was rotten luck for them if they'd hoped to someday see their obituaries on the front page of the New York Times.

Self promotional opportunities are great. But, as most celebrities have learned, they're not worth dying for. Poor Groucho. Who even remembered that he started entertaining Heavenly audiences at the same time as Elvis made the leap to that performance venue?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I've touted Wikipedia as a book promotion tool.

After reading a PC World article called "The 15 Biggest Wikipedia Blunders," I'm not so sure that I want to recommend Wikipedia for book promotion any longer.

Can a book promotion campaign thrive without the inclusion of a Wikipedia entry? Well, it's beginning to seem as though it could -- especially in light of the fact that Wikipedia (according to the PC World article) reported that Ted Kennedy had passed away in January. We know, from this week's wall-to-wall Ted Kennedy coverage, that the awful event didn't take place until the wee hours of Tuesday morning -- that's Tuesday morning of August, not January. (You can see the updated Wikipedia entry for Ted Kennedy, which now appears to be correct, here.

Wikipedia is making changes about how, and under what circumstances, edits can be made on its entries. That may help the veracity of its information, in the long run.

But for the short term, I'm not sure that I'd count on Wikipedia's entries to be a focal point of a book promotion campaign. Perhaps I'd still recommend that it be a part of a book promotion campaign, but two bits of advice about using Wikipedia as part of your author promotion strategies. First, don't write your own entry or Wikipedia will cite it as "suspect" and possibly delete it (unfortunately, a Wikipedia entry that I created for myself was flagged as suspicious and biased, and I wish someone had told me that might happen ahead of time). And, two, ask whomever posts your Wikipedia entry to save your original copy in case someone edits it and you must revert back to the original.

Follow those steps, and then move beyond Wikipedia to promote your book online. There's a whole world of online book promotion opportunities out there!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


There's really only one topic in the media this morning -- in Massachusetts, anyway, and probably in all of the United States.

Ted has found peace.

The world (and, naturally, the media) has stopped to mourn and pay its respects to the man and the senator (and, of course, the Kennedy family member).

There's no good news here. There's no good news for Ted, Ted's family, Ted's friends, and Ted's constituents. There's not even any good news for Ted's political opponents. There's no good news for President Obama and his family (who were supposed to be on vacation this week -- oh, well).

And there's certainly no good news for book publicists, or for authors or publishers who are orchestrating book promotion campaigns right now.

When time freezes, the media revolves around one thing and one thing only. Today, and for the rest of this week (at the very minimum), it will be our loss of Senator Edward Kennedy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Nakedly seeking book promotion opportunities.

Are you nakedly seeking book promotion opportunities -- literally? Here's a tale, in MediaBistro, about one author who was.

The author was David Seaman, and his book was called Dirty Little Secrets of Buzz. Seaman's idea of a brilliant book promotion campaign was to vow to run naked through Times Square if he failed to sell a certain number of books.

Since MediaBistro references an interview that Seaman did with CNBC's program, "Funny Business," we know that Seaman's book promotion campaign consisted of outreach to the traditional media (even if it revolved around a promise, or threat, to streak through Times Square). So Seaman's book promotion strategies weren't solely about finding a gimmick and pursuing it until the joke had lost its punch.

Well, this book publicist is pleased to see that some authors are trying some creative book promotion strategies...and, frankly, is even more pleased to see that the success of book publicity gimmicks usually will be eclipsed by the efforts of audacious book promoters who get in front of the media (or work their social networks) to disseminate their messages and share their viewpoints and expertise.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Change is good, says the book publicist.

Change is good, says this book publicist and self-admitted kids' book fanatic.

I love kids' books and young adult novels. I really, really love them. You know the old question about which three books you'd bring with you to a deserted island? That's a no-brainer for me. I'd choose Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Author's Day by Daniel Pinkwater, and A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass. And, if I had any leftover room in my luggage, I'd grab copies of anything by Judy Blume and stuff more Pinkwater inside, too -- as much as I could fit. Then I'd round out the suitcase with E.B. White, Margaret Wise Brown, Beverly Cleary, Dr. Seuss, and all the Curious George books.

And then I'd be depressed that I'd left behind so many of my favorite books, but what can you do? A deserted island is only big enough to hold so many books. An ebook reader, on the other hand, can hold gazillions of books, and that's why I was so tickled to read this Publishers Weekly item about ScrollMotion, a new children's ebook reader application for the iPhone.

Granted, there's nothing like holding a hard copy of The Runaway Bunny or The Cat in the Hat in your hands as you're drifting off to sleep (or trying to put your felines to bed for the night so they won't tear up the place trying to catch Martians, or whatever it is they do). But, as a book promotion specialist and publishing industry professional, I'm eager to see what the next wave of kids' books will be like. Will you be able to play games related to an adventurous monkey when you're finished reading Curious George? Will you be able to help Charlotte the spider decide which words might best be incorporated into her web to help Wilbur the pig? I hope so (it sure beats counting on Templeton the Rat to figure it out).

Anyway, book publicists, authors, editors, and even fortune tellers can't know what the publishing industry will look like in five years. Perhaps we'll all be reading books on Kindles; maybe we'll all be getting our kids' book fix on iPhones; or maybe all the ebook commotion will go away and we'll be back to focusing on plain old, if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it books.

Who knows? But, while the future of book publishing is figuring itself out, I think that all book lovers -- and, yes, that includes book publicists like me -- should feel excited about the potential of doing more with books than simply reading them.

And, of course, doing far more with books than just stuffing as many of them as possible into a suitcase and bringing them to a deserted island.

Although I maintain that a deserted island that's populated with my favorite kids' book authors and YA authors isn't deserted at all.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Can't ebook publishers and ebook readers just get along?

Can't ebook publishers and manufacturers (and resellers) of ebook readers just get along? As a reader (and not only as a book publicist), I want the dust to hurry up and settle so that we can all read (and, yes, promote) ebooks if we'd like. Until we figure out which ebook format will take hold, and which ebook reader or device will "win" the book wars, the ebook publishing revolution will move in slow motion. And I'm too excited about the opportunities for book promotion that revolve around ebooks to wait. So, for now, I'm using workarounds (such as ebook publishers who output content to various ebook formats) to create book promotion opportunities. But that's just a placeholder. Soon, I hope, we'll figure out the best format for ebooks and the best way to deliver them and the best way to read them -- and then this book publicity specialist is going to delight in the biggest development in the book publishing industry since the printing press. Great article about the ebook format wars on BNET.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Look who's tweeting and blogging.

So you think you don't have time for online book promotion? According to Quill & Quire, Margaret Atwood does. In fact, Atwood may be one of the few novelists in North America who doesn't have to worry about book promotion opportunities -- and here she is, taking the time and making the effort to engage her readers online, anyway. Good for her.

If Margaret Atwood is tweeting and blogging, and you haven't yet begun, then what are you waiting for? You need benefits of online book promotion more than she does!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Yet another reason why, so often, self-publishing is the way to go.

Every author wants to work with a major New York publishing house, and no author I've met would turn down a publishing contract from, say, a Random House or a Penguin. That said, there are so many circumstances under which authors should, and do, self publish their books. The news from about the fact that John Wiley is laying off 45 employees in the United Kingdom just drives the point home.

According to the article, Wiley hasn't yet disclosed (or perhaps even decided) which of its 45 employees will be out of work. But let's say that you're a Wiley author. One of those 45 employees could be your editor. Another might be your in-house book publicist. You could be editorially "orphaned" and left without a book promotion campaign all in one click of an accountant's mouse (provided the accountant in question isn't the one who would have been signing your royalty checks).

It's discouraging for authors to rely on publishers. When an author/publisher relationship goes swimmingly well, life can be fantastic. But when a publisher is facing economic hardship and making changes that can affect their authors, perhaps it's time for those authors to think about self publishing their next books. And perhaps, whether or not their publishers are downsizing, it's time for many authors to consider hiring their own outside book promotion firm. Publishers all seem to be putting less money into book promotion these days...which is not something that authors want to hear, but unfortunately, it's the truth. For now. Better times are coming, I have to believe.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How to use Twitter for book promotion.

Just came across an excellent article in Publishing Trends that talks about how publishers are using Twitter for book promotion -- and to win friends, allies, fans, and potential readers down the road. Although the article doesn't extend the advice to authors, it's clear that authors should follow the same Twitter techniques that are working for publishers.

The article boils down to this: Twitter doesn't do a whole lot for a book promotion campaign if publishers and authors keep offering up 120-word sales-oriented tweets to their followers. Instead, Twitter works as a networking and community-building tool if publishers and authors reveal something about who they are through their tweets, and offer comments to other Tweeters so they can develop online alliances. Twitter users who enjoy the personalities behind the tweets are likely to tune into whatever twitter users are doing, whether it's book promotion, conceptualizing new books, or revising books that haven't yet found a publisher.

So if you want to tweet to make friends, and you trust that some of your friends will want to buy your book someday, great. But if you want to use Twitter to command strangers to click on a link to buy your book on Amazon, forget it. There are too many tweets competing for Twitter users' attention to focus on tweets that are all about demanding rather than gentle persuasion.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Follow me, where I go....

Didn't a famous singer once ask us to follow him all around, to the Rocky Mountains and back, and so forth? Well, yes...but would we have followed John Denver on more than one social network? I'm not sure about that. is putting us in the position of having to choose how much we admire authors and publishers, and other publishing professionals. According to a Wall Street Journal blog, has created a Twitter-like social network with tweeters (or whatever Scribd is calling them) and followers. Presumably, is enabling the sharing of digital books with a community of people who are interested in the same digital books.

And, as a book publicist, I'd have to say that is offering a must-look-into-this book promotion opportunity, but as a social networker -- and as a professional who understands that there are only so many hours in a day -- I want to cry foul.

How many social networks will be required to join before we all want to leave on a jet plane? And why do I have John Denver songs stuck in my head now, anyway? I'm supposed to be blogging, not singing!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Small newspapers find their place in the book promotion universe,

Some books will always make it into the New York Times or whatever turns out to be the most important U.S. newspaper in the event that anything happens to the New York Times. The point is that some books will always find book promotion opportunities in the largest and most impressive print publications. And the authors and publishers of those books aren't worried about the future of the top daily U.S. newspapers because, whatever the future is, the name brand authors and the renowned New York publishers have earned their right the be featured in the biggest and the best of them.

So where does that leave the other 99.9% of authors and publishers in the publishing world who seek print book promotion opportunities and who won't be featured in the New York Times unless they do something outrageous (and probably immoral, illegal, or both) or fall victim to something or someone so heinous that it makes the New York Times' radar screen (and who'd wish that on anybody?). It leaves them seeking out book promotion opportunities with smaller newspapers.

According to a recent Associated Press story, smaller newspapers may be in better financial shape than their larger-circulation competitors. Community newspapers apparently aren't facing a bleak future because of media consumers' shift toward the Internet, because smaller newspapers will always (or, at least, for the foreseeable future) fill a need.

Some communities aren't "lucky" enough to be bombarded with media options that the rest of us take for granted. And even those of us who live in (or just outside of) major metropolitan areas have only one reliable way to find out that, for example, yard waste collection has been delayed by one week, the local high school's drama club is selling tickets for their latest performance, or what's open and what's closed on a given holiday the local newspaper.

So if the Boston Globe really does fold (and, as a subscriber, I'm wishing the Boston Globe all the best for years and years to come), that will still leave all of the local weekly newspapers for those of us who want some old-fashioned print coverage for books we're promoting.

Those of us who seek book promotion opportunities will have to learn to add small newspapers to our punch list, if we haven't already. Book publicists who have always included small-circulation newspapers as part of book promotion campaigns can tell you, from experience, that dealing with small newspapers means that you're dealing with small staffs. Therefore, the dynamic of seeking book publicity opportunities changes.

It's hard to sell a small newspaper on the idea of assigning one member of its small editorial team to a story because, frankly, each staff members' time is precious. You have to help by pitching a local news hook and crafting your pitch so that it's enticing -- and then persistently offering other story angles until you've made the editorial staff member an offer that he or she can't refuse.

Plan B is to offer up your own article (again, with a local slant, if possible). That article can't be an ad for your book. It must be informational or entertaining, and ideally, it would fit the newspaper's style and format so the editor can just slip the story right in. You rely on your byline (the article's attribution) to mention that you're the author of your book and to provide the URL for your book's web site. You can also write a letter to the editor in response to a story the newspaper has already published -- again, using your byline to sell your expertise and, ultimately, your book.

If you can score an ongoing column with your local community newspaper, even better. You can also try your luck with small-circulation newspapers beyond your community -- and you can compensate for the lack of a local news hook by having an angle or article so compelling that the editor just can't resist.

So it's good to hear that small newspapers are doing well and can continue to be a part of book promotion campaign for a long, long while. And, as a newspaper reader, it's good to hear that any newspapers are holding their own. If I have my way, that will always be the case.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Blogger offers book promotion hints.

I just came across a blog entry by Monica O'Brien that explains, from her perspective, why some authors and publishers sometimes have difficulty getting coverage in the blogosphere. (Her blog is called "Journey Home," and she's written a novel with the same title.)

Authors and publishers who are trying to increase their digital footprints are developing online book promotion strategies even as we speak. Let's face it -- since the social media is still evolving, even book publicists are still learning about online book promotion, and we're still finding new tricks of the trade all the time.

Naturally, one of the strategies that everyone seeking online book promotion opportunities has begun to pursue is to contact bloggers who write book reviews and to pitch their books. So much of the time, we never hear back from the book review bloggers, and we wonder why.

Monica suggests possible reasons why our pitches to bloggers can fall flat. In essence, she says that bloggers ask, "What have you done for me lately?" Are we offering to write a blog entry for them? Are we giving them an opportunity to promote their books on our blogs? Why would they want to wade through your press release, Monica asks, when they've never heard of you, and they don't owe you anything?

Before you ask a book review blogger for a favor, Monica goes on to say, at least take the time to get to know the blogger. Read the blog and leave comments on it, or send a tweet. If you establish a relationship with bloggers, then the blogosphere will be kinder to you, and more open to providing you with online book promotion opportunities.

Get involved in the blogosphere? That sounds like work. Well, it is, and that's why so many authors and publishers don't do it. But Monica is correct in saying that the social media works best for those of us who are socially inclined. Meet, and offer to give, and you will be more likely to receive. That's the online book promotion mantra, and I have a secret to share with Monica: it isn't all that different with the traditional media. Relationships are what make traditional book promotion campaigns fly. Online book promotion campaigns simply aren't all that much different from traditional book promotion campaigns. Those who know people have a great advantage over those who do not. And those who are willing to meet people, and willing to share with people, can find themselves attracting book promotion opportunities that leave others scratching their heads and wondering what they've missed.

It's not that difficult to get involved in the blogosphere. Monica's right. Spend a few minutes each day meeting and greeting bloggers, and you'll find the online book promotion world opening up to you. Give it a couple of weeks. See what happens.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

What's new in book promotion strategies?

What's new in book promotion strategies? Here's something that's really new, and I wanted to share it with you.

Tate Publishing has created and produced book promotion-oriented I-Phone applications that have just been approved by Apple. Tate Publishing & Enterprises' President Ryan Tate explains that there will be a "GottaKnow" application for each book that Tate publishes, and that application will include book excerpts, blogs, buying links, and more. In effect, each author will have a mini Web site that's been created especially for the I-Phone.

Although I haven't seen the "GottaKnow" I-Phone application -- I've only read about it on Ryan Tate's blog -- I'm sold on the idea and wish a similar product were being made available for all authors (I'm assuming that Tate Publishing is only making "GottaKnow" I-Phone applications available to its own authors) who wanted one.

Way to go, Tate Publishing. You've set an example for everyone who is involved in Web 2.0 book marketing and book promotion. I can't wait to see what you do next. I know it will be something innovative, creative, cutting edge, appealing, and highly effective!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Need a greater incentive to launch a successful book promotion campaign?

Do you need an even greater incentive to launch a successful book promotion campaign? Well, out of the scientific world comes a study proving that we learn more from our successes than we do from our failures. Here's the story.

kidding aside, one of the aspects of recent book promotion campaigns that's been so gratifying for me, as a book publicist, is that we really do learn (and benefit) from successes. Since Web 2.0 book promotion and book marketing campaigns depend on creating content and spreading its seeds widely on the Internet, we have the luxury of seeing which of our efforts are working best for a particular book (and author) and building on those strategies.

Not so long ago, when book promotion campaigns were static, we didn't have the luxury of adapting our book publicity strategies in real-time to provable results and benchmarks. But, thankfully, times have changed, and book publicists -- let's hope -- have changed their strategies, too. Web 2.0 book promotion and book marketing is effective, and if you haven't integrated the latest book promotion and marketing strategies into your efforts, then you can only imagine what I mean. If that doesn't give you the incentive to build successes into your book promotion campaigns, then nothing will!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A search engine optimization question.

I'll just throw this search engine optimization question out there. Why am I routinely contacted by SEO firms who consider me a prospective client?

As part of my book promotion services, I help authors and publishers drive traffic to their book web sites. Although I'm not an SEO expert, search engine optimization is a hobby of mine, and I've spent a few years creating strategies to help my clients improve their book web sites' search engine rankings. The more content you create for your site, I tell them, the better search engines will like you -- assuming that your content is appropriately tagged with your keywords. Also, the more widely you disseminate your online content, the more backlinks you'll receive back to your book's web site, and -- again -- provided you've tagged the materials with your most important keywords, you'll get on the search engines' radar screens and, hopefully, you'll be able to say there.

I've practiced what I preached and have very much enjoyed terrific search engine placement on Google, Bing, and Yahoo. So it came as a surprise when I receive the usual solicitation from an SEO firm explaining that, with the merger of Bing and Yahoo, I should be very concerned about my placement on search engines besides Google, and all I had to do to get some help with my search engine optimization was to get in touch with this particular company.

Here was my honest response, which I sent to the company that offered me the service:

I'm always puzzled when SEO optimization firms such as yours solicit me to sell their services. I mean, you probably found me through Google (or Bing or Yahoo). Does it appear that I have a problem with my search engine visibility? If not, then why do I seem to be a good prospective client for you?>>

I probably won't receive a response from the search engine optimization company that sent me the solicitation. But it still puzzles me. Why is anyone pursuing clients who, demonstrably, don't need their services? Oh, well.

Associated Press Protects Its Copyrighted Materials

So let me get this straight. If, as a book publicist, I use an Associated Press headline in its entirety in a media kit for one of my clients, or I incorporate more than four words from an Associated Press story, I'll have to pay Associated Press for the right to do so.

That sounds fair.

According to a BNET Media story -- even though BNET isn't owned by Associated Press, I'm still a bit frightened to let you know the name of the story, so I'll just link to it here -- Associated Press is working overtime to guard its copyrighted material. They don't want their material to be used in blogs, press releases including, obviously, online press kits), or to be transmitted via cell phones, and they're trying to mandate that we all use technology that will rat us out to AP if we violate its copyright.

Well, all right. I'm perfectly comfortable with defending oneself against plagiarism everyone in the publishing industry is trying to do the same thing, so we can't blame a news organization for feeling the way that we do about protecting what it creates), and if AP feels the need to lock down its copyright material, then fine. I'm behind them.

But what does make me scratch me head is -- four words of an article? A headline? It strikes me as strange to think that so few words, when appropriated (granted, the Associated Press's lawyers would say "misappropriated") by authors and publishers to incorporate into online materials that support a book promotion campaign, would be off limits.

Four words? A headline? Here's a promise. If you ever want to quote me in your blog or on your web site, and four words or a headline is all you want to borrow, feel free to do so. I won't sue you, and I won't think unkindly of you.

Associated Press? I'm not so sure what their intentions are. Would they really sue a teenager who, while blogging, cited the headline of an Associated Press story? I'd be sorry to think so, but I suppose nothing should surprise us anymore. The online world is new, and I suppose we'll all experience a few growing pains as we get used to the new rules.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Book promotion opportunities worth waiting for.

Sometimes, book promotion efforts provide instant PR opportunities. For example, when I reach out to the media with story pitches via email, I can often snag media interview opportunities within minutes. A radio interview, which can be arranged very simply and easily (given the right topic and the right pitch and, generally, the right set of circumstances) can provide almost instant gratification for authors and publishers. It's quick to arrange, quick to air, and quick to result in book sales.

Now contrast that with, say, a newspaper interview which can be quickly booked but may result in delayed gratification. Gratification is still gratification, and we'll take it, since it's all part of how book promotion works. But sometimes that delay is enough to make a book publicist, who loves instant gratification as much as the next person, wince just a little bit.

Here's what happened. A client of mine, Gerald Kolpan (author of Ballantine's novel, Etta), was fortunate enough to score an interview with a reporter at The Oklahoman, a top newspaper with a daily circulation of 179,703, on June 10. Gerald, who diligently set up a Google Alert so he'd find that article and others, was disappointed to note that his interview (and, in fact, the whole article on the subject of Butch Cassidy and his sidekick, Sundance) had never made it into print.

And then -- how cool is this? -- Gerald found the article online. It quotes Gerald and mentions the title of his novel, Etta. So, finally, the time and effort he put into doing an interview for The Oklahoman has paid off.

Delayed gratification? You bet. But gratification? For certain. This book publicist is tickled to see Gerald Kolpan's interview finally has turned into an article with a major daily newspaper, and that wincing that I mentioned earlier? Well, it was real enough ... but it's turned into an ear-to-ear grin.

The lesson for authors and publishers? Book promotion opportunities are well worth garnering ... even if you have to wait a little while to see your efforts pay off.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Unconventional book promotion idea...not ready for prime time

An author emailed me yesterday with an unconventional book promotion idea that he wanted to run by me. Who knows how many book publicists he contacted besides me? All I could do was give him my opinion, which was based on my experience, and leave it at that.

The news wasn't what he'd hoped. Because that author was curious about his idea, I thought others might share his curiosity. In the spirit of helping others, I'll let you know what we discussed.

The author's book was very narrowly focused, and he was wondering whether it might be a good idea to conduct a radio book promotion campaign that consisted of calling into radio shows that were discussing his book's topic. While on the air, he wondered whether he could promote his book.

Aside from the fact that his book is on such a niche topic that I wondered whether the author would come across even one radio show in which the area was being discussed, I had a few other issues with his unconventional book promotion idea. Here's the text of the email I sent to him in which I raised those issues:

Certainly, calling radio shows as a guest when you hear the topic being discussed is something you can do to proactively promote your book. The benefits are that, obviously, you know listeners are interested in your topic; it's free; and you get air-time and, potentially, could mention your book and Web site. However, you'd be hard-pressed to build an entire marketing campaign around this single strategy. Your topic does, as you say, fall into a niche market. Where would you find a wealth of shows that are discussing your topic and will allow you on the air as a caller? You might find a couple, and if you do, great; call in (presuming the show accepts listeners' calls) and try to get on the air. From that point, good luck mentioning your entire name (radio show callers rarely get to identify themselves beyond "Stacey from Boston" or "Bill from his car phone") and the fact that you're an author. Much more good luck would be needed if you expect to mention your book's title, where people can find it, and your URL. The guest on that show ain't gonna help you because, frankly, you're the competition. The host? Not so much, because you're not part of the agenda, and the host isn't there to plug your book. The exceptionally spontaneous and kind host might be willing to suspend the agenda and the rules "just this once" and allow you to plug your book, or might invite you on the show another time to plug your book, but that would be very unusual. More likely, you'll face either antagonism (at worst) or resistance (at best).

But I'm not suggesting that you avoid calling into radio shows when you hear your topic being discussed. One of my clients* (see note below) got lucky late, late one evening. I'm an avid radio talk show listener, and one night, I heard a national radio talk show host (an ex-host, unfortunately) lament the fact that few academics stepped forward to appear on his show. He said something like "I suppose they're too good to do talk radio shows." It so happened that the host, without a guest, was covering my client's topic. Well, obviously, I called my client (at his home, at night -- it could have gone either way, but my client was grateful) and quickly explained the situation. Then I gave him the radio show's call-in telephone number, hung up, and listened with a big smile as my client got on the air and introduced himself as a professor and someone who had written a book on the topic. The host, cool guy that he was (and is, even though his show is off the air), asked my client to stay on the phone to talk with him while the show took a commercial break. Again, the circumstances in this case were absolutely perfect. I received a hysterical phone call from a producer asking me to fax the media kit over immediately, and of course, I did so. Then the show came back on-air, and the host announced that he was lucky enough to have with him an academic who just happened to be listening and was willing to stay on the air with him for an hour. That felt good, from my perspective, and lucky, from my client's perspective, but I guarantee you that we couldn't do it again without putting in far more time and energy than it would take to just launch a traditional, it's-proven-to-work, why-fix-it-if-it-isn't-broken radio campaign.

If you're not into the concept of launching your own radio campaign, you can always record and attempt to distribute your own podcasts. You can also hook up with a service that offers authors (or any experts) the opportunity to host their own online radio shows.

So there are alternatives to spending the next few months sitting by the radio, going up and down the dial, listening and hoping for an opportunity to interject your sales information on the air without paying for the advertising time. Frankly, given the number of coincidences that would have to occur in order for you to get ANY opportunities to market your book on-air as a radio show listener, I'd say your time and energies would be far better spent focusing on another marketing effort that may or may not involve radio.

* Note: The professor I'm referring to as "my client" actually was an associate's client. He was on vacation for a couple of weeks and had left his clients' contact information, and media kits, with me "just in case" something came up. Since something "came up," I was delighted to pinch-hit as the author's instant publicist, even though we didn't have a formal business relationship.

Thus ends the text of the email I sent back to that author. I have mixed feelings about having sent such a discouraging email to an author. On the one hand, every book promotion strategy was "unconventional" until an author or publisher tried it, found that it worked, and inspired other people to implement the strategy in their own book publicity campaigns. On the other hand, there are only so many hours in the day, and we'd be ill-advised to squander so many of them in the pursuit of a book promotion strategy that is just not going to work. If I saved that author as much time and energy as I believe I did, then I'm glad I was able to help.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An impending shift in book marketing 2.0 strategies?

With this morning's news that Microsoft and Yahoo are officially joining forces to question Google's dominance (shoot -- I'd say "exclusive foothold") as a search engine, I wonder whether there will be changes in book marketing 2.0 strategies.

Obviously, online book promotion is at least 50 percent of any author, publisher, or book publicist's focus these days. Your pool of potential readers is limited if you're still conducting exclusively traditional book promotion campaigns and ignoring social networking; producing articles, podcasts, and book trailers; syndicating your blog; using your Web site to create an online community; distributing newsletters electronically to those on your mailing list; publishing eBooks to offer free peeks at your book's content or to gain readers who might potentially get interested enough in your topic to buy your book (or, perhaps, to hire you); and so forth.

Unless you've been sleeping in a cave (not that there's anything wrong with that), you're aware that much of book marketing 2.0 involves spreading legitimate backlinks to your Web site to get the attention of Google, which has been the best way to reach the other 50 percent of your potential readers because that's the search engine to which they were all going to search for information about your topic.

So the "elevator pitch" for book publicists who wanted to explain to authors and publishers why online book promotion was so important was this: "The more visible you are on Google, the more books you're likely to sell." Now that strategy may be changing.

Once Yahoo and Microsoft have combined their forces, it's just possible that or or -- who knows what it will be called? -- some other search engine will dilute Google's audience, and online book promotion will include strategies that are designed to reach out to that other search engine -- or those other search engines, depending on how this plays out -- too.

A quick vanity search in Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft's Bing show me that my company's search engine placement (my most important key phrase is "book promotion") is about the same in each of the three search engines, for now. I work at impressing Google, and I've been lucky with Yahoo and Bing. (Note: I'm throwing salt over my shoulder as I type this to ward off those pesky jealous, evil spirits who want to make it tough on those of us who care about our online visibility.) But I imagine that, as businesses change and combine and grow, the search engine optimization rules will start to change, too. That means there were certainly be new search engine placement algorithms to learn, new book marketing 2.0 techniques to put in place, and new ways to use all of the online book promotion tools we have at our disposal to help our intended readers find us.

It's all good .. and it's all challenging ... and it's all coming soon. I'm looking forward to it, and I hope you are, too.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Is Twitter worth the trouble for book promotion campaigns?

Is Twitter worth the time, energy, and aggravation if what you're using it for is to expand your book promotion capabilities? This book publicist's vote: I'm not sure, but I'm growing increasingly frustrated with Twitter.

When I logged onto Twitter this morning, I found about six new followers for my account. Among them were two purveyors of porn, one person who sells a teeth-whitening product, and another individual who sells wallpaper downloads. I suppose I didn't have to "block" them, but I did (and blocking these critters wasn't quick and easy, either -- when Twitter gets cranking, and thousands of users are logged onto its server at the same time, what should take a nanosecond to do can take minutes longer while you're waiting for pages to load).

About the pornography, the tooth person, and the wallpaper guy -- I imagine they found me through some third-party service that lets customers buy (or borrow) followers so that, essentially, they can acquire bulk mailing lists (where Twitter users are the recipients of the bulk mailings). Had I followed the miscreants (believing they were legitimate Twitter followers, then they would have been able to directly send me ads for their products or services, and I'll admit it: I would have found that annoying. I receive plenty of irritating and offensive junk email as it is, but my email filters have been smart enough to block the worst of it. I don't need to start receiving more unwanted and inappropriate solicitations via Twitter (or any other social networking tool, for that matter).

At the same time, I've connected with hundreds of enthusiastic, wise, and upbeat publishing and media professionals via Twitter. Many of these authors, publishers, book reviewers, hosts, producers, editors, other book publicists and book marketers, and so forth have steered me toward worthwhile articles and, in effect, have become a wonderful source of wisdom and grapevine chatter. To the extent that I can now send direct messages to media professionals via Twitter, I believe Twitter has already helped expand my book promotion capabilities and may continue to do so ... if I don't become so frustrated with the dark side of Twitter (which, to be fair, isn't Twitter's fault -- Twitter can't help the fact that a pack of dorks have latched onto Twitter as yet another way of annoying those of us who aren't prospects for whatever it is that they're selling).

So, for authors and publishers who haven't yet committed to expanding their social networks via Twitter, is it worth taking the plunge? I'm not sure -- but, as with so many offerings that can potential expand my book promotion capabilities, Twitter has already snagged me as a guinea pig and tester of the waters.

I'll give you an update after I can point to some specific benefits that I've enjoyed from Twitter ... or once I've become so overwhelmed by disgusting or untargeted advertising that I've decided to bail out on Twitter completely. To be continued ...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Another chance to have a bestselling book.

If your book hasn't become a New York Times Bestseller yet, or even scored a "number one in its category ranking" on Amazon, don't fret. Your book still has another chance to make it on a prestigious bestseller list -- as long as your book is an ebook that's available for sale on Amazon for the Kindle.

Yes. USA Today has just announced that the USA Today best-selling books list it compiles will now include Kindle's ebook sales.

With that, USA Today Best-Selling Books List becomes the first major book bestseller list to include ebooks in its rankings. So what does that mean for publishers and authors? Well, it's no longer only about book promotion, web 2.0 book marketing, book clubs, social networking, and word-of-mouth publicity. It's also about choosing to publish your book in Kindle's proprietary ebook format so that you can get in the game.

Which is going to get a bit tricky, especially now that Barnes and Noble is offering its own ebook reader to compete with its Kindle, while Sony is still out there with its ebook reader, and no one knows exactly how this whole ebook reader competition will shake out, and readers have to be at least somewhat reluctant to invest in either a Kindle or books that are published in Amazon's proprietary format until the dust settles.

So who knows how many readers are buying Kindles or ebooks that are formatted for Kindles? But, while USA Today is including Kindles' ebooks in its rankings, you still have a chance to format your book as an ebook that's formatted for a Kindle and take your best shot at making USA Today's Best-Selling Books List.

It sure beats trying to figure out how to get to be Amazon's number one bestselling book (if only for an hour or two) or how to convince your publisher to push you to the top of another bestseller list the conventional way -- by selling your book to bricks-and-mortar bookstores, and then hoping that book promotion, web 2.0 book marketing, book clubs, and other book publicity efforts will all combine to drive readers to the bookstores to buy your book.

Today, we're seeing Kindle sales directly effect rankings on a major bestseller list. Tomorrow, who knows? But let's take note of what's happening today...since everything related to the publishing industry seems to change every hour, on the hour these days!