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!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Twitter followers for sale? Not a great book publicity strategy.

Everyone who tweets would love to boast huge numbers of Twitter followers. There are some services that sell Twitter followers, and all you, the tweeter, have to do is sit back and enjoy the thrill of being followed and imagining that your followers are hanging onto your every word -- which, obviously, will largely revolve around your book publicity campaign. So you're probably thinking that it would be a brilliant book publicity strategy to buy a massive number of Twitter followers and enjoy the fruits of your tweeting efforts.

I'm sorry to be the one to break the news to you, but I've just read an MSNBC article that cautions against trusting the purveyors of Twitter marketing lists. You might want to read the article yourself before you sign on the dotted line with any company that can instantly add thousands of followers to your Twitter account. According to the article, so-called bulk following services (which are sometimes free) can actually cause your genuine followers to "unfollow" you because, in their user's agreements, the services obtain the right to use your Twitter account to send out their own self-promotional tweets which can be either annoying or outright offensive.

So it seems that there's no shortcut to gaining Twitter followers. If you're using Twitter as part of your book publicity campaign, you have to win your Twitter followers the old-fashioned way -- through hard work and promotion, promotion, promotion!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Online book promotion. Why don't publishers get it?

Online book promotion is how you reach the other 99% of potential book buyers these days. Why are so many book publishers either ignoring it or telling authors to figure it out for themselves? And why are so many book publicists clueless about what online book promotion is and so reluctant to learn?

Yesterday, I heard from yet another frustrated author whose publisher is promoting books in the same way as books were promoted 5 years ago: sending out books and media kits to the conventional media, following up, and trying to persuade journalists, reporters, producers, and hosts to choose their story, review their book, or set up an interview with their author.

"It's not working!" the author shouted at me in despair. I told him he was preaching to the choir. "Why doesn't my publisher do online book promotion? It's such an obvious way to let people know about my books! Do you do online book promotion? Every book publicist I've talked to doesn't do online book promotion! Help me!!!"

Of course I do online book promotion. I'm very excited about the fact that I do online book promotion. I agree: if you're not doing online book promotion these days, then you're not doing everything you can do to promote your book.

And as far as why publishers and book publicists have been so slow to get involved in online book promotion, I understand that. Online book promotion is a moving target. What I would have called online book prmootion two years ago isn't what I would call online book promotion today -- nor is what I call online book promotion today what I will be referring to as online book promotion in six months.

Technology evolves so quickly, and opportunities turn up so quickly (whoever even heard of Twitter two years ago?) that staying current can be a challenge. Also, online book promotion -- which is highly effective and represents a great value -- can be threatening to the old book promotion school that did things the hard way -- and counted on getting paid to lots of high-pain, low-gain grunt work. Online book promotion, which produces results instantly and inexpensively, bears little relationship to the old book promotion model, and I can see why that drives traditional book promotion specialists crazy.

And besides all that, some people don't like change. And some people won't explore new book promotion opportunities because "new" requires energy and enthusiasm and experimentation, and they'd rather rely on what used to work and hope that, one day, we'll all snap out of the Web 2.0 world and go back to stuffing envelopes, bringing them to the post office, making phone calls, and trying to convince 100 media contacts to please, please, please pursue a particular story angle (that may have been relevant when those envelopes were stuffed but, surely, will be have no relationship to anything going on in the news by the time they land on the media's desks).

In short, too many book promotion professionals are too lazy to get involved in the world of online book promotion, and that laziness is costing authors and publishers time, money, and results. It infuriates me, and I'm hearing from an increasing number of authors that it's starting to make them feel short-changed, too.

Okay. That's my rant about online book promotion and about those who are too frightened to explore it. You know where I stand on the subject of online book promotion. And you?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Book Promotion by -- Oprah!

Whatever you think of Oprah's literary choices (and, personally, I'm a fan), you must admit that when Oprah Winfrey decides to promote a book, she really promotes a book!

Oprah's latest book promotion choice knocked my socks off today (and, remember, I'm supposed to be a jaded book publicist who cannot be easily impressed). I received an email from Oprah with the subject: "Download an Irresistible Novel for Free!"

When I clicked on the email, I found an invitation to download Jill Ciment's "irresistible novel" (I have to put that in quotes because I haven't read the novel yet), Heroic Measures. I -- along with the bazillion other people who received Oprah's email -- can download the novel for free from 11 a.m. ET Monday (July 20, 2009) until 10:59 a.m. ET Wednesday (July 22, 2009). The Web site where one can download the novel, for the benefit of those of you who aren't lucky enough to be on Oprah's email list, is right here.

Once you've downloaded your free copy of Jill Ciment's novel, I wish you tons of fun in printing it out and binding it so that you can read it, or in reading it on your monitor (always assuming you don't own an ebook reader or some device that will let you use the download as though it were a book -- and always assuming that the download is in a format that one can read on an ebook reader or another device). For the rest of the Jill Ciment-loving reading public, though, I'm afraid that owning a download of her irresistible novel won't be enough -- that you'll actually have to go out and buy (or log onto a bookstore and order) an actual hard copy of the book.

Yes, here is the voice of that jaded book publicist for which you were waiting. It says: If this book promotion strategy works, then Oprah isn't exactly going to help lots of people read Jill Ciment's novel for free. No, Oprah will do better than that (at least, from the author's perspective.) Oprah will inspire lots of people to buy Jill Ciment's novel. Yes, Oprah will inspire lots of people to pay cash -- money -- for Jill Ciment's novel.

Oprah, alas, will not get a cut of the ensuing royalties, nor should see. Oprah has been an integral part of book promotion since, well, since Jacquelyn Mitchard’s novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, was selected to be Oprah's first Book Club pick -- and, undoubtedly, since her show began featuring authors as experts. But her rewards have been spiritual (I presume) rather than financial. She feels good about sharing great books with her fans, and that's all the reward she gets for becoming part of book promotion campaigns.

But, cynical though I can sometimes be, I'm delighted to see Oprah spreading her book promotion wings and expanding the universe of the book promotion possibilities we can shoot for. You go, Oprah! You keep promoting books, even if you have to offer free books to get our attention. Do whatever it takes. You always keep this book publicist guessing, and that's a good thing!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Case of the Disappearing Books

Authors and publishers hire book publicists to launch book promotion campaigns so that...their books can disappear from readers' digital lockers on Amazon? Ouch. Disappearing books is what happened to readers who purchased the ebook versions of two of George Orwell's books -- yes, 1984 and Animal Farm (the books we first read back in high school) -- found, much to their surprise (and according to this PC World article) This book publicist is surprised, too. And upset.

Book promotion opportunities are not easy to come by, and book sales are probably even tougher miracles to pull off these days. So now readers who have actually bought ebooks for their Kindles can have them removed from their digital lockers?

Seems sort of Orwellian to me, even though Amazon did refund the purchase price to the former owners of the ebooks. Is this all a plot to make potential purchasers think twice before buying a Kindle?

Well, it's having that effect on this book publicist!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What's online? Take note for your book promotion campaign.

What's online these days? Maybe the radio station that you think is on the radio dial. Ah, changes in the media are afoot! Big changes! And regardless of how you feel about those changes, you'll have to acknowledge them, and explore them, and be willing to exploit them, if you want to maximize your chances of having a successful book promotion campaign.

We know that the Christian Science Monitor, which was one of the largest circulation daily newspapers in the U.S. not so long ago, has become almost exclusively an online publication. Now we're seeing one of Boston, Massachusetts' popular radio stations -- WBCN-FM -- go digital. Click here and here for the story.

WBCN's place on the dial (for those of us who are still using dials) will be taken by CBS-owned WBZ-FM (not to be confused with WBZ-AM, which will still enjoy its coveted, 50,000-watt AM place on the dial), and will broadcast all sports, all the time. The rock 'n' roll of WBCN-FM, on the other hand, will be relegated to a Web site.

If you're promoting your book, then you're naturally keeping up with media changes. But whereas once, all a book publicist had to do to keep up with media changes was find out which producers were leaving jobs, and which producers are taking jobs, and which journalists are moving to which publications, and which shows are launching and which shows are leaving the airwaves -- now, a book publicist has to find out whether a media outlet is still printing or broadcasting in the conventional way, or whether its exclusively (or mostly) digital.

For the time being, it's easy to keep up with the media changes, because changes such as WBCN-FM's conversion to a Web station are grabbing headlines. In a month or two, though, such changes may become old hat.

Perhaps we'll see the day soon when a book promotion campaign can be conducted exclusively online -- not only because online book promotion online can become viral marketing opportunities, but because some of the biggest and most influential media outlets have transitioned into online-only media outlets.

Stay tuned....

Monday, July 13, 2009

Background checks for kids' book authors?

You're a children's book author, and you're seeking book promotion opportunities by speaking at schools. That's exposure for you and fun for the kids. What could be a better match? Where do you sign up? Wait! Not so fast! If you live in the United Kingdom, and you're seeking speaking opportunities at schools, the Powers That Be might have to run a background check before they allow you into the school auditorium. All those teachers and school administrators can't protect those kids from, potentially, a kids' book author who is in search of book promotion opportunities. No! You have to do a thorough background check on children's book authors to make sure they're fit for book promotion campaigns! This, according to an article in the U.K.'s Guardian.

I'm sorry to be flippant, but all I could think of when I read this article was my absolute favorite book of all time: Daniel Pinkwater's Author's Day. The book is out of print. (Why? Why? Why?) I actually own two reading copy, and one copy that I'm saving against the sad day when my first copy falls apart. Pinkwater's book brings to life a day in the life of a children's book author who suffers countless indignities during his visit to a school, and every word in the book rings true. From the school administrators who get the title of the author's book wrong to the kindergarten teacher who forces the author to eat pancakes with chunks of crayons in them, Author's Day is utterly perfect -- and serves as a perfect rebuttal to the notion that children's book author should be vetted before they're allowed to speak at schools.

According to Pinkwater's account, we put children's book authors through enough. All they're trying to do is a bit of book publicity. They're not trying to befriend children (and, certainly, they wouldn't want to befriend any of the adults who populate Pinkwater's imaginary school). Why make book promotion for children's book authors tougher than it has to be?

This is one of those times when I say: let Britain serve as a warning. Let's keep an eye on the U.K., and let's make sure that we don't repeat the mistakes they've made...or are about to make.

Friday, July 10, 2009

What is full service book promotion?

What is full service book promotion? That's a good question. The definition of "full service book promotion" now, in 2009, is not the same as it was in 2005, or even what it was in 2008.

The perplexing thing about book promotion is that it's in a perpetual state of flux. Once upon a time, full service book publicity firms had only to send books and press kits out to the media, wait awhile, follow up with phone calls, and book interviews (or get word about reviews). They passed that information along to authors and publishers, and that was that. The book promotion campaign was at an end once you'd contacted a given number of media outlets, once, and the media decision makers either did, or didn't, express interest in the book. Add book signings, book tours, events, and speaking engagements, and satellite tours, and that was pretty much it -- that was everything that a full service book publicity campaign was, or could be, and that was everything that book publicists imagined it could be.

Then came faxes, and then came emails, and suddenly, book publicists could go back to lukewarm (or just plain uninterested) producers and reporters and pitch different stories during the course of a book publicity campaign.

Then, all at once, nearly every media outlet had a web site, and part of full service book promotion services was to contact journalists via their online "story idea" forms.

Then came web sites for books and web sites for authors and web sites for publishers. Then came podcasts and book trailers, and along with that, along came iTunes and YouTube and other video-sharing sites. On the heels of that came online press release banks and online article banks. That was a paradigm shift for full service book promotion firms. Suddenly, book publicists didn't have to hope the media would pick their story ideas from the slush pile. Sure, book publicists could, and should, still proactively pitch their story ideas to the media. But, while book publicists were waiting for the producers of the Oprah Show to return their call, they could be maximizing their clients' search engine placement. That way, if Oprah's producers were seeking an expert with an author's expertise, an author's web site would come up in a Google search -- and the book publicist would get the call (or the email) from Oprah's producers.

Then came blogs, and then came RSS feeds, and then came mySpace, and then came Facebook, and then came LinkedIn, and then came Twitter, and then came web conferencing and virtual book tours through Skype and other tools...and tomorrow, who knows? Every new medium, and every new channel of communication, is something that book publicists will want to incorporate into their full service book promotion offerings.

All of which helps to explain why no one can have an answer for "What is a full service book promotion campaign" that's valid for longer than a week or so. The definition of full service book publicity campaign is in flux, and that's why book promotion is so much more effective than it was just a year or so ago...and so much more fun for book publicists and, I hope, for authors and publishers.

That's why book promotion is so much more fun than ever for this full service book publicist, anyway.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Something's going right for book publishing.

Something's going right for book publishing. How's this for good news? According to Publishers Weekly, Borders Group's stock jumped by 820% between December 31 and June 30. Books-A-Million's stock jumped by 178.8%; Barnes and Noble's by 37.5%; Scholastic's by 45.7%; and McGraw-Hill's by 29.8%.

Not to mention that, according to the Associated Press (as reprinted by Yahoo News and a host of other sources), Amazon has cut the price of its Kindle from $359 to $299. This, combined with the fact that Amazon hasn't announced that it plans to raise the price of its electronic books, offers hope that Amazon's profits will soar even higher (according to that PW article I just referenced, Amazon's stock already climbed by 63.1% in that period from December 31 to June 30.

Have stellar book publicity campaigns orchestrated by brilliant book publicists recently caused book sales to soar, transforming flagging sales into huge profit centers? I don't know, although as a book publicist, I'd like to believe that a whole spate of new, highly effective online book promotion strategies have enabled more publishers to sell more books during recent months.

I'd also like to believe that the economy is improving, and I'd further like to believe that people are reading more than they did before.

But, at this point, I care less about the reasons for the good book publishing industry news than I do about the fact that, finally, everyone in the book publishing industry, and everyone who loves books, finally has something to celebrate.

And did I mention that, after a day of severe thunderstorm warnings and even, believe it or not, tornado warnings in my neck of Massachusetts, the sun has finally peeked through the clouds, and we're looking at the best weather we've had since July 4th weekend?

So this is one book publicist who's in a very good mood this morning, and I hope your day is starting out a good as mine.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Maximizing a web site for book promotion potential

Stumped about how to maximize your web site to get as much book promotion mileage out of it as possible? Steve Bennett, founder of Authorbytes, offers some advice in his article, What’s on Your Website? That depends. . ., which appears on the Novelists Inc. blog.

As the title suggests, Bennett's theory is that one size does not fit all authors' web site needs. In some cases, sticking with a basic, "vanilla" web site makes the most sense. In other situations, it might be useful to add some multimedia components, Flash, and other extras to a book web site.

In any case, it's the basic site that counts, according to Bennett. If you create a solid site, then you can always add one helpful features such as a blog and a discussion board. But, if the core isn't right, then you can forget about adding to the site, because no one will visit more than once, anyway (and those who do visit once won't stick around long enough to buy your book).

One thing that Bennett's article emphasizes is that, while authors can create great web sites for their books, it's up to them to drive traffic to their site. That traffic, in turn, serves as a book promotion bonanza ... so the web site and a book promotion campaign go hand in hand.

A great article, and great tips. Check it out!

Monday, July 06, 2009

Back to book promotion

It's the Monday after the Fourth of July weekend. That means it's back to book promotion. This book publicist is back in full force, and I'm trusting the media decision makers will be back at their desks, too, and gearing up for new pitches.

Here's one promotion opportunity I wouldn't wish on anyone: finding greatly exaggerated rumors of your death on one of the social networks and then refuting those rumors. It happened, according to a recent article on CNN, to actor Jeff Goldblum who, in a promotional coup, was given the opportunity to read his own obituary on "The Colbert Report."

Well, yes, an appearance on "The Colbert Report" is terrific -- and when was the last time you'd heard Jeff Goldblum's name before he made this TV appearance? Still, as much as my clients all want media attention and a chance to be seen or heard in the national media, I don't think any of them would want Facebook, Twitter, or any other social network to prematurely announce their death.

Social networking has become an integral part of book promotion, and the more frequently authors' names turn up on the social networks, the happier they ought to be . . . unless they turn up in social networks in the wrong context, at the wrong time.

But isn't that always the way?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Book promotion superstitions.

Yes, book publicists can be a superstitious bunch. If it's raining and you've booked a national TV interview...then rainy days are very good days to make overtures to the biggest and most important media outlets. If it's the day before a long holiday weekend and you've booked an interview with National Public Radio, then holidays are the best time to contact NPR. Those superstitions are all part of the Book Promotion 101 course that we book publicists use to educate ourselves and keep the book publicity going.

But there's one superstition that I've never been able to decide upon, and it involves wishing someone well before an interview. It gave me pause this morning. One of my clients has two back-to-back radio interviews (he'll be appearing on both radio shows via telephone). I tried to decide, for seemingly the hundredth time, whether it's appropriate to tell an author who is about to do an interview to "break a leg." Is "break a leg" one of those superstitions that will lead to good things...or does that only work in theater? Does saying "good luck" have just the oppposite of the desired effect and, if so, should I avoid uttering that phrase to authors before their most important interviews? I guess that's something I'll have to ponder a bit longer....