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.