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.