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.