Friday, March 27, 2009

Don't squander an easy book promotion opportunity.

Don't lose an easy book promotion opportunity. Well, I say "easy." Actually, it's not necessarily an "easy" book promotion opportunity I wanted to point out, but it is an obvious one -- or, at least, it should be obvious.

I'll change a couple of details so that I won't embarrass anyone involved. but here's the gist of what happened.

I was just reading a magazine during lunch (yes, I know it was only 10:30 in the morning, but I was hungry for lunch and I needed a break, anyway), and I came across an interesting article that was written by a doctor I hadn't heard of before. Naturally, this book publicist's curious eye jumped to the byline, which was about the length that authors hope it will be. This byline read, "Dr. Jane Smith is a pediatrician, author, and a mother of three children under the age of eleven."

And, just that simply, and needlessly, a book promotion opportunity was lost.

Here's what I'd tell Dr. Smith, or her publicist -- and here's what I would stress to every author, publisher, and book publicist. Writing and placing articles in magazines, newspapers, and online are a great way to spread the word about your book. But you have to turn your articles into book promotion opportunities, because that won't just happen by itself. It will happen if you create your own byline and submit it along with your article when you invite editors to publish your article. And, naturally, your article should mention the key points: Your name, your book's title, and the Web site for your book. Then, if the editor invites you to submit more information, that's grand: you can add other key elements of your bio (you're a pediatrician, you have three children under the age of eleven, or you live with four iguanas and 23 guinea pigs, or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are your favorite, or whatever the case may be).

But your article serves to give away enough information to convince readers of your credibility as an expert. The article itself isn't going to sell copies of your book to readers. You can't take a paragraph to say, "In my book, I say such and such." Well, you can take a paragraph to say that, but the editor will delete it -- and, worse still, could consign your article to the circular file rather than publishing it.

So your article can't sell your book to readers, but your byline can. Your byline is your payment for letting the editor publish the article (presuming this is a small publication that lacks the budget to pay authors for submissions, which is where most of the book promotion possibilities for bylined article placements hide). Your byline shouldn't say "Dr. Jane Smith is an author." Your byline should say "Dr. Jane Smith is the author of 'The Jane Smith Book,' and you can visit her online at

That gives your readers all the information they need to buy your book. And that is the difference between creating a book promotion opportunity and, frankly, tossing a book promotion opportunity right out the window.