Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Here's how the Internet really affects book promotion.

Some days, the Internet overwhelms me. Its offerings become just so much background noise, and I can't wait to click away from Twitter, Facebook, and other Web 2.0 offerings so I can get back to work.

At other times, I appreciate the democracy of the Internet and, particularly, its chief benefit for those of us who care about book promotion opportunities: if the traditional media outlets are finding your book underwhelming, and they're not offering to interview you, then who care? You can broadcast your own interview online directly to your target audience, and given that, who needs an interview opportunity on someone else's traditional media outlet to promote a book?

A Publishers Weekly article of yesterday talks about a three-channel online network called "From the Publisher’s Office" that Penguin has just launched.

It will provide instant book promotion opportunities for Penguin’s authors. Also, because of the Penguin name, the site presumably will attract a huge audience. Penguin won't have to work hard to bring visitors to "From the Publisher's Office."

For the rest of us, developing Web 2.0 book promotion opportunities will be a bit more challenging. First, budget will be a factor. Even now, when publishing companies are feeling the economic (and technological) pinch, I presume it's still easier for Penguin to come up with a couple hundred thousand grand for Web site development than it would be for most of my clients. Second, whereas Penguin as a built-in Web 2.0 audience, most independent publishers and authors will have to work on bringing their targeted readers to their online offerings.

The latter can be done -- that's what book publicists and social networking experts are for (and many book publicists are quickly become social networking experts as well -- those who are behind the curve will quickly have to catch up, or I'm not sure what they'll be doing to earn their keep in the months ahead). The former -- raising the funds to develop Web 2.0 offerings -- can be trickier. But then again, there are already out-of-the-box solutions (BlogRadio comes to mind, and there are many others), and there will likely be many more of those to come. Using someone else's platform and, in essence, tapping into someone else's audience is an imperfect solution, but it is a the same way that print-on-demand publishing isn't quite going to eclipse getting a publishing contract from Penguin, although it can come close.

The opportunity to use the Internet -- and, specifically, Web 2.0 -- to create book promotion coverage is already there. Down the road, most of the barriers to entry will be lifted, and the benefits of participating in online book promotion campaigns will be evident to us all.