Friday, July 10, 2009

What is full service book promotion?

What is full service book promotion? That's a good question. The definition of "full service book promotion" now, in 2009, is not the same as it was in 2005, or even what it was in 2008.

The perplexing thing about book promotion is that it's in a perpetual state of flux. Once upon a time, full service book publicity firms had only to send books and press kits out to the media, wait awhile, follow up with phone calls, and book interviews (or get word about reviews). They passed that information along to authors and publishers, and that was that. The book promotion campaign was at an end once you'd contacted a given number of media outlets, once, and the media decision makers either did, or didn't, express interest in the book. Add book signings, book tours, events, and speaking engagements, and satellite tours, and that was pretty much it -- that was everything that a full service book publicity campaign was, or could be, and that was everything that book publicists imagined it could be.

Then came faxes, and then came emails, and suddenly, book publicists could go back to lukewarm (or just plain uninterested) producers and reporters and pitch different stories during the course of a book publicity campaign.

Then, all at once, nearly every media outlet had a web site, and part of full service book promotion services was to contact journalists via their online "story idea" forms.

Then came web sites for books and web sites for authors and web sites for publishers. Then came podcasts and book trailers, and along with that, along came iTunes and YouTube and other video-sharing sites. On the heels of that came online press release banks and online article banks. That was a paradigm shift for full service book promotion firms. Suddenly, book publicists didn't have to hope the media would pick their story ideas from the slush pile. Sure, book publicists could, and should, still proactively pitch their story ideas to the media. But, while book publicists were waiting for the producers of the Oprah Show to return their call, they could be maximizing their clients' search engine placement. That way, if Oprah's producers were seeking an expert with an author's expertise, an author's web site would come up in a Google search -- and the book publicist would get the call (or the email) from Oprah's producers.

Then came blogs, and then came RSS feeds, and then came mySpace, and then came Facebook, and then came LinkedIn, and then came Twitter, and then came web conferencing and virtual book tours through Skype and other tools...and tomorrow, who knows? Every new medium, and every new channel of communication, is something that book publicists will want to incorporate into their full service book promotion offerings.

All of which helps to explain why no one can have an answer for "What is a full service book promotion campaign" that's valid for longer than a week or so. The definition of full service book publicity campaign is in flux, and that's why book promotion is so much more effective than it was just a year or so ago...and so much more fun for book publicists and, I hope, for authors and publishers.

That's why book promotion is so much more fun than ever for this full service book publicist, anyway.