Friday, January 29, 2010

Are book trailers a silly approach to book promotion?

Are book trailers a silly waste of time for those who want to promote books? Laura Miller, writing for Salon, says they are and cites examples of badly-produced (and ill-conceived) book trailers that detract from, rather than enhance, book promotion efforts.

But concluding that all book trailers are a silly approach to book promotion doesn't make any more sense than deciding that blogging for book publicity is a bad idea after you've seen a badly-written book blog, or reasoning that media releases don't work after you've seen an incompetently-handled press release (most likely, one that reads as if it were an ad for a book, which won't accomplish anything, rather than an actual news release, which most likely will help you achieve your book promotion goals).

A good book trailer, on a professionally designed web site (and on You Tube and other video-sharing sites), can be a part of a highly effective, and perhaps even a viral, book marketing campaign. And, of course, a book trailer can enhance your online footprint which means it will improve your search engine rankings. You'll also vastly expand your potential online audience with your book trailer. These are all good reasons to consider hiring someone to create a book trailer for you.

A bad book trailer isn't likely to enhance your online credibility, so avoid the temptation to create a book trailer on the cheap just to have a book trailer. But don't be shy about considering a book trailer as a potential asset to your book publicity campaign. There's nothing silly about them. Book trailers can be an important part of your book promotion strategy. Just hire the right firm to help you get it right. Most book promotion firms would be glad to give you some recommendations (and, no, an honest book publicist will not accept a commission for the referral).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Book promotion campaign on the rocks?

Is your book promotion campaign on the rocks? If your book is with a major publishing house, and your book publicity campaign has stalled before it started, then it might be because your in-house book publicist has James Patterson Syndrome.

Check out the New York Times's article about the attention a James Patterson books gets from its publisher. Because Patterson's vast number of books reliably bring in a tremendous sum of money for his publisher, Little, Brown & Co. gives Patterson's books all of the attention and nurturing they need -- possibly to the detriment of other books that haven't yet proven themselves as moneymakers.

Every major publisher has its James Patterson, and that phenomenon of highlighting one author to the detriment of all other authors is what I call James Patterson Syndrome. It's when your publisher's in-house book marketing team doesn't know that your book exists.

Is there a news story you could speak about? Could you shed some light on a study, or does your novel tie into a trend? Could you lend your expertise to a season or an event? Maybe, but your phone isn't ringing, and your inbox is empty, and it's because your in-house book promotion team's energies are tied up elsewhere.

So, if your book promotion campaign is on the rocks, and you're hearing "sorry, we're just getting no media response" from your publisher's book marketing people (or, worse still, if you're hearing only silence from your publisher's book publicity team), then it's time to take your book promotion campaign into your own hands.

It's time to conduct your own book promotion campaign, which you can do with, or without, help from an independent book publicist, depending on your time, resources, and goals. You don't have to miss major media opportunities because James Patterson Syndrome has eaten up the lion's share of your publisher's time and energy. You can believe in your own book, and you can use the traditional media as well as the online media and social networking to direct your book's destiny.

We can't all enjoy James Patterson's status, skill, and good fortune. But we can make sure that our book promotion campaigns don't get left in the dust before they even get off the ground.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Book Promotion Changes on the Horizon

For book publicists, authors, and publishers who conduct book promotion campaigns, it seems that there are changes on the horizon. The zenith of every book publicity campaign is, of course, a national television show appearance. Almost every author wants to appear on national TV; a select few are lucky enough to have that opportunity.

For years, it seemed that the Holy Grail was an invitation to appear on the nationally-syndicated Oprah Winfrey Show. But, as we all know, Oprah Winfrey has announced that her show is ending, and if we want to see Oprah on the air, we'll have to watch her new television show on OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network), which is affiliated with Discovery Communications. Who knows whether Oprah's new OWN show will still be a haven for authors?

And now another national television talk show host, Martha Stewart, is following in Oprah's footsteps. Martha's television show is moving from syndication to the Hallmark Channel, according to this Associated Press (via MSNBC) story. Never mind the fact that fewer homes receive the Hallmark Channel than receive the broadcast channels on which Martha's show now airs. Martha's programming will be available for three hours every day. That's a trade-off that works for Martha.

The question is, how will the changes in the national television shows work for those who are conducting book promotion campaigns? If moving from broadcast TV to cable TV is a trend for national television shows, and the cable-aired television shows have fewer potential viewers, will these national TV shows continue to be the high point of a book promotion campaign?

We'll see whether other national TV shows on broadcast channels will follow Oprah and Winfrey to cable television. If so, we'll see whether that changes the landscape of book promotion campaigns. It seems to me it could ... and it seems to me it probably will.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

An off-the-wall promotion campaign by Amazon.

Here's an off-the-wall promotion campaign by Amazon: order a Kindle, and if you don't like it, Amazon will refund your money. In other words, if you buy the Amazon Kindle and then hate it, you may have it for free. Huh.

You might have received this odd offer, but then again, you might not have. (This book publicist and frequent Amazon book buyer did not receive the offer.)

I heard about the Kindle promotion campaign that Amazon is apparently running at TechCrunch. I wonder whether anyone else thinks the offer to refund a dissatisfied Kindle buyer's money is as odd as I do. (TechCrunch points out that Amazon isn't making it easy for a dissatisfied Kindle buyer to get that refund, which doesn't surprise me.)

As someone who hopes to buy an ebook reader as soon as the format wars end (or, at least, come to a natural pause), I was hoping to see a different Kindle promotion -- say, agree to buy X number of books through Amazon and receive a free (or vastly discounted) Kindle. It was a promotional offer of that nature that finally pushed me over the edge when I considered buying a DVD player, so I'm confident that a Kindle promotion that's tied into a book-buying obligation would be a solid promotional ploy for Amazon to consider.

But who am I telling? I'm sure Amazon has already considered that idea, and uncomfortable with it, for now.

Well, okay. While Amazon is waiting, we'll see what other types of ebook readers are brought to the table...and we'll (or, at least, I will) spend the time considering which type of ebook reader I'd actually prefer.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Good book promotion news

Here's some good news for those of us who engage in book promotion and book publicity campaigns: there's a new book review outlet in town.

MediaBistro is launching GalleyCat Reviews, a new source of book reviews, on January 25, 2010. Although the editorial guidelines haven't yet been set in stone, the editors are providing contact information for authors, publishers, and book publicists who are interested in getting a foot in the door early. You can find the contact information for GalleyCat Reviews here.

With so many book review opportunities either drying up or in danger of shutting down, it's wonderful to see the online media world step up to the plate with its own book review possibilities. Book promotion and book publicity campaigns always involve the online media, of course, but new book review opportunities from major online media outlets such as MediaBistro gives book publicists an excuse to incorporate an online book promotion component into every book publicity campaign.

See? Book reviews aren't dead. They've simply relocated to online media outlets.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Kirkus is back, and just in time for your book promotion campaign.

Well, Kirkus is back. Kirkus, as you know, announced in December 2009 that it would cease publication, but now both the New York Times and Publishers Weekly have announced that Kirkus is still seeking galleys -- so maybe it's not dead after all (or, at least, not yet). According to Managing Editor Eric Liebetrau, another company is in the process of acquiring Kirkus -- perhaps in time for your book promotion campaign.

No one wants to see a magazine fold, and news that Kirkus's demise was especially troubling to authors, publishers, book publicists, and other publishing industry professionals because book review outlets (if you discount online book review outlets such as blogs and online bookstores) have seriously contracted during the past few years. No one who cares about book promotion wanted to lose yet another venue for potential media exposure.

So it looks as though Kirkus may be with us for awhile longer, if we're lucky. Cross your fingers, everyone, and hope that the news is a good omen for 2010.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Press releases designed to help your book promotion campaign

Editors, producers, hosts, bloggers, and (staff and freelance) writers receive press releases from everyone who is embarking on a book promotion campaign. It's tempting to use buzzwords to get the attention of the media, but I've just read an article that reminded me of a key book publicity concept: "cool" can backfire.

A Time Magazine online article revealed a list of words that Lake Superior State University (which has been releasing such lists for 35 years) recommends we ban because of their over-use. Among those words, unfortunately, are many that you might want to use in your press releases because they're so "in" right now. But "in" words can quickly become tiring, so -- for example -- using "friend" as a verb in your next press release probably isn't going to score you points with the recipient. Using the phrase "shovel-ready" likely won't work any better for you.

So remember that, to get the media's attention and to keep your press release from getting tossed (or deleted, depending on how your delivery mechanism), avoid using the words you hear everywhere -- at least until, once again, the words become "uncool" enough to take their place in our communal vocabularies once again.