Thursday, July 15, 2010

Feeling bad about providing a book promotion opportunity?

I just came across a wonderful blog entry by Laurie Gold who provides book reviews for Publishers Weekly called "The Painful Side of Reviewing." In it, Gold reveals that the painful side of writing a negative book review isn't having to read a bad book. Rather, it's having to hurt an author's (and a publisher's) feelings.

Yes, Laurie, you're right. Authors (like all of us) have fragile egos and would rather be praised than criticized. And yet ... the one thing that authors like even better than to have their egos stoked is to have Publishers Weekly -- or any influential print or online media outlet -- acknowledge their books with reviews.

Negative criticism can hurt an author's feelings, indeed. But any author who's granted the book promotion opportunity that a book review, good or bad, provides is far less hurt than the majority of authors out there whose books stand little, or no, chance of garnering major book reviews.

Any book review is probably better than no book review at all, just as -- to paraphrase the old saying -- any book promotion is good book promotion.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Get over blogophobia to reap book promotion benefits

According to, blogophobia is real. This book publicist isn’t making it up, which is a relief, because this book publicist has inventophiba (which is not a term you’ll find in, by the way: fear of making things up.

Since I tell every author and publisher who listen that blogging is an integral part of every book promotion campaign, I can’t help but notice how much of the time I receive push-back. Few authors or publishers argue. They understand that blogging does, indeed, drive traffic to book web sites which is a first step toward promoting books.

But, for awhile, I’ve been noticing that many authors and publishers I talk with – however excited they are about their book promotion campaigns – seem to be experiencing a fear of blogging. They’re afraid of saying the wrong thing, or they’re afraid of saying the right thing (or the incompletely right thing) in the wrong way, and they understand that the Internet is a very difficult neighborhood for those prematurely hit the “publish” button. You can’t get a “do-over” if you publish a blog entry that you’re unhappy with, they reason, so they become immobilized. They delay blogging, and they miss out on the book publicity opportunities that might come their way because they’d rather live with a blank blog than a blog that would impress people as unprofessional, unpolished, or inadequate.

A blog that fails to make a good impression, for whatever reason (typos, sentence fragments, etc.), is a scary proposition. But a scarier proposition, from my perspective, is to have no blog at all.

Failure to blog, from a book publicity perspective, is far more frightening than blogging the wrong thing. Look at it this way. You can blog as frequently you’d like, and building up a robust number of blog entries is a lot like garnering many book reviews on Amazon: you find that one or two entries that are less than 100 percent perfect can be buried beneath the weight of better blog entries that will be more attractive to your target audience.

Blogging can be frightening, because it’s always comforting to have someone else publish your work. It’s always nice to have an editor sign off on your work, and to have a production team ensure that the words you write are ready for prime time.

But, as frightening as blogging can be, it can be a book promotion campaign’s best friend. Blogging can bring the media to you and, even better, it can bring your intended readership to your site – and to someplace where they can buy your book – instantly.

So if you’re blogophobic, that’s okay. You’re not alone.

But take it from a book publicist who has coached dozens of authors and publishers through bouts of blogophobia: if you’re stalled at a blank blog, start filling it as quickly as you can. Don’t worry about copying the styles of bloggers you admire. Leave the research for other projects. Just limber up your fingers and start keyboarding. The blog will happen…and it will become a focal point of your book promotion campaign.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The tougher road to book promotion.

No one ever said garnering book promotion opportunities was easy. But there's a challenging road to book publicity success, and then there's a far tougher road.

Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of Oprah's first book club pick, The Deep End of the Ocean, took the tougher road -- but not intentionally. According to, Mitchard has lost "all her money" in a Ponzi scheme (she's not a victim of Bernard Madoff but, rather, another alleged creep).

The good news for Jackie: she's just made's "most intriguing people" page. That's a wonderful book promotion opportunity, isn't it? The bad news for Jackie: she's just made's "most intriguing people" page in an item that says Jackie is now looking for a job so she can support her family.

Ouch. Jobs are good, and so are the (hopefully) regular paychecks that accompany them. Book promotion is awesome, too...but not this way. No, Jackie. No. Not this way.

Book promotion campaigns include Twitter

These days, most successful book promotion campaigns include social networking. Even those authors and publishers who don't have legions of fans, followers, or online friends usually have relatives and former classmates who are willing to brag that someone they know and love has a new book out -- and word can spread pretty quickly through cyberspace. It's not exactly the viral marketing campaign that, say, turned us all onto Jib and Jab -- but, in fact, letting your followers at Twitter and your friends at Facebook, and so forth, know about your current or upcoming work is just a smart, core component of a comprehensive book promotion campaign.

The Huffington Post has an article about how two major publishers, Algonquin Books and Alfred A. Knopf, are using Twitter as part of their book publicity efforts. Both Algonquin and Knopf have built an online community that will read their tweets and retweet posts that, they believe, will be of particular interest to their own followers (many of whom, presumably, have similar literary tastes).

That's great, and I'm a believer. As I said, I think all book publicists -- and every author and publisher who's involved in a book promotion campaign -- should be using social networking to extend their book publicity reach. However, I had to log onto my Twitter account to see whether, in fact, I was following Algonquin and Knopf at Twitter. I was, in fact. But it's curious that I didn't know I was.

What that means to me is that, since I follow so many publishers (and media outlets and authors, etc.) on Twitter, I rarely see any particular Twitter user's tweets. Algonquin and Knopf may have the best tweets being tweeted on Twitter today (yes, I am aware of how silly that sounds!), but ... well, I personally don't routinely see those tweets.

So does that mean "more is better?" Does that mean that those of us who are using social networking as part of our book promotion efforts should tweet more, hoping that our Twitter followers see at least some of those tweets? Or does it mean that Twitter, and other social networks, aren't as effective as their press? It's impossible to be sure. But, while the jury is deciding, I'll keep on tweeting...and I'll encourage my clients to do the same.