Friday, October 22, 2010

Imagine if your lost manuscript gathered this much book publicity.

NPR. Time. NBC. New York Magazine. MediaBistro.

Imagine if the discovery of one of your lost manuscripts garnered that much book publicity. "This old thing?" you might ask modestly. "Really?"

I wish Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel, of course) were here to see all of the book promotion hype revolving around the discovery of this unpublished manuscript, titled All Sorts of Sports.

Book promotion isn't always about selling books.

Sometimes, book promotion is also about knowing how very much you are loved.

This book publicist happens to believe that Dr. Seuss's lost manuscript -- shoot, and even Dr. Seuss's lost grocery list -- deserves all the media attention it garners. Good for you, Dr. Seuss! Good for your All Sorts of Sports! Good for readers everywhere!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Book promotion thought for the day.

Here's my book promotion thought for the day.

A book promotion campaign isn't an advertising campaign. Don't confuse the two.

Book promotion provides authors with opportunities to disseminate their messages and provide their expertise to potential book buyers. The goal is to establish credibility.

Advertising touts a book's assets and provides reasons why people should buy it.

As a point of clarification, book publicists do not conducting advertising campaigns. Book publicists conduct book promotion campaigns.

Book publicists let the media decision makers know about the messages their clients would like to deliver. If the producer, editor, host, or reporter is interested in hearing that message, then the book publicist will have a match. On the other hand, journalists do not want to hear or read advertisements for books. A book publicist who sends journalists ads in the guise of story pitches or guest pitches risks his or her reputation and stands to burn brides.

So, authors, keep in mind the difference between book promotion and advertising when you're working with book publicists. And please understand why, when you ask a book publicist to help you disseminate an advertisement for your books to the media, your book publicist must decline. Thank you in advance.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The Today Show gives Rick Sanchez a book promotion opportunity. Ugh!

It amazes and disturbs me that NBC's "Today Show" (or, at least, the "Today Show" portion of the MSNBC web site) gave former CNN anchor, Rick Sanchez -- now most famous for venting his Anti-Semitic perspective on a national radio show -- a book promotion opportunity. Check out the last sentence of the story, if you have the stomach for it, which mentions Sanchez's new book (the title of which, please notice, I am not mentioning here).

So what's the takeaway? I guess the takeaway is that sometimes, authors and publishers who deserve great book promotion opportunities get them. And, sometimes, authors and publishers who do not deserve any book publicity opportunities get them, too.

As a book publicist, all I can do is choose my projects carefully ... and trust that I'll know about the Rick Sanchezes of the world before I can even imagine taking on a book promotion campaign for them.

For more information on Rick Sanchez's hurtful comments, and the consequences (for him, happily), please click here.

Perhaps CNN ought to screen its anchors a bit more carefully next time.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

A book promtion opportunity -- if you make it happen.

Here's a book publicist's dream come true.

A client emailed me yesterday and said, "My topic is in the news, bigtime. Please send out a pitch to the media for me."

I agreed that the news story was perfect, and now would be a good time to pitch the media on scheduling interviews for my client. That's how book promotion works best. The author's topic is in the news. The book publicist contacts media outlets, and pitches the author's expertise or opinion or insight, and the media schedules interviews.

Further, I gave my client some guidelines for providing me with the raw material I needed to create the pitch. As a book publicist, I have a preferred style for pitches that I have found to be most effective, so I told the author, "Here's what I need."

After a couple of rounds, the author sent me an email saying, "I'm sorry we missed this opportunity."

That's a book publicist's nightmare. Of course, I emailed the author back and said that we haven't missed this opportunity. (This is an ongoing news story, as it happens.)

However, what makes this a book publicist's nightmare is that the author wouldn't provide me with what I needed to help her. She's right. This news story is providing such a great opportunity for her to receive book promotion hits. However, here's what the author fails to realize.

To promote yourself, you must have something unique: expertise, a controversial opinion, or at least a perspective or insight that's different from what everyone else has. In other words, to garner interview opportunities, you have to frame yourself as a worthwhile guest.

A book publicist can't approach the media and say, "Hey there. I understand that you're busy, but please consider interviewing an author who's saying the same thing as everyone else you're interviewing on the topic." A book publicist (if she wants to receive book promotion opportunities) must say, "This guest would add the following to the ongoing discussion," or "This expert offers an insight that your readers/listeners/viewers haven't yet heard, which is...."

No author has ever received a book promotion opportunity on the basis of pitching the media with, "I have nothing special for you, but interview me anyway, please, because I have a new book out." Well, I take that back. A bestselling author might be able to get away with that pitch. However, authors who aren't yet household names must work for their book promotion opportunities. They must prove that they're worth the airtime/editorial space, and they're worth the reporter/producer/editor's time. More importantly, they have to prove how they will keep the audience from turning to another station or channel, or bypassing that page without reading it (which, obviously, would not please advertisers).

Pitch your unique/controversial/discussion-enhancing opinion or insights, and you'll get the book promotion opportunities. Say to your book publicist, "No, I won't offer that. Just go ahead and pitch me," and -- I guarantee you -- you'll have a book publicist who is living out the nightmare: lost book promotion opportunities, and an unhappy author.

Read. Learn. Do.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Book promotion and self-publishing.

As a book publicist, I'm fielding a whole lot of questions about book publishing these days. People seem to understand that, while landing a publishing contract with a mainstream publisher is still the Holy Grail, it's also possible to self publish without stigmatizing the book project -- and while enjoying all the benefits of publishing a book. A self-published book, of course, can serve as a calling card, help disseminate messages, build credibility -- and, perhaps, even generate some revenue, over time, given a successful book promotion campaign.

The funny thing is that, as a book publicist, I have learned that self-published books have become more and more legitimate for the past, oh, five to ten years. These days, I don't see much of a difference in the media's response to a self-published book and their response to a traditionally-published book. As long as a self-published book enjoys national distribution, and as long as it's professionally edited and competently produced, it enjoys as much respect as a traditionally-published book.

I'm also delighted to find new ways to self-publish books through trusted venues, and I'm especially pleased to pass along this opportunity. The online version of Barnes and Noble has created PubIt! to allow all authors (and self-publishers) to make their ebooks available for purchase online at Read about the official launch of PubIt!, and find the links you'll need to self-publish your own ebook via PubIt!, at Publishers Weekly's site. For me, one of the best pieces of news is that Adobe's InDesign now lets you convert your file to the .PUB format which is exactly what PubIt! requires.

And, yes, you can launch a successful book promotion campaign that revolves around an ebook. You have to be a bit creative, since your ebook's book publicity campaign probably won't include book signings or book reviews. But you have every reason to expect that, as an expert in your field, you can garner interview opportunities using your ebook (and a solid media kit) to establish your credibility.

It looks as though PubIt! is also planning a service that will let authors self-publish traditionally-printed books, too, in the near future. I gather that this upcoming service (if, indeed, it does come up) will go head-to-head with Amazon's CreateSpace service. (Note that Amazon, too, lets authors self-publish their ebooks very easily, too, as long as it's in the Kindle format. And, fortunately, there's a new plug-in for InDesign that can convert an Adobe file into the format required for a Kindle. How cool is that?)

Kudos to and to Amazon for turning experts with books to write into authors with published book. And how exciting for this book publicist to be able to venture into the new world of book promotion for authors who publish directly to the bookselling streams -- and bypass the traditional publishing channels that used to have the power to defeat would-be authors before their words were even set to paper.