Thursday, August 18, 2011

How to blow a book promotion opportunity.

How can you blow a book promotion opportunity? Let's look to Christine O'Donnell for inspiration. O'Donnell, who is promoting her book, Troublemaker, walked off the set of "Piers Morgan Tonight" during a live interview.

Piers Morgan, in case you've missed it, is the TV talk show host who has succeeded Larry King in his old CNN time slot. Morgan hasn't yet attained the status that King enjoyed, in this book publicist's opinion; he hasn't earned it yet. Still, an interview with Piers Morgan represents an important book promotion opportunity, and it's one that every author would feel very lucky to score.

O'Donnell, apparently, wasn't "every author." Rather than feel grateful for the international exposure "Piers Morgan Tonight" offered, she decided that Morgan's questions weren't headed in the right direction ... and she removed her microphone and walked off the set.

If Christine O'Donnell thinks she will go from behaving like a spoiled brat on the set of "Piers Morgan Tonight" to accepting her choice of subsequent book publicity venues, she's mistaken. Book promotion opportunities were hers for the taking -- as long as she graciously accepted them and played the good sport when things didn't go exactly the way she hoped they would.

Instead, Christine O'Donnell had a tantrum in front of the TV cameras.

That was unwise. It also could have been easily avoided if Christine O'Donnell understood why she was invited to appear as a guest on "Piers Morgan Tonight." What O'Donnell believed she was doing on "Piers Morgan Tonight" was showcasing her book.

Well, no. Book promotion opportunities may have the effect of letting authors showcase their books. But no author is invited to appear as a guest on any media outlet to sell books. Authors are invited to appear as a guest on a media outlet to entertain and inform the audience. The interview, at all times, is controlled by the host, not by the author.

The author is fortunate to have each book promotion opportunity. And whether the author in question is Christine O'Donnell or Jane Doe, the author's gratitude should transcend any tendency to feel slighted, irritated, or unappreciated.

Christine O'Donnell was not supposed to let Piers Morgan get her dander up, and she was not supposed to behave like a prima donna, and she was not supposed to disregard her commitment to Piers Morgan's audience (not to mention to his network and its sponsors) when she didn't get her own way.

That was a mistake, and it's one for which Christine O'Donnell's book promotion campaign will suffer.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Let the News Work for Your Book Promotion Campaign

If you’re waiting for a slow news day to pitch your story ideas to the media, you’ll probably have a long wait. In fact, you might never succeed in shouting down the major events of the day, and you might find yourself waiting forever to find a lull in the news so that you can launch the book promotion campaign you’ve envisioned.

There’s always something happening: crime, war, politics, money, sickness, or a combination of all those things. These front-burner events will take priority over any other story ideas you offer producers and journalists, and they should. These are the news stories that affect people’s lives, and you can’t fight their impact. These are the news stories that affect people’s lives, and you can’t fight their impact. Instead, you can take advantage of new stories and their relationship to the messages you want to convey, and you can use them to get the top media placements you seek.

Here are five ways to let the news work for you so that today’s headlines can become your immediate media placements:

Scout for opportunities. Make a habit of checking news outlets for stories that you can address as a professional, or as someone who has researched (or experienced) the subject matter. Ask your friends, relatives, associates, and publicist to do the same. You’re seeking news stories to which you can add expert advice, missing information, or an alternative perspective. Is everyone in the media discussing the stock market’s volatility? Then this might be a good time to pitch your knowledge of the long-term dangers of stress, ways to teach children about investments, or how delaying retirement can benefit your health. In other words, if you can tie your wisdom (or your novel’s themes) into hot news stories, then you can use all of the book promotion strategies at your disposal to pitch the media while the event is still unfolding – and while media decision-makers still need to find fresh ways to report it. You might discover news hooks you had never envisioned while you were writing your book or planning a promotional campaign, but those time-sensitive news angles are usually the ones that get the best media response of all.

Be creative, but realistic. Sometimes, news stories jump out at you as obvious opportunities for contributing your voice and experience. At other times, it takes a bit more imagination to connect your expertise to the news. That can work in your favor. If all professional landscapers thought about sharing their advice about how to clean up after hurricanes at once, then you’d have far more competition to worry about. But, while it helps your cause to find clever connections that others miss, it could harm your relationship with the media – perhaps permanently -- if your pitches are wildly and consistently off the mark.

Be concise and professional. Because most time-sensitive pitches are online pitches (how many journalists and producers do you know who actually pick up their telephones anymore?), you’ll probably email, text, instant message, or tweet your pitches to the media. Make every word count. Be succinct, and offer hyperlinks (no unsolicited file attachments!) to help media decision-makers find relevant information easily. At the same time, be sure to proofread your pitches before you send them. If you compromise spelling, grammar, or accuracy in favor of speed, then you give journalists and producers a reason to question your communication skills, and you never want to do that.

Make yourself available, or wait until next time. The media has just released the surprising results of a medical study, but they don’t know the whole story. You’ve let all the health editors in your database know that you have something important to add, but you’re committed to seeing patients, and you can’t do interviews until next month. That may be too late. When a news story is breaking, and you're tempted to pitch the media, first ask yourself whether you really can make yourself available for a quick round of publicity opportunities. If you can, go for it. Otherwise, hold onto those media pitches for another time and another news story. Don’t offer media decision-makers something they want – in this case, yourself – and can’t have.

Be confident. Modesty is admirable, but if you want the media to take you seriously, this isn't the time for humility and hesitation. Your job is to convince media decision-makers that you’re the go-to person for a particular news story, and you can do that only if you believe it yourself, and if you convey authority, self-assurance, and credibility with each pitch.

Finally, persistence can work in your favor. If you’re disappointed with the media’s response to your initial pitch, then try again another time with a different news hook. The media’s silence isn’t an indication that your pitches are unwelcome. It only means the timing wasn't right or that another expert came along with a more appealing angle. Keep trying, and who knows? The next unfolding news story could provide you with just the hook you need to score an appearance on a major media outlet. And, with luck, it might even happen before the day is through.

Stacey J. Miller is a book promotion specialist and founder of S. J. Miller Communications. Visit her at

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Why Authors Hate Social Networking

Why Authors Hate Social Networking
And How to Promote Books Online, Anyway

Publishers, faced with shrinking book promotion budgets, are more excited than ever about telling authors to promote their own books online. By online book promotion, publishers often mean social networking. They use the phrases interchangeably. The reason publishers are particularly excited about online book promotion is that, in their opinion, they don’t have to get involved in it. They can simply suggest that authors engage in online book promotion, and then step back and wait to see the results. It’s good for the publisher’s budget and easy on their resources, and it keeps authors busy.

Authors, on the other hand, may have mixed feelings about online book promotion. It’s hard to say “no” when your publisher tells you social networking can be good for book sales. On the other hand, social networking can be a huge time sink and present some vaguely disturbing possibilities. Once authors have opened the gates to social networking, it can be hard to close them again. Do authors really want to spend hours each week communicating with (and fending off luncheon requests from) play group friends, buddies from the old neighborhood, relatives with vaguely familiar surnames, or colleagues from forgettable jobs?

Becoming active on any of the social networks is like leaving your door cracked open in the summertime. It’s tempting to enjoy the fresh air and a pleasant breeze, but you also could be letting the creepy crawlies through the door. Authors know this which is why so many of them instinctively and wholeheartedly resist social networking.

But just because the former playground bully lies in wait, hoping for redemption, on the social networks is no reason for authors to avoid online book promotion opportunities altogether. There are innovative ways and effective ways to create online buzz for books. Here are four ways to begin:

Launch a contest. A giveaway is easy to host, and all authors have to do is provide winners with copies of their books. There are web sites that will help spread the word about contests. Each giveaway winner is a source of word-of-mouth promotion, and anyone who signs up to win but doesn’t is a potential book buyer.

Connect with bloggers. Ask bloggers to review books. Most of them will be glad for the opportunity, and each online mention of a book is another search engine optimization gem.

Draft articles. Offer information that relates to a book (yes, even a novel) in the form of an article. Many blogs and web sites accept simultaneous submissions, so the process of seeing an article published online should proceed quickly. Submit articles to newspapers and magazines, too. Most of them have web sites as well as print publications.

Comment on news stories. Many news sites invite readers to submit feedback, and these posts are published instantly. Set up a Google alert to find news stories related to specific topics, and write a mini op-ed for each. Posts can include the names of authors’ books.

For authors who like the idea of creating online buzz but lack the time or the contacts, book publicists who are on the cutting edge of online book promotion can help. They’ll have ideas of their own, and authors can offload the time-insensitive, research-related parts of the job to them.

The good news is that online book promotion campaigns require far less startup time – and can even be far more effective, in the long run -- than traditional book promotion campaigns. So for authors who won’t be forced or “guilted” into social networking, there are still opportunities for online book promotion now, and there are more cropping up every day as technology evolves.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Better book promotion, money can't buy.

Jane Fonda's appearance on the QVC television network, during which she could have sold copies of her new book (a memoir called Prime Time) was cancelled because QVC executives feared Jane Fonda's presence on its network would inflame some of its viewers. Fair enough.

But, from a book promotion standpoint, I'd say that Jane Fonda walked away a winner here.

I mean, how many of us watch the QVC television network? A lot of us...but, perhaps, not enough to compare with the number of people who saw the flare-up between Jane Fonda and QVC in dozens, if not hundreds, of media outlets recently.

Were it not for the many stories I read about how Jane Fonda was prevented from Prime Time on QVC, I would never have known that Jane Fonda had published an autobiography -- and, to be honest, I wouldn't have much cared. Jane, to me, means good acting (although I haven't seen any new work she's done in years) and those exercise videos from many years ago (which, back then, didn't interest me). Now? I wouldn't mind giving Prime Time a look to see what Jane Fonda's selling. I don't know whether or not I'd actually be willing to buy the book, but I'll certainly bop by her book's web site, now that I've heard about her book.

Perhaps I'll be sold. And perhaps I won't.

But that's what book promotion is all about: making potential buyers aware that you've published a new book, and that you're an author now (or an author again), and you'd like them to think about whether your work might benefit them in some way. In other words, "My book exists. Please consider buying it. Thank you very much." If your book publicity efforts (or your book promotion accidents, such as Jane Fonda's mess with QVC) can drive traffic to your book's web site, so much the better.

So Jane Fonda is the clear winner here. QVC doesn't have to sell Jane's book. All of the book promotion Jane Fonda has received, and will continue to receive, will sell Jane's book.

And if book promotion doesn't sell very many books for Jane Fonda, then I doubt very much that cancelled appearance on the QVC television network would have, either.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Room in the Media, Once Again, for Book Promotion

Now that Casey Anthony has gone into hiding, perhaps there is room in the news -- both the traditional media and online media outlets -- for author interviews that do not bear on the subject of Casey Anthony once again. Those who are promoting books, including authors, publishers, and book publicists: stand back. Casey Anthony has left the building, and the media has moved on. Opportunities for book promotion (for books that don't touch on the theme of murdering family members, anyway) have returned!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Book promotion tour for the right reasons?

David Chura, author of I Don't Wish Nobody to Have a Life Like Mine: Tales of Kids in Adult Lockup, has published a wonderful piece in the Huffington Post called "Book Peddlers: Why One Author Hits the Promotion Road." Chura talks about trudging from one book event to another in countless cities, hoping that he isn't left standing at the podium talking to himself.

Chura's story is familiar to me, and I especially appreciate Chura's feeling that, as long as he connects with his audience, his time is well spent. (It sure beats the unanswerable question I'm hearing too frequently these days from authors: "If I hire a book publicist and invest X number of dollars in book promotion, then how many dollars can I expect to earn in book sales?")

It's good to see that Chura is an example of an author who has embarked on a book promotion tour for the right reasons...gaining something besides, exclusively, book sales. But it's even better to see that, along with hitting the road to do book publicity events, Chura is also smart enough to engage in less taxing, perhaps more highly targeted book promotion efforts such as pitching a well-written, interesting article to the "Huffington Post" that gets out the word about the authorship of his book to far more people at once, far more painlessly, than a series of book events would!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book promotion opportunities courtesy of Whitey Bulger?

Thanks to the FBI for finally capturing Whitey Bulger (those who aren't sure who Whitey Bulger is can click on the USA Today link to find out). Let's overlook, for now, the fact that the FBI gave Bulger the warning that led to his running away with 16 years ago -- let's focus, instead, on the fact that justice is at hand, and Bulger will soon be back in Boston to face his criminal past and pay his debt to society.

And thanks to the FBI and to the accused murderer himself for opening up a whole world of book promotion opportunities for all authors who have penned books about Whitey Bulger. A quick Amazon search on "Whitey Bulger" turned up more than 10 books about the former fugitive, each of them a potential book publicity goldmine at the moment (that is, provided each of the authors is willing to commit some time and energy to granting interviews, writing articles and op-eds, disseminating news releases, contacting bloggers, and the like).

Book promotion always works best when you can attach your expertise to a breaking news story -- and, since the capture of Whitey Bulger is a huge news story, lucky are the authors who can take advantage of the news hook. I'm sure they'll want me to thank Whitey Bulger and the FBI on their behalf.

Go, Whitey Bulger experts and authors! Garner those book promotion opportunities! And, while you're doing that, please say a prayer for Bulger's victims (and their family members and friends). Good can sometimes be extracted from horror, even in cases where that horror has been unspeakable. So thank you, Bulger. And thank you, too, FBI.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A book promotion campaign...

A book promotion campaign is only as good as an author's willingness to say "yes" to interview (and book) requests. I'm working with an author who knows this, and yet is overwhelmed by other demands on his or her time. (Name and gender withheld to protect the guilty!) Thus, this book publicist is hearing "no" a lot more than she's accustomed to hearing it from authors.

And, wouldn't you know, this is a book that would publicize itself if the author would cooperate. Grrr. Soooo frustrating for this book publicist! But, perhaps, the author will decide that building brand by getting media visibility is worth the price of putting some time into this book promotion campaign. Could happen. Maybe.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Two articles for book promotion!

I’m so proud of two friends and clients. They both scored an amazing book promotion opportunity!

Debra Fine, author of “The Fine Art of Small Talk,” wrote an article “Six Wedding Reception Rules (Royal or Otherwise)” that was just published on FoxBusiness’s web site. Good for you, Debra! I love the way she tied her expertise into a news story and turned it into a book publicity opportunity that FoxBusiness couldn’t resist!

And Caroline Dowd-Higgins, author of “This Is Not the Career I Ordered,” was quoted in a “U.S. News and World Report” article — and her book was mentioned, too!

Congratulations to Debra and Caroline, and I hope your articles bring a lot of book buyers and other potential clients your way!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ricki Lake is back in book promotion game!

Remember Ricki Lake's old television talk show? Like most talk shows, it provided opportunities for various authors to provide their expertise to television and, of course, to publicize books they wrote. Book publicists, and everyone who promotes books, love to hear about upcoming book promotion opportunities, and here's one that this book publicist just came across: Ricki Lake's new television talk show is in the works. Here's the story.

As CNN's Marquee Blog says, the Oprah Show is leaving the airwaves, but Ricki Lake's new show may be launching. And with the unfortunate cancellation of two of ABC television's long-running soap operas, there will be even more open time on the television schedule. That means there will be additional air time, potentially, for talk shows that, of course, provide book promotion opportunities for authors. So, although I mourn the passing of the soap opera genre (face it: I've been hooked on soaps since before I started school, and I'd still watch them, if I had the time), I do appreciate that advent of new television talk shows and new book publicity opportunities for authors.

Time's change, but the benefits of television (and radio, too) shows for authors who want media attention are unchanged. A new television talk show means new book promotion opportunities. So I'll welcome Ricki Lake back with open arms...and I'm look forward to seeing other new television talk shows hitting the airwaves in the months ahead.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Good book promotion news.

Here's some good news for book promotion, and particularly, it is good news for self-published authors who are embarking upon book publicity campaigns.

Barnes & Noble is now taking self-published authors who participate in the PubIt! program more seriously. According to a MediaBistro article, Barnes and Noble is launching three initiatives for self-published authors. They are:

First, PubIt! will have its own bestseller list. Every bestseller list is, inherently, a book publicity opportunity. Books that make bestseller lists can promote that fact, and book publicists can create the momentum they need to build new book promotion opportunities.

Second, PubIt! books will be eligible selected for Barnes & Noble’s “Read In Store” program that allows in-store shoppers to read books for free, on their Nooks, as long as they are inside the Barnes & Noble bookstore.

Third, even though PubIt! is pretty intuitive and simple to use, Barnes & Noble will host in-store events to teach self-published authors to use PubIt! so they can upload their own books. That's a potential book promotion opportunity, too, by the way. Authors who need some hand-holding with PubIt! can stop by the store and schmooze with other self-published authors -- some of whom might want to buy a copy of their book. And, as long as they're in the store, they might also talk with the Barnes & Noble staff about their book ... the more buzz you create for your book, the more robust your book promotion campaign.

Book distribution has always been an integral component of book promotion efforts. The more widely your book is distributed, the more it can benefit from your book publicity campaign.

So anything Barnes & Noble can do to turn PubIt! into a serious attempt to help self-published authors with book distribution is a step they're taking toward helping self-published authors with book promotion. Way to go, Barnes & Noble!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Senator Scott Brown scores book promotion win

Scott Brown, the Republican senator from Massachusetts (did I really just say that -- it still sounds amazing to this life-long Bostonian?), just scored the biggest possible book promotion win. Everyone is talking about his about-to-be-published book (Against All Odds: My Life of Hardship, Fast Breaks, and Second Chances) -- an autobiography that, among other things, details sexual abuse that the senator suffered when he was ten years old. If a book could receive more publicity than this one has, this book publicist can't imagine it.

Sixty Minutes taped an interview with Senator Brown. The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Huffington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Daily Beast, ABCNews, CBSNews, Yahoo News, and just about every other news organization in the country has discussed Senator Brown in the context of his upcoming autobiography.

Virtually every political figure publishes an autobiography and, while most of them turn into book promotion -- and, with that, persona promotion -- opportunities for their authors, the media attention Scott Brown's book is receiving is off the chart. You can't click on a web site, or turn on the TV or the radio, or open up a newspaper, without hearing about the senator's new book. Why are all of the producers and editors going out of their way to help promote Senator Brown's new book?

My take on it is that, for whatever reason, some people feel that Scott Brown has provided too much information. The sexual abuse in his childhood, they hold, was his personal business, and he should just do the manly thing, keep it to himself, and move on. In other words, incredibly enough -- and unintentionally, I'm sure -- this book contained enough controversy to keep producers and editors excited about the story and to get their readers, viewers, and listeners interacting with the story. Any time readers, viewers, and listeners participate in a story, the story grows.

Thus, Senator Scott Brown and his publisher are sitting on a goldmine: a book that everyone is talking about. That's what book promotion does best: it finds a charismatic author (that would be Senator Brown, in this case), a worthwhile message or three (the book's title, Against All Odds, says it all), and adds a dash of controversy (intentional or not) . . . and creates a bestselling book.

That's what I think Senator Brown has here: a bestseller. Kudos to him and to his publisher, and I hope the book continues to receive publicity and positive attention from the media. This is book promotion at its best, and it's exciting -- particularly, for this Boston-area book publicist -- to see another great Boston book promotion story!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Borders' bankruptcy is a nightmare for book promotion.

Borders' bankruptcy is not only a nightmare for book promotion, but it's also a horror show for everyone who loves books. Here, for book lovers, authors, publishers, book publicists, and others who haven't yet seen it, is a complete list of the 200 Borders bookstores that are slated to close.

The bankruptcy of one of the two top bookstore chains in the world hurts book sales but, even more, it hurts everyone in the book publishing industry.

It hurts us all.

Monday, February 14, 2011

One final book promotion push for Oprah Winfrey's show

It looks as though the "Oprah Winfrey Show" is set to provide one final book promotion push for an incredibly fortunate book. And -- this may or may not shock you, but -- the lucky book in question is a book about the "Oprah Winfrey Show."

Yes. The last major book publicity push given by Oprah Winfrey on her self-named nationally syndicated television show is likely to be an illustrated coffee table book about the "Oprah Winfrey Show."

Publishers Weekly, which ran the story, declined to name the coffee table book about the "Oprah Winfrey Show." However -- and I'm just going on a hunch here -- I'll bet it's titled something like "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Then again, what does this book publicist know?

Well, this book publicist knows a book promotion dream when she sees it. Congratulations to the Abrams publishing company for sealing this deal with Oprah. A better book publicity prospect is unlikely to come this way in a long, long time.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Book Promotion Tip #239: Don't Let This Happen to You

Book Promotion Tip #239: Don't let this happen to you.

Here's book promotion tip #239 from a book publicist who thought she'd seen it all. Well, now I think I've seen even more.

This "Today Show" segment seemed to hold so much promise when I saw the headline on the MSNBC web site: Girl, 4, treks through snow to save family. Meredith Vieira, polished, professional, and cool as ever, sweat as a one-year-old and a four-year-old made strange noises, crawled around the set, clamored for attention, and generally behaved the way toddlers often do when you want to show them off -- in this case, before a national TV audience.

Granted,in this case, all you had were some disappointed relatives and friends of the family who were hoping to have bragging rights ("yes, those were my babies you were watching!") and, instead, have some explaining to do ("the kids were up all night, and there were dozens of strangers around -- they usually don't behave that way"). And the mom still got to tell her story: her four-year-old daughter walked through snow for a quarter of a mile before she came to a house and got help for her mom and baby brother.

However, had the mom been an author who was on the "Today Show" to sell, say, a memoir...this segment would have been a major disappointment. Viewers would have winced and hoped for the embarrassing segment to end; that would have run counter to the goal of inducing them to rush over to the bookstore and buy their copy of the memoir.

Book Promotion Tip #239, then is, "Don't let this happen to you." W.C. Fields was right: don't work with kids, if you can help it, even if they're part of the story and if, ordinarily, the kids are perfect angels. And, of course, don't work with animals, either!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

New book promotion blog.

For authors and publishers who follow my book promotion blog, you'll notice a new look and feel. I've transitioned from a Movable Type blog to a WordPress blog, and I'm now getting up to speed on the new functionality.

As you know, I've long considered blogging to be one of the greatest gifts the Web has given those of us who are involved in book publicity. So I'll be interested in learning the ins-and-outs of the state-of-the-art blogging software.

Thank you for coming along for the ride with me, and may all of your blogging experiences -- whether they're for book publicity or other promotional purposes -- be good ones. Check out my new book promotion blog at