Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book Publicity Indispensible Tool

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications

Believe it or not, here's a book publicity tool you once had and will probably want again for the duration of your book promotion campaign: a landline.

Yes, as a citizen of the world (besides being a book publicist), I know that just about everyone has traded in his or her landline for a cell phone. It's the economical and reasonable way to go. Why pay for landline telephone service that you don't need?

But for authors who are planning book publicity campaigns, here's an unwelcome surprise. You probably will need a landline to participate in radio interviews. Some radio show producers still check to ensure that the phone number authors provide are landline phone numbers and not cell phone numbers. Those radio show producers, certainly, are becoming relics, and they do sound strangely archaic trying to convince authors to find landlines to use.

However, this book publicist's motto is: the radio show producer is always right. If the radio show producer will book a radio interview only if the author has a landline available, then guess what? You need a landline to do the interview. You're not going to talk the radio show producer, who doesn't accept cell phone numbers for radio interviews, that your cell phone line has never been garbled or gotten disconnected. The radio show producer has heard it before, and it's nothing personal. It's just that every radio producer has had problems with other interviewees' cell phone lines and isn't willing to risk bad on-air audio again -- for any author, even for you.

So, even though you may not keep the landline telephone service at the conclusion of your book publicity campaign, you'd be wise to have a landline -- or access to a landline -- available for the duration of your book publicity campaign. Don't miss out on opportunities because you're unwilling to hold onto old technology! What's old to some people is still an indispensable book publicity tool.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Book Publicity via Twitter

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications

Can Twitter be part of your book marketing and book publicity campaign? It can, according to what this book publicist has seen and what novelist Helen Clark has experience (see her excellent Huffington Post blog, "Making Twitter Work for Your Book").

Twitter, like blogging, can connect authors with their target readership quickly, and can be instantly gratifying. Book marketing means making those connections, and using those connections to build your brand, and Twitter can be an important part of the platform that you use to sell your books and your expertise. In other words, yes, Twitter can be part of your book marketing and book publicity campaign.

But here's the down side of using Twitter as part of your book promotion campaign. Unlike other book publicity strategies, such as participating in media interviews and writing articles (that byline you as their author and include a link to your book web site), Twitter doesn't have a beginning, middle, and ending. Building your brand via Twitter isn't something you can schedule into a few hours a week, and it isn't something you'd necessarily want to outsource and have a book publicist do for you.

Finding the right followers on Twitter, and reading (and responding to, or retweeting) the tweets that those you follow compose, takes time. Composing tweets, and deciding what to post, and when to post them -- and, perhaps, figuring out what not to post and learning why not to post it -- is an infinite pursuit that can occupy endless hours of your time. Now, if you're going through a dry spell as a writer, or if you're such a successful author that you can afford to take time off from writing in between book promotion campaigns, then you might well have the time that building your brand, and expanding your name recognition, on Twitter takes.

Otherwise, if you're like most authors, you'll tweet as a small (but important) part of your book promotion campaign. You'll set a limit on the number of hours you'll devote each week to Twitter, and you'll use that time wisely. And, the rest of the time, you'll engage in book publicity activities that may lead to slightly delayed gratification.

But, if delayed gratification leads to book sales, who's complaining? Not I, says this book publicist.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Book publicity idea: book giveaways and book contests

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications

It may seem like a counter-intuitive book publicity idea: giving books away instead of selling them to generate book buzz. But, just as book publicists (and authors and publishers who are conducting book publicity campaigns) give away books to book reviewers (and producers, editors, journalists, and bloggers) to garner book promotion opportunities, it makes sense to directly give books away to your intended readers via book giveaway or contest.

Because you can tweet about book giveaways and contests, and post them via all of your other social networks, it's a wonderful opportunity to spread the word about your work -- and to reach your targeted readership without encountering interference from a media gatekeeper. But there are certain conventions and, more importantly, legalities that apply to book giveaways and contests, so see the way other publishers handle these issues...and learn from them before you integrate these strategies into your own book publicity campaign. For example, Orion Children's Books is currently sponsoring a competition to win children's books (read about it in ParentDish).

Take a close look at the way Orion Children's Books is running its book giveaway, and see what you can learn from it. Maybe it's time to think about expanding your book publicity campaign to include something a bit out of the ordinary. You never know which book publicity strategy will work best for you, so try as many as you can.

A lesson for this book publicist.

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist

A radio producer sent me a positive response to an email pitch yesterday. Eager to book the radio interview for my client, I read the email from top to bottom -- and, unfortunately, I noticed that the producer had prematurely hit the "send" button, so the email was truncated. I let the radio producer know, so that we could get that book publicity interview locked in, and I expected an instant reply. It took about 24 hours to hear back from him, though, and that taught this book publicist a lesson.

Book publicity is my world, and it takes up most of the space in my head, day and night (and weekends and holidays, too). But that's not true for everybody.

Somehow, that was refreshing to learn. The whole world does not always move at a break-neck, it-has-to-get-done-this-second-or-else pace, just because it can. Just because I want to get media interviews for my clients does't mean that producers and editors and journalists sit by their smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops thinking about nothing except my authors and their book publicity needs. People still have lives beyond book publicity and book promotion. It's an important reminder -- for this book publicist!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

What price, eBooks?

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist

How much should eBooks cost? Is Amazon correct when it postulates that every eBook should be priced at $9.99 or less? Or are publishers correct in assuming that book sales hinge on many variables (such as book publicity, genre, subject matter, etc.), and numbers are impossible to predict based on price alone?

Can it be that, if all eBooks sold for $9.99, then -- all things (including book publicity and book marketing) being equal -- the only books with a competitive advantage would be those that cost less than $9.99? And would that mean the price of eBooks would fall until, finally, it cost more to sell an eBook than it would to just give it away (in the same way as you burn up more calories chewing celery sticks than you take in)?

Carolyn Kellogg, an LA Times staff writer covering books and publishing (@paperhaus at Twitter), muses about eBook pricing, and the veracity of Amazon's contention that "For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99." Click here to read it.

This book publicist's hunch is that the jury will be out on the best eBook pricing for years to come and, in the meantime, publishers and Amazon will be duking it out over who has the right to decide what eBooks should cost. The Amazon/Hatchette feud isn't going away anytime soon. Other pricing wars are just waiting in the wings.

There has never been a better time to be an independent publisher. And there has never been a more confusing time to be an independent publisher. Or, as a famous author once said, "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wattpad is here.

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications

This book publicist uses technology for every book publicity campaign (whether it's a book marketing campaign that includes social networking outreach or whether it's a book marketing campaign that revolves around traditional book publicity opportunities). So I'm surprised to say that I am hearing about Wattpad for the first time.

Wattpad, according to a goodereader article, boasts more than 30 million users, and it allows authors to write, post, and share content. That would seem to be a great way to bring a book's content to readers which is one of the main goals of book marketing.

However, as the article points out, some sort of system must be put into place to protect authors' copyright. From what the article says, it seems Wattpad has found its vehicle for protecting authors' copyright:  Open Stories, a Creative Commons option. So now authors can share their content with readers (and, one hopes, can gain new readers) with Wattpad. This will provide a book publicity opportunity that authors need. And, at the same time, the content will be protected through a Create Commons license.

Does technology get any better than when technology meets book publicity?

This book publicist is properly impressed.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Book Publicity: That's News!

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications

The best book publicity opportunities are in the news. Any time you, as an author or book publisher, can tie your topic into a front-burner news story, you have an opportunity to promote your book. Your expertise is just what the media needs, and if your book publicist (or if you, acting as your own book publicist), let the media know you're available for interviews, you may just score some.

Your book can be new. It can be a backlist book. It can even be months away from publication. As long as you can tie your book, and your book's topic, into a news story, you have a good chance of garnering book publicity opportunities.

For example, Lenore Skenazy wrote a book called Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry) that was published by Jossey-Bass in April 2010. Skenazy wrote about the fact that she allowed her nine-year-old son to take the subway by himself in New York City, and he -- and she -- lived to talk about it (and, he, to learn from the experience and revel in the memory).

Skenazy's daring-do happened to coincide with a story that's in the news now about a South Caroline mom who was arrested for leaving her nine-year-old daughter alone in a public park while she worked her shift at a fast food restaurant. No less than a CNN reporter covered the story (which you can read here). As the story breaks to a national audience, Lenore Skenazy has a book publicity opportunity (and her book publicist, who sees the news story, has the opportunity). She can lend her perspective to the media that are covering the news story, and she can get her four-year-old book mentioned as part of the coverage of that news story.

Book publicists would do well to keep an eye on news stories to see which book publicity opportunities they can garner -- just by making the connection between the books they're promoting and the news stories of the day. And authors: don't wait for your book publicists to see the connection between book publicity and what's in the news. When you see the opportunity, go for it (or tell your book publicist to reach out to the media on your behalf).

Monday, July 21, 2014

Social Networking for Book Publicity

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist

How is your social network shaping up? Have you begun to put all of your social networking accounts in order so they can help you build your author platform? Book promotion is more than just reaching out to the media. Book publicity also means connecting with readers through blogging, via the social networks that were built specifically for book lovers (such as GoodReads and Shelfari), and the basic social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, et al.) that also serve as highly effective SEO tools for authors. Is your book publicist ready to step in and take your social networking efforts to the next level? Or is your book publicist still doing all of the same things she was doing 20 years ago to the exclusion of tapping into the potential of social networking for book publicity?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Why do you need a book publicist?

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications

Why do you need a book publicist? You can write your own press release, and you can garner media interviews yourself by tracking down the appropriate producers, editors, bloggers, and freelancers. You can join GoodReads, Shelfari, LinkedIn, Twitter, and all of the other social networking sites that are where readers gather, and you can post messages, and you can build your own author platform online, and you can build your brand as an author offline, too.

You can implement all of the book publicity strategies you've heard about, and you've researched, and you've intuited, all on your own. So, if you can do your own book promotion, then why do you need a book publicist?

The reason you need a book publicist is because, if you conduct your own book publicity campaign, and you do all of your own book marketing, then you'll have no time to write books.

So which would you rather be: a book publicist or a writer? Which are you?

When you want to delegate your book publicity campaign to a book publicist with experience of more than two decades, I'll be here for you.

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Book Publicist's Lament

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications

A Book Publicist's Lament

So many authors are in a rush to publish their books. The production process has become so quick and easy that a book can go from the word processor to Amazon in a matter of weeks. That means the first time an author thinks about calling in a book publicist might be days before the book is available for sale online.

While that provides quick -- if not instant -- gratification for authors who want to see their words reach book buyers as soon as possible, the mad dash from the computer to the bookshelf does require the sacrifice of long lead-time book publicity opportunities.

By the time a book has been published (that is, by the time the book is available for purchase online), you've lost the opportunity to snare most traditional book reviews. Old school book reviewers (who still matter), require at least three months' lead time. And they ask that you send them galleys instead of finished copies of the book.

So calling in a book publicist just before the book's publication date means that you're trading the possibility of traditional book reviews for the possibility of early book sales. But here's the paradox. How many book sales can you reasonably expect if you don't let your potential readers know that your book is going to be published?

That's why, despite the fact that traditional book reviewers should probably have changed their submission requirements long ago, when the technological changes in book publishing shortened the book production schedule so much, it's still impossible for book publicists (and for authors who are conducting book publicity campaigns) to bypass the rules and garner traditional book reviews without having at least three months' lead time.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Book Publicity by Reading Rainbow!

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications

Kids' books are about to receive an old-but-new book publicity opportunity by Reading Rainbow host, LeVar Burton.

The wonderful LeVar Burton has long been a champion of children's books, and children's literacy (he was hosting episodes of "Reading Rainbow" even during his Star Trek: The Next Generation days!), but now he's an innovator, too. Burton is bringing "Reading Rainbow" to kids, classrooms, and homes via a new app. Those who can pay a monthly subscription fee will have all-you-can-eat access to kids' books that are part of the program. Disadvantaged kids will have access to the kids' books, too. Along with being a great book publicity opportunity for the children's books in the program, it's also a wonderful chance to turn a new generation of kids onto the joys of reading ... now and, I hope, for the rest of their lives.

Obviously, this book publicist isn't the only book lover who's crazy about LeVar Burton's new project. A recent Kickstarter campaign, launched by Burton, "burst the seams, broke the dam and went through the roof" according to a CNN article. Burton met his goal within 11 hours of the campaign's launch!

As a book publicist who frequently promotes children's books, I am eagerly looking forward to the Web version of Reading Rainbow's tablet app. And, as a children's book fan and addict (yes -- my Kindle is filled with books penned by current and classic children's books and young adult novels, too), I can't wait to support the "Reading Rainbow" project and catch up on some of the great children's books I may have missed. Thank you, LeVar Burton, for the good work you're doing. I know that all of "your" kids will thank you, too!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Book Publicity Cheat!!!

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications

I'm absolutely appalled by what Penguin Young Readers is trying to get away with!!! *tongue firmly planted in cheek*

First, and seriously, congratulations to fans of Roald Dahl's wonderful book, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, which celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year. As every book lover knows, Dahl's classic children's book inspired the also-classic Gene Wilder movie, "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory." (The book also inspired a second and more recent "Willy Wonka" movie, not starring Gene Wilder, that I'd prefer not to discuss as well as some candy that, similarly, will not be part of this discussion.

Anyway, the anniversary of Charlie & The Chocolate Factory's publication is a wonderful opportunity to score some book publicity opportunities for the book which, hopefully, will lead to an increase in interest in the book...and a surge in book sales. Book promotion is easy when you're Roald Dahl, everyone loves your work, and most of your readers credit you with changing the way they look at the world.

That said, this book publicist has a major complaint about the sweepstakes Penguin Young Readers is running so book sales will spike even more. No, this book publicist has no problem with the sweepstakes, per se. The sweepstakes are a very cool concept -- particularly since, as you know, a good part of the Charlie & The Chocolate Factory story involves a group of sweepstakes winners. No, I have no complaints about the sweepstakes. What I must complain about are the sweepstakes prizes. According to MediaBistro (whose fault this whole book publicity travesty is not), "Five young readers will win a trip to New York City and a VIP experience at Dylan’s Candy Bar. In addition, winners will get a year’s supply of chocolate, a library of Dahl books and tickets to see Matilda the Musical."

A year's supply of chocolate? Really? That's what I call book publicity cheating!!!!

As everyone who loves Roald Dahl's wonderful book, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory knows, the character who won the sweepstakes in the story won -- not a year's supply of chocolate, but a lifetime supply of chocolate!

Give me a break, Penguin Young Readers. If you want this book publicist to feel great about the book promotion campaign you're launching for Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, then get it right! Give your sweepstakes winners what they deserve! Give them the chocolate, Penguin. Please! Give them all the chocolate they deserve to go along with their terrific literary taste!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

One kid's book publishing dream

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications

In the midst of all the controversy and drama between Amazon and Hatchette, let's not forget that CreateSpace (which is the self-publishing arm of Amazon) does something that the traditional New York publishing industry could never do. It lets kids make their book publishing dreams come true.

As a book publicist, I'm always scanning the news and trade media for examples of book promotion successes, and I came across one this morning. A ten-year-old Chicago-based boy, Jake Mayer, was featured on the CBS (Chicago) web site because he is writing his second novel which is a sequel to an Amazon category bestseller that he wrote! His first novel, A Tale of Friends, Enemies and Minecraft, has sold more than 14,000 copies on Amazon in only one year. That would be a wonderful feat for an adult, but the fact that a pre-teenager (and, to be fair about it, his family and teachers) made it happen both astonishes and thrills me.

According to the CBS article, A Tale of Friends, Enemies and Minecraft began its life as a school assignment. Jake's father imagined that, once the book was published, it would sell fewer than a dozen copies.

Mr. Mayer was wrong in his projection of book sales,  but that seems to be the only thing he was wrong about. He is raising a young man who is an inspiration to all kids, and to everyone who wants to write and publish a book.

Amazon, despite its quirks and shortcomings, has made it possible for Jake Mayer to become a successful novelist at age ten.

This book publicist appreciates the fact that book promotion opportunities have come Jake's way. He's earned them!

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Book Publicist's Take on Negative Book Reviews

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications

Book publicists who snare book reviews for authors always want to give novelists and experts what they want: positive, affirmative book reviews. We want authors to feel good about their books, and all book publicists have worked with authors whose egos have been shattered by criticism of their writing. It's particularly hard for book publicists to read negative book reviews since, as book publicists, we take on only projects in which we strongly believe. That means a negative book review doesn't only reflect poorly on the author. It also is a statement about a book publicist's judgment, and a book publicist's reputation is only as good as the last book he or she promoted...so negative book reviews affect a book publicist's bottom line, too.

So I must say, with just a tad of schadenfreude, that this book publicist was a bit relieved to read an article in BuzzFeed Books called "30 Writers Other Writers Loved To Hate." This Buzzfeed article quotes William Faulkner's scathing criticism of Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway; memorializes Ernest Hemingway's disdain for William Faulkner (well, at least it was mutual!); and documents George Bernard Shaw's distaste for none other than -- are you ready for this? -- William Shakespeare!

Of course, Twain, Hemingway, Faulkner, Shakespeare, and the 26 other writers who were slammed by their peers (if not their contemporaries) in the BuzzFeed piece are long past caring about negative book reviews. And if they weren't, I would hope their support networks (inclusive of their book publicists) would tell them that critics -- whether they're fellow authors, Amazon shoppers, or professional literary reviewers -- always have an agenda.

So, next time you find a negative review of your book on Amazon (or, for that matter, in Publishers Weekly), remember that you're in pretty good company. If Hemingway, Faulkner, and Mark Twain persevered through criticism of their work, so can you. You're tougher than you think!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Don't Frustrate This Book Publicist or Yourself!

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications

Don't frustrate this book publicist or yourself! If you're seeking traditional book reviews for your novel, then approach book publicists between four and six months before your book's publication date.

A new novelist just approached this frustrated book publicist to let her know about her upcoming novel. It will be published at the end of July, the author told me with great excitement. And could I work with her to get magazines and newspapers to review her book?

Well, I could have worked with her to get magazines and newspapers to review her book if she'd approached me four to six months ago. Now all I can offer this novelist is my sympathy and other options for promoting her book -- none of which are the book reviews she's been dreaming of and imagining she could garner. And, this, because she didn't know her book promotion strategy of garnering book reviews for her novel required more lead time than what she had in mind.

So, yes, I'm a frustrated book publicist at the moment. I now have to get back to a hopeful, hard-working novelist and tell her that, because she thought about garnering traditional book reviews just about the time the book was slated to be published, that plan just isn't going to work out for her. Next time she publishes a novel, she will know the drill, and she will reach out to book publicists in plenty of time. But, for now, the novelist just can't get what she wants, and that's not what this book publicist wants to tell her.

I really, really wish I could start my day over again.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

How to Blow a Book Promotion Opportunity

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist

Would you like to see a great example of how to blow a book promotion opportunity? I give you Joan Rivers who walked out on an interview with CNN's Fredricka Whitfield while promoting her latest book. What was Joan River's new title, again? It seems to have flown clear out of this book publicist's head. Sorry about that, Joan Rivers.

And you know what? If Joan's arrogance and belligerence were a book publicity stunt, then -- because I don't think combative behavior is ever defensible or attactive -- I hope it fails, miserably, in the book sales department.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Tony Horwitz's Book Publicity Tale of Woe

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications

Author Tony Horwitz is disgruntled with the world of ebook publishing and his prospects of earning a living wage as a full-time author. With a small advance, he relied on his ebook publisher's book promotion machine...and, when that book promotion machine stalled, Horwitz found himself in the unenviable position of having to make potential book buyers aware of his book himself.

Besides which, Horwitz's publisher dropped the ball (it's complicated), and then Amazon (it's even more complicated but, this time, Hatchette doesn't seem directly to be involved) dropped the ebook.

But there is good book publicity-related news for Tony Horwitz and his ebook. First, his ebook is back on Amazon again. Second, the op-ed that Hortitz wrote describing his book promotion woes was published in the New York Times. You can read it here.

Good for Tony Horwitz. The New York Times is a whole lot of lemonade to squeeze out of a lemon.

Tony, I love how you turned your foray into ebook publishing and ebook promotion from a tale of woe into a tale of wow. Keep up the great work! And enjoy the fact that the New York Times was nice enough to include the title of your ebook ("Boom") approximately -- by my conservative estimate -- about ten times. Way to go!!!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bad Book Publicity?

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist

They say there's no such thing as bad publicity, and I'd interpret that to mean there's no such thing as bad book publicity, either.

Sometimes, I would agree with that. Usually, I would say that even a lukewarm book review is better than no book review at all, or a combative interviewer is far kinder than the interviewer who chooses to ignore you completely.

But, after seeing the book publicity opportunities recently garnered by Gary L. Stewart, author of the new book, The Most Dangerous Animal of All: Searching for My Father...and Finding the Zodiac Killer, this book publicist has to wonder about that.

Stewart, as you might know (if you've read or seen interviews such as the one he did with CNN's Erin Burnett), believes his father was the Zodiac Killer. He has spent more than a decade believing he is the son of a serial killer.

Now, with every book publicity opportunity that he accepts, he has to share the information that he believes his father is the Zodiac Killer with the world. His book publicity campaign is, in essence, an attempt to teach the public to associate the Zodiac Killer with his book and with his name.

So, the more Gary L. Stewart's book publicity campaign succeeds, the more Gary L. Stewart, and his family members, lose.

Therefore, I have come around to thinking that, for some people, there might, indeed be such a thing as bad book publicity. Gary L. Stewart is one of the authors for whom too much of a good thing is probably a pretty bad thing after all.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

This is something authors should not do for book publicity!

Disowning their own books generally is not something authors do for book publicity...but the io9 10 Great Authors Who Disowned Their Own Books list should make an author who's in the midst of a book promotion campaign stop and think. Sure, every author finds it natural to say, "My book is important, and that's why I'm working so hard to enhance its book discovery potential." But what happens when authors specifically ask readers to not buy their books? How does that work out for them?

Consider the case of Stephen King's asking that his book, Rage, be taken out of print (because he felt it had the potential to inspire school shootings). There's a case where Mr. King was likely right -- that particular book was not an asset to our civilization -- and, yet, his desire to see the book eliminated probably inspired as many book sales as the best book publicity campaign might have. ("Oh, yes, I've heard of Rage," book buyers probably all said when they heard King's opinion of his book. "I'll bet I can find a copy now at that online secondhand book shop or the auction site! I'll go for it! And, who knows...if it's out of print, maybe this second-hand edition will someday be pretty valuable!"

So if you ever find yourself in the position of wanting to disown your book, just remember this. If you tell readers, "Please don't buy my book," then you'll probably send sales of that book soaring. That's not the way this book publicist recommends promoting your book...and that's not why this book publicist recommends a book publicity campaign...but, strangely, the tactic probably does increase awareness of books!

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Backflip for book promotion?

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications

Would you do a backflip for book promotion?

Book publicists frequently hear from authors who say, "I want a viral book marketing campaign. Do you orchestrate viral book marketing campaigns?" This honest book publicist always responds, "Not on purpose. By definition, you can't orchestrate a viral marketing campaign. Viral marketing campaigns are regular marketing campaigns that go viral. You can set up all the right conditions so that your book marketing campaign has a chance to go viral. You can integrate whimsy, humor, or controversy into the campaign, come up with catchy sound bites, and tap into pop culture events that everyone seems to be discussing at the water cooler. But, no, I can't guarantee you a viral book marketing campaign.  I can only guarantee you a creative book marketing campaign. How does that sound?" Authors who are determined to pay a book publicist to orchestrate a viral book marketing campaign simply make additional phone calls until they find a book publicist who disingenuously promises to do the impossible, and to force a book promotion campaign to go viral.

Authors and publishers: you can't make a book marketing campaign go viral. If you could, though, a book marketing campaign would look something like this. Note that, if this college graduate's blackflip had gone the way he'd intended for it to (in other words, if the blackflip had gone as planned), there'd be no video of his blackflip going viral online right now, and CNN certainly wouldn't have picked it up.

So the question is: would you -- metaphorically speaking -- do a blackflip for book promotion? This particular book publicist doesn't recommend it! No amount of author publicity is worth the pain of that thud! But she's glad the college graduate didn't hurt himself. Onward and upward!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Why we don't hear more about eBook promotion.

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist

Why don't we hear more about eBook promotion? According to Futurebook, a digital blog from The Bookseller
, the media still are reluctant to take eBooks seriously. And this book publicist, too, has noticed that few authors make the round of broadcast media shows as part of their book publicity campaigns. Traditional book review outlets, too, seem to be taking a wait-and-see attitude about eBooks. It's as if traditional book reviewers are taking a wait-and-see attitude. If eBooks really catch, on then traditional book reviewers might start to take them seriously.
Of course, the number of readers who have successfully resisted eBooks is diminishes all the time, and those of us who have gone over to the Dark Side (and switched our allegiance from "real" books to eBooks) are rarely tempted to look back. So what's a book publicist, or an eBook author, to do when they want to find eBook promotion opportunities and they can't find them in the usual places that were so friendly to traditional authors who needed media visibility for their traditional books?

Fortunately, eBooks have spawned their own eBook promotion opportunities. One of the book publicity tricks I've developed is to pitch the eBook (if it's available along with a traditional book) to the venues for eBook promotion that do not consider traditional books. A book publicist, and an eBook author, has to promote an eBook differently from the way he or she would promote a traditional book...to a great extent. But some things never change. Now that eBooks are so popular, there are ways to promote eBooks that are emerging all the time. Find a book publicist who can help you take leverage those eBook promotion opportunities so you won't be left behind...and you won't be left wondering how, on Earth, you can get the traditional book publicity venues to take your eBook seriously!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Book Publicity for...What Kind of Books?

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications

Since the book publishing world is changing all the time, I rarely comment on the technological revolution that's taking place all around us. It's enough to say that indie books (or self-published books, or whatever you'd prefer to call books that are not traditionally published and distributed) have lost their stigma, and all of the book publicity opportunities that are available to authors of traditionally published books are now on the table for indie authors, too.

But I did want to comment on a technological marvel called Blurb. Blurb will make it easy for any author, anywhere, to create and publish picture books using its proprietary (free) software or a plug-in to your existing Adobe In-Design software. Once your book is published, you can choose to distribute it via Amazon, Samsung, and other online book selling and book sharing platforms.

So, in the future, will book publicists be promoting travelogues that authors created, and then published, in real time as they travel around the globe? And will author publicists be promoting the cookbook that grandmothers create as they're preparing Thanksgiving dinner for the family?

This book publicist can't see a downside of Blurb, and she can't see any limitations on what the future holds for the publishing industry, either. Wow! What kind of books can you imagine publishing? The possibilities are endless.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Challenges of Author Interviews

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications

The challenges of author radio interviews are legion (and legendary), but so are their benefits for book publicity campaigns...and that's why we put up with them. Sometimes, it seems that scheduling the radio interview requires even less effort than making them happen.

Radio producers (this book publicist will go on record as saying) are usually bright, well-meaning professionals. But they're overloaded with work responsibilities, and sometimes they multi-task...and important things slip through the cracks.

Okay. I'm making excuses for them. Here's the truth. Sometimes, radio producers book a radio interview to take place by telephone, and they forget to write it on the calendar. Thus, when the time comes for the author to receive that phone call from the radio show, it doesn't happen. Or, perhaps, the author radio interview is preempted by a news event...but the radio producer fails to let the book publicist know. Or perhaps the radio producer typed the author's phone number incorrectly, or failed to save the author's phone number (but is too embarrassed to let the book publicist know). Or, sometimes, there's just no reason at all why the call doesn't come through to the author who's waiting for the radio show to call. It's just that, for one reason or another, it doesn't come through.

So many authors -- even book publicity veterans -- feel that, if the scheduled radio interview doesn't take place, it's an act of the gods, and they drop the whole thing. Sometimes, they don't even let their book publicist know! They just sigh and get on with their day.

But if the radio interview was worth scheduling, then it's worth pursuing. So here's what to do before the radio show mishap occurs: get the radio show's studio line to use as your backup line. Do this when you're booking the radio show. The producer will ask for your contact number; you ask for the studio's line and let the producer know you'll use that as your backup line in the event that wires get crossed, and the call doesn't come through.

The radio producer will appreciate your professionalism, your book publicist will be grateful you saved the day...and you'll be grateful to have salvaged a book publicity opportunity that you otherwise could have let slip away!

Friday, April 18, 2014

eBook Publishing to Spread the Word

Ebook publishing can be a quick and effective way to disseminate your message. 

This morning, a friend let me know that her nonprofit organization had raised $30,000 to provide ten K9 vests to police departments in one year. What a wonderful accomplishment! In congratulating her, I asked my friend whether she would consider writing an eBook about the importance of providing police departments with K9 vests. It would be an honor for me to then conduct an eBook promotion campaign for her nonprofit as long as she's willing to approve media materials and act as a spokesperson for the organization. It's easy enough to learn about eBook publishing, I promised her, and I'd handle her eBook's editing, and the conversion of her Word or PDF file to Kindle's mobi format (and to Barnes and Noble's Nook format, too, if she were interested in even wider eBook distribution). 

I made the offer automatically because I spontaneously realized that eBook publishing isn't only for traditional authors anymore. Ebook publishing is now available to everyone who has something to say, and needs a platform to delivery that message. 

If my friend wants to become an author, I can make it easy to achieve that goal. I'm already offering coaching for eBook Publishing and eBook promotion services to authors. Why not encourage a friend to tap into my expertise to help outfit as many service dogs with K9 vests as possible? The only thing this book publicist cares more about than family, cooking, friends, and books...is our four-legged companions. I hope we can use eBook publishing to help as many of them as possible!

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Etiquette of Author Radio Interviews

Congratulations! You've done your first radio interview (or you've completed your first flurry of radio interviews), and you're hoping to leverage that accomplishment and build long-term, mutually productive relationships with the radio producers and radio hosts who were gracious enough to invite you to be on the air with them. It's time to learn, and practice, the art of follow up radio interview etiquette. Here's what to keep in mind after your author radio interview:

  • What you want. Of course, you want a copy of your radio interview. Take it from a book publicist who has been in a lot of radio studios over the years: you don't want to ask for a copy of the interview. The radio interview may have been a peak and important experience for you. For the radio show, you were just one of hundreds of authors and other experts who have appeared on-air. Know your place in the radio food chain. Radio stations are typically understaffed. The producer who booked the interview with you, and the host who interviewed you, doesn't have time to dub copies of the radio interview. They don't have flunkies who can do it for them. Don't ask, and don't ask your book publicist to ask for you. Be clear about this point: your book publicist isn't "too shy" to speak up and ask for what you want, and she's not giving you the brush-off if she refuses. It's just that your book publicist is wise enough to know that the answer will be (or should be) no, and that asking for a copy of your radio interview would mark the book publicist as a rookie or, worse, as a disrespectful pain in the neck -- and not the type of book publicist the producer or host would want to work with again in the future. If your book publicist burns a bridge with a radio station, this doesn't help you (and it surely doesn't help your book publicist, either). Your instinct is correct, however. It is a good idea to hear what you sounded like on the air so that, going forward, you can build on what you did best and make adjustments to your weak points. Listening to your radio interview will help you to improve your performance next time. Fortunately, most radio stations do archive some of their radio shows on their web site. Google the show a couple of days after your interview airs, and you might be lucky enough to find your segment online. Otherwise, you can ask your book publicist to ask the producer when, and where, a link to your segment might be available. That's a way to get what you want without incurring any of the complications of what you definitely don't want: anything that might hinder your relationships with radio producers and hosts!

  • Give thanks. It was nice of you to give up your time, and expend your energy, to be a guest on a radio show (or radio newscast). You didn't get paid for it, and you have a right to expect gratitude for what you did. But the reality is that you're probably not going to get the thanks you deserve. Just look at it from the radio show's perspective. You got a chance to plug your book, build your brand, and raise the public's awareness of who you are. Radio producers and hosts could have given this opportunity to any of your competitors, but they gave it to you, this time. And you want them to choose to give you an opportunity another time, too. So express your gratitude. Your book publicist will have the email addresses of the radio producer and the radio host (and anyone else who was involved in booking the interview). Ask your book publicist for that contact information, and then use it to write sincere thank-you notes to the media people who were kind enough to invite you to be their on-air guest. A little bit of gratitude goes a long way in building relationships with the media. Also, mention your availability to do additional interviews with the host in the future (if you can make yourself available on short notice, mention that, too -- it's a great selling point for many radio shows). Specify some topics that you can address on the air. You'll get bonus points if you can tie your expertise into upcoming holidays or events that the broadcast or newscast will likely cover. Make your ideas easy to read by formatting them as a bulleted list. The radio producer and host will be best able to digest your pitch if your gratitude begins and ends the email -- and if your email is short and to the point. Then put aside your expectations. Don't be dismayed if you don't get a response to your email. Understand that time is short for radio folks just as it's precious for you, and email silence doesn't mean your email when unnoticed or unappreciated. And don't let the lack of good manners on the part of some busy radio people dissuade you from thanking the next radio producer and radio host who invite you to join them on the air.

  • Follow through. If you promised to stay in touch with the radio producers and radio hosts when you wrote them thank-you emails (better still, if they asked you to stay in touch with them while you were on the air or in response to your follow up email to them), then follow through by sending them occasional emails. You might let them know about future projects, or point out your perspective on a breaking news story, or offer a connection between current events and your expertise. Always close with a reminder that you're available for radio interviews and that you'd like to be considered as a guest if the opportunity arises.

  • With a small investment of effort, you can turn a one-shot radio interview opportunity into an ongoing dialogue with radio producers who are always willing to listen to your ideas. Be respectful, show your thanks, and making a continual effort to build and then maintain your relationships with radio decision makers ... and you can find a single author radio interview turning into a career-long, mutually rewarding relationship.

    Stacey J. Miller is a book promotion specialist and founder of S. J. Miller Communications. Visit her at www.bookpr.com (connecting with her on Facebook or Twitter is strictly optional).