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 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.