What’s in a Name? Potentially, Book Promotion Success.

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications
[email protected]

As authors who have met me (or who have followed my book promotion blog here or at the Huffington Post) know, I’m a strong support of independent book publishing and independent authors. I think it’s empowering to write a book, publish a book, design a book, produce a book, and market a book without the restrictions that might be imposed by a traditional book publisher.

That said, there are times when a book publisher’s imprint can vastly increase a book’s promotion potential. When a major publisher gets behind a book, then that book does have the publisher’s brand behind it. And imagine this: what if you’ve written a book that would be pleasing to Massachusetts-based sports fans (the way that Rob Gronkowski is), and your publisher is Jeter Publishing?

For those who are wondering what’s so special about Jeter Publishing, does the name Derek Jeter ring a bell? Yes. Derek Jeter. He has his own publishing imprint, Jeter Publishing, and it’s owned by Simon and Schuster.

So, yes, as biased as this book publicist is in favor of independent book publishing, I must admit — how could I not? — that, at times, book promotion success can be greatly enhanced by having the right mainstream publishing company (and the perfect imprint of that mainstream publisher) behind the book.

Rob Gronkowski, I think you’ve written more than a book here. I think you’ve written yourself a bestselling book (It’s Good to Be the Gronk), and I wish you all the luck in the world with reaching sports fans in Boston and all of New England — and, surely, far beyond. Derek, I might have a couple of sports-related questions for you (well, hey, I am from Boston!), but I’m so proud that you know how to use your name and your brand. Derek Jeter and Rob Gronkowski. You can find It’s Good to Be the Gronk at Amazon, of course!

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Independent Authors: What’s Plan B if Amazon Fails?

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications
[email protected]

Independent authors: what’s your Plan B if Amazon fails?

Once upon a time, it hardly mattered to authors and publishers if one book printer or book distributor or bookstore failed. There were so many others that nobody would miss it all that much.

But now we have independent authors and small publishers that rely solely on Amazon’s ecosystem (through CreateSpace and KDP) to publish, print, and distribute their books. Need a book cover for your printed book? You can use Amazon’s Cover Creator to design one. Need a cover for your ebook? You’re in luck; Amazon has a Cover Creator tool for your Kindle ebook, too. The only hitch is that, once you’ve used Cover Creator to create the cover, Amazon owns that cover. You can’t take it with you — if, for example, you wanted to bring your book to iUniverse, Lulu, or IngramSpark, or even to a traditional offset printing company.

Anyone independent author, with modest mouse-pushing capabilities, can use Amazon’s tools to publish their books and ebooks through CreateSpace and/or KDP. The price is right (how does “free” sound?). It’s easy, even for a novice. Actually, it was designed for first time independent book publishers.

Note that only KDP Select, which is an offering of KDP, requires exclusivity. With CreateSpace and regular old KDP, independent authors are free to publish their books anywhere — just as long as they find other ways to create their covers, generate ISBNs and bar codes, make their books available for sale, and take and fulfill book orders.

In other words, if you want a hassle, you can go beyond Amazon to publish your book. If, though, you want to self-publish your book without paying for the privilege with one of your favorite limbs, or your kids’ college funds, or your retirement account, then you can stay within Amazon’s universe to create and sell your book.

Any book publicist will feel comfortable promoting a book that has been published by CreateSpace or KDP, because it will be a “real” book. It will have an online presence, and people will be able to buy it when they hear about it. That’s all book publicists need to know before they commit to working with independent authors to create book promotion campaigns.

Therein lies the great opportunity for self-published authors.

But therein lies the danger, too.

What happens if Amazon fails? If you rely solely on Amazon for your book’s production and distribution and sales, then what happens if there is no Amazon?

The question has always been there for this Boston-based book publicist who watched as so many stores failed. One at a time, they disappeared: Woolworth’s. Jordan Marsh. Filene’s. And on. And on. And on.

Why not Amazon?

Some said that Amazon was too big, and too revolutionary, to fail.

That’s what they said about Woolworth’s, Jordan Marsh, Filene’s, and all the rest of the stores that once populated downtown Boston, too.

And now some people are finally admitting, in public, that Amazon is not infallible or eternal — that Amazon, too, is vulnerable to failure. Check out this article by Mark Piesing that was just published in PublishingPerspectives.

Amazon’s eventual demise is not probable, even with the expensive failure of some of its hardware offerings. But it is possible.

All good businesses (and all bad businesses, too) have their life spans.

What will happen to independent authors and independent publishers when Amazon’s life span reaches its natural conclusion? Independent authors and publishers: what’s your Plan B if Amazon fails? If you don’t have a backup plan, it’s time to get one in place. You just never know when you might need it.

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Book publicity surprise opportunities

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications
[email protected]

We all work hard to create book promotion opportunities. That’s why serendipitous book publicity opportunities are so welcome. How would you like to generate unexpected book publicity opportunities? An invitation to appear on a radio show that comes your way while you’re busy doing other things — such as writing books? Perfect!

How do you garner book publicity opportunities without persistent outreach to radio show producers and radio show hosts, though?
That’s easy, and you don’t even have to be a book publicist, or an especially aggressive author to do it. With a little bit of savvy self-marketing, you can get radio show opportunities even when you’re not reaching out for them.

Authors who let radio show producers and radio show hosts know that they’d be available for media interviews on short notice — either through their book publicists’ outreach or via their own followup thank-you emails (after interviews) — are well-positioned to receive radio show invitations when another guest has cancelled or, for one reason or another, air time has opened up and needs to be filled. It’s not unusual for a radio show host to be called upon to fill in for another radio show host at the mast minute and to need something to entertain and/or inform listeners. Why not call upon an author? And, naturally, the first authors radio show hosts (and their producers) call upon are the ones who have said they’d be available with little or no notice.

So, if you’re an author whose schedule allows for last minute radio show opportunities, do let radio show hosts and radio show producers know that you’d be available to do an on-air interview at any time. Then sit back. Sometimes, book promotion opportunities come your way when you’ve just set the stage for them to happen. There. Now, isn’t that great? You earned the book publicity opportunities just by being clever enough to lay the groundwork for them!

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The Trajectory of Book Publicity

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications
[email protected]

What does book discovery mean to authors and publishers? Everything, obviously. Book discovery is the whole purpose of book publicity and brand building: when authors and their books receive media attention, build their brand, and expand their online footprints, then they can differentiate themselves from competing authors and books (and videos, blogs, and the like), and they can persuade potential readers to purchase their books. Book discovery, then, is tied into book promotion and brand building which, in turn, directly affects book sales.

So what does Trajectory, a Boston-based firm, have to do with book discovery? According to an article in ThoughtCatalog, Trajectory will change everything about book discovery. Through Trajectory, authors and publishers will be able to match their books’ content, setting, mood, and more to books that readers have already bought and enjoyed. Think of Trajectory as — potentially — the Pandora of books. “If you love Neil Diamond, you might want to listen to Barry Manilow” (which is Pandora’s territory) becomes, “If you loved The Giver, you’d probably enjoy The Hunger Games” — which Trajectory would base on algorithms about all of the elements that make up a book’s content rather than on strictly sales information.

Just as authors and publishers currently consider it critical to get their books into the search engines, and to allow their book discovery to happen both organically and through concerted book promotion efforts, they may — according to ThoughtCatalog — soon be focusing on book discovery through Trajectory. Trajectory, it seems, is already forming partnerships with the major players in the world of book publishing.

So what will the trajectory of book publicity look like once the DNA of books can be scanned to see whether or not they’re a match for books readers have already bought and loved? Authors and publishers: stay tuned to find out!

Posted in book discovery, Book Promotion, book publicist, book publicists, book publicity, Online Book Promotion | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Year of Books and Mark Zuckerberg, Part 2

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications
[email protected]

Yes, Mark Zuckerberg, famed founder of Facebook, has launched an online book club. Now, what does that mean for book sales? Take a guess. Go ahead.

Sales of the first Mark Zuckerberg selection, The End of Power, have soared. The Telegraph‘s Rhiannon Williams provides these details:

* Since Mark Zuckerberg chose The End of Power, its sales have increased 775 per cent.
* The paperback version of The End of Power was, as of the Telegraph’s writing, the 8th bestselling book on Amazon (and it was a number one category bestseller in several categories). At the time of this writing, however, it’s number 49 (it’s ranking as a number one category bestseller, however, is undiminished).
* Again, as of the Telegraph’s writing, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook book club had 189,000 members. That’s up to 215,884 members as of now (and this book publicist is one of them).

So, if you guessed that Mark Zuckerberg’s endorsement of a book would boost its visibility and increase its sales, then you’re right on the money. Come to think of it, I always thought Mark Zuckerberg and Oprah Winfrey had a lot in common. Both of them have global influence and the respect of millions of people…and both Mark Zuckerberg and Oprah Winfrey are incredible people to have behind your book promotion campaign!

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A Year of Books and Mark Zuckerberg

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications
[email protected]

Could Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, be the biggest thing to happen to book publicity since Oprah? If he has his way, he will.

According to CNN.com, Mark Zuckerberg has committed to starting a book club in 2015. He will read a book every two weeks, and he has invited his Facebook followers (and, presumably, the media) to join him. Mark Zuckerberg is calling 2015 “a year of books.” Amen to that!

So here are the big questions. Which books will Mark Zuckerberg read? How will that affect the books’ discovery potential? Could books ever receive a bigger book promotion boost than they’d get from Mark Zuckerberg’s endorsement?

The lucky book that will launch Mark Zuckerberg’s book club is The End of Power by Moisés Naím. As a book publicist, I expect to see Mark Zuckerberg’s book choices carrying as much weight as any television show could, and certainly, Zuckerberg’s support of a book will mean as much as any media personality’s in the world. Personally, I have some interest in what books the U.S. president is reading. But I really want to know the books that Mark Zuckerberg (and his followers) are reading, and what they have to say about those books.

This book publicist will also be curious to see whether Mark’s book club choices will include ebooks as well as traditional books, and self-published books (independent books, that is) as well as mainstream books.

However it plays out, I offer kudos to Mark Zuckerberg for using his influence as a thought leader for good…to get people reading books, and for giving the authors he chooses to support the best book publicity opportunity they could ever dream about. Go, Mark! And, of course, go readers! Log onto Facebook, and join Mark Zuckerberg’s book club today! Happy new year, book lovers!

Posted in book discovery, book marketing, Book Promotion, book publicist, book publicists, book publicity, book review, book reviews, social networking for authors, social networking for books | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Publicity Tool

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications
[email protected]

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.

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Book publicity via Twitter

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications
[email protected]

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.

Posted in author platform, author publicity, book marketing, Book Promotion, book publicist, book publicity, twitter | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book publicity idea: book giveaways and book contests

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications
[email protected]

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.

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A lesson for this book publicist.

By Stacey J. Miller, Book Publicist
S. J. Miller Communications
[email protected]

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!

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