Local Book Promotion Options — Part 1

You’re looking for book publicity opportunities, with or without the help of a book publicist. What do you do?

Do you stick with national media outlets, or do you also pitch your book and your messages to local media outlets?

So many media outlets have a national audience these days. Radio shows that are streamed online can be heard by anyone in the country, and articles can be read by anyone in the world even when the article is originally printed in a local newspaper or magazine as long as that media outlet has a web presence … and nearly every newspaper and magazine does have an online counterpart so their readership expands far beyond the areas you’d expect.

That said, media decision makers — particularly, community newspaper editors — still search for local stories. So while you’re seeking national media attention, don’t overlook the obvious: reaching out to weekly newspapers in your area in addition to pitching the daily (or larger) newspapers that cover your media market. You haven’t covered all the author promotion possibilities until you’ve reached out to the local media in your area and let them know you are available for interviews and your book is available for review.

For example, let’s say you’re an author who’s based in Newton, Massachusetts. Of course, you’ll contact the editors at the daily newspapers in Boston, Massachusetts and the surrounding areas. You’ll contact editors at the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald and let them know about your story idea. You’ll probably also reach out to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette (a large daily newspaper in Central Massachusetts), the Patriot Ledger (a top daily newspaper in Southern Massachusetts) and the Boston Phoenix (a weekly Boston-based entertainment and arts newspaper) as a matter of course.

But, if you’re a Newton, Massachusetts-based author, don’t bypass other print book promotion opportunities in the Boston area — specifically, in Newton, Massachusetts — just because they’re smaller media outlets. For example, be sure to put The Newton Tab‘s and Newton Living Magazine editors on your contact list.

Beyond local print media, you’ll also want to contact the New England Cable News TV network which is based in Newton, Massachusetts, WNTN-AM (which, again, is based in Newton, Massachusetts), and more along with the Boston radio stations (among them, WBZ-AM and WRKO-AM which have a national listening audience although they still are local radio stations) and the Boston network affiliate TV statons including WBZ-TV, WCVB-TV, WCBS-TV, WFXT-TV (Boston’s Fox TV station), WSBK-TV and WLVI-TV (Boston’s two independent TV stations), and others.

You can also contact small community newspapers associated with other nearby cities in Massachusetts: Cambridge, Brighton, Brookline, Arlington, Concord, Lexington, Quincy, Massachusetts … well, you get the idea. If there’s a city near where you live, that city has its own local newspapers, and it probably has its own radio station. And maybe it also has its own local cable television station, too.

So, when you’re seeking national book promotion opportunities, think local. You’ll have an obvious news hook, and you can leverage the fact that you know what’s going on where you live and can address happenings (in this case, for example, in Newton, Massachusetts). Because you’re a local author (local to somewhere in the country, if not Newton, Massachusetts), you’ll most likely know the local media outlets off the top of your head and be able to reach out to them directly with appropriate story pitches — or, at least, you’ll be able to make sure your book publicist has reached out to all of the local media outlets. Never assume your local book publicist has all the media bases covered. Just be sure you have a list of all of the media outlets to which you can pitch a local media story, and don’t leave out a single one. Each book promotion opportunity you garner, big or small, is another step on your path to maximum visibility for your book and your messages.

Stacey J. Miller is a book promotion specialist and founder of Greater Boston, Massachusetts-based S. J. Miller Communications. Visit her at www.bookpr.com.

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Book Promotion Is a Crummy Investment, But It’s an Excellent Opportunity

A book promotion campaign represents a dubious expenditure if your sole goal is to sell a sufficient number of books to pay for the book promotion campaign and then to move enough additional books to turn a profit. Although there is a relationship between book promotion and book sales, that connection is highly unpredictable. You can’t say with any degree of certainty, “If I invest X in my book promotion campaign, I’ll see a boost of Y in book sales.” The only dependable expression of the link between book publicity and book sales, unfortunately, is a negative one: if you don’t promote your book, then you’ll probably sell no books because nobody will know about it.

A book promotion campaign may help you sell books if you can get yourself in front of the right potential book buyers, in the right ways, and at the right times. Then your messages must be relevant and compelling. The solutions you offer must be credible, or you have to be really entertaining (or you have to know somebody who is). Potential readers have to learn (and remember) your name and your book’s title, and your book must be readily, and continually, available where your intended readers can find and buy it. Your book also has to be worth its price, and it has to inspire buyers to tell other potential readers about it. All of that can happen.

In other words, a book promotion might pay off in increased book sales, or at least in one or more short-term book sales spikes. But, in order for that to happen, a lot of variables have to fall into place. You have to be lucky, and the stars have to line up for you and, even then, you won’t be able to replicate the experience every time you publish a new book. Few authors catch lightning in a bottle twice because there’s nothing scientific about the relationship between a book publicity campaign and an increase in the number of books that you sell.

That said, book promotion campaigns are excellent opportunities for authors. No, you can’t justify launching a book promotion campaign in exchange for a predictable number of book sales unless you’re the type of person who bought Google shares during its initial public offering and then enjoyed a good night’s sleep. But, if you’re like most authors, you won’t count on monetizing your publicity campaign solely on the basis of increased book sales.

Your plans will also include embracing the benefits that book promotion campaigns always provide and that make book publicity campaigns reliably worth the time, effort, and money you put into it (yes, even shoestring book promotion campaigns require an investment of cash). But here’s the good news. Every time you embark upon a book publicity campaign, you’ll give yourself an opportunity to:

1. Disseminate your key messages and share your viewpoint. Your book gives journalists and hosts a reason to interview you. Once you’re on the air, in print, or online, you can tell people what you want them to know, share your perspective with them, make your case, and persuade listeners, viewers, and readers to follow a specific course of action. A dentist who writes a book about the importance dental hygiene, for example, might target people who haven’t had a checkup in years… and figure out how to finally get bring them into a dentist’s office before a dental crisis erupts that will really turn dental care into a nightmare. You’ll have your say, and people will hear you… and that’s probably one of the main reasons why you wrote your book, anyway.

2. Establish yourself as an authority and gain a competitive advantage. Which furniture mover would you be more inclined to hire: the one whose media spokesperson is always providing advice for packing fragile items, transporting heirlooms across long distances, familiarizing yourself with a new neighborhood, and helping your kids adapt to a new school, or the one whose company name you’ve randomly picked up from the Boston Globe‘s classified ads? Your expertise is something you can translate into new business opportunities, increased fees for current offerings, and the like.

3. Enhance your online presence. As you establish your portfolio of newspaper and online clippings, and accumulate radio, TV, and web interviews, you’ll find your search engine visibility improving, and organizations, clients, customers, and the media will be better able to connect with you. Online articles that link back to your website attract readers, and they help your overall search engine optimization efforts on an ongoing basis, too. You can leverage your increased online presence to create new business relationships and reach out to people who, otherwise, wouldn’t have any way of finding you.

4. Build your brand. By sharing your expertise and point of view, you’re creating a platform from which you can more easily and successfully launch additional products and services… or simply enlarge your potential client and customer base for the services and products you already provide (or hope to offer). Every interview provides you with the possibility of metaphorically handing out hundreds, if not thousands, of business cards all at once to highly targeted audiences.

So, although you can’t count on a book promotion campaign to pay for itself through increased book sales, you can depend on the enhanced opportunities that book publicity campaigns provide. Launching a book promotion campaign is a sound investment… or, at least, it is a wonderful opportunity for authors who can see beyond a hoped-for spike in book sales to achieve far more lucrative, and sustainable, gains.

Stacey J. Miller is an online 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).

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Is this book publicist seeing things?

Yes, I know my life is all about book promotion, and books, and promoting books, and publicizing books, and…well, yes, I confess. I’m all about books.

But am I seeing things?

I just came across an MSNBC.com story titled: Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss! Vote for your favorite movie.

Yes, I’m aware that several of Dr. Seuss’s books have been turned into movie. I’m fond of several of them.

However, is it asking too much that we honor Dr. Seuss on his birthday by remembering his books before we jump to the next topic, film? Is it unreasonable to assume that Dr. Seuss, most of all, would want to be remembered as an author and illustrator?

To me, Dr. Seuss is the genius behind some of the best books that ever were, or ever will be. On his birthday, I want to re-read some of those.

See one of the films? Maybe…but not until I’m finished reading the books. Does that make me strange?

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A book promotion specialist’s tools

Like all professionals, a book promotion specialist has her tools of the trade. One of the most important is the relationship she builds with each and every one of her media contacts.

The identity of those TV and radio producers, magazine editors and writers, and newspaper editors and journalists, bloggers, and other media decision makers are a proprietary part of a book promotion specialist’s property. But those names and the contact information behind those names are only a piece of what book publicists offer. The rest is the credibility the book publicist brings to each encounter she has with a producer, writer, editor, and journalist. A book publicist stakes her reputation on every author she represents; her association with a book is an explicit endorsement for that book. An author who would like to hire me “only” to send his or her press release, on my letterhead, to my media contacts pays full freight. If I get behind a book, then the author benefits from my reputation, and that’s what I offer: my reputation, my book promotion skills, my approach to book promotion, my creativity in planning book promotion strategies, and the media contacts who help me turn unknown authors into experts with a platform.

This is how I see a book publicist’s offerings, and it would surprise me to know there’s another perspective — but, apparently, there is. A publicist with whom I have a passing familiarity left a message on my answering machine after hours. When I retrieved the message, I heard a request for the name of the producer I’d worked with to book myself on a segment of “The Rachael Ray Show” to promote my book, 101 Recipes for Microwave Mug Cakes (BPT Press).

I was bewildered by the request for a number of reasons including the following:

1. The identity of, and contact information for, the producer I worked with at “The Rachael Ray Show” and every other media outlet I contact was, is, and will remain my business, and nobody else’s until such time as I decide to sell my book promotion firm. Does that sound selfish? Well, okay. But book promotion is my livelihood, and to compromise my intellectual property would be self-sabotage, and that’s something in which I would not engage any more than I would consider sabotaging a colleague or a competitor’s business.

2. I appeared on “The Rachael Ray Show” at the end of 2009. Why would a publicist presume that the producer with whom I worked is still working at that TV show?

3. The names of, and contact information for, producers at every national TV show you can name is available to people who are willing to a) hunt for it (I’ve written an article about how to get this information — click here to read it) or b) pay for it. I’d be chagrined to learn that a publicist lacked access to the contact information for a major national TV show. In fact, it doesn’t make sense that a publicist would lack that information or wouldn’t know how to get it. And, as Judge Judy likes to say, if something doesn’t make sense, then it isn’t true. Which leads me to the worst conclusion of all.

I believe this publicist wanted to use my name, and my reputation, to contact the producer of “The Rachael Ray Show” without 1) being up-front about the fact that he wanted to do so and 2) without giving me the benefit of knowing anything about the book project on which he was working. Evidently, offering me payment for this information (which I couldn’t accept for the reasons I’ve already outlined) was not a part of the equation.

A book promotion specialist has her tools, and this is how a book promotion specialist stays in business. This is what a book promotion specialist has to offer. If another publicist places so little value on those tools that he or she would blithely request the information, to do with just as he or she pleased, then I call that an attempt at theft.

Yes, there is a Recession going on. Maybe the publicist who tried to take from me a piece of my property and to “borrow” my reputation has fallen up against hard times. But I fear that the publicist in question isn’t only facing a financial challenge. I am deeply concerned this individual has declared moral bankruptcy as well.

To the publicist in question: If you happen to read this blog entry, no. I will not return your phone call. And I can’t imagine why you left me the message in the first place if you consider yourself a person of honor.

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Is 50 Years Too Late for Book Promotion?

Is 50 years too long to wait after an event to publish your story and hope to get some book promotion? Well, not if you’ve waited 50 years to talk about the affair you had with President John F. Kennedy while you were a White House intern, apparently. Check out just some of the national book promotion opportunities that Mimi Alford’s new book, Once Upon a Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy and Its Aftermath, has received. Here’s the story on CNN, and here it is on NBC’s “Today Show.”

And this is just the beginning.

Mimi Alford will be all over the media, promoting her new book, and she’ll be given these book publicity 50 years after her lover’s death because she was in the right place at the right time — doing the wrong thing.

When the book sales that result from the book promotion blitz that accompanies Mimi Alford’s new book are in, she might just feel that doing exactly the wrong thing was exactly the right book — from a book promotion perspective.

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Book Promotion Perspectives

A Houston Chronicle article talks about book promotion from the different perspectives of several successful authors including Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and others.

The story of how Skloot’s created buzz for her book (beginning years before its publication!) caught my attention because, by coincidence, I’d just finished reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks . Of course, I read the book because of all the media attention it had received (yes, successful book promotion campaigns work for book publicists, too). But I found it fascinating to see the extent to which Skloot’s generated all that book publicity for herself. She didn’t wait for her book publisher to do it for her.

In the article, you’ll read about authors who used Facebook and Twitter to generate buzz for their book, and you’ll read about at least one author who avoided social networking. Finally, you’ll read about an author whose appearance on a national TV show — “Good Morning America” — was the making of his book and proved, to him, that traditional book promotion strategies still work best (when you’re lucky enough to score the right mix of major book promotion opportunities, that is).

Ask half a dozen authors whose books have been successful how they created buzz for their books, and you’ll get six vastly different responses. But the cool thing is that we can learn from all of them, and we can adapt their book promotion strategies to our own book publicity goals, needs, and preferences. There’s something to be learned from all successful authors.

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Book Lust Rediscoveries Kindles Book Promotion Potential

Nearly every author who works with this book publicist has a dream: “Get me on NPR!” Any author whose book is featured on “Morning Edition” or any other National Public Radio show will be in literary and book publicity heaven.

Which is why it was particularly interesting for me to come across an article about Nancy Pearl, a librarian who comments about books on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” and who has created the Book Lust Rediscoveries program with Amazon. The program will reprint books some of Pearl’s favorite out-of-print titles that were originally published between 1960 and 2000. Pearl will add her own introduction and discussion questions to each reprinted book.

If Pearl puts her stamp of approval on a book than — fifty years old or not — there will be instant buzz about the title, and an instant surge of book promotion potential that, ultimately, will be a huge potential gain for the author. So Book Lust Rediscoveries is all good, right? You’d think so, except I ran across the article about Book Lust Rediscoveries in an article (ironically, one that was published on the NPR web site) titled: “Publishers And Booksellers See A ‘Predatory’ Amazon.”

There’s no doubt that Amazon’s experiments and goals are in conflict with those of many publishing industry professionals. At the same time, the publishing industry is changing so quickly, and so profoundly, that it’s almost impossible to single out one company as “all bad” or, even, as “all good.”

My job is to keep up with book promotion opportunities, and right now, I’m grateful to Amazon for providing a new book publicity opportunity — in this case, to books that are no longer in print. Tomorrow, I’m sure I’ll lament something else’s partnership with Amazon or a decision Amazon has made that can hurt small publishers … but, at least in this case, I’m willing to give credit where credit is due. And credit is certainly due to Amazon and to Nancy Pearl for their Book Lust Rediscoveries program.

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Here’s How to Garner Instant Book Promotion

Here’s how to garner an instant book promotion opportunity. Sell your book to a producer who creates a successful film best upon your book, and then have that film be nominated for an Oscar. There you have it: a chance to create buzz about your book.

USA Today reports that six of the nine movies that were nominated for best picture Oscars this year were based upon books. Those movies are: “The Descendants,” “Hugo,” “The Help,” “Moneyball,” “War Horse,” and “Extremely Loud & IncrediblyClose.” Last year (USA Today reports), ten movies were nominated for best picture Oscars, and half of them were based on books.

So if you want your book’s title on everyone’s lips (and all over everyone’s social networking pages and emails), simply focus on having someone turn your book into an Oscar-worthy film. Failing that, do what the rest of us have learned works best: conduct a book promotion campaign that blends the best of traditional book promotion and online book promotion strategies, and maintain your efforts for as long as they’re productive, cost effective, and enjoyable. Book promotion campaigns work — perhaps not as well as having your book-to-film project nominated for an Oscar, but still, book promotion campaigns do work.

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Book Promotion and Book Marketing Perspective

Shaun Rein, author of the upcoming book, The End of Cheap China: Economic and Cultural Trends That Will Disrupt the World, shares his perspective on book promotion and book marketing in a Forbes article, Three Tips on Making Your Book a Bestseller.

Since Rein’s book will be published by a traditional house, Wiley, it’s interesting that he even has to give book promotion and book marketing a thought. Isn’t the publisher supposed to take care of book publicity and all things related to selling books?

Well, no. As Rein has discovered, for most authors, traditional book publishers focus their book marketing efforts primarily on their A-list authors, and they leave all of their other authors to implement a book promotion and book publicity plan for themselves. That’s not only true of Wiley. It’s the case for all of the large traditional publishers that this book publicist has run across.

A small- to mid-sized traditional publisher is driven by economics to care about the sales of the books they publish — or, at least, to support a greater percentage of the books they publish than larger publishers do. But the truth is that Rein is correct. To ensure that your voice is heard in the media, and your book’s title is mentioned in the press, most authors have to proactively take charge of their book promotion and book publicity efforts.

They can ask for (and will often receive) help from a traditional book publisher’s in-house publicity department. But they often have to ask for additional support beyond the resources that the traditional publisher can, or will, provide. That’s why authors so frequently also engage the services of an independent book promotion specialist, and why they so often regard that working relationship as a partnership and participate in promoting their own books during the course of a book promotion campaign.

As Rein has found, it’s never too early to ramp up your book promotion efforts — and you can never have too many extra helping hands on board.

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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.

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