How to Blow a Book Promotion Opportunity

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

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.

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

E-book Novelist Claire Davon on the Art of Writing

Writing isn’t as easy as eBook novelist, Claire Davon, makes it look. Here’s what Claire has to say about her writing habits. (Note that Claire’s e-Books will have special pricing on Amazon for the next few days as part of her book promotion and book marketing campaign. Click here to find out more.)

By Claire Davon

Art is hard to consistently write for this romance and action/adventure novelist!

Writing can be frustrating. Some days, the words come to me like drops of water in a parched desert; other times, they are the desert. They shift and pile randomly, frustrating my attempts to make them into something cohesive. Just like the desert, they will briefly rise up, caught on the wind, only to settle down again, flat and uninteresting. My feet sink into that sand and get caught, and no attempt to pluck them out and put them right makes a difference.

There are days when the characters saunter into my consciousness, tapping on the inside of my skull with a new revelation — a new plot point that I would never have considered. The character smugly looks at me as if to say, “But, of course, this is what happens next. It is what must happen next!”

Then there are those times when no amount of fussing over the story gives me a satisfactory conclusion to a chapter. My plot obstinately refuses to work, and that is that.

To me, writing is very much a progression of fits and starts. Those days when I have that moment of clarity, when a plot point I’ve been gnawing on like a bone suddenly just falls into place, are glorious. The days prior to that eureka moment, when the Gordian knot will not be sliced, are some of the most frustrating in the world. I’ll write it out, knowing it doesn’t work, and then it will begin to play in my head until it becomes clear. The way I write is such that, if I have an idea (even if it doesn’t seem to fit the story), it has to go down on paper, or I can’t move onto the next.

That’s the beauty of the creative process. My story, Beginning Time, started as a dream and, years later, became much more. From a fully-remembered dream about a subway disaster, grey mist, and being plucked out of danger by the man of your dreams (literally), it became an apocalyptic time travel story that I hope will be the first in a series.

It didn’t start out as a time travel story, but that’s where it is. I had to roll with the plot and, when the characters spoke, I had to listen. I’ve found that it’s no good to argue with them; doing so only slows down the story. Originally I had some odd elements of large sorting containers, zombie like survivors, and our heroine having powers over the sorting. It didn’t work. I knew it didn’t work, and I put the story down until it shook me slightly and told me so.

When a plot slows down, when a character doesn t seem to work, when an element stands out as wrong, it behooves me to listen. That means there’s something organically wrong with what I’m trying to create.

On the other hand, sometimes, I just have to slog through. I write every day. On those days when inspiration is scant, I write, anyway. It may be no good, but there may be nuggets in there that either can be used later or (more likely) aren’t nearly as bad as I have imagined them to be. Sometimes, the demons of “you suck” surface and tell me that I am the worst writer EVER, and that I should just give up and never lose my day job. Listening to those demons has stopped me in the past, but I ignore them now. All I can do is write, and be the best at my craft that I can be.

So I say to you: art is hard, but write, anyway. Write when the story seems flaccid and uninspired. Write when the story fights you. Write until the plot and characters wake up and come to life. It will happen. It happens to me every time. It happened with Sense of Adventure, one of my contemporary romances that won a contest in 2007 and then got summarily rejected by the romance publishing houses. I was indignant. Couldn’t the foolish publishers see the greatness of my work? Then I sighed, and put it (and all my other stories) away, sure of my abject failure as a writer. Years later, when I revisited it, I had to admit that there were story elements that needed tightening and a strange traditional mindset in a story that needed to be set free. Sometimes, you have to be ruthless in the final draft, losing cherished scenes and other elements that you toiled over. In this story, it was an entire chapter set in South Orange, New Jersey that was excised, although I am happy to admit I learned a great deal about the city in the process.

Just write every day. Each day is an accumulation of words, and soon those words become chapters, and finally, books. You will be amazed at what happens when you discipline yourself to a small commitment of time. Of course, that small commitment quickly takes over your idle time; drive time (I drive on a California freeway five days a week to commute to my day job) is a particular favorite of mine to work through niggling ideas. Just write. What you can accomplish when you do will astound you. It did me. I set small, modest daily goals and, within six months, I had revised one book, finished a novella, and was almost done with a full length paranormal.

Just write. You will be amazed at the results.

For more information about Claire Davon, visit her website.

Posted in author publicity, book marketing, Book Promotion, book publicity, eBook promotion, Online Book Promotion | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Tony Horwitz’s Book Publicity Tale of Woe

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

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!!!

Posted in author publicity, Book Promotion, book publicity, eBook promotion, Online Book Promotion, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Bad Book Publicity?

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

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.

Posted in Book Promotion, book publicist, book publicists, book publicity | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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!

Posted in author publicity, book discovery, book marketing, Book Promotion, book publicists, book publicity, eBook promotion | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Backflip for book promotion?

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

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!

Posted in author publicity, book marketing, Book Promotion, book publicist, book publicists, book publicity, eBook promotion | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why we don’t hear more about eBook promotion.

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

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!

Posted in book discovery, book marketing, Book Promotion, book publicist, book publicists, book publicity, eBook promotion | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Publicity for…What Kind of Books?

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

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.

Posted in author publicity, Book Promotion, book publicist, book publicists, book publicity | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Challenge of Author Radio Interviews

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

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!

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

Don’t Make Your Book Publicist Play Guessing Games

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

Don’t make your book publicist play guessing games when you embark on a book promotion partnership with her. Tell her what you need, when you need it. Your silence can sabotage your chances to let your target readership know about your book. Don’t let that happen! Be straightforward with your book publicist, and get the response you deserve … or walk away from that book publicity firm and find one that can better help you succeed.

When you’re promoting your book, it’s great to have a book publicist on your side. You likely chose one in the right way and with the best intentions. After conducting a chemistry check with the book publicist, you decided the working relationship felt right. Your book publicist’s references checked out. Your book publicist seemed intelligent enough, and she cared about your book, and she supported your mission and the messages you wanted to disseminate.

So you ought to defer to your book publicist and offload all responsibility for your book publicity campaign on her, right?


You know more about your book and your area of expertise than your book publicist could learn in a month of Sundays. Share information with your book publicist — don’t expect her to read your mind or to figure things out for herself. Again: don’t make your book publicist play guessing games.

Your book publicist may notice that an upcoming event, or a breaking news story, ties into your subject matter, and she may see that as a news hook. She may be on top of pitching the media all of the time when she should.

On the other hand, she may not. And, if she doesn’t, then make her aware of the available news hook, and make sure she’s adjusting your book publicity campaign to accommodate the publicity opportunity. In other words, make sure she doesn’t blow it for you!

When you see the news hook, make sure she sees it, too. And don’t hesitate. While you’re silently waiting and hoping your book publicist “gets it,” your competitors are probably finding ways to get their names in front of the media.

If your book publicist truly can’t see the value of a news hook, or she insists on sticking to the book publicity plan (as she conceptualized it before you knew the news hook would present itself), then you may want to reevaluate the effectiveness of your working relationship with your book publicist.

It’s wonderful to partner with your book publicist, and to trust your book publicist to have creative ideas that can form the core of your book publicity campaign. But your book publicist also has to stay open to your idea and respectful of the insights you bring as the subject matter expert. So be comfortable sitting in the director’s chair with your book publicity campaign when the situation calls for it. If your book publicist doesn’t see the PR opportunities, then make sure she’s responsive to the news hooks when you find them for her … and don’t let book publicity opportunities pass you by because you’re too polite to ask for what you need from your book publicist!

Posted in author publicity, Book Promotion, book publicist, book publicity, eBook promotion | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment