The Book Publicity Blog

News, Tips, Trends and Miscellany for Book Publicists

Morning Brief — Thursday, July 31

My iPhone bricked the other day when I tried to update to 2.0 and I tried restoring it about 15 times to no avail.  Apparently a lot of people had problems when the 3Gs went on sale and the issue was high server traffic.  I did, however, attempt a restoration at 4 a.m. Sunday morning (race day — I don’t usually get up that early just for kicks) but it still didn’t work and I really can’t imagine when server traffic could be any lighter.  I text more than talk, so initially I wasn’t too bothered … until the Blackberry broke this morning.

If you see a carrier pigeon, do not be alarmed.  It’s probably from me.

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Jennifer Mattern of All Book Marketing posts about how to pick blogs for a blog tour.  She also explains what exactly a blog tour is.

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Ed Champion offers up some thoughts about print vs. blog book coverageGalleyCat weighs in too.

July 31, 2008 Posted by | Blogs, Miscellaneous, Online Marketing | , , , | 1 Comment

Morning Brief — Wednesday, July 30

I was in Central Park with my running group yesterday evening when I ran into a friend of mine from high school (who, incidentally, I also saw in the start corral — yes, we do feel like cattle if you are wondering — at Sunday’s Nike-NYC Half Marathon).  New York may seem like a big city, but running / cycling paths are scarce and I think every cyclist and distance runner I know has bumped into someone they know in Central Park / Riverside Park / Prospect Park / along the West Side Highway or 9W.  Indeed.  It’s like in publishing where if you go to an industry event, you’re bound to find someone you know.

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I was whipping through headlines on my RSS reader this morning and saw that BusinessWeek blogger Stephen Baker had posted dates for his September book tour.  For authors who are considering blogging, the time to start would be well before the book comes out.  Of course, authors who have already built an online following — whether because of their previous books or because they already are popular bloggers — have an easier time attracting an audience, but given time, even an unknown author can build a following by reaching out to friends first and letting the word spread.

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For those of you who missed Monday’s NewsHour segment about the demise of print book reviews, Gabi from Viking Penguin passed on the link.  Jeffrey Brown interviews Steve Wasserman, formerly editor of the Los Angeles Times’ book review and Kassia Krozser of Booksquare.com, a very insightful book marketing / publishing blog.  If you get antsy listening to interviews, you can also read the transcript.

July 30, 2008 Posted by | Blogs | , , | Leave a comment

Morning Brief — Tuesday, July 29

Guy Kawasaki muses about envisioning bigger markets for products on How to Change the World.  You can see how this could apply to book marketing and publicity.  Although I’m just as beholden to the book review sections (or, at least, the ones that are left) and the major shows as the next book publicist, I do think one of the most challenging and fulfilling experiences as a publicist are digging up alternate media venues — whether they be niche publications, local media or reporters with specific interests — and crafting appropriate pitches.

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Daily Fix via PRNewser lists eight press release foibles including making vague claims and overusing industry jargon and superlatives.  So no more “pitch perfect characters,” I guess.

July 29, 2008 Posted by | Miscellaneous, Press Material | , , | Leave a comment

Morning Brief — Monday, July 28

I finally retrieved my wayward Fed Ex package on Friday.  I first stopped by the New York Running Company to chat with The Coach, who immediately took issue with my traipsing about in my running shoes.  (As all good runners know, one does not walk around in one’s running sneakers.)  I was about to explain that my excursion to the Fed Ex office in the South Bronx probably would involve a fair amount of running, but he looked busy, so I held my tongue.  Onward.

After exiting the Cypress Avenue subway station, I passed the projects, walked under an underpass — yes, the kind people live under — and made my way past the car washes and abandoned buildings.  I was relieved to reach the entrance to the Fed Ex parking lot, only to have the security guard wave me around the bend.  I rounded the bend.  Was he joking?!

Straight ahead was a dirt path (come to think of it, I don’t actually remember if it was dirt, but it was the kind of path that seemed like it should be dirt) lined with overgrown grass on one side and warehouses on the other.  On Law and Order, bodies get dumped in places like this.  I trudged on for a quarter mile, past the bridge and over the … railroad tracks.  Now, I’m not opposed to a bit of trek here and there — I once ran 18 miles because I had nothing better to do — but a railroad crossing?  Really??  In the middle of New York City???  Moral of the story:  when sending review copies to writers’ home addresses, make sure to sign the signature waiver.  I’d bet they sure wouldn’t put up with this rigamarole for a package they didn’t even request.

And in other matters, did you know Whole Foods doesn’t sell Coke?  (At least the one at the Time Warner Center doesn’t.)  Friday was a bit surreal.

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Jennifer Mattern at All Book Marketing discusses character blogs and whether they should be used to promote books.  Sounds fun (if you have the time).

July 28, 2008 Posted by | Blogs, Online Marketing | | 2 Comments

NPR Books Watch — 7/18-7/24

I got locked out of my computer this morning (actually, last night), apparently because I accidentally typed in the wrong password.  Probably on account of us having to change our passwords every six months and my not remembering what the heck I changed it to.  But it’s all good.  Until the next time I forget my password.

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Here are the NPR interviews for this week.  Anyone who emails me the imprints of all the books listed (or houses if no imprint is available) will win the NPR Books Grid for the prior week that includes, in addition to the information below, interviewer, pub date, imprint, post-interview Amazon ranking, pre-interview ranking (if the book was mentioned on Shelf Awareness and I was able to look up the number before the interview), and interview hyperlink.

TOTAL book stories: 29

All Things Considered: 9

BookTour: 1

Bryant Park Project: 2

Day to Day: 1

Fresh Air: 3

Morning Edition: 2

News & Notes: 2

NPR.org: 1

Talk of the Nation: 2

Tell Me More: 1

Weekend Edition Saturday: 1

Weekend Edition Sunday: 3

All Things Considered Three Books …      
All Things Considered Palace Council Stephen Carter Mystery
All Things Considered Get a Life Philippe  Dupuy Graphic Novels
All Things Considered Daring to Look Anne Whiston Spirn Photography
All Things Considered One Minute to Midnight Michael  Dobbs History
All Things Considered Books We Like / Lost in Uttar Pradesh Evan S.  Connell Literary Fiction
All Things Considered Books We Like / Walk the Blue Fields Claire Keegan Literary Fiction
All Things Considered Three Books …      
All Things Considered Society’s Child Janis Ian Memoir
All Things Considered Three Books … / Eco-Friendly Books Explore The Literary Green      
BookTour Unthinkable Amanda Ripley Health
Bryant Park Project, The From Schlub to Stud Max Gross Memoir
Bryant Park Project, The He’s Just Not That In To You Liz  Tuccillo Self-Help
Day to Day Dark Side, The Jane Meyer Politics
Fresh Air Outsider in Amsterdam* Janwillem Van de Wetering Mystery
Fresh Air Here, Bullet Brian Turner Poetry
Fresh Air Last Days of Old Beijing, The Michael Meyer Current Events
Morning Edition Crime in the City / Hollywood Station Joe  Wambaugh Mystery
Morning Edition Illegal Action Stella Rimington  
News & Notes Long Road Outa Compton Verna Griffin Biography
News & Notes Curse of the Black Gold Ed  Kashi Photography
NPR.org One Minute to Midnight Michael  Dobbs History
Talk of the Nation My Guantanamo Diary Mahvish Khan Politics
Talk of the Nation Man Who Forgot How to Read Howard  Engel Memoir
Tell Me More Just Too Good to Be True E. Lynn  Harris Fiction
Weekend Edition Saturday Camp Camp Roger Bennett Literary Fiction
Weekend Edition Sunday Nuclear Family Vacation, A Nathan Hodge History
Weekend Edition Sunday Madapple Christina Meldrum Young Adult
Weekend Edition Sunday Red, White and Drunk All Over Natalie  MacLean Food

July 25, 2008 Posted by | NPR Books Watch | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Morning Brief — Thursday, July 24

Yesterday saw a lot of coverage of Peter Shankman’s HARO (Help a Reporter Out), a Profnet-like service that matches up PR folk / experts with journalists: Mediabistro, Gawker, the Industry Standard.  I’ve posted about HARO before, but in the four(?) months since Shankman started the service, the group has grown from 1,000-ish members to almost 20,000 as of this morning.  More importantly for us as publicists, major national media outlets from The New York Times to USA TODAY to CNN and many more are now using HARO to source their stories.  Although I don’t see queries appropriate for my authors all the time, I do frequently see queries that would be appropriate for other peoples’ authors.  (If I could be bothered, I would pass on those queries, but I can’t be bothered, so you should probably just take two seconds to sign up for HARO if you haven’t already.)

HARO’s primary benefit for book publicists is that unlike most PR folk who represent only a handful of clients, we represent dozens (or hundreds) of authors who can speak about dozens (and hundreds) of topics — HARO’s reporter queries are therefore that much more useful / applicable for us.

Shankman sends out three email messages a day with reporter queries.  He summarizes all queries at the top with details below, so it takes all of 10 seconds to eyeball the message to see if any of your authors might fit.  I’m not saying this works all the time, but it is a free and efficient way to supplement our publicity efforts.

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M.J. Rose of Buzz, Balls & Hype directs us to a post about how Twitter circumvented the press release by tweeting their news.  My word.  When I was a recent college grad working for a Big PR Agency I was driven to the brink of madness keeping track of Press Release Draft # … 19.  (That’s when scrubbing bathroom floors starts looking like an appealing career choice.)

July 24, 2008 Posted by | Pitching Tips, Press Material | , , | 1 Comment

Morning Brief — Wednesday, July 23

If I have been sending any of you email messages with links to naughty videos of Angelina Jolie, I must apologize.  I send myself these links.  Every morning.  IT needs to add Angie to the list of words/ phrases that get messages flushed to our spam accounts.  Speaking of banned words, did you know “Lolita” raises a red flag?  (I wouldn’t have guessed until I tried pitching a book whose author had performed in a production of Nabokov’s classic and I discovered a number of my pitches weren’t going through.)

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Carole Goldberg at the Hartford Courant is the latest book editor to be laid off, although supposedly book coverage will continue under the features editor.

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The UK Press Gazette reports that American newspapers “turn their back on the world.”  This is news? According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Centre, 64 percent of the newspapers surveyed have slashed foreign news pieces and only 10 percent considered foreign news “essential.”  And we’re fighting how many wars overseas?  Oh this bodes well for coverage of foreign affairs books …

July 23, 2008 Posted by | Miscellaneous, Update Your Database | | Leave a comment

What to do when long URLs don’t work

I’ve been trying to receive a Fed Ex package for a couple days now, which has been a source of great consternation.  Since we do have a package room in my apartment building, I didn’t think to have this one sent to my office.  But Fed Ex packages, of course, need to be signed for, unlike USPS ones.

I shivered as I looked at the Fed Ex address on the door tag: somewhere in the Bronx.  (I only recently discovered the G train actually exists.  I can’t deal with the Bronx just yet.)  So I tried signing the signature line on the door tag — no go.  I called Fed Ex asking if the package could be redelivered to my office.  No go.  I asked if it could be redelivered to a Fed Ex office that’s say, not in the South Bronx.  No go.  I even contemplated having the darn thing returned to the shipper, but it’s from overseas and my French is mostly limited to “une tranche de flan nature, s’il vous plait” at the patisserie and doesn’t really extend to “please refund my money.”  So I will now be traipsing up to the Fed Ex office … somewhere in the South Bronx.

Anyway, my point in all this is that for some time now, I’ve made sure to indicate “No signature necessary” when shipping books to reviewers’ home addresses.  (My company uses Fed Ex.)  Now you can bet I will include that line if it’s the last thing I do.

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And getting to the actual point of this post, one of my authors has had a couple reviews on CBS Marketwatch, which for whatever reason, has infinitely long URLs.  (Our online travel itineraries also have very long URLs.)  Of course, it never works to email these URLs since they get detached.  The solution?  Tiny URL — go to the home page, paste in your mega URL and out pops a URL of exactly six characters.  It’s so easy I sometimes want to do it for fun.  Almost.

July 22, 2008 Posted by | Miscellaneous | , | Leave a comment

Morning Brief — Monday, July 21

I grabbed some Chinese takeout at a friend’s place before a Friday night showing of The Dark Knight (did anyone not see that movie this weekend?) and it occurred to me that all Chinese takeout food is … exactly the same.  Everywhere.  Tell me — what dark magic is at work here?!

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Bella Stander from Reading Under the Covers posts about book trailers.  It’s an informative and comprehensive post that includes links to book trailers and Bella’s take on the advantages and disadvantages of creating them.  Some authors comment about their book trailers here.

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I’m a big fan of email, but sometimes the phone is the best way to go.  Tolly Moseley from Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists posts about how you can make phone pitches work for you.

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Portfolio.com’s Mixed Media blog reports that Fox News Channel’s Brit Hume will step down after the November elections.

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MediaPost talks about the dominance of Web 2.0 (texting, social media, blogging).  I have to say, I recently had an author on tour whose schedule changed pretty much every day, sometimes several times during the course of the day as I arranged / rearranged interviews.  So it proved pretty handy when I was able to text interview details to the Author / Producer / Media Escort at once rather than having to call numerous people with the information.

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Not a good time for newspapers.  Massive newsroom layoffs / anticipated layoffs at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Baltimore Sun, the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News, the Honolulu Advertiser, the Orlando Sentinel and the (Santa Rosa) Press Democrat.  And by now I think we’ve all heard that the last stand-alone book section of the Los Angeles Times will run next Sunday.  After that reviews will be folded into the Calendar section.

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Unfortunately, folding book sections affect not only book editors and reporters on staff, but freelancers as well.  Ed Champion, whose well-known podcast The Bat Segundo Show attracted hundreds of authors over the years, may be forced to end the show (which he largely bankrolled himself) because so many of his freelance gigs have dried up.  There may be a Save Segundo Plan in the works, though, so make sure to check back on Ed’s site for updates.

July 21, 2008 Posted by | Book Tour, Book trailers, Miscellaneous, Pitching Tips, Podcasts, Update Your Database | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NPR Books Watch Contest 7/11-7/17

No post yesterday because I took the day off.  I did things like sleep in, nap and cook.  I discovered meat that had been in my freezer for a year, but the label always says “Use or Freeze By” (July 7, 2007, in this case), so I took a chance and made pasta sauce.

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Here are the NPR interviews for this week.  Anyone who emails me the imprints of all the books listed (or houses if no imprint is available) will win the NPR Books Grid for the prior week that includes, in addition to the information below, interviewer, pub date, imprint, post-interview Amazon ranking, pre-interview ranking (if the book was mentioned on Shelf Awareness and I was able to look up the number before the interview), and interview hyperlink.

TOTAL book stories: 19

All Things Considered: 2

Book Tour: 1

Bryant Park Project: 1

Day to Day: 2

Fresh Air: 2

Morning Edition: 4

NPR.org: 4

Talk of the Nation: 1

Weekend Edition Saturday: 1

Weekend Edition Sunday: 1

All Things Considered Basrayatha Muhammad  Khudayyir Literary Fiction
All Things Considered Books We Like / Patent Lie, A Paul  Goldstein Mystery
BookTour Enchantress, The Salman Rushdie Literary Fiction
Bryant Park Project, The BPP Book Club / Petropolis Anya Ulinich Literary Fiction
Day to Day Dark Side, The Jane Meyer Politics
Day to Day Dark Side, The Jane Meyer Politics
Fresh Air Dark Side, The Jane Meyer Politics
Fresh Air Grand New Party Ross  Douthat  Politics
Morning Edition Now & Then Robert B. Parker Mystery
Morning Edition Crime in the City / Book of Old Houses, The Sarah Graves Mystery
Morning Edition Crime in the City / New Orleans Noir Julie Smith Mystery
Morning Edition Crime in the City /  Chelsea Levine Mystery
NPR.org Books We Like / Willie & Joe Bill  Maudlin Graphic Novels
NPR.org In Character / Red Badge of Courage Stephen Crane Literary Fiction
NPR.org Books We Like / Breath Tim Winton Literary Fiction
NPR.org Books We Like / Missy Chris  Hannan Literary Fiction
Talk of the Nation Few Seconds of Panic, A Stephen Fatsis Sports
Weekend Edition Saturday Forger’s Spell, The Edward Dolnick Art
Weekend Edition Sunday Ladies of Liberty Cokie  Roberts History

July 18, 2008 Posted by | NPR Books Watch | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment