The Book Publicity Blog

News, Tips, Trends and Miscellany for Book Publicists

NPR Books Watch Contest

Every time I attend a marketing meeting I’m always asked the same question: what have the national NPRs said?  Often enough, contacting producers is like banging my head against a brick wall.  I email, I use the pitch page, I sometimes call (depending on the book / producer) or resend a book with glowing reviews.  Still banging head against wall …

Now, I work on some pretty terrific books published by a well-respected imprint, so I know it’s not the books.  Back in March 2008 when I started this endeavor, I estimated that 100,000 authors are published each year, but apparently Bowker, the publisher of Books in Print, says 276,649 books were published in 2007.  (That doesn’t include the Print on Demand titles which brings the total to 400,000+).

My initial estimate of NPR author interviews (about 600 of them annually, or a dozen interviews per week) was also a little low — since I began keeping track of this at the end of March 2008, the number of national interviews each week has ranged from 15 to 25.  I’ll be generous and say 25 interviews per week for the purposes of this tally, which means that exactly .5 percent of books make it to a national NPR show.  In other words, getting interviewed on a national NPR show is about 20 times harder than getting into Harvard.  (And on the other side of the fence, the national NPR producers are dealing with 20 times more “applications” than the Harvard admissions office.  Not pretty for them.)

So I thought it would be fun — and informative — for all of us book publicists to keep track of how many books are actually covered each week.  Every week I’ll be tallying what books have been covered on the national NPR shows (since all good book publicists know that a national NPR interview is almost the Holy Grail of radio publicity).

On Thursday evenings / Friday mornings I’ll post a roundup of the national NPR book stories of the week.  The first person to send me the imprints (not publishing houses but imprints, where applicable) of all the books mentioned (maybe a dozen or so) will win the NPR Books Grid.  What is the NPR Books Grid?  The Grid is an Excel spreadsheet listing the titles, authors, subjects, shows, interviewers and post-interview Amazon rankings of all the book stories for that week.  For those of you who know how to use the alphabetize function in Excel, you’ll know that you can then organize the columns to see which shows or interviewers have been covering the most books in what subjects.  If tracking down the imprints of these books sounds like a wild goose chase to you, think of it this way — regardless of whether you win The Grid, you will have just familiarized yourself with all the national NPR book stories for that week.

Email your answers to bookpublicityblog[at]gmail[dot]com.


  1. I would love to submit for the contest

    Comment by Marlene Thornton | April 10, 2008 | Reply

  2. I try to do the same thing a bit haphazardly with the books featured in my blog’s Book Notes series. Your Grid inspires me to set up a proper spreadsheet.

    Comment by david | July 11, 2008 | Reply

  3. Cool site, love the info.

    Comment by Bill Bartmann | September 3, 2009 | Reply

  4. The American Salvage review on NPR should have moved a ton of that book…

    Comment by Jason Rice | September 16, 2009 | Reply

  5. I don’t know If I said it already but …I’m so glad I found this site…Keep up the good work I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say GREAT blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read….

    Comment by BloggerDude | October 8, 2009 | Reply

  6. I have a new book about about HIV disclosure and the laws that effect this new campaign that needs your support. Who do I send a copy to for review?

    Comment by Bradley Fowler | December 10, 2009 | Reply


    Mick Lexington announces the publication of his debut novel, “Mr. Jack” which will be available in the Amazon and Barnes & Noble catalogs April 15th 2011

    “Mr. Jack” explores the question; “Do the unexamined aspects of our lives come back to destroy all that we cherish?” It is the story of the definitive prodigal son Val Shepard, who returns to New York City after a self imposed exile to find, his girlfriend married, his career as an artist in shambles and his home occupied by a stranger: the charismatic Jackson King, or “Mr. Jack”.

    With nowhere to go, Val takes up residence in the discarded janitors closet across the hall from his old studio. Here Val is witness to Jackson’s decadent lifestyle, heroin abuse and sensual parties. Val begins to develop an admiration for Jackson, and as vicarious observer, sets a series of events into motion that will ultimately lead to Jackson’s demise.

    Through the words of protagonist Val Shepard, and from the safety of the pages of “Mr. Jack”, the reader experiences the passions and decadences of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the last bastion of Bohemia in New York City.

    Advanced Praise for “Mr. Jack”
    “Mr. Jack captures a New York of gritty characters, eccentric stories and indelible moments. It’s a great read that sticks with you.”
    ~ Ned Vizzini, author of “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” and “Be More Chill”

    “Mr. Jack is a riveting read that takes you on an unflinching, wry, and sardonic journey into the heart and under the skin of the Lower East Side of Manhattan, complete with all its worms and bruises, yet it keeps its sense of humor in a way only a New Yorker can.”
    ~ Matthew Pallamary, author of “Land Without Evil” and “The Small Dark Room of the Soul”

    “Mr. Jack is like drinking a cocktail of equal parts Charles Bukowski, Hubert Selby Jr. and Richard Price. It’s both fresh and stunning. An incredible blend of the sweet and bitter… order one up for yourself and see what I mean.”
    ~ Monte Schulz, author of “This Side of Jordan” and “Down By The River”

    “Mick Lexington’s dialogue is stellar.”
    ~ Brandi Reissenweber, regular contributor to “Poets and Writers Magazine”

    On publishing “Mr. Jack”
    I began writing “Mr. Jack” on August 1st 2005. Four years and nine drafts later, on August 5th 2009 I finished the final draft amongst hundreds of revisions.

    In the following year since finishing the “Mr. Jack” manuscript I sent query letters, synopses and sample chapters to approximately 100 agents in an attempt for representation. Of those hundred odd postings I received twenty replies, which had essentially the same response; although they felt the project had merit, they felt unable to represent a subversive work of fiction by an untested first time author.

    In reading these responses it reminded me of some advice a friend of mine, Joe Strummer, had unknowingly bestowed upon me some twenty years earlier. When I once asked him if he had it all to do over again what he would have done differently with The Clash. Joe told me, and I paraphrase, one of the annoyances of being on a major label was not having complete creative control.

    It was in that spirit I decided to publish “Mr. Jack” independently and it is my sincerest hope that the honesty with which it was written will come across the pages to you complete.

    Mick Lexington lives and Writes in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

    For further information on either Mick Lexington or to obtain a review copy of Mr. Jack please contact:

    Mick Lexington
    243 Henry Street #21
    New York, NY 10002

    (917) 684-5435

    Mr. Jack
    ISBN 978-0-615-45445-0

    Comment by Mick Lexington | February 26, 2011 | Reply

  8. […] NPR Books Watch Contest The Book Publicity BlogNPR Books Watch Contest. Every time I attend a marketing meeting I'm always asked the same question: what have the […]

    Pingback by 9 Books Watch Sites | Hold Your Future | October 7, 2011 | Reply

  9. if you get tired of the dark and violent, try “Jitter Bug” on Amazon Kindle. it is a fifties tale of a young Fuller Brush salesman, his daughter and bulldog. want to know about early cocaine laws in the u.s.a? check it out! only .99!

    Comment by Zara Brooks-Watson | September 3, 2013 | Reply

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