The Book Publicity Blog

News, Tips, Trends and Miscellany for Book Publicists

The Answer’s on the Internets!

We’ve all been there: someone asks you a question so inane that the only adequate reaction — after the jaw drop — is “Let me Google that for you.”

So what is a Stupid Question?  It’s not necessarily one whose answer *you* think is obvious.  Nor is it one whose answer can be found online.  At the end of the day, the answer to pretty much everything can be found somewhere on the Internet and no one can be expected to spend hours (or even minutes, in some cases) trawling site after site.

But sometimes a question has an answer so immediately and completely available online that it practically takes longer to ask the question than it does to find the answer on the Internet.  You know what I’m talking about.  And that, my friends, is a Stupid Question.

When I wrote about Stupid Questions in my New Years Resolution post — and whenever I bring up the topic with friends and colleagues — people react with eye rolls and indignation, so clearly this situation is so pervasive that it demands a collective effort to rectify it.  I bring you … “The Answer’s on the Internets!”   (Yes — the plural is intentional.  No, I’m not going to [sic] it.)  Ground rules herewith:

— The purpose of this feature is not to make fun of people, but first, to underscore the fact that we are all independent and knowledgeable and that sometimes it’s far more efficient to look up something yourself rather than ask someone else.  Second, I will try to make this feature useful in addition to entertaining by tagging and categorizing questions. 

— Since this is The Book Publicity Blog, questions need to somehow pertain to book publicity / promotion / marketing.  (I may relax standards for questions that relate to book publishing in general depending on the utility of the question.)

 — Email the question you were asked and also the link you found that answers the question to bookpublicityblog[at]gmail[dot]com.  Put “The Answer’s on the Internets” in the subject line of your message.  Note: I will not look up links myself because, you got it, the answer’s on the Internets! 

— All questions will be posted anonymously.  Your entire submission will be anonymous unless you specifically request that all or part of your name / company be used.  All identifying details will be removed / changed (unless your question is dependent on those details in which case it will not be posted).

— I will attempt to post questions (and answers) on a regular basis — hopefully once a week — depending on how many submissions I receive.

— Lastly, “The Answer’s on the Internets!” should not make anyone afraid to ask questions.  I myself like to ask lots of them.  I also happily answer lots of them.  I’m simply encouraging people to first take just a second to check whether a satisfactory answer might be quickly and easily found online.

You know the story about giving a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach him how to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime?  Rather than simply providing the answer to a Stupid Question, send the person the link to the answer so maybe the next time they’ll be able to find the answer on their own.

13 Comments »

  1. I just wanted to make the point that while publicity firms are wonderful – and I totally support them – authors should split their funds between publicity which is never guaranteed with marketing which is guaranteed because it is places and paid for. At Authorbuzz.com we reach the people who buy and sell books via different methods but always guarantee the placements. For instance, a $5000 blog ad campaign we recently did got 80 million impressions and garnered over 20,000 click thoughs meaning from 2 million to 4 million people stopped to read the ads.

    Comment by M.J. Rose | February 19, 2009 | Reply

    • To this non-publicist/editor/ghostwriter, your blog looks major interesting, if somewhat beyond me technologically.
      And you’re apparently able (gracious enough) to handle stupid (beginner’s) questions. I’m trying to help a friend publicize a small-press (literary fiction) book. Where can I find a sample of an up-to-date book press release to send out with copies for review?

      Glad to send you a free copy in return for your help! Ad to appear in NYRB

      Comment by Stefanie Woodbridge | May 5, 2009 | Reply

  2. just an invitation to visit On the Seawall, a lit review site that’s been running since 8/07 …

    Comment by Ron Slate | June 11, 2009 | Reply

  3. After reading the reactions to stupid questions, I think the part about posting questions anonymously is a real plus. Noone likes to think that their question is stupid. I personally don’t feel there are stupid questions, only stupid answers. Questions reflect knowledge level in a given area.I take some issue with the statement that most answers can be found on the Internet. Internet information is not always as accurate as a professional in the field with years of experience. I’m pleased that you are sharing your professional experience with us.

    Comment by Kathleen O'Keefe-Kanavos | October 10, 2009 | Reply

    • Information found on the Internet should often be taken with a grain of salt, but it’s nevertheless a good place to start. For example, every so often I get emails / calls from college students or recent college graduates who are looking to get into publishing. Most of the time they’ve obviously taken some time to find out what they can and their questions are relatively thoughtful. Sometimes, however, it’s clear they haven’t even look up “publishing” on Google. Although I’m happy to help a young person break into publishing, I’m not going to serve as their search engine.

      Comment by Yen | October 12, 2009 | Reply

  4. R. Merial Martin, an Exxon Marketing retiree, is the author of Deterrent, a fictional novel that takes place in year 2011 and ironically foretells all that is currently happening in the USA from the wars, to the failed economy, an African American becomes president, to increases in crime, especially in The Woodlands, but hopefully not to the level in the book that required a deterrent to crime.(At bookstores and on the Web). He enjoys hunting and bonding with his brothers and friends. He competes in regional senior bowling tournaments. He is an avid golfer and plays weekly with former oil company friends. He and his wife, Catherine, have been supporting members of Fellowship of the Woodlands Church for over fourteen years and active in ministries and organizations in The Woodlands and Houston areas since 1991.
    Welford Street Miracles tells the stories of residents who lived In the 1100 block of Welford Avenue in “oil rich” Port Arthur, Texas from the Thirties thru the Eighties.
    Welford Street Miracles is based on something you know something about. Something you experienced through the sense of life, of actual living, and that always makes for the best kind of writing. Its simplicity, its honesty in telling is evident not only in the lines but between the lines, and that’s when writing is at its best. You believe the miracle, and believing it you begin to see the characters and feel for them and hope for them spiritually. Into this group of people we have a main character. The prime subject wrought with a medical problem, brainwashed in his spiritual hierarchy, and skilled in the business world, whose struggles and accomplishments come to the forefront and whose encounter with a stranger ends in the greatest miracle of all.

    Comment by R. Merial Martin | December 5, 2009 | Reply

  5. Pretty cool place you’ve got here. Thanx for it. I like such topics and anything connected to them. I definitely want to read more soon.

    Best regards

    Comment by Passer-by | February 15, 2010 | Reply

  6. My pen name is Michelle-Nicole Harrison. My self-published book is called ” A Hero’s Cry”. You can find the book on http://www.amazon.com. I need a publicist to find a film producer and make the book into a movie. If possible put the book in stores. It would be great if the publicist can do e-mail ad campaign and all this no cost to me up front. I can send you a synopsis through e-mail before I cover the cost to mail you a copy of my book. Thank you for your response.

    Comment by Sharon Wood | May 27, 2010 | Reply

  7. Just want to be added to your email list and I would like to add you to my email list for National Book Awards related news.

    Comment by Sherrie Young | July 8, 2010 | Reply

  8. Wanted: agent who is interested in representing my best seller novel that holds the mystery of 2012.

    Comment by Marta | September 25, 2010 | Reply

  9. I was wondering if you would review my picture book “My Best Friend, Abe Lincoln (historical fiction)? My illustrator worked as an animation artist at Disney from 1956 to 1967. See Amazon customer reviews of my book.

    Comment by Robert Bloch | October 7, 2011 | Reply

  10. My pen name is Michelle-Nicole Harrison. My self-published book is called, “A Hero’s Cry”. You can find more information at http://www.trafford.com/08-0424. Does anyone know a publicist?

    Comment by Sharon Wood | February 20, 2012 | Reply

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