Thursday, March 10, 2011

Book promotion generally doesn’t involve this, but….

Most authors who engage in book promotion campaigns try to expand their online footprints. So isn’t it ironic that one of the most over-exposed personalities today has inspired a software product that claims it can wipe his presence from the Web?

Tinted Sheen‘s advertising copy claims that it can remove Charlie Sheen from your Internet browser. I’m not so sure I’d want to wipe Charlie Sheen from my Internet browser…as a book publicist, I’m finding it fascinating to watch all of the media interview opportunities and press that the troubled Sheen is receiving…but I’m intrigued by Tinted Sheen nonetheless.

A book publicist typically guides authors through the process of “growing” their online presence through the publication of press releases and articles, creating links back to interviews they’ve granted, blogging, and the like.

But there’s a case to be made for the fact that Tinted Sheen, which deals with the overexposure of Charlie Sheen — and which received attention from no less a media outlet than CNN.com — has raised the online visibility of Charlie Sheen more than ever.

All of which makes me wonder: would Tinted Sheen block online references to itself? Hmmm....

Friday, June 5, 2009

Excellent article on book publishing industry and BEA 2009

Kudos to Elisabeth Eaves and her article, "Why Write Books? Notes on BookExpo America," published on Forbes.com."

Along with discussing the current state of the book publishing industry from a refreshingly optimistic perspective, Eaves makes a spot-on observation about the futility of trying to predict book sales. She says in essence, that "a team of blindfolded monkeys throwing darts" could predict book sales as well as any individual or philosophy or theory could.

Which (because I'm always on my soapbox about this topic)leads me back to the point I so frequently make: while book promotion may be tangentially related to book sales, it's impossible to predict how closely related even a highly successful book promotion campaign will be to an increase in book sales, nor is it reasonable to ask a book publicist to guess at the number of book sales that might be generated by a successful book publicity campaign.

That said (over and over again), authors and publishers are always asking me to "sell" my book promotion services by answering, to their satisfaction, the question of how many books they might expect to sell if they invest X, Y, or Z in a book promotion campaign. The question drives me crazy, as does the corollary, which is that certain unscrupulous (or inexperienced or naive) book promotion firms out there to attempt to answer the question -- which, of course, always has the effect of disappointing the author and publisher when the predictions made about book sales fall flat.

"I hired a book publicist, but I was very disappointed in the campaign," is the way authors and publishers typically open their conversation with me after such an experience -- and, as I've said, it drives me nuts, because it's so unnecessary. As Eaves says, books are a creative endeavor, and no one can accurately predict what the demand for creative output will be -- whether it's a book or a song or a painting.

I guess some people feel uncomfortable responding "it's impossible to know" when they're asked, point-blank, to predict the impossible. But I do have a favor to ask of the authors and publishers who set off book publicists to begin with. Please stop asking us to try to predict the effect that book promotion campaigns will have on book sales. We can't make that type of a prediction, because there's simply no science behind such a prediction. I can't answer the question, and my colleagues can't answer the question. Only time, and the book promotion itself, can answer the question of what effect the book promotion campaign will have on book sales.

And that, unfortunately, is that.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

When book promotion offers TMI (too much information)

Show of hands: who's planning to buy a copy of Maureen McCormick's new autobiography? If you're asking, "Who's Maureen McCormick," you're excused from answering. But, for the other 95% of us, let's be honest. We want to read the life story of Marcia Brady's alter ego, don't we? If it was even half as much fun as Greg's book -- well, that is, Barry Williams' book -- then we owe it to ourselves to buy a copy.

But, as we're seeing from all the book promotion ops (Maureen got a gig on the "Today Show," for pity's sake -- click here to see the video clip), this book probably won't be a laugh riot. We're not talking about a teenager dating her television parent. We're talking about...well, you'd better navigate away from this page now if you were a huge "Brady" fan who doesn't want to be crushed...drugs, syphilis, mental institutions, depression, domestic violence, and more (involving either Maureen herself or some of her family members).

Yuck.

A bigger "Brady Bunch" fan than me, you will not find. I loved Maureen, and I can name all of the Brady kids faster than I can tick off all the names of Sarah Palin's kids (the Brady kids' names were a whole lot more common, of course, but even so). And I'm happy that another "Brady kid" has lived to tell us what it was really like to be a member of the Brady clan.

And I'm tickled for Maureen's sake that her book was deemed worthy of a pop on one of the national morning talk shows.

But...fans? And others? Is there a time when book promotion opportunities might provide too close of a look at someone's life? Is there a situation in which TMI is TMI, no matter how grateful you might be for an author's contribution to your life? If so, then I'd have to respectfully submit that this is it.

Maureen, I love you. I truly do. And, yes, I'm going to buy a copy of your book.

But -- read it? I don't know. I'm not sure yet that I want to know that much about you. Forgive me, Maureen. But I'm just not sure. (Chris Knight, where's you're autobiography? Now, that one, I'll read.)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Same Soul, Many Bodies

I've finished reading Same Soul, Many Bodies: Discover the Healing Power of Future Lives through Progression Therapy by Brian L. Weiss -- again.

It's a good read. It seemed credible (this time around, although my perception about the book's veracity depends on how I'm feeling when I happen to be reading the book). Maybe Dr. Weiss perceives what we would all perceive if we regressed patients to the time before they were born through hypnosis. Or maybe there's something amiss about his technique, or with the way he processes the information that he receives through hypnotized subjects.

As a disclaimer, Dr. Weiss repeatedly tells readres that the results of his hypnotic sessions may be viewed as symbolic, rather than factual. In other words, maybe you didn't die in a fire 25 years ago. Instead, maybe there's a hot issue going on in your current life that needs to be resolved.

Well, thanks, Dr. Weiss. You offer us a book that raises a lot of questions...and few answers.

But then again, what did I expect? This is a metaphysical book, after all, and my view about metphysical matters varies according to the weather -- and New England weather, at that.

Same Soul, Many Bodies
By Brian L. Weiss
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Free Press (August 30, 2005)
ISBN-10: 0743264347
ISBN-13: 978-0743264341
Visit the author online.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Same Soul, Many Bodies

Here's what I'm reading: Same Soul, Many Bodies: Discover the Healing Power of Future Lives through Progression Therapy by Brian L. Weiss.

And I'm not reading it for the first time.

One of my eccentricities is that I hold onto books for a long, long time. I read them. Then I re-read them. Then I re- re-read them. And so on, until the book either starts to disintegrate, or one of my cats expedites the process by shredding the book while I'm asleep. (Actually, that's good news for authors and publishers, because when a well-loved book has been velveteen rabbitted, I'll usually "have" to buy myself a replacement copy.)

Anyway, so after a weekend of indulging myself in a sweet novel, I picked up Dr. Weiss's book and started to read it again. The first couple of times I read the book, I was half-persuaded that the evidence was in, and that souls were, in fact, immortal. Then, each time I put the book down, I wasn't so sure.

A couple of deaths in the family later, I'm back to wondering whether a New Age perspective on the afterlife would persuade me, frustrate me, or just plain confuse me. So here I go again.

Dr. Weiss, this is your last chance.

I'll let you know what I come away with as soon as I finish reading the book -- for the third or fourth time.

Monday, October 8, 2007

One Mississippi - The Book Review

I'm torn. On the one hand, I'd like to say that I loathed One Mississippi by Mark Childress so that I could get even with him for making me log onto iTunes first thing this morning to download the Carpenters' "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft."

That's not something I would typically do. "Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft" hasn't been on my mind for something like thirty years (it's not something the local oldies station plays), and I haven't missed it. But Mark Childress has planted the song into my head, as he planted "Rocket Man" by Elton John and countless songs by Sonny and Cher.

Come to think of it, that's what's really irritating me this morning. What seems to have happened is this: Mark Childress got himself several earworms and, in the process of passing them onto his faithful readers, he makes disparaging comments about them (such as saying, in as many words, that Sonny Bono is a dork). He then gets to put those songs out of his mind while his readers, on the other hand, must run over to their vinyl album collections or, in the worst-case scenario (that is, if they've thrown away their vinyl albums or found them destroyed because of a calamity), they must download those melodies and then actually listen to them. That's just wrong.

And here, in all my innocence, I thought that I'd heard the last of Sonny and Cher's Greatest Hits. Well, apparently I have not. Thanks a lot, Childress! So that's why I wanted to pan his new book, One Mississippi. I really, really wanted to pan it!

But, on the other hand, I must be honest. Childress's novel kept me awake last night until I'd finished it not only because the 1970's soundtrack that accompanied the plot was insistently throbbing away in my head when I should have been catching some zzzzzzz's but also because it was good.

Darn Childress, anyway. He shares my affinity for distressingly inane music, apparently. Plus, he can write! And, when he writes, you can't put his book down until you're through reading it.

So, okay, I concede. For a really good read, pick up a copy of One Mississippi. You'll end up staying awake too late, as I did last night. You'll also find yourself listening to a lot of bad music and visualizing Cher in those outrageous Bob Mackie costumes of (thank goodness) long ago, and you'll fixate on the image of a pre-political Sonny Bono flinching at his wife's insults while tiny Chastity, who was too young to know her parents' marriage was already in big trouble, looked on from atop the piano. And you'll worry about whether it's okay to laugh at Childress's depiction of everyone who either teaches or attends school in the deep South circa 1973 as a Redneck.

But, "dadgummit" (as the protagonist's father might say), you'll enjoy reading One Mississippi. You might not enjoy reading it quite as much as you enjoyed reading Crazy in Alabama (I'm sorry, but "The Sonny and Cher Show" will never put "The Beverly Hillbillies" out of business). But you'll enjoy it deeply, and you'll find yourself recommending it to others.

The only thing that would make this novel even better would be if a CD with all of the music you'll come away singing were included as part of the package. Next time, perhaps.

One Mississippi is a keeper. Two thumbs up (one on each hand).

One Mississippi
By Mark Childress
Back Bay Books (Little Brown and Company)
ISBN-10: 0-316-01212-2
ISBN-13: 978-0-316-01212-6
$13.99/$16.25 in Canada
Visit the author online.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

One Mississippi

Here's what I'm reading.

One MIssissippi, by Mark Childress, is what I'm reading today. I fell in love with Childress's Crazy in Alabama (the book, not the movie -- I never did make it through the movie, I'm sorry to say), and I thought I'd give his latest book a whirl. Although I should know better than to be swayed by the endorsements, the buy-in of Stephen King (which, strangely, is inside the cover rather than on the cover itself) moved me enough to pick up the book at Barnes and Noble.

So far, I'm hooked. Then again, it doesn't take much to get me excited about a book on a lazy Sunday morning. When I've finished reading One Mississippi, I'll post a review and give it a rating. In the meantime, I'll welcome your comments.