Friday, March 30, 2007

All About Book Promotion

<-- James Joyce, a man whose books need little promotion.

Book promotion is hard, believe me.

Whoosh Boom Splat - the Garage Warriors Guide to Projectile Shooters has been on sale since Tuesday and I'm happy to say, so far so good. The promotional video has, as they say, "gone viral" with about 24000 views on youtube since Tuesday. As I write this, it is ranked number 1873 of the 2 million plus books on Amazon, down from a ranking of 490 but still very good. If things stay on course, WBS will be a very successful book. If it does as well as Backyard Ballistics, I'd be very pleased.

Today, I'm in high dudgeon, up on my high horse, or as James Joyce wrote, I'm "all wind and piss like a tanyard cat." Here's my take, for writers and others interested in book marketing. Boy, do I have opinions.

To date, WBS has had very little radio, magazine, or television promotion. Normally, this would have been very disappointing, but after five books, I've figured out not to rely on my publisher for directing the promotion effort. It's got to come from the author.

I don't think book publishers have figured out what works in the online age yet.

Think about it. Hundreds of thousands of books come out every year. Publishers hire too few publicists for too many books. While this is drastically oversimplified, the publicists send thousands of promotional copies to the same set of book critics and producers at traditional media outlets like newspapers, radio stations, and television. These people get thousands of books and don't even look at most of them. They just trash them or give them to Todd, Boris, or Wilma in the mail room.
Virtually none get mentioned except for a few high profile picks. And even those that do get reviewed -- well, big deal (This may sound like heresy, but it's true). A mention of a book on local radio or in a newspaper column has little effect on sales. Full time authors need to sell thousands of books, not five or ten or even 25, which is about all you'll get from a local mention.

To my author friends, I say:
Your own personal efforts based on 'guerrilla' Internet marketing is the best method promoting your book. Any help you get from the publisher is gravy.

Here's what I did. First, I hooked up with some incredibly talented people to make a short video about the book. It's called "Bagel Boy." Then I told influential people about Bagel Boy .

Over time, it's been my great pleasure to get to know some great Internet insiders: bloggers, podcasters, and so forth.
Bagel Boy, and therefore Whoosh Boom Splat has been featured on the very top blogs in the world, Mark Frauenfelder's Boing Boing, Phil Torrone's Make: Blog, Noah Schactman's Danger Room, Kirsten Sandford's podcast This Week in Science, Popular Science's How 2.0, and a host of smaller but no less excellent ones such as Gareth Branwyn's Street Tech, the Daily DIY, Dick's Rocket Dungeon, and several others just as good but not named here.

Many authors can benefit from a well designed marketing plan that centers on the Internet. I'm should write an article this subject. Someday, maybe.

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