Book Publicity News

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


One of the first campaigns I ever handled was a 20-city tour for BARBECUE! BIBLE (Workman) by Steven Raichlen, the country's leading barbecue and grilling guru (yes, there is a difference between barbecue and grilling).

Steven's recipes always receive fabulous reviews as he's a grillmeister like no other. He's been featured on Oprah, The Today Show and Good Morning America, demonstrating his spectacular sizzling steaks, beer can chicken, grilled dill tomatoes and corn on the cob (check out Steven's website at Being an apartment dweller, I've always regretted that I haven't been able to sample Steven's fare (except on those occasions when I've vacationed at beach houses with a grill).

The good news for all you apartment dwellers out there, is that this Labor Day you can enjoy the most scrumptious barbecue recipes from Steven's latest book, INDOOR GRILLING (Workman). And I can personally attest that the recipes are delicious and easy. For you lazy cooks, try Steven's compound butter, a combination of a stick of butter blended in a food processor with 4 fresh sage leaves, 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper and salt to taste. Spoon over grilled swordfish, salmon or almost any other grilled fish, chicken or veal chops.

What could be easier?

Foodies who live near Connecticut and are looking for a quick weekend getaway, it's worth a trip to Simsbury, Connecticut (2 hours from NYC), to try Metro Bis. Chef and co-owner Chris Prosperi prepares memorable dishes that whet your appetite for more. His slow-roasted Neiman Ranch pork just melts off the bone and is the best I've ever had. Gilbert, my partner, and I, stayed at a wonderful B&B, and worked off the three spectacular meals we had hiking up Talcott Mountain, the highest point in Connecticut that has breathtaking views of three states.

Chris's wife, Courtney Febbroriello, who is co-owner of Metro Bis, wrote a charming memoir, WIFE OF THE CHEF (Three Rivers Press), that I promoted a year and a half ago. If you've ever fantasized about opening a restaurant, WIFE OF THE CHEF is a must read. It is also a great behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in the restaurant biz. As Anthony Bourdain, author of KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL says, “WIFE OF THE CHEF is the other side of the story. Anyone who thinks it would be ‘marvelous’ to be married to a chef…should read this nuts and bolts, stinkfoot–and–all account of love and biz in the restaurant business.”

Happy Labor Day, whatever you do.

September 6th is back to school, and the end of those luxurious lazy days of summer. Post Labor Day begins with a frenzied pace that has no let up until Thanksgiving for most book publicists, since fall is the busiest season of the year in the book biz. Stay tuned for a line-up of my ecclective fall list.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Bad reviews, media mistakes and other media mishaps:

Dealing with the media can be very frustrating at times. Take today, for example, when I called various NPR producers of very high-brow, intellectual shows. "If you don't have anyone from New Orleans, I can't talk to you." Click.

The hurricane preempted all the news media today, and monopolized producers' time all over the country, but fortunately, I did get responses to my pitches from some producers, so the day wasn't a complete exercise in futility. I was grateful I didn't have any authors scheduled for a morning show today who would end up sitting in the green room as the hurricane coverage preempted their interviews. That happened to an author of mine many years ago when a blizzard was deemed more important than his book, and the morning show never did reschedule his interview.

Last week, my delight in seeing a google-alert in my in-box when I returned from a three-day getaway, was quickly soured after I read the trend story in The Washington Post that featured two of the books I was promoting.

One book received a glowing review, while the other was slammed. I felt like the parent of the twin Olympic star gymnasts when one twin won a medal and the other didn't.

But what was worse is that the reviewer didn't even get the setting right of the book she panned. It makes one wonder if she even read the book.

When you read newspapers or listen to the news, you'd like to think that the information you are receiving is accurate. But I can't tell you how many times the media gets it wrong. Like the time Angela Henry, author of the debut novel, The Company You Keep, was quoted in a newspaper trend story, only she was called Angela Harvey. And her book was not mentioned. So there was no way anyone would ever be able google her, find out about her book, and purchase it. The excitement of getting interviewed by a major national newspaper turned into disappointment, and worse -- lost sales --when the story ran.

Or the time I got Angela's local newspaper to run a profile story right before her August 13th booksigning. Only August 13th came and went and there was no story, even though Angela was interviewed. When I called the editor, he said the story was going to run in several weeks. I replied that I thought the story was running to tie-in with Angela's booksigning.

The editor said that he had no idea Angela was doing a booksigning. This, after I verbally pitched him, telling him the date, time and place of the signing, followed up with an e-mail pitch listing the event, followed up with an enclosed handwritten note attached to the press materials with the booksigning information. If this was not enough, Angela, of course, told the reporter of the upcoming event.

When the author whose book got panned in The Washington Post said she wished that I hadn't even told her about the review, I said, the good news is you were reviewed in The Washington Post. And when your next book comes out, we can tell everyone that you were reviewed in The Washington Post.

You can turn almost anything to your advantage with a positive spin. So even bad publicity is better than no publicity. I know some of you out there will disagree, but think about this. A cookbook I recently promoted was criticized by a major newspaper because the recipes were confusing, or contained omissions. The author was quite upset. But what he failed to grasp is that the critic also said he was passionate about his subject and that the book contained beautiful food photography -- which is not only a selling point for those interested in the subject matter of the book -- but more importantly, can be used as a cover quote if the book goes back to press, or on his next book's jacket.

The worst thing that ever happened to an author was getting a booking on Oprah. How could that be bad? you're thinking. When the producer sits you in the audience, and Oprah never once addresses you. And the camera never once veers your way. I don't know if the author ever said he was on Oprah. But he sure could have honestly said he was invited by Oprah to be a guest on her show.

Publicity, like anything else in life, has risks along with rewards. But if you don't take the risk, you'll never experience the high of seeing your picture in the paper alongside a fabulous profile, getting that good review from another critic, being in the spotlight for a 3-minute television segment, or being interviewed on the radio. And let's face it. Besides selling books, getting great media coverage is exciting. It's the icing on the cake. And as one of my authors recently said, "I want the icing."

Sunday, August 28, 2005

I recently read on a popular author’s blog an author’s comments on feeling helpless about getting media attention for her book. After being turned down by a major national radio program that she thought would be a perfect forum for her book, and not expecting major newspaper coverage, she asked what a midlist author should do in order to get media coverage?

I e-mailed her and suggested that she should consider hiring an outside publicist. She asked me what I would do for her. I outlined a detailed and very effective campaign strategy that I conducted for debut novelist, Kyra Davis. The campaign consisted of a mix of print, television and radio coverage over a course of six months.

The author replied that she had already been reviewed in several newspapers, including The San Francisco Chronicle and Boston Globe. She didn’t understand why she should hire me after getting several reviews in those two major newspapers.

Unfortunately, a handful of reviews usually isn’t enough to really get the word out about your book.

I am frequently asked by first-time authors why they should hire an outside publicist. In June, I participated on a panel sponsored by Backspace (, a website devoted to help writers learn about the publishing industry and how to get published, and was asked the same question. (I held a detailed on-line chat about publicity that you can read on that website as well.)

The answer is simple: Good publicity is often the difference between getting your name out there to readers and remaining an unknown author, leaving it to chance to sell your book. It’s the difference between getting the media’s attention, which translates into better book sales, and your book becoming lost on the shelves, only to be returned to the oblivion of the publishers’ warehouse three months later.

What’s more, many bookstores may only order a single copy or none at all if the book doesn’t receive extensive media coverage.

Even established authors’ books don’t necessarily sell if they don’t receive media coverage which alerts the public that they have a new book out.

Let’s take a closer look at Kyra’s campaign…

The publicity campaign I handled for her debut novel, SEX, MURDER AND A DOUBLE LATTE, got her wide media coverage, including not just several newspaper and magazine reviews, but more than a dozen reviews, profiles and trend stories, including The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Houston Chronicle, The Denver Post, The Detroit Free Press, The Oregonian, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Boston Herald, Santa Cruz Sentinel, Cosmopolitan, and Ebony (for a complete listing of media coverage, please visit my website at

In addition, Kyra was also a guest on top television programs in Philadelphia, Seattle, Portland and San Francisco, and was interviewed by top radio programs throughout the country as well.

The result?

Kyra’s book hit #8 on the B&N Hardcover Mystery Bestseller List as a result of the media coverage her book received. And her Amazon rankings experienced tremendous spikes after every review, television appearance and radio interview that Kyra did. Her book not only sold well during the campaign, but the media coverage she received laid the ground-work for her next book. Kyra Davis and SEX, MURDER AND A DOUBLE LATTE now has name recognition with readers, the media, and booksellers.

And it is all because she hired an outside publicist.

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Thursday, August 11, 2005