Sunday, November 23, 2014
How Does The Media Know Your Book Is Great?
Let’s say your book is great, I mean really excellent and head and shoulders above your genre competitors. You give it to 50 people to read and 49 love it. Someone will always disagree. So how do you convince the media your book is fantastic?
Saying it’s great won’t convince anyone it is so. Although to not say it’s great raises an eyebrow of suspicion.
You need to show its greatness, but how?
You may send them 30 testimonials from readers. Big deal. Maybe you had to approach 300 readers to get one in ten to say they liked it. What of the other 90%? No one ever sends a bad testimonial or negative review to the media, so it’s hard to weigh or put into perspective the positive reviews, of which could be gamed by going to friends, family, colleagues to pen such platitudes. Again, 30 endorsements prove nothing, but if you don’t have them, it’s a red flag.
How about looking at who gives the testimonials as being proof of the book’s importance? If you have well-known people and important organizations endorsing your book, isn’t that better than Uncle Mike gushing words of praise? Again, nice to have but not an indicator of anything. There are a zillion experts, celebrities, major groups, and famous people who`, by connection or fee, will write anything in one’s favor.
How about what is said in these testimonials? Could the use of language, manipulated to its limits, bend a media outlet into thinking such a book must be too good to be ignored? Please, every testimonial is written with such artistry that it’s hard to distinguish substance from fluff. The media tunes out this stuff – unless you don’t provide it. Then they have an excuse to ignore you.
Maybe a splashy design of well-crafted press kit materials on quality paper in colorful packaging will make the media see there is something special attached to your book? Unfortunately, the more you try to dress something up, the more critical and suspicious the media becomes. Are you trying to hide something behind all of the razzle-dazzle?
How about sending a gift with the book? Let’s say your book is about wine. Why not send a bottle of wine with your book? Or if your book’s about dogs, why not send dog product samples with it? No matter how relevant or nice the swag is, it still doesn’t speak to the book’s greatness, the author’s credentials, or the timing, need or demand for such a book. They’ll pocket the gift and toss the book.
How about judging your book by its catchy title and beautiful cover? That gets people’s attention, but by themselves, doesn’t signify greatness.
Perhaps having a huge publisher behind the book will be the stamp of approval needed for the media to recognize its greatness. Not likely. Hundreds of thousands of books are published by major publishers each year and even if you give a book a little more credence for being published by someone over a self-published one, how do you know which book amongst all of the traditionally published ones are truly great?
Could you judge a book by the name of the person who wrote its foreword or introduction? Nope, like testimonials – and assholes – everyone has one. You can pay anything to get someone to agree to put their name on a foreword.
What if the book’s gotten some great reviews from well-respected media outlets? That may help get the media to at least look at your book, but not stamp it as great just because others said so.
How about if it’s a bestseller? The media knows many things that sell can be manipulated and that what’s popular is not a reflection of greatness but of subjective tastes and desires of an untrained public.
What if a publicist whispers in the ear of a media personality that this book is the greatest ever? The jaded media pro knows publicists are paid to say bullshit and that publicists aren’t even in a position to judge such things. Further, few publicists can go out on a limb for few books because it puts their credibility at stake. If they say a book is great – and it’s not – the media won’t trust the publicist. If a publicist says one book is great and is silent on the other ten he or she sent that journalist, what is the journalist to think of those books?
Okay, so by now you are really wondering how to convince the media that your book is truly the real deal, a great experience that awaits them if only they’d open themselves up to discovering it?
First, your book has to be great in order to be considered great. No exceptions.
Second, you need as many of the above-stated things to go in your favor as possible, even if each one can be dismissed by the media.
Third, you need them to be told by those they trust and respect that the book is great. Find Matt Lauer’s wife and have her say the book is great. Send a copy to the priest of a book reviewer and have him tell the reviewer it’s great. You know Oprah’s gardener or Jon Stewart’s neighbor of the nanny for Bill O’Reilly’s grandkids? Make sure they have and love the book. They’ll sell it to the media better than anyone.
You need to lobby on behalf of your book as if you discovered a cure for cancer or were thwarting a terrorist attack. Go the extra mile to impress upon the media that you have this great book that needs to be discovered and shared. When you speak with conviction and determination – and not desperation or fear – you’ll come across as forceful and believable.
Lastly, consider what could happen if enough people read and enjoy your book. Act as if – as if millions of people’s lives were transformed by your book, as if real-world changes were underwent as a result, as if people suddenly were better off for having experienced it. What would happen in a world that’s already embraced your book? Take that feeling or those anticipated results and convert others into believing what you already believe and know could be true if only they’d give it a chance.
Be animated, persistent, colorful, and lively. Be there to demonstrate all of the possible benefits that could come from reading your book. Challenge them. Needle them. Say and do what’s needed to shake things up. Your book could be great and everyone needs to know it!