Thursday, November 20, 2014
What If Your Book Really Sucks?
I have promoted my share of clunkers, books that had little business being promoted let alone published in their current form. But the ego of the author drove them to me – and my willingness to take on a challenge (and a paycheck) drove me.
I have turned down potential clients when:
· Their book appears to be filled with lies, attacks and hate. Recently a guy wanted me to promote a book saying we should bomb all Muslims while they attend services.
· The author is completely unqualified to write such a book. Legal advice books can’t be written by someone who doesn’t have legal training and books dispensing financial guidance can’t be written by tennis instructors.
· The book looks like crap, is too short (50 pages) or the cover design/layout are so distractingly bad.
· The author seems like a butthole or someone who will end up being difficult to work with.
· The author espouses ridiculous expectations and sounds like he or she is clueless.
· The author seems cheap or untrustworthy of making regular payments for services.
But there are people who were marginal that slipped past my filters and became clients. Just as their ego pushed them, so did mine. I feel optimistic whenever I take on a book campaign and I believe no matter what the book is, I can find a good hook and a willing media partner to cover it. I usually don’t do an all-you-can-eat PR buffet. Instead, I target a specific campaign. For a book that may be challenging for TV and print, I’ll agree to promote to radio or online – or both. I look to set expectations, but authors hear and think what they choose to.
Sometimes a book just sucks. Yes, surprise! Of the one million books released to the marketplace in 2014, more than a few just simply stink. No spin or arm-twisting can change that fact. Even when media coverage is generated for a sub-par book, sales don’t come because there won’t be a strong word-of-mouth follow up. Someone who buys your book because they heard you on radio won’t get other sales because the person who bought it will find it to be less than recommendation-worthy.
Publicists can’t perform miracles. Even when a publicist can get you some media attention and some of the media is quality, book sales growth is handicapped by the fact few or no readers are telling others to buy it.
The media can give a book an initial boost, generating attention it otherwise didn’t deserve and couldn’t normally get, but that won’t last long. Eventually those who read the book must spread the word or the book dies no matter how much media it gets. Sometimes a book just sucks and that’s it.
Pricing it for a buck and getting it media coverage won’t turn it into a great book. A clunker is a clunker.
Nothing is guaranteed when it comes to book publicity. Good books may lack media coverage and so-so books could make headlines. Books with little media attention can still sell well and books with a decent amount of media coverage may not sell too many copies. In the end, it all comes down to whether a book is any good. Don’t yell at the media, consumers, or your publicist if your book falls short. Sometimes a book just sucks and the sooner one reflects and sees this, the better we’ll all be.