Thursday, July 14, 2011

Can You Hear the Applause?

Henry “The Fonz” Winkler came to NYC this week on the final leg of his press junket for I’ve Never Met an Idiot on the River, the book my firm has promoted to the news media.  I met up with him for the taping of an appearance on Regis and Kelly the other day.

In the green room Henry was freely chatting about the world of entertainment.  He can talk about any TV show that’s been on TV the past 40 years and lend some kind of opinion or insight on it.  As a director and actor he knows what to look for and appreciate.

I asked him how he is able to remember so many lines when he’s acting.   He said his brain just gets trained to do it.  He also thinks his dyslexia has helped his ability to rely on memorization.  “It got to the point, on Happy Days, when I’d get a new script and I could just smell the words off the page and know what they said,” he recalled.

As we continued to chat, Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa waltzed by, having just finished taping an earlier segment.  Henry starts chatting with Kelly like she’s family.  I’m just admiring her beauty from just a few feet away, losing sight of their conversation.  Regis strides by with a smile of confidence and sense of contentment.  There he goes, a TV icon, soon to be off the morning show he has worn like a favorite bathrobe for decades.

After Henry traded stories with the petite, blonde co-host, he went back to talking about theater.  He’d been on Broadway a decade ago.  He said it’s challenging to do the same thing every day.  Then the conversation turned to concerns of media saturation for the book.  It was an issue that I’ve never been asked about by an author.  He wondered if all the media exposure for his book will need to continue or if it has reached the point that the campaign should conclude.

Although the tour is due to wrap up in several weeks, my belief is you can never have enough publicity.  But in his case, he has other things to promote soon – a new children’s book, a new movie, etc.  There should be some downtime in between campaigns.

As his segment came to a conclusion there was a loud round of applause from the female-dominated studio audience.  Henry soaked it up.  He should.  He’s had a long, successful career that deserves to be honored as the camera panned the audience, a cameraman raised his hands quickly in the air, encouraging louder applause.  The audience robotically appeased the request.  The roar of the 200 or so people rose noticeably.  I turned to my colleague, Emily Mullen, who booked most of Henry’s press junket, and said “That’s for us.”

Every publicist deserves to hear a round of applause, whether he or she gets their author on Regis and Kelly or a radio program in Des Moines.  Publicists try their best to juggle their campaigns and to make so many happy – authors, bosses, agents, publishers, the media.  And themselves.  Publicists rightfully take pride in what they do.

Shh.  Can you hear the applause?

Questions That Don’t Keep Me Up At Night, But Make Me Wonder

Do you ever wonder why there are so many best-seller lists?  And why do they all fail to agree on which books get to make the list?  Why would USA Today differ from The New York Times or Publisher’s Weekly?

How come stories get paid by consumers immediately with cash and fairly quickly by credit cards but they take 90+ days to pay a publisher for the books they sold?

Why don’t trade paperbacks have book jackets or cover flaps, the way hardcover books do?

If no book will ever go out of print as an e-book how will potential customers wade through a virtual catalog on Amazon of millions of book titles?

Will mere books be listed not by the amount of printed pages it contains but by the number of words it has, since ebooks don’t have to conform to a page size?

How will authors autograph an e-book?

Which will go out of business first – your local video store, your watch repair store, your local music store, or your local book store?  How about they merge into one location?

Will old paper books be worth more money over time because publishers will continue to print smaller quantities of physical books?

Brian Feinblum is the chief marketing officer at Planned Television Arts ( and blogs daily at You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert.

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