Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What Makes A Book Promotable?

Wall Street Journal columnist Joe Queenan wrote in his new book, One For The Books, that “Good books do not invite unanimity. They invite discord, mayhem, knife fights, blood feuds.” Some may disagree with his formula for what makes an interesting book, but such a discussion begs another question: What makes for a promotable book?

I believe just about any book can be promoted. The question is really: Which books stand the best chance of obtaining a significant quantity of quality media coverage? Even one step further, let’s get to the bottom line: Which books can get publicity AND generate sales?

The answer can be simple or complex. There is no sure-fire formula for effectuating sales through publicity, because there are  many factors at play. For instance, you may get a lot of good publicity, but your distribution is lacking, your price is too high and your competition is plentiful.  Another factor – you may get a lot of PR but it may be negative. Another factor – you get a lot of media coverage but as a result, people feel they heard enough about your book to the point they don’t need to get it. So great PR doesn’t always yield sales.

So let’s explore why some books get PR. Here are some answers:

1.      The author actively promotes and markets AND hires professionals to assist.
2.      A company is behind the author, such as a publisher.
3.      The author has name recognition with the media or at least great credentials.
4.      The cover has visual appeal and the title is enticing.
5.      The book has mass appeal and covers something people already are aware of (Lincoln assassination), covers a timely social issue (gun violence) or involves a known entity (a celebrity, star athlete, major corporation)
6.      The individual members of the media care about what you wrote.

Sure it helps if you have a well-written book but it doesn’t get you anywhere on its own. However, if it is poorly written or edited, you will get stopped early in the promotional process.

The books that are most promotable, whether fiction or non-fiction, are those that:

·         Are first to raise an issue or aspect of life.
·         Unique in how you tackle a well-known subject.
·         Reveal news or raise great questions on a newsy topic.
·         Lend personal insight on an industry, person, or organization that we are curious about.
·         Are great at the extremes – using humor, sex, violence, love, politics, money, fame or other push-button emotions on sensitive issues to get a point across.
·         Are controversial, outrageous, trendy, offensive, and shocking.

But you cannot be a one-trick pony. You cannot merely have a great line or even an explosive chapter. The book needs to be the real deal, from cover to cover. You must be consistent throughout the whole book, and not rely on the strength of a few good passages to carry you.

A great publicist can take any book only so far and a great book will only get so far without a publicist. But a pretty good book with a pretty good publicist can soar. The most promotable books are the ones with something worthy of publicity that are promoted by someone who knows how to navigate through the media. Sure there are exceptions to this – and luck, word of mouth, and timing play roles too. But the road to PR success starts with a good book and ends with a good publicist.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2013 ©

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