As a professional marketer and book publicist, my initial response would be: the ones I get paid to promote. But there are some books and authors that I could never take on as clients – some for moral reasons, and others for practical ones. But in a world of free speech and the free-flow of ideas, don’t all books deserve the opportunity to be publicized?
I can think of many books that probably don’t warrant being published, let alone publicized. Certainly, books with factual errors, sloppy editing, or poor writing don’t deserve to see the light of day. Then you have books that are just bad or terribly boring. Some books propose logic-defying theories or present idiotic opinions or fantasies as fact, so they too should remain off the shelves. Or should everything be published and then left to the media and the consumer to discern its value?
There are something like 3,000 books published every single day of the year in the United States. Many won’t sell beyond 500 copies. Do all books warrant publicity? Should each one have a chance of being discovered?
There’s no legal obligation to promote a book. Freedom of speech dictates one can, if they have the means, publish their words without fear of government retaliation. But the marketplace bares no legal requirement to sell, promote, or buy any books.
Some books aren’t very promotable. They have a deficiency, such as an ugly cover, an offensive title, or content filled with inappropriate concepts or extreme views. Maybe the book’s okay, but nothing special and more likely a replica of 50 other books. Or maybe the book’s decent but the author is not promotable – bad personality, says dumb things, doesn’t speak as well as he/she writes. Further, some books can be well-written and have a sane, credible author, but just not have much of a market. Is anyone looking for novels written about cats choking on hairballs?
In an ideal world, all books would be reviewed under some type of neutral or fair setting, where all such reviews would be made available to everyone. Personal differences, policies, time, money, or access would not play a role in which – or how – a book is reviewed.
But consumers don’t have time to read all of these reviews, even if somehow one was written for every book. And all books are not necessarily accessible to all, due to cost, format, or distribution. Reviews can’t be unbiased or opinion-free, but wouldn’t it be great if somehow books could be summarized and described without being rated, praised/criticized, or judged?
Some books really deserve publicity – they are well-written, interesting, significant, and thought-provoking. They are leaders in their genre. They are authored by credentialed writers. They may be among the best books of the year, even of an era.
But those are few and far between. Most books are no more deserving – or undeserving – than the next one. All it takes to promote something is your time, resources, and vision – you don’t need anyone’s permission, you don’t need to apply for anything, and you have no limits placed on you. The creative, energized, connected author and publisher can excel at PR, even when the book is no better than ordinary.
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Here is my 2014 Book Marketing & Publicity Toolkit: Based on 20+ years in publishing --
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at email@example.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2013
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