Monday, January 9, 2017

Watch Out For Fake Book Marketing

We’ve been hearing a lot about fake news.  So many things seem to be lumped together – news stories lacking correct facts, made-up stories intentionally being pawned as if real, spoof stories that are obvious comedy and stories that may not contain downright lies but skew so far left or right that they drip with bias and read more like an editorial than a journalistic news story.  Terrible stuff.  But what about fake book marketing tactics?

When promoting or marketing a book, authors or their book publicists are known to:

·         Pull a bait and switch, where they fail to deliver as promised
·         Present the old or known as if new or unique
·         Lie
·         Twist facts, falsely deny facts, purposely omit facts.
·         Stretch the truth beyond recognition or relevance
·         Hype one’s qualifications beyond a legitimate assessment of credentials
·         Make outrageous claims, raise questions they know to lack merit, and raise issues that they lack a solution for
·         Play to stereotypes, division, and emotional unrest
·         Align themselves to what’s in the news even though they lack any inside knowledge or relevant insights on the subject matter.
·         Create false controversies or create a tension between two entities
·         Pass along rumors without restraint or justification

The standard for some book marketers seems to be:

·         If the media doesn’t know the truth, it’s not for me to tell it to them.
·         I’m under no obligation to say everything that I know, especially if it contradicts my message.
·         I’m not an unbiased journalist – I’m here to persuade others to buy more books and like my message, regardless of the merits
·         I’m no worse than other book promoters so I’m not doing anything wrong
·         Spin is not a sin – it’s okay to shade things a certain way
·         I make assertions and claims – the burden is on others to prove them wrong and not for me to prove them right.
·         I choose my words very carefully and never break the law, but my ethical standard is flexible.

There’s no real punishment enforced against fake book marketing.  Do you know of any book publicists jailed or sued for misrepresenting an author or lying to the media?  I never heard of such a case.  That’s because book marketers practice their trade with little scrutiny, criticism, or consequence. Yet, fake book marketing occurs daily.

I would welcome a crackdown or backlash against book marketers who break the law, act unethically, and poorly serve society.  Book marketers start their bullshit before they promote an author. It begins with their sales pitch to win the author over to become a client.

The book marketing industry is lightly regulated and loosely watched.  Even issues of SPAM are low on the list for the government.  I can think of other industries needing to be cleaned up before you go after book promoters, such as home contractors, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look to corral the book marketing scoundrels that subsist on the egos and pocketbooks, of new authors who are eager, desperate, and ignorant.

One problem with the industry is the authors or clients don’t realize they are being represented in a poor manner by disreputable people. Worse, for authors aware of the exact tactics practiced by their hired gun, they will turn a blind eye provided it yields success, media hits, and book sales.  If authors could clamp down on unprofessional book publicists, you’d see vast changes in how books are promoted.

What should authors do to ensure book marketing integrity?

Check out the background of your publicist before you hire him.  If the reputation of the person promoting yours is negative, don’t hire them.

Demand approval of all press kit materials and pitches being sent out on your behalf.

Don’t let others act as your mouthpiece or be your social media surrogate without making sure you set specific parameters and identify the type of statements to be made on your behalf that are acceptable vs. unacceptable.

Set a standard that’s high in how you comport yourself.

Discuss with your publicist what type of behavior you expect or won’t tolerate.

Speak the truth, be clear in your intentions and never act out of fear, anger, insecurity or social pressure.

Fake book marketing, like fake news stories, will remain with us for some time to come, but we can limit its frequency and consequence.  It’s up to us to do the right thing – both in life and when it comes to promoting your book act appropriately and raise the bar.  

Set a good standard and model the proper behavior – then mentor others.

All-New 2017 Book Marketing & PR Toolkit 

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby 

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