Thursday, September 27, 2007

Rosie tells media, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Don’t get any ideas!

For many authors, an appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show is the ultimate media booking. As we wrote a few posts ago just about everything Winfrey touches turns to gold. Rosie O’Donnell hasn’t been quite so lucky in recent years; her magazine folded after a three-year run, she left her hosting gig on “The View” earlier than expected because she couldn’t play nice with her co-hosts, and who can forget her war of words with The Donald?

O’Donnell’s second book, Celebrity Detox, is set to hit stores October 9th. The tell-all autobiography details O’Donnell’s reasons for walking away from her award-winning talk show in 2002, her decision to return to television in 2006, and how fame and celebrity has become an obsession in this country. Internet gossip hounds are also reporting that she dishes her issues with former “The View” co-host Barbara Walters.

O’Donnell is devoting very little time and energy to publicizing the book. She’s turned down not one, but two interviews with media mavens Diane Sawyer and Oprah Winfrey, both of which would undoubtedly boost sales of Celebrity Detox. On her official blog, Rosie writes (in her typical e.e.cummings style,) “i do not feel ready to discuss or defend the things i shared on those 209 pages.” She goes on to assure readers that she appreciated Winfrey’s invitation and that her decline doesn’t mean there’s any bad blood between them.

Luckily, O’Donnell has a name and reputation that’s recognizable enough to make word-of-mouth publicity work for her. In fact, this blog post is evidence that when you are as well known as Rosie, you get media attention for turning down the opportunity to get media attention. Even with just one interview and nothing more, Celebrity Detox is sure to sell quite a few copies.

As a new or relatively unknown author, you do not have the luxury of being able to turn down media opportunities. One of my biggest pet peeves is hearing authors say that they don’t want to heavily promote their book because they “want the book to stand on its own merit.” That’s fine if you’re Stephen King or Tom Clancy, but if you are releasing your first book, no one will know if it has any merit in the first place unless you promote it.

There is an old publicity urban legend that talks about an author who was heading to New York City (the world’s most competitive media market) for a book signing. Of course, the author wanted his publicist to deliver coverage in the NY Times, NY Post and other high profile opportunities. The publicist worked her contacts but was only able to deliver a few radio opportunities, one of which was in upstate New York. After giving the publicist some grief, the author took her advice and made the decision to go ahead and do the upstate interview. It just do happened that while the author was interviewing a NY Times feature reporter was driving through the area, heard the interview and attending the book signing when he got back to NYC. Because the author decided to do the interview, he ended up with a feature story in The New York Times.

The moral of this story? You never know who is listening when you interview. Be willing to work with your publicist and take advantage of every opportunity you get to talk about your book.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Ms. Andrews--

I'm enjoying your blogs. I'm trying to avoid the POD/subsidy publisher thing. What are my options?

Martin MM

September 27, 2007 at 8:24 PM  

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