Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What book publicists can learn from band promotion. (Hint: social media!)

Lately, I have been a little bit obsessed with social media's affect on book publicity. I know, I know - it seems like we publicists will not shut up about blogs, Facebook, and Twitter (see Rusty's post from Jan. 23). But here in Austin, we at Phenix & Phenix have kind of a unique perspective on all this. See, we are home of the DIY Artist - be it a musician on a street corner, a scarf-knitter in Austin Craft Mafia, or a filmmaker with his Panisonic VariCam - and as such, these individuals must quickly learn the fine art of Self Promotion. How do they do it? Why, social media of course. It's part of the reason Austin made the Top Ten U.S. Cities for Social Media list.

Also - advance apologies for yet another Recession Soapbox moment - the internet is relatively cheap, and because of that, it's most consumers' media staple. As we all get a little more thrifty, we may think about canceling a print subscription, or not renewing our cable package - but how many of us are going to shut off the internet? Not a lot. (Especially when you can read the same print information, and watch most of those cable shows you just canceled, online). So, if it's not drilled into your mind already:


Publicists, I think we need to get as creative as possible in 2009 to promote our authors online. Being an Austinite, I'm taking some cues from local bands. Now, band promotion and book promotion are different, it's true; but here's what I see working really well for our musically-oriented counterparts.


Now, doesn't this look inviting? This is a particularly well-designed poster, but it doesn't need to be that involved. Here's a simpler poster I saw recently for an author reading here in town:

As we continue to interact with local bloggers to promote book events - and we're only going to do more of that as time goes on, publicists - I think these posters work very effectively. So much more exciting than a plain email that says, "Hi blogger, my author has a reading at this place on this day...mind posting something about it??" No. Let's rockstar it up a bit. Give the blogger some bling to post.


Most of us are on-board with podcasts, which run anywhere from 5 minutes to a few hours, but what if you want to offer bloggers just a little vocal snippet of an author's work? Say, 30-60 seconds? Here's an awesome site where you can do just that, Muzicons. All you need? An MP3 file of your author reading.

See the cute "Result" widget on the right? You can then offer that to bloggers to post, so they can give their readers a taste of the book we're promoting.


A few weeks ago (Jan. 9), I posted about a genius idea Overlook Press had: to host an online, Facebook giveaway for one of their Elvis books on The King's birthday. They received calls from national radio shows for this clever stunt, and got books out to excited fans in the process.

Here's another Facebook buzz-building method that bands like to do: Create a Facebook event, and invite tons of people to it. Publicists, this needn't be an author signing, although that's a perfect application. I've seen bands invite friends to watch a YouTube trailer, or participate in a one-day CD giveaway hosted on their home website. Many of you may already be doing that, and if so, hats off. But what's great about the Facebook event is that, unlike plain old email, you can see how other people are reacting to it - they can attend or not attend, post comments on the event wall, etc.

These are just a smattering of the ways we book publicists can use social media to build our author's online presence. We've raided YouTube with our book trailers, we're now Twittering, but what else can we do? I'd love to hear other ideas in the comments.

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