In a previous article, I gave my thanks and recollections on how I stumbled into becoming the author of a book. I think that article had some good advice for anyone who wishes to become one. Today, I’d like to give a follow-up to that article and to another one I wrote complaining about my frustrations with publicists. This will be a sort of half-way point, a kind of status report, on what has happened with me and my book recently in the hopes that it will help you when you decide to that you really do want to release your own writings in book form.
After going around with publicists, I quickly came to the conclusion that I would be better off doing publicity by myself. Why? Well, one reason was, that after working in broadcasting — and the recording business — for so many years, I have been on both the receiving and giving end of publicity and promotion. I have seen, with my own eyes, what does and does not work. I decided that there would be no fundamental difference between the typical music promoter and the typical book promoter. The second reason is that every publicist wanted about $5,500 up front — Or they would ask me how much I wanted to spend (I don’t want to spend anything). They also would mention that I needed to buy about $1000 worth of books, pay for their postage, and be available for book promotion. I’m assuming that means that if they arranged a book signing in, say, Des Moines, Iowa, that I was supposed to get on a plane and go to Des Moines. I also suppose that it goes without saying that I would have to pay for that air-ticket.
Then the publicist would carry on and say that they can’t guarantee results. Well, that’s all well and good, but I can’t imagine asking a guy to build me a covered patio for $5,500 and then having him tell me that he can’t guarantee that the patio will actually be built. There has got to be a better way.
So here I am, doing my own book’s publicity myself, and I want to share this information with you in the hopes that you will find this information both beneficial and profitable. I’d also like to add that I don’t think having a publicist is any sort of a magic bullet in selling your book. In fact, I believe, in many ways, that it could be detrimental. How? Well, whose is going to care about whether or not your book sells more than you do? No one, right? Well, if you have a publicist and you think that this person is going to allow you to sit on your duff and relax so you can just watch the promotion happen and the cash float into your room, then you are in for a surprise. No one would, should, or could care about your book sales more than you. I think this is a given.
In the follow-up article to the first one about needing a publicist/promoter, I received dozens of e-mails from many good folks explaining their — mostly bad — experiences with publicists. I reckon that this is to be expected, because if a person does find a good publicist, then they are going to want to keep them under their hat — somewhat like finding your favorite secret fishing hole — you don’t tell anyone. One gentleman even wrote to me telling me his horror stories of how he had paid over $15,000 to three different publicists and — according to this gentleman — had received zero promotion. In fact, one publicist was suing him in court for non-payment of publicity when he had, in fact, pre-paid his contract.
There’s got to be many good publicists out there. But, in this case, I think a word to the wise would suffice: Caveat emptor. Let the buyer beware. I think that you should never hire a publicist without a recommendation — and that recommendation should come from a writer that the publicist handled. Be also very wary of publicist-generated recommendations.
Now, let’s get down to some nuts and bolts discussion of just how to do this. Of course, the Internet is one of the main keys to self-promoting your book. I’d heartily recommend reading Gary North’s brilliant article “Blogging For Dollars.” In this article Gary, who knows much more about this than I do, writes about using the Internet as a promotional tool to make money. By the way, just to reassure readers that Gary North does indeed know his stuff when it comes to writing books and selling them, go to Amazon.com and enter in his name. From there you can just marvel at just how prolific this gentleman is and just how many books he has released and sold. So get the low-down on the Internet from Gary North.
When I first got into the music business a very famous disc-jockey in Los Angeles, Rodney Bingenheimer, told me, “You always have to be nice to everyone you meet, because in this business, you never know who will become powerful in the future.” I’ve always tried to keep this great advice in mind. Aspiring writers, musicians, artists, whatever must do so.
Probably the best, and one of the most effective ways to promote your book is to become a regular columnist on a popular web-site such as Lewrockwell.com. Writing, like any other skill, requires practice and refinement. Websites are the best place to get that practice.
Once you become a writer for a website, you will begin to receive e-mail. You most definitely will get all sorts of it too. The range will run from fan mail to hate mail. I have, most certainly gotten my share of hate mail and, sometimes, I didn’t deal with it correctly. But, like they say, “Don’t do as I do, do as I say”: Never be rude to people who take the time to write to you. Also, if they disagree, don’t bother arguing with them via e-mail. Now that’s a huge waste of time. What’s the point?
If you take the time to write back to people, show some courtesy and respect and be honest, then they will greatly appreciate it. I am amazed at the numbers of people who have told me that I am the only person who has ever bothered to write back to them. I find this astounding. If the writer had no intention of writing back to the readers, then for what reason did they allow their e-mail address to be displayed? The worst thing you could do to a person who was kind enough to write — regardless of content — is to ignore them or get into a name-calling fight with them. Either way, then, you just lost a potential sale. This is a business common sense “no, no.” I have, in fact, even converted people who had initially sent me hate mail into fans and I know that some of them have bought my book. How’s that for keeping a cool head and keeping your sights on what your goals really are?
When you do receive the e-mail, start to build a mailing list. This mailing list is to be used as a basic “block” of folks who you wish to alert about a new article coming out or, when the book does come out, you may ask them if they are interested in buying it.
When you do decide to use your mailing list, make a standard e-mail, but try — as much as humanly possible — to personalize it. Here’s the copy of the letter I wrote and sent out personally to over 1,127 readers of LRC who are on my mailing list. Yes, it took me every day for over a week to write to each and every person, but I did it. Of course you may use this letter as reference for your own future promotion, but naturally, alter it to fit your needs.
Hi Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers here. Greetings from Japan. How are you?
May I really embarrass myself by making a shameless sales pitch to you? (Sorry if I’ve asked you this before) But if you like my writing, perhaps you’d enjoy my book Schizophrenic in Japan. It’s full of my cynical humor. And I have gotten great reviews — you can see them at this link — and if you buy one through this link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0595346626/lewrockwell/ LewRockwell.com gets a percentage of sales. Forgive me if I’ve asked this before, it’s just that I have no publicist in the USA so I have to use the Internet and word of mouth. And, right now, there’s a package deal where you can get Thomas Wood’s great Politically Incorrect Guide to US History for a big discount and FREE SHIPPING!
Here’s some of my favorite past articles that I thought you might get a laugh out of:
And my personal favorite: Escape From Iraq!
(Although, you may have read some of these before — they are not in the book)
Either way, I appreciate your time and consideration. Thanks.
Take care and all the best,
Now, dear reader, I am going to be completely honest with you, one of the best ways to sell books and keep selling books (or whatever it is that you are selling) is to have a good product that you can be proud of and a product that you can keep on people’s minds. Hence, one more reason for me writing this article: I think that by buying my book Schizophrenic in Japan, not only will you get to see what I’m talking about, you’ll also see why my book made it into the Lew Rockwell best 15 sellers in only it’s 4th week on sale (at #6). I believe I have a very funny and insightful book — of course, I had lots of great help in doing it — and I know that whoever reads it is going to enjoy it. On that part, I haven’t had a single complaint yet — just praise. So please check it out.
I’m going to end today’s article here and continue it later in the next few days. In the next article, I’m going to explain what kind of promotion works. I’m going to do this from the angle of someone who has received promotion for over 20 years at radio and TV stations. I’ve seen them all. Ones that were disasters and ones that were success stories. I’ve also seen ones that were results of the politeness and dedication of just one person. I think this will be especially useful to you all. I also will let you all in on my ploy that I’m using in order to get attention paid to my book when I send it out to newspapers, etc, for possible review. Will it work or not? I think it will.
In the meantime, read my previous two articles, read Gary North’s articles, and research his name on Amazon; and, of course, please buy my book. I know you would like it.
And, finally, don’t forget that knowledge is definitely power.
Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers [send him mail] was born and raised in the USA and moved to Japan in 1984. He has the distinction of being fired from every FM radio station in Tokyo — one of them three times. His first book, Schizophrenic in Japan, is now on sale.