Friday, June 24, 2011

If you're a writer or publisher, be prepared to take advantage of publicity

The American Boy Scout motto is "Be Prepared." For Scouts, that includes such things as knowing first aid and water safety and being able to tell edible from poisonous plants. The motto is also important advice for non-scouts, particularly writers.

Lots of people and businesses -- especially in publishing -- send out press releases in the hope that news writers and book reviewers will be sufficiently impressed to spread the news and maybe help sell some books.

I am both saddened and amused when someone does manage to get "press" coverage, but is unprepared to take advantage of it.

Elderly New Jerseyan Alfred Pristash spent 18 months writing a memoir in longhand, and then dictated it to a son who typed it. Alfred paid AuthorHouse to publish it. The book received extensive and complimentary coverage in and in a major New Jersey newspaper. The article mentioned that the book sells for $73.99 and is available at

I was curious to see what could possibly justify that high price. Unfortunately, the Amazon page had just basic facts like page count and size. There were no reviews and no information that might convince me to spend $73.99. The AuthorHouse website links for “About the Book,” “About the Author” and “Free Preview” contained nothing. I did not place an order.

If you are lucky enough to get media coverage of your book, be sure your online presence is ready to back it up and sell some books!

There's a very nice plug for "Hudson Valley Authors" in today's online Times Herald-Record (Middletown, New York). The company provides a variety of publishing services, including converting printed books into e-books and producing new e-books. The paper quotes company president Gavin Caruthers: "It's a great way for both entry-level authors to experience publishing for the first time, and also a way for authors who have self-published before to expand their audience."

He also said, "Because of their lack of knowledge in the industry, [authors] often get caught into paying for services they didn't need, [or] not being happy with the final book."

I agree. Gavin seems to be a kindred spirit I could support. Also, as a new evangelist for e-books, I was interested in learning more about the company. I could become a customer. And, perhaps I'd find something nice to say about the company on this blog.

The online article strangely does not include a link to Hudson Valley's website, but I did find an empty, useless web page provided by hosting company DreamFire. That's sad.

Gavin is also publisher of 1500 Books, but its site does not mention Hudson Valley Authors.

Andrea Constantine and Lisa Schultz claim to be Self-Publishing Experts. I won't argue with their self-description (but I will snarkily point out that they apparently have self-published exactly TWO books, and I've self-pubbed about 20).

The two ladies operate an author assistance service and sent out a press release to promote a book they wrote.

The release had a line of text that said, "Visit Our Site." It looked like a link -- but it's not a link. It also had text that says, "Ask the Experts" which looked like a link -- but it's not a link. The site had a link labeled "reviews." I expected it to display some reviews of the new book, but it didn't. 

The website had a link labeled "Offer," -- but no offer was offered. The site also displayed this:
The link went to PayPal. I offer this tip: It's fine to charge for advice, and to offer free advice, but begging for tips is tacky, and demeaning for a professional.

Lisa's site that promoted the book had text saying "Starting November 10th, Grab Your Book on Amazon Here." and "Already Purchased? Claim Your Bonus Package Here." Clicking on the "here" words did nothing.



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