Friday, July 23, 2010

Trailers and Book Promotion

The New York Times recently posted an intriguing article, The Author Takes a Star Turn, which discusses how various authors, e.g., Mary Karr, Jeannette Walls, and Kelly Corrigan, have used video to promote their books, something that the article concludes is now almost a necessity. If you visit the article, you can click through to trailers by a number of the authors. My favorite is "Book Launch 2.0," the winner of this year's Moby award for Best Performance by an Author. That author is Dennis Cass, author of the non-fiction book, Head Case: How I Almost Lost My Mind Trying to Understand My Brain. In the video Cass takes subtle and delightful satirical aim at the entire business of promotion. Take a look.

It seems that everything that Cass has failed to do for his book is what an author should do for a book. Using my powers of inference, I've compiled a list:

1. Get reviews
2. Do a reading tour
3. Get book clubs to use your book
4. Do an email blast
5. Have a website
6. Have a blog
7. Keep 5 & 6 updated (Note: Cass last posted at his website on May 21 and he's deserted his blog.)
8. Join social networks such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter
9. Make a YouTube video
10. Accept, as Cass has, that "this is the world we live in."

The trailer prompted me to put Head Case on reserve at my library. Cass's soft sell page at his website firmed up my interest in his book. Now I wonder if we all need to add a soft sell page to our websites.


  1. A very useful list! Thank you!

    Caution -- an impersonal mass email blast may backfire by annoying people, especially if it's sent to all email addresses at once. Recently I received a very personal, modest, gracious email notice for the "birth" of a poetry book. So I bought her book!

    Here are more ways to promote your book--
    a) get registered with Amazon and with Kindle
    b) buy books by local authors and acquaintances so they will be more inclined to buy yours
    c) if it's a poetry book, send a copy to Poets House

    Looking forward to your newsletter!

  2. All good points, Therese. Re a--wouldn't that be something the publisher would do? Not sure I'd want my book on Kindle. I've heard that poems haven't been working out well--line break issues.
    Pt. b--Always always support other poets. Essential. Why should they buy your book if you didn't buy theirs? I'll add to this that it's a good idea to let a poet know when you've bought his or her book. It's so appreciated.
    Pt. c--I was just told that my new book is nicely displayed at Poets House. I hope to get there soon.
    Email blast--send only to people with whom you have some kind of relationship. There is no point at all in sending to people you don't know.
    First issue of newsletter went out. Did you receive it?


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