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Publicity and Your Book: Notes from Wordstock

You can always find big-hearted authors, generous and confessional, who know the road is long and sometimes rough, and along the tumultuous way, they have cultivated the fine art of empathy.  At Wordstock, in Portland, Oregon this weekend, I had the pleasure of listening to Kim Dower, a seasoned literary publicist and poet, and New York Times bestselling author, Karen Karbo, hand out tricks, tips and anecdotes on how to get your book some love and attention.

In the spirit of generosity, here you go:

1. You may despise Facebook and Twitter and there may be no metrics that these things actually sell books, but publishers want to see your pretty face on social media. So go out and make some noise.

2. Who are your readers? How can you reach them? If you're writing nonfiction, that's easier to answer. But with fiction, too, you can carve out something like an answer. What's your book about? Where is your novel set? For my recent novel, The Translator, I parsed out Japan, India, neuroscience, translation, brain trauma, language, mother-daughter relationship. Their advice: contact bloggers who specialize in these areas and offer to send a copy of the book for them to review.

3. Think of your book as a baby. A baby costs money. Set up a bank account for your book's future. Not college, publicity. Each month, tuck a little money away, so when the book runs out into the wild wonderful world, someone will applaud or at least say hello.

4. Keep a folder of news clips that are relevant to your book. How does your book add to the topic?  Brainstorm possible articles that you could write about this topic.

5. If you're hoping for a TV appearance, you'll need a video clip. It doesn't matter if you're a best-selling author or you've won the Pulitzer Prize, says Dower, the TV show will say, show me a clip. So put one on your web site (yes, you need a web site, too).

6. Describe your book in one line. That's right. One line.

 That's all I can remember. Good luck! Fingers crossed for you.

Kim Dower is the author of poetry collection, Slice of Moon. Her web site: http://kimfromla.com/aboutus.htm

Karen Karbo is the author of fourteen award-winning novels,  memoirs and works of non-fiction including the best-selling “Kick Ass Women” series: Julia Child Rules (October 2013); How Georgia Became O’Keeffe (2011); The Gospel According to Coco Chanel (2009), and How to Hepburn (2007). http://www.karenkarbo.com/





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Another thing

A glimmer of hope if you are not reviewed by The New York Times: our two experts say such a review does not guarantee sales.  Yes, it's great publicity, but still the book must catch, must be spread by one person grabbing the arm of another and saying, "You've got to read this!"

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An update: So far, I've sent

An update:

So far, I've sent emails to seven bloggers. Three bloggers write about Japan, two about translation and two write books reviews. Out of the seven, five have responded and said they'd like to review the book. 

Interestingly, the bloggers who write book reviews have not responded. My sense is that they are inundated with requests.