Friday, May 25, 2007

More Book Billboard Action

As noted in a posting some time back, one of the things that helped the Crosley book make it to the bestseller lists was advertising. In addition to advertising on radio and television, a lot of billboards advertising the book were put up in the Cincinnati area.

One is back--a big one on I-75 South, just as you cross the Ohio River from Cincinnati. You can see it here. The bottom lists the national bestseller lists the book has made.

Can this do the same for other books? Possibly. Would Crosley have sold as well without the billboards? Nearly. My own work in publicizing the book--both regionally and nationally--was a critical factor in its success. As with several of my earlier books (including one that sold 192,000 copies), I am promoting the book in several ways.

How? Captializing on Crosley's regional appeal, I've done radio and television appearances, as well as newspaper interviews. And I'm writing original articles (not excerpts) for general- and special-interest magazines. The articles I write serve as a sample of the book's content, and serve to draw readers to the book. They're attractive to editors, too, because each contains information that's not in the book, and each is written for a specific audience. I turn these out quickly, and I get paid for them, so everyone wins. I also make contacts--with trade journals, newspapers, and other publications that are located in cities tied to the book, or which have to do with themes in the book (radio broadcasting, aviation, etc.) These contacts often turn into reviews, or even features about the book's content that whet readers' appetites for more. And a few yield writing assignments. I also speak before groups (which pays well) such as historical societies and get in other kinds of promotion as I can.

These techniques are best used with non-fiction books, but most can be adapted to novels.

The Origin of Web 2.0

Because writing is my livelihood, writer's block is unacceptable to me. I have a number of techniques for getting unblocked, one of which is turning to creative writing (something more creative than what has me blocked). The scenario below is the result of a recent block. (Yes, I know the conventional origin story.)
The Birth of Web 2.0
(or, The Emperor's New Clothes)

One quiet day in a conventionally unconventional, smoke-free, politically correct, ISO-9000-compliant Southern California office ...

"Hey, Sanjay, you know how we've always had different versions of things, like 'Windows 3" and "WordStar 4.0?'"


"Well, why can't there be a 'Web 2.0?"

"Why should there be a Web 2.0, Jason?"

"Because it sounds cool, and nobody else has said it. If we talk about it first, people will think we're cool!"

"Yes. I like it! It'll be a new pair of dimes! It'll be--" He stopped and scratched his head. "Uh, what will it be?

Jason laughed--a donkey-like braying sound. "Heck, it doesn't have to be anything, Sanjay! I mean, think about it: Web 2.0 is such a cool term that it stands on its own! All we need to do is use it in a few conversations with the right people, and on the Web site, get people talking. Nobody will ask what it means for fear people will think they're not with it!"

Sanjay nodded. "You are right, Jason. People will make up their own definitions, and we will pick the one we like best!"

"Yes! Yes!" Jason brayed again. "The ultimate example of 'user-generated content,' and nobody will have a clue!"

Copyright © 2007, Michael A. Banks

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Advertising: Protection Against Bad Reviews?

Last week, in a posting titled Can A Review Be TOO Good? I described an incident in which I was asked to give a product a bad review because its publisher had cancelled some of its advertising in the magazine in question. I also addressed favoritism to advertisers in magazine reviews.

This week I read about Harry McCracken, Editor of PC World, resigning apparently because the publisher was reluctant to publish material critical of a major advertiser.

As I've noted elsewhere, the concept of, "Pay us [advertise] and we'll sing your product's praises; don't pay and we'll bury it," is too close to payola for comfort. Incidents of this kind also erode reader confidence in reviews.
Addenda: McCracken has returned to the helm of PC World.
Copyright © 2007, Michael A. Banks