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“It Has to Be about What You Stand For, and Who You Are”

posted December 23, 2010

Posted by Erin Brown in authors books marketing publishing social media

Jane Friedman (of the blog There Are No Rules) had a much-tweeted-about post last week titled “When (or Why) Social Media Fails to Sell Books.” Ironically, I clicked the link in the same spirit as the naysayers Friedman so often contends with—those who are hungry for some confirmation that this Facebook/Twitter stuff is just an unfortunate fad (like the infernal skinny jeans: surely this will pass in another season or two). But, of course, Friedman is not heralding the coming end of social media. Rather, she is pointing out the flawed logic in expecting social media to justify itself with direct sales figures or in rejecting social media after you tweet out a few links to reviews of your book . . . and the big sales bump doesn’t come.

Friedman’s not the first person to remind us that self-promotion—or “building a platform”—in the digital age is a nuanced and long-term project, a leap-of-faith investment, whose dividends are hard to quantify. But she hits the nail on the head nonetheless. Be creative, she is is saying. Participate. Bring something of immediate value to the table, and (this is critical) be willing to give it away.

Most importantly, it has to be about more than selling books—or whatever your goal might be. It has to be about what you stand for, and who you are.

Self-promotion, with integrity. Is that it? Coincidentally, this is the title of a great piece in Publishing Perspectives about Stephen Elliot and the interesting and innovative ways he has generated a following, both as founding editor of the online magazine The Rumpus and as author of The Adderall Diaries. With his house-to-house reading tour, his weekly personal e-mail to 5,000 subscribers, a self-designed iPad app for his book, and other outside-the-box initiatives, Elliot seems to exemplify much of what Friedman is talking about.

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Now THAT Is What I Call a Book Trailer

posted August 16, 2010

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in Bookselling authors books marketing publishing social media uncategorized

I have to confess that I have not really understood the point of book trailers. It seems counterintuitive to market a book with a video, but perhaps I just need to rewire my brain. Well, if more book trailers were like the one above for Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story, then I would completely be on board. It’s clever! Funny! Heart warming! Of course, not all authors are connected enough to have celebrity authors and famous actors appear in their book trailers, but I think there’s a lesson in the trailer nonetheless: it’s okay to have some fun.

Now THAT Is What I Call a Book Tour

posted August 5, 2010

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in Bookselling authors book design books events marketing trends


There are probably plenty of writers out there who kind of dread book tours, but author Jim Lynch isn’t one of them, or at least he isn’t at the moment—he has found a way to combine pleasure with work. An avid sailor, Lynch cruised from his home in Olympia, Washington, to various booksellers in the San Juan Islands (in the Seattle area) during a weeklong tour at the end of July. He promoted two of his novels on the tour: The Highest Tide, his first novel, and Border Songs, recently issued in paperback.

Lynch’s sailboat is a 1970 Bristol 32. He kicked off his tour on July 24 on Shaw Island as guest speaker at the Shaw Island Historical Society Annual Meeting. His final stop was on July 31 in Anacortes at Watermark Books. Lynch also made stops on San Juan Island, Lopez Island, Orcas Island, and Lummi Island. This month he will be traveling on land in Oregon and Washington. For more information visit his website. Also check out this article about his nautical tour in the Wall Street Journal.

French Pop Song of the Week: Apollinaire’s “Le Pont Mirabeau”

posted April 9, 2010

Posted by Thomas Riggs in authors music poetry translation world literature


Although poet Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) is not a pop lyricist, the words to one of his best-known poems, “Le Pont Mirabeau” (”The Mirabeau Bridge”), were put to music by Marc Lavoine, pictured above on the cover of his CD titled simply Marc Lavoine (2001). “Le Pont Mirabeau,” the first track on the CD, is a bridge in Paris that spans over the Seine River. Apparently Apollinaire had to walk over the bridge to get to the home of painter Marie Laurencin, his girlfriend from 1907 to 1912. It is also the bridge where poet Paul Celan likely killed himself in 1970. His body was found miles downstream.

Below is Lavoine, since the 1980s a successful French actor and crooner, singing “Le Pont Mirabeau.”

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Orange Prize is No Joking Matter

posted March 24, 2010

Posted by Erin Brown in authors books literary awards


orange prize

The long list for the Orange Prize for Fiction was announced last week. One of the top literary awards in the U.K., along with the Man Booker Prize and the Costa Book Award, the £30,000 prize is given to a woman author of any nationality for the best original novel written in English.

Culled from a pile of 129 contenders, this year’s long list is comprised mostly of British authors, but there are also three from the U.S. (including Lorrie Moore and Barbara Kingsolver), as well as lone representatives from New Zealand and Morocco. In addition to the works of established authors, the list features seven debut novels, including Rosie Alison’s The Very Thought of You, which has, until now apparently, not received a single review from a British national newspaper.

See the full list here.

The Orange Prize is making news this year because of some provocative comments made by the chair of the judge’s panel, author and TV producer Daisy Goodwin, who complained that she’d been inundated by “misery literature”—a surfeit of rape, child abuse, and bereavement—that made her feel like a “social worker” on the verge of slitting her wrists.

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