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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.

Lots to Admire about Lauren Cerand

posted August 6, 2010

Posted by Erin Brown in publishing social media trends


This week Publishing Perspectives launches a new series of stories called Publishing People We Admire. The first installment features Lauren Cerand, a self-taught independent publicist in New York City, who helped discover the enormous book-selling power of “The Daily Show,” in addition to anticipating several years ago that “the online community would be the next stage in public engagement, presentation, and dialogue.”

On her website, testimonials about the quality of her work indicate that she is not only a discerning judge of talent but also a refreshing force of positivity and integrity in the industry. In Meredith Bryan’s recent New York Observer article called “My Town of Kind!”—which describes a new era of civility, earnestness, and colleaguiality on the Internet—Cerand is quoted as saying, “that very cynical voice worked really well from 2003-2006 . . . but really negative people, they don’t have a lot of friends.” (And in 2010, as we all know, “friends” = audience.)

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Only in Japan: The Twitter Novel

posted February 8, 2010

Posted by Mariko Fujinaka in publishing social media trends


A while back I mentioned the popularity of cell phone novels in Japan, the land of the tiny and compact. Well, now the rage seems to be the Twitter novel. It’s probably not really possible to write an entire novel in 140 characters, even if they do happen to be information-packed Chinese characters, but it is certainly an interesting concept, and bully for the Japanese for trying! It is likely that most Twitter novelists serialize their novels.

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Moody Tweets Up a Storm

posted December 9, 2009

Posted by Erin Brown in publishing social media trends


On November 30 Electric Literature (about which I posted earlier in the month) launched a bold experiment with author Rick Moody, using Twitter to publish his latest short story in “microserial” fashion. It was Moody’s idea to write a story expressly for Twitter, and the task of writing a narrative that could be transmitted 140 characters at a time turned out to be quite challenging. “I became obsessed with the idea of creating for that character clock,” he told The Brooklyn Ink.


The resulting story, “Some Contemporary Characters,” took Moody five months to write and was tweeted in 10-minute intervals over three days, for a total of 153 tweets.

The project ran into some unforeseen difficulty, however, as the story was being simultaneously tweeted from about 20 other sources (who were invited by Electric Literature to participate), including Vroman’s and other bookstores. Anyone who was following more than one of these Twitter feeds received an onslaught of identical tweets. Also problematic was the decision by many sources to inject the story installments into their regular ongoing twitter stream, so that the story was constantly being interrupted by extraneous tweets.

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