Whether you call it a mosaic, a jigsaw, or a collage, effective book promotion is not as simple as some like to think. There’s no list of 5 things to do and check off to signify that you’re done. You honestly might never be done. It’s complex, a myriad of details that often are seemingly unrelated. And just the same way an author may have a very structured and organized outline that creates an impression of the book, the final product is so much more than the simple completion of the outline. It’s the nuances and threads that wind and weave and lead from one place to the next until you finally arrive at an often unforeseen destination. When done well, the joy is in the hidden things, the twists of phrases and words that are invisible yet so clear you can almost hear them.
As a grad student, I remember the first time I observed the practice of mirroring in couples therapy. It was fascinating to watch, time and time again, as one person heard things the other never said. Interpretation, insinuation, reflection, assumption. The list can go on. The same thing happens when a reader picks up a book. Readers will hear and see things the author never thought of simply by virtue of the way they piece together the information they’re given. Sometimes it means they assume something before even finishing a sentence. Jumping to conclusions.
The first time I saw the movie The Sixth Sense, I staggered at the ending and immediately wanted to go back and watch again to see if I’d been cheated or if the writing was so good I’d really missed the clues and hints that were obviously there. It was the latter. And one of the few times I’ve ever truly said, “I wish I’d written that.”
You probably think by now I’ve totally digressed and what does this have to do with book promotion really? But I haven’t. I get asked a lot if a client’s press release is ready. Like there’s only one. They’re surprised to learn that I don’t send press releases to most people I contact on behalf of clients. Bad publicist! No, I have just learned to use the right tools for the job.
Media personalities tend to be very visual. The picture’s worth a thousand words, right? So I don’t send them a press release that’s all text and black and white. I send them a bio with a photo and book info with a cover. It’s not all fancy, but it does what it needs to do – captures the right person’s attention better than a single, typewritten page.
If I’m trying to convince a national television program that my client is the guest of the hour, I don’t send a book and bio page alone. I dress them up in a professional folder and print a copy of the head shot on glossy photo paper (which reminds me, some of you really should ask for new headshots for a holiday gift – just saying). I dress up your promo, include good reviews and blurbs, some of the more significant recent markets that have featured you and your book and generally make you look like you’re really somebody. And then (and you thought I was finished) I put together an idea that sometimes looks like an outline for the show! I get them on the phone and I make the pitch. If they like the pitch (and I do mean IF) then I send them the fancy package.
Book promotion, like a mosaic, may start out small and is usually comprised of tiny, shiny, broken segments of the whole, pieced together in such a way that they create the illusion of a picture of something entirely different. It’s easy to want each action contained in a promotional campaign to be complete in and of itself, and to be able to judge its success or failure accordingly. It just doesn’t work that way anymore than you can attribute the success or attractiveness of a snowman to a single, particular handful of snow. Book promotion is a complex, contrived and ongoing effort that starts as a small, but beautiful piece of art that continues to grow and evolve as you go. Enjoy yourself. It’ll create a better picture.