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Publicity, Promotion and Public Relations in Book Promotion

Chicago Book Expo 2001

Book Publicity, Promotion and Public Relations by Jodee Blanco and Robert E. Baensch

Jodee Blanco is the author of The Complete Guide to Book Publicity, published by Allworth Press, New York. She was the speaker at the Book Publicity, Promotion and Public Relations seminar at the Chicago Book Expo 2001. Jodee gave many interesting and workable hints about successful book promotion without  the need to take out a second mortgage or break one's bank saving bank account.

She told the audience during the seminar that book promotion does not have to cost a lot of money contrary to many people's belief. Advertisement is only good if people utilize it to "sell through" instead of using it to "sell by." If there was a story written about a book or a radio station program just aired, the subsequent advertisement in any of those mediums will help to "sell through." The publicity is initially generated from the story created by the news report. Subsequently to the report, the advertisement not only gives more information, but also makes the source of purchase available to the public. But, if an advertisement is carried in a newspaper without any prior write up or editorial about the book, the advertisement may not be that effective. People who read advertisement are aware that such a commercial display is paid for and some of the information may be exaggerated. People are more likely to believe in a story written about a book that in a lone advertisement which may not appeal to their passions.

Jodee Blanco hinted that there are many ways to gain publicity for a book. This can be done by selling through independent bookstores, share sale forces with other organizations or companies, set up a network of common interest of people online and share links, get involve with specialty meetings or specialty conferences with common interest to the book. The book seller, author or the book publicist must first get involved and generate a story within the local bookstore, organization or association. Advertisements do not sell as much as publicity will sell books. She encouraged book promotion agents to build a relationship with all marketing targets including the media, bookstore, libraries, local newsletters, panel discussion groups, etc. Sometimes, the littlest media outlet may have the greatest impact for a particular book.

Jodee insisted that, a story needed to be generated by a book in the local community and gain the attention of the local media. This she believes will create grass roots momentum for the book which may eventually capture the attention of the national news media. Later, it will be clearer that the book is generating publicity, but the story being generated from the book is generating more publicity than the book itself.

Money should not be an issue to generate or hire a publicist. Many promotion seminars this year mentioned a free way to hire a publicist by hiring an intern to do the work for college credit.

Once the story is generated at the local community, the publicist can then go to the media saying, "I've got a story for you." The story of a contest, saving lives, finding a solution to a pending problem, etc. will be the lead phrase and the book title will accompany the story.  Once the media picks the story and the process generating the story is continuous, it will eventually escalate the campaign to a higher level. All these can be attained without spending a lot of money.

Jodee Blanco is available for personal consultation on book marketing strategies. Her address: 357 West Chicago Avenue, Suite 400, Chicago, Illinois 60610. Tel: 312-573-2070. Cell phone: 312-961-3430.

Report by V. 'Yinka Vidal of OUTCRY Magazine