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Book Publicity Services

For marketing help, a professional book-publicity service can help. I recommend being specific about the scope of what the publicist will do, and doing as much as you can yourself.

Warning: there are book-promotional scams out there, and there are publicists that charge a lot but might not give you close attention or custom-tailored, thoughtful, cost-effective services. You need to check to confirm that a publicist has a solid track record working with the genre you’re writing in, with the level of book distribution you have, and with the campaign parameters you’re contemplating. And you need to have a book that has real appeal, with the market-savvy publicity “legs” or angles or media appeal that is needed to make book publicity work.

Here are some good publicists that do a good job – if you work well with them and are clear about what kind of help you need and are willing to pay for, and if you give them the raw material they need to do their job well. These services have excellent experience, resources, personal contacts, and a good track record of working with individual authors and indie-press book projects.

KSB Promotions
KSB specializes in nonfiction books. I’ve worked with Kate Bandos of KSB Promotions, based in Ada, Michigan, on a number of projects and have always found their services to be cost-effective and productive. I love that they offer an ala carte selection of services.

Stephanie Barko, Literary Publicist
Stephanie Barko handles nonfiction & historical fiction, including how-to, history, career, business, biography, memoir, and self-help. Her historical fiction experience is especially strong.

Recommended Blogs to Follow

Jane Friedman
If Jane Friedman recommends a particular course of action when it comes to technological advice and general business issues for writers, I usually follow it. She has the experience and is committed to helping writers sort through the confusing maze of the book business online.

Anne R. Allen’s Blog
Flat-out, Anne R. Allen’s is one of the best, most readable, most practical, most author-centric blogs that I follow. She write comprehensive, thoughtful posts, of any length, not just the short blog blather found elsewhere.

Recommended Books

On Pitching

The First Five Pages
A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile
by Noah Lukeman (1999, paperback 2005)
Focus: Fiction, some application for nonfiction projects
Audience: Emerging writers
Why I’m recommending this:
it delivers lucid, crucial knowledge about writing well. Most of all, it drives home the industry imperative: you must make a strong, irresistible impression in the first several pages. It’s how the industry works. And it makes a certain sense. If the first 5 pages don’t impress, why would the rest? If you doubt this, pick a favorite book from your bookshelf and read the first 5 pages. Are you impressed? If you were an agent or editor, would you want to spend more of your limited time to read more, given the huge piles of other queries and submissions clamoring for attention? Is it likely to be a winner in the literary sweepstakes of which literary properties get acquired, published, marketed, sold to stores, sold to readers, read, and liked enough to make money for everybody involved in that chain of commerce?

On Writing Nonfiction

A Writer’s Coach:
The Complete Guide to Writing Strategies that Work
by Jack Hart (2006)
[Note: the hardcover edition had a slightly different subtitle.]
Focus: Nonfiction (Journalism)
Audience: Writers at all levels
Why I’m recommending this:
I learn something every time I pick up this amazing book. Jack Hart is editor at large for The Oregonian and has coached writers for many years while mastering the craft himself. His book is a clear, well-organized set of great advice on how to craft the journalistic report or story (and by extension, many other forms of writing). The Table of Contents shows the approach: Method, Process, Structure, Force, Brevity, Clarity, Rhythm, Humanity, Color, Voice, Mechanics, Mastery. I love that the list includes force, brevity, clarity, rhythm. Too many writers can produce run-of-the-mill work, but haven’t learned to elevate their work to the next level. Best of all, he practices what he preaches. The book’s succinctness is wonderful. This is one of the least-fluff, most bang-for-the-buck book on writing I have on my bookshelf. It’s one of the best books on craft for nonfiction writers. Get it. You’ll read it many times . . . and enjoy it each time.

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