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Authors – pitch the book you want to sell, not the one you wrote

15 February 2009 2 Comments

It was easier to write the blasted book than it was to promote it.” That’s what I hear from writers who had the drive to turn themselves into authors but who faltered when the time came to promote their work.  Even with a new website and a strategic selection of book clubs, book blogs, readings rooms, etc., these authors weren’t confident they knew what they were doing. Sadly, the insecurity seemed justified. Most are about to pitch the book they wrote and not the book they want to sell.  What’s the difference you say? Perspective.

It takes subjectivity to imagine a book that that doesn’t exist. That’s Subjective as in “peculiar to an individual,” as “affected by personal views, experience or background.” Please note that in most dictionaries, the word subjective is just a hop, skip and a jump to “illusory” as in an erroneous perception of reality. (We know a little madness is necessary or books wouldn’t get done.) But it takes objectivity to bring the book to market. That’s Objective as in expressing and dealing with facts or conditions as “perceptible to persons other than the affected individual.”   The persons of interest in this case are members of the book-buying public. And please note, they continue to take their cues from the media.

Despite the changes in publishing, the essentials of book promotion remain the same.  Successful authors are the ones with access to the book reviewers and interviewers in newspapers and on radio and television. Access is harder to come by if you’re not what The New York Times use to call a Boldface name, but it’s impossible if you haven’t distilled your book into media messages.  In determining what’s important to large pools of people, journalism operates around this notion of objectivity. (We will not stop to debate the current state of journalism and the perception that objective reporting is in decline or whether or not the fault, dear Brutus, is in ourselves and not in our star-based, media culture that favors reach over content.) Reporting is still a matter of relevance, although there’s been a slippage in favor of popularity in recent years. 

A new book should announce itself boldly. It should have a compelling narrative and an editorial context which has been fully absorbed and articulated by its author. That’s what makes a book a gift of relevance.

Posted by Bodine Williams, the media training and message development specialist.


  • mary said:

    Miss Bodine,

    Where were you when i was trying to sell my book? I spent three years writing my book and then I only had about three weeks to market it. I could have used some serious coaching. I am working on the next (yep, stupid, I guess) and will take your insights to heart.


  • bwilliams (author) said:

    Mary – this is VERY late as I had a spam problem and couldn’t see the real messages from very thoughtful people. Yes, it’s very hard for authors to know what they should do until the time as passed. Best, Bodine