Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Huffington Post And Big Book Publicity

Today, on a visit to the Huffington Post, I was startled when I saw an article about big book publicity claiming I was doing the right things vis a vis my book. I always feel that I'm not doing enough, or not doing it right, so it felt especially good to see this.
Fate, of course, always takes its hand no matter what we humans do. So as I've learned, Take the action, and let the results go. 
Every author should be like Glenn Plaskin. Over a year before his book Katie: Up and Down The Hall would hit stores, Plaskin created an award-worthy book trailer, started working his celebrity contacts for endorsements, and hired a freelance book publicist. More than six months before his book would see the light of day, he started blogging almost every day, created a fan page for his book on Facebook, and debuted his active Twitter stream. And today, with his pub date still far on the horizon, he's taking meetings with major corporations to explore sponsorship opportunities.
Plaskin is a client of Goldberg McDuffie Communications, so we're especially aware of his work. But authors are coming to our freelance book publicity firm ever earlier in the publishing process, recognizing that now more than ever they need expert guidance on building their brand and positioning their book in the best possible light. While the rest of the publishing world is wrestling with difficult decisions like eReader formats and rights issues, we feel we're working in a bright spot. Authors will always need public relations and marketing specialists to help connect them to their audiences. It's just that the way we achieve this is changing rapidly.
Even just a decade ago, a full-page review in the New York Times would have been enough to catapult a book onto the bestseller list and keep it there. While still important, few traditional media outlets can achieve that sort of bounce for a book today as consumers change who they trust as tastemakers--it might be a "mommy blogger" instead of Ladies Home Journal. Communication is no longer a three-person process with the media playing the role of middleman. Because of this, a mix of coverage through mainstream general media, targeted niche media, online outlets, and the work of the author connecting with consumers one-on-one is necessary to give a book a life of its own and the sales numbers it deserves.
The work publicists and marketers do--whether in-house at a publisher or at an agency like ours--is increasingly important as the number of media outlets multiplies online, and new social networking sites and tools debut on a regular basis. Should one Tweet? Get on Ning? Start a blog? A big part of our role is to help authors assess the vast array of options before them, think strategically about what will get their book the most attention, and prioritize this work so that their efforts (and time) are not wasted.
We have also found it critical to become involved with an author and their work as early in the publishing process as possible. What good is advising someone to start a blog if their first post hits the day the book is on-sale? The point of reaching out to your "tribe" isn't just to sell books, though that will hopefully be a side effect. It's to begin an authentic conversation with people interested in your topic and your thinking. This can help sell books to consumers, and if done right, can help sell one's book to a publisher in the first place.
The publishing world is evolving in myriad ways, as anyone following industry news the last few months well knows. With imprints, editors, and publishing missions changing, authors like the idea of having some constants in their lives. By working with authors over the course of their careers, with the ebb and flow of creativity and publication schedules, we're able to give them perspective, advice, and insight. We're excited about the future of publishing and the many new ways of bringing writers and readers together. And we're looking forward to working with our colleagues in the industry to achieve this together.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

KAPOW! Singer Marilyn Maye Knocks One Out Of The Park At Symphony Space

Yesterday afternoon, at the acoustically-perfect Symphony Space, legendary cabaret singer MARILYN MAYE delivered a 90-minute tour de force, a masterful set of classic songs performed effortlessly, no less at age 82!

But you'd never know it. This woman moves with the grace of a dancer, kicking up her legs, belting out song after song, her voice a buttery blend of perfectly delivered purrs, taunts and teases, shading her delivery with a maturity and level of musicianship you'll rarely hear anywhere. Ella Fitzgerald once dubbed her "the great white female singer in the world,"and it's got to be true.

Indeed, she can belt out a song with the best of them and she does it all with the physical stamina and vocal mastery of someone decades younger. You simply can't believe this woman.

For example, her virtuoso rendition  of "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe," chugged down the tracks, leaving steam behind and bringing the audience to its feet. And I can't even begin to describe her extraordinary peformance of "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road), haunting and brave in holding back the darkness.
With seemingly inexhaustible stamina, supported by her fantastic trio, she "swings hard" as the New York Times noted in a review of her act at Feinstein's earlier this year.

Outfitted in a sequined jacket, black pants with silver beads down the sides, and glittery silver shoes, she was a picture of grace and glamour as she offered a program including a tribute to the songs of Johnny Mercer, Steve Allen, Cole Porter, and more. For all this, I must thank my friend Mario Buatta, a great Marilyn Maye fan and friend, for inviting me as his guest to this afternoon delight.

For those who don't know, Marilyn was born in Wichita, Kansas and began her career as a child competing in amateur contest in Topeka, where her father owned a drugstore. By 15, she had her own own radio show; and it wasn't long before she came to the attention of Steve Allen, who invited her to appear on his show. Her RCA record contract soon followed, the younger singer delivering seven albums and 34 singles. She appeared on the Tonight Show a record 76 times. Nowadays, she receives award and award, "and I hope all these lifetime achievement awards aren't trying to tell me something," she jokes yesterday, "because I'm not done, not even close."

You said it. 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Most Relaxing Conversation At The End Of The Day, With A Perfect Neighbor

Last evening, the balmiest, most perfect spring night imaginable, after a long day of working, and then a social engagement with friends, I came home to Battery Park City with my 'battery' completely drained.

There wasn't much energy left in me, not really. And as I got out of the taxi and entered the cherry blossomed-perfection of our waterside community, I felt relieved, as I often do, just by being back in my own neighborhood.

Unlike most of Manhattan, there was no traffic noise, nothing except the rippling sound of the water and people chatting while walking around at a much more relaxed pace than most of city life in this crazily busy metropolis.

As I strolled home, I just happen to run into a great neighbor friend of mine, a fellow dog lover, BEN, as above in the photo, who was walking his two dogs, Miko and Sammy.

What happened next was an example of a truly great neighborhood phenomena. Ben and I hung out on the street for at least a half hour, talking about anything and everything--including the antics of his two dogs, diet and exercise, my upcoming high school reunion, the process of aging, the secrets of centenarians, the benefits of getting two dogs instead of one, my new dog coming next week, how to handle stress with competitive colleagues and unruly friends, dating---you name it.

In short, as we often do when we accidentally meet in the morning--me on my bike and Ben walking his dogs--we chatted and laughed about life in general. I can't tell you how refreshing it was to have this spontaneous conversation--THAT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH WORK--or ambition.

It was just a normal, fun, casual talk and I left Ben feeling energized rather than drained. There was no tension. It was a "clean" transaction, devoid of any negative emotions--enervating feelings that are so destructive. Ben is a fantastic guy with a happy optimistic personality, a calm temperament, someone you WANT to be with, someone who is not in emotional pain.

In short, he is the perfect neighbor. He's also a contempoary, around my age, so we understand the process of how we feel and why. Because we're both settled in certain aspects of our life--it's actually healing to be with him.

Once, months earlier, when I told him that I was stressed--and that my back hurt--he was kind enough to give me a great book about YOGA. This was typical of his kind nature--being giving, open, friendly, not intrusive, and generous-hearted.

Now THERE's somebody you want to meet and spend time with.

Thanks Ben for a great gift, and the perfect end to the night.