Several weeks ago I went on a search for the new pin-up girl of the publishing world. What kind of author was getting all the attention? I'm not talking about the Sarah Palin Media Monster types--I wanted to know about the small fries flying coach and blogging from their couches in their sweats. I sent out emails to a variety of authors and agents and publishers. From the answers I got, the new shape of things was clear. That skinny 'vertical' author-who does one thing really well? She has been replaced. Say good morning to the strong, flexible, firm chick. Smart authors are blogging, self-publishing, booking themselves on radio, asking to speak at conferences where their audience lives, even helping to create viral videos and book trailers.The recession spurred this on, of course. When budgets aren't shoe-string but resemble something more like dental floss, what's an author to do, right? You can mourn the death of publishing or you can start bushwhacking a new book trail. These women certainly have:
Mary Lou Quinlan, author of What She's Not Telling You, is, by nature, a rule-changer. Although her first books were published by major publishers (including Broadway Books, division of Random House), this time around she felt confident with her choice of Greenleaf Book Group: "I chose a place where I could be a big part of the process, but I had a lot of very savvy help along the way." Multi-city book tour in a Lincoln Town Car? Nah. "I'm happier blogging my brains out instead," she told me recently. The book is #4 in multilevel marketing on Amazon.com this week. She and her colleagues/coauthors, Jen Drexler and Tracy Chapman at justaskawoman.com have landed promotional gigs that would make any author drool. She spoke to nearly 1000 marketing execs at Procter and Gamble, to several hundred at Fordham University Business School, to 150 marketers at a Marketing to Women/Healthcare conference in D.C.--and next week she'll be speaking again, this time to The Advertising Women Of NY. If you're stuck with a traditional publishing pr arm that says, "How can we pitch THAT?", maybe you should ask them to consult Quinlan, Drexler or Chapman.
Not that the big guns are getting it all wrong: Sensing a female bonding moment in the making, Voice books created a heart-tugging video for The Middle Place, the memoir of a young mom with breast cancer. Corrigan gives a five-hanky YouTube performance that went viral, and clearly made an impact on sales: Corrigan spent 27 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list. Watch her video and pass it on: Trancending: Words on Women and Strength. You know you will. It's just that good. Hyperion and Voice are also the geniuses behind the NewsKernl with Brian Ross, an insider view of the Bernard Madoff scandal. Hyperion, which is owned by ABC, created the multiplatform piece to coincide with the September publication of The Madoff Chronicles.
Then there's the 'just that bad' kind of digital video that you can't help but pass on. A stellar example I found yesterday in a My Jaw is Dropping Even Though I Thought My Lips Would Be Glued Together By My Peanut Butter Sandwich. It's a book trailer for a cookbook called The Pleasure Is All Mine. It's sexy and repelling at the same time. Check it out. Then pass it on. Again, you'll have to. That's the point. She gives you a sneak peek that's naughty and like-no-other.
Of course, there is the more traditional digital sneak peek. I'm thinking of the cool experiment by Andrew Sullivan who asked readers of his Atlantic blog to "pledge to buy copies of the book, potentially lowering the individual book price by ten dollars," according to Galleycat.com.
The theme that came across loud and clear was that there is an old way for authors: Feel sad that your book has been slated to get no press or promotional dollars. Or start embracing the idea of I AM BRAND! You are not simple a cog in the wheel, a content provider crying on your couch, you are part of the Big New Book Bash! The Publishing After-Party! Hell, yes it's hard work. It's not like it used to be.
And it never will be again. Come to think of it, when I publish my next book, I am definitely not taking a cab or car service. I am going to ride my bike, swim, then run a 10K to the party while listening to my very own playlist of promotional songs on my mp3. I'll be the one wearing a T-shirt that I created on Zazzle.com. All profits will go to a charity I will call: Just Do It Differently People. My son will be 12 by then. I hope he will let me hire him to make the YouTube video. If not, maybe I'll just talk into my Mac and post it myself.
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