…for starters, I have to believe it. If an agent or editor asks for a promotion plan, stay within the realm of what you realistically can and will do because I can assure you that our BS-o-meters have fresh batteries. We can smell a put on from ten paces.
Bullpucky ‘O Meter and the Dartboard
I’ve seen any number of proposals where the promo plans were nothing short of fantastic. It’s like the author tossed darts at a promotion dartboard. “YES! Oprah…why the heckity-toot not?” Fling… “Ooo, TV shows like GMA, Today Show!” Taking aim one last time and firing, “Yessiree, all the bookstores across the country and Larry King Live sounds bloody mahvelous!”
And I won’t believe a word of it. Why? Because most mortals have no clue as to how those plans will be accomplished. It’s something that just sounds good. And just because it sounds all cool like doesn’t mean it’s feasible. We know this already, so you’re not fooling anyone. If you really believe your story is actually David Letterman-worthy, then you better give me some details as to why you think that can actually happen.
Now, when Barry Petersen tells me he feels real good about getting on CBS News, I believe him because, well, he works with Katie Couric. He’s on the CBS Evening News all the freaking time. His promo plan is totally within the kingdom of reality and probability because he’s oozing platform from every pore. His beautiful Jan’s Story is a huge issue that no one is talking about, and he has the platform to get it out in front of the public eye.
But for us mortals, this kind of lofty promo plan idea is pie in the sky stuff that I’m unlikely to buy because I know how achingly hard it is to accomplish these things.
Are you a somebody?
The media loves “somebody’s,” like Barry Petersen, because they have a platform. The are already known to a wide number of people. I can assure you that Larry King Live doesn’t give a rat’s patoot whether you have seven toes on one foot [the beagle has an extra toe and believes she should be given top dog spot on Kelly and Regis] or can play the “Star Spangled Banner” through your belly button. Larry wants topics he can sink his teeth into. So putting that in your promo plan tends to make my eyes roll.
Stuff I already know
If you tell me that you have a list of newspapers across the country who can be contacted, this is a non-starter. I already know this. I also know that a newspaper in Kingman, Arizona is unlikely to pick up a press release about an author who lives in Pequot Lakes, MN and wrote a book about wine tasting. That normally happens when/if you’re on a book tour, and your publicist puts out a press release in the local newspapers where you’re appearing. Getting nationally carried is a lovely dream.
Many book proposals include plans that talk about writing for magazines. “I”ll write articles to Good Housekeeping or Reader’s Digest.” It’s a cool idea, but what assurances do you have that they’ll pick up your article? I’m not saying it isn’t a fabulous idea; I’m just saying that it’s far from a guarantee. My feeling is that if you were going to be published in a magazine, you would have already done it because – helloooooo – it’s a writing credit! Pricey lurves solid writing credits.
So what do you want to see, you picky wench?
I love realistic promo plans. Let’s say you surfed all through California and you have a travelogue/essay/personal journey that’s just aching for a good home.
If you say that you have contacted all the local surf shops and have set up tentative events up and down the Cali coast, Pricey will sit up and take notice.
If you tell me that you’ve already had articles published in Surf Magazine, Pricey will sit up and take notice.
If you tell me that you’ve talked to the representatives of O’ Neill wetsuits and told them about your book and, in return, they want to sponsor you for local events, Pricy will, like, totally, duuuude, sit up and take notice.
This is solid stuff we can use to publicize and promote your book to the genre buyers because you’ve established a platform. You are the go-to duuude for Cali beaches and their local hangouts. That makes you an expert. That makes you marketable. Pricey lurves marketable.
But when you say, “I’d lurve to be on Oprah…” Yah, babe, you and a billion other writers. I assure you that genre buyers’ Vickie Secrets won’t flip up any more than mine. They’ll say, “Um, sure, when you have a confirmed appearance date, call us and we’ll order books.” Their tight budgets don’t allow for buying books on the hope that something really cool, bosso, neaty-keen will happen. They want absolutes because that is what sells books.
So when writing your promo plans in your book proposals, put away your dartboard and stay out of Fantasy Land, ‘cos just like Santa, we know who’s being naughty…