Whenever publishing guru Dan Poynter speaks within a thirty mile radius of Los Angeles, I’m there. Recently, he spoke at the Motion Picture & Television Fund Home (MPTF) in Woodland Hills (a retirement home for the movie industry), and I was there. The grounds are beautiful — fountains, flowers, flags and a huge statue of a Trombone Player.
Okay, so why am I a Dan Poynter groupie? Because Dan Poynter always has something new and interesting to say about one of my favorite topics, publishing. To date, he has made twenty-one trips around the world to speak on the subject, which puts him on the cutting edge of what’s new in publishing globally. I want to hear all about it. For example, during his talk at the MPTF, he mentioned that the Chicago Sun-Times had just laid off all their photographers, instructing their reporters to take their own photos and videos. This is just another example of the fact that newspapers are dying and can no longer afford their staffs. Keep in mind that I heard this bit of news from Poynter a week before I read about it online, which tells you this man has his ear to the ground! In addition to giving his talks, Poynter always distributes a fabulous handout, a great resource in itself. And for those of you who don’t want to follow the man around, his free newsletter, Publishing Poynters, has 21,000 subscribers and is full of book marketing news, ideas, tips and opportunities. To sign up go to http://www.parapub.com.
“Discovery” Is the New Word for “Promotion”
According to Poynter, the latest term for book “promotion” is book “discovery,” a fresh word that lets writers know that it’s up to them to find ways for readers to “discover” their books: “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.” And since publishers no longer market your book for you, you have to do it — unless you’re Paris Hilton and you’re already a brand. I know I’m not a “brand,” so that means I have to keep on looking for ways my book can be “discovered.”
“Amazon is a Fact of Life”
There are authors out there who seem to relish putting down Amazon, but “Amazon is a fact of life,” Poynter says. Since 70-80% of all online book sales are through Amazon, learn how to take advantage of the site and all it offers that can benefit you and your book. Join forums and groups. Improve your Amazon profile. Flesh out the Author Central page. Poynter adds, “Put different images of yourself on the site, including pictures of you at work, doing what you do, so when somebody goes to Google Images to look you up (perhaps for a review, blog or article), they’ll have a whole page of different photos to pick from to go with whatever they are writing.”
“You must be on Wikipedia,” Poynter says. It’s not easy to get on the site. You have to follow the Wikipedia format. You can always look up Dan Poynter and use his page as a template. Wikipedia has become the place people check out when they are checking you out to see if you’re the real deal, so give it a shot.
“Bloggers are the New Book Reviewers”
Poynter has been saying this for years, and it’s even more true today: “Bloggers are the new book reviewers.” While it’s good to have a blog, you don’t have to have one. Instead, you can follow the blogs of others and, at an appropriate time, approach them to be a “guest blogger,” or ask if they’d be willing to review your book. He pointed out that publications such as the Library Journal have now started to charge money for book reviews – mostly because they’re getting fewer ads from publishers, so it helps them stay afloat. The downside is that their reviews no longer have the same credibility because they’re paid for. On the other hand, blogger reviews have come to mean more.
Two other Poynter tips from his MPTF talk: 1) Put together a 2-minute “sizzle reel” (a lively demo reel about your book) and upload it to your website or YouTube; 2) Use your email program to create an “ad” for your book at the bottom of every email you send out. You can include your picture or a picture of your book cover – or both.
Check Dan Poynter’s website (parapub.com) or look at the end of his newsletters to see “where in the world” he is speaking next — and maybe you, too, can be a Poynter groupie.
© Sylvia Cary, LMFT, author of The Therapist Writer: Helping Mental Health Professionals Get Published (Timberlake Press)