My author on the Jim Lehrer News Hour on PBS this Thursday!

We’ve been working our butts off to get this book, Band of Sisters: American Women at War in Iraq, and the author, Kirsten Holmstedt, some attention and it’s starting to pay off.  We just confirmed that she’ll be on a panel hosted by Judy Woodruff on the Thursday broadcast talking about women soldiers in the current war.  Considering the book officially goes on sale tomorrow and she has a satellite radio blitz next week this is perfect timing.  To quote a British friend of mine, WOOT WOOT!

There are a lot of factors that go into publicizing a book and most of them are unquantifiable.  When I lobbied for the publicity budget for this book there was no way to guarantee anything beyond the money we’d spend.  Being a smaller, but growing, publishing house, we don’t have a spare 100k lying around to throw at a book, so we have to think very squirrelly, ie. where to plant your nuts for the best effect.  Part of our approach was to get finished copies of the book to a lot of papers, mags, websites and other reviewers and build a ground swell of awareness.  I think it was Stalin that said ‘Quantity has a quality all its own.’  Those reviews and articles when amassed have in turn given us some leverage to go after television by showing them this is something they need to be a part of.  That’s not to say PBS didn’t figure it out on their own (we sent them a copy, too,) but we try to make that decision easier by demonstrating a strong response out in the field.  Basically, you’re trying for that critical mass, or, um… tipping point (hey, what a great term, I wonder if anyone’s used that before?)

By the way, one of the reasons I pushed hard to promote this book was because the author is incredibly energetic in helping herself.  That is a huge plus.  Her website will give you some idea of what she’s done on her own initiative

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      I’ll talk more about this in future blogs, but in such an incredibly competitive market a new author can really help themselves by showing a publisher they are getting more than a writer, they’re getting a motivated publicist as well. It affects the likelihood of a manuscript being bought, for how much, and how aggressively the publisher will support the book. An academic press has the luxury, or used to, of assessing a book solely on its scholarship without concern of commercial viability. Those of us on the trade side have to balance worth with value. A lot of perfectly good books will never get published because they don’t show enough commercial potential.


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