Pros Have to Say
About Book Publicity
Excerpted from William
A. Gordon's The
Quotable Writer—a collection of quotes
from the who's who of famous writers and prominant
publishing industry figures.
- "The most difficult of all
(tasks) that a mortal man can embark on is to sell
STANLEY UNWIN, The Truth About Publishing
- "The main difference between
marketing a book and marketing soap is that a book
is a one-shot deal . . . and a book usually only has
90 days to make it or it’s dead."
DOLPH, former promotional manager, Doubleday & Company,
interview with Publishers Weekly
- "Call it the curse of abundance
. . .only a small percentage of what’s published
catches the attention of the public."
APPELBAUM, How to Get Happily Published
- "The struggle in publishing
. . . is to get attention in a crowded marketplace."
SIMON MICHAEL BESSIE, quoted in U. S. News and World
Report, December 5, 1983
- "In an industry
where little money is spent on advertising, free
publicity is the name of the game."
Today’s Marketplace, It’s Hype, Hype, Hype,” U.S.
News and World Report, December 5, 1983
- "[Be] shameless. Try anything
within reason to get your book noticed."
TARG’s advice to editors, “What’s an
Editor,” Editors on Editing
- "Even if you have the next Gone
With the Wind, it will not sell itself."
— BARBARA GRIER,
vice president, Naiad Press, Small Press, November/December
- "I suspect that if any current
product, be it an automobile, a vacuum cleaner, or whatever,
were to be honestly described, there would be few takers. Books
are no exceptions. You cannot permit them to come
barefaced into being. They must be cosmetized,
bewigged, perfumed, given padding where needed for
the sake of appearance."
MACCAMPBELL, The Writing Business
- "A new book is just like any new
product, like a detergent. You have to acquaint people
with it. They have to know it’s there.
You only get to be number one when the public knows
SUSANN, quoted in Lovely Me: The Life of Jacqueline
Susann by Barbara Seaman
- "Some 42,000 books are published
in the United States each year . . . The ratio of new
books to those we have space to review is about 175
The Nation, November 20, 1982
- "The real villains are media organizations
unwilling to spend the money covering the book business
that they spend on a lot of other things."
— CARLIN ROMANO,
book editor, Philadelphia Inquirer, quoted in Publishers
Weekly, April 10, 1987
- "One would expect an industry
that trumpets the public’s right to know, the journalist’s
courageous quest for truth, to celebrate the book. The
expectation is not fulfilled, partly because . . .
newspaper editors fear and resent the greater thoroughness
and sophistication of books."
— CARLIN ROMANO, “Extra! Extra! The
Sad Story of Books as News,” essay in Publishing
Books edited by Everette E. Dennis, Craig L. LaMay and
Edward C. Pease
- "No matter how prestigious or
enthusiastic your publisher is, your book probably won’t
be treated the way it should be. It’s not
that publishers don’t want to support your books,
or that they don’t know how to generate sales;
it’s just that they don’t have enough staff
and money to give each book the attention it needs and
deserves. As a result, most general-interest
titles fizzle out fast."
— JUDITH APPELBAUM
and FLORENCE JANOVIC, The Writer’s Workbook: A
Full and Friendly Guide to Boosting Your Book’s
- "If you have a book coming out,
you have to get heavily—and intelligently—involved
in marketing it or prepare to see it fail."
— JUDITH APPELBAUM,
author, How To Get Happily Published. Interviewed
in WritersWrite: The Internet Writing Journal,
- "In today’s market, writers
can’t just be writers. They have to be performers
and publicists as well."
— Novelist JOSHUA
HENKIN, “Writer with a Roadshow” (op-ed page
article), New York Times, July 5, 1997
- "Publishers lavish promotion on
books likely to sell, written by bestseller writers."
— JEFF LIPPMAN,
Wall Street Journal, September 2, 1997
- "Everyone else pretty much has
to fend for himself."
— ROBERT CRAIS,
author of the Elvis Cole mystery series, quoted in the
Wall Street Journal, September 2, 1997
- "I’ve never quite bought the idea that the
public buys or takes what it deserves. I think
that . . . publishers to a measurable extent dictate
public tastes. They’re really more powerful
than we want to admit."
— VAN ALLEN BRADLEY, literary
critic, quoted in Conversations by Roy Newquist
- "If you can’t describe a
book in one or two pithy sentences that would make you
or my mother want to read it, then of course you can’t
— MICHAEL KORDA,
editor-in-chief, Simon & Schuster, quoted in the
Wall Street Journal, June 26, 1984
- "Simon & Schuster runs a
sales contest every year. The winners get to
keep their jobs."
— JACK O’LEARY,
former Simon & Schuster sales representative, half-joking
about the company’s approach to sales, Newsweek, July 24, 1984
- "One of the wonderful, sad and
desperate things about this business is that nobody
really knows how to sell books."
— ROGER STRAUS III, publishing
executive, quoted in the Wall Street Journal, August