Lena Dunham and Charles Blow: Literary Tales & Sales

As someone who has dabbled in book PR over the years, I can’t help but notice how the art and dynamics of this specialized practice have evolved. Most significantly, I’m seeing how a newly published author, with a sizable social media following, can play a pivotal role in driving awareness, esteem and…ultimately sales.

There are, however, certain practices that remain valid such as sending out galleys for early review to the mainstay literary publications, the mainstream book critics and those who preside over just how books are featured on large online booksellers. clintonbbook (Photo- NBC News) Then, if you’re not self-published, tapping your publisher’s clout to garner a more prominent display at brick & mortar retailers.

In-person book-reading and signing events also can gin up word-of-mouth and local or even national publicity coverage in the case of boldfaced-named authors. There are also firms that specialize in organizing author satellite and radio media tours. Finally, authors and their publishers are not blind to the value of those positive reader reviews on Amazon and elsewhere. (Though these sites have made it much more difficult to game them.)

If a recommendation from a friend or third party has the greatest capacity to spur sales, as many believe, it’s become almost essential for authors to exploit their social channels to calalyze friendly word of mouth. Take Lena Dunham’s well-received new “memoir,” Not That Kind of Girl.  The New York Times‘s poster child for all things hip created a special YouTube channel “Ask Lena Dunham” apparently for the explicit purpose of promoting her new book.


This is in addition to letting her 1.47 million followers on Twitter know about it…

Not to mention the part her publisher Random House has played by creating a special app for the book and promoting it to its 45,000 followers:

Oddly, the multi-talented author, actor, director and hipster does not appear to have much of a presence on Facebook. I wonder why not?

fire shut upThen there’s the case of Charles Blow’s poignant and also well-received new book Fire Shut Up In My Bones. Mr. Blow, one of my fave op-ed columnists for The New York Times, works in a profession that may very well be the most Twitter-obsessed of any today: journalism. He is Twitter-certified, has 114,000 followers, and has taken to that channel with a passion in an effort to advance his new book’s prospects.

Not a single positive review or reader tweet seems to cross his Twitterstream without a retweet by him. The net effect is that Mr. Blow’s fans see their names promoted to his large Twitter following — a modern day, social media-fueled incarnation of the “quote ad” — while Mr. Blow reaps the benefits of that precious and most influential commodity: the third-party endorsement.

I give Mr. Blow ample credit for the way he’s empowered his Twitter fans to promote his book, which has tweeted its way onto my list of must-reads.

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