Q. Tell us about Lucinda Literary? What qualifies you to give such services? Why should authors pick you over the other players in the field?
A. I’m a hybrid: I represent authors, but also consult on marketing and publicity for authors represented by other agents. I don’t believe in being territorial, so my company’s philosophy is strongly based on partnerships. As the publishing process becomes more intricate, where all of us are in the position are learning, and no one’s particular expertise is more meritorious than anyone else’s. We all bring different pieces to the table—and publishing’s new playing field, the internet, has become the ultimate leveler.
My piece: I bring experience as an agent to marketing clients, which means: sales-mindedness, inside knowledge of the publishing industry, attentiveness and responsiveness to my clients while bearing the needs of all parties in mind because I’ve lived in all shoes—corporate marketing, publicity, and later on as a literary agent. I’m “insatiably” curious, as my profile states, in ePublishing and the digital opportunities for exposure available to writers, but my company brings authors both social media consulting alongside traditional publicity, which is still important to authors. (For all company services, see: http://www.lucindaliterary.com/marketing-publicity-4-0/)
Another distinguishing feature of my company is the intention to work with the authors we love over the course of a multi-book career. A book launch is important, but longevity even more so. This is about building an ongoing presence long-term. Writers who are already represented, but need to build their marketing platform before eligible to submit their proposals to editors has become a newer focus of the company.
It’s been an unexpected joy that in the process, I’ve learned so much from my authors—I’ll give shout-outs here to @aswinn for teaching me what works for authors in terms of blogging and Twitter, and to @formerlyhot, for her general creativity in promoting her blog/book, as well as her unique touch for communicating with fans and engaging their support.
Q. How do you see the role of social media playing in book marketing today and in the future?
A. I believe that successful books are made on the basis of word-of-mouth: whether your book club, a friend or family member, a movie someone loved that was adapted from a book.
Word-of-mouth has never been quantifiable. Neither has social media.
Nor has publishing ever really been all that interested in quantifiable value—that’s not where our pride is.
But consider publishing (and music, and film): an industry that historically has made money on a system of beliefs, and not data. First writers, then agents, then editors, then readers…all they needed was to believe in a book. And so storytelling begets storytelling. Social media is our new means of telling a believable story, aligning media and readers to believe. (And yes, media very much lives on Twitter. And as for readers: you can find them all over on Facebook.)
What else is actionable about social media? Social networking. For the business world, it’s rule #1 in forming critical connections. In a social context, an author can now fearlessly network with reader, journalist, editor, producer, celebrity. And even become celebrities. What’s amazing and different about social networking vs. regular networking, is that the playing field is that much wider. Your audience is exponentially greater than an intimate cocktail party or industry event. Your publicity, well, infinite.
Networking is massively important for authors when they are required to think like businesspeople—as marketers. And authors are definitely required to in this age of publishing.
Q. What role do you see book bloggers play in book marketing today and in the future?
A. I read a really insightful post on a book blog (incidentally) about why reader reviews are more critical than ever – further in this vein, grassroots “word-of-mouthing” achieved through social mediums may mean that critical newspaper reviews may or may not be as important in helping books to break out.
Here is why a newspaper critic might consider becoming a book blogger:
a) Because you no longer have any allegiances— most book bloggers aren’t even paid for what they do, so there’s a sense of passion that infuses every review.
b) Because you are suddenly visibly real and can therefore…
c) connect with like-minded reviewers, not speak in a vacuum and…
d) establish the sort of credibility of a friend recommending a great read. Voilà word of mouth! Because the virtual world makes these friendships possible—and feel true. (Shout out to a new virtual friend of mine, Girl Who Reads: who wouldn’t find Donna adorable in that photo and want to be her friend?)
I’m not sure publishing has room for critics anymore.
Or not in the traditional sense, where someone’s individual stamp on your work could mean the beginning (or the end) of your career. Art is a diversely viewed and subjective trade.
A last point: book bloggers, like you Zohar—yes, you, Zohar —live in the social world. And so, as books become more talked about online, bloggers become more prominent tastemakers.
Q. Shameless plug disguised as a question: Why do you love ManOfLaBook.com so much and often visit the website?
A. I think ManofLaBook is genuinely one of the best and most sophisticated blogs I’ve seen, evidenced by its large following. The first thing that strikes me beyond the clean and evocative look of the site, clever title and equally clever and cute “French” character next to it, is the blog’s integration with e-retailers, so that a great book review can easily prompt a reader to buy the product. The best publicity, in my mind, is very closely linked with sales, and many less developed Blogger or WordPress sites don’t offer this integration, making MOLB a site, where, as an author, I’d want to be seen. There are also all sorts of bells and whistles to get lost in: like taste tests, a signature review system, a variety of content from pure reviews to giveaways to “Fun Facts Friday,” which offers a historical, more literary dimension, again rare in the average book blog. This presentation of credibility, which includes visible reader engagement on site, combined with the authenticity of “the man” behind La Book, draws readers into its community. As I’ve said: I can’t believe someone employed, with a family, could ever devote such time to something so thoroughly conceived and frighteningly up-to-date.
Bloggers with this kind of passion for literature keep the business of reading alive.
Lucinda Blumenfeld is the founder of marketing and literary agency Lucinda Literary LLC. Learn more at: www.lucindaliterary.com, or follow on Facebook and Twitter. This week, Lucinda Lit will share daily interviews with Man of La Book on her blog on best tactics for authors on Twitter.