Edited to Add: Pamela Jaffee, head of PR at Avon, issued an apology (sort of) to AAR’s Lynn Spencer. Jaffee had accused Spencer of misquoting Avon reps.
For a lesson in what not to do to promote your publishing house, look no further than All About Romance’s interview with Avon editors May Chen and Lucia Macro and Lynn Spencer’s follow-up commentary. Apparently, Ms Cheng and Ms Macro do not believe that the online romance community has a significant impact on their sales figures.
Strange, then, that my first introduction to Avon Romances was through Julia Quinn’s website. Another bestselling Avon author, Eloisa James, has arguably one of the most lavish author websites out there. Many – if not most – Avon authors participate in group blogs, blog tours and host bulletin boards for their readers. Why would they bother investing their time and money into promoting themselves online if they didn’t feel it helped sell books?
While I realize the exact impact of online buzz is impossible to quantify, common sense would dictate that it works. With increasing numbers of people turning to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, the opportunities for fast and effective promotion are limitless.
Therefore, the following assertion by Lucia Macro blew me away:
We are all very plugged in, but many casual readers are just picking up a book at their local Walmart and barely have time to watch TV, much less wrestle the computer away from their kids.
Is she fucking kidding me? Apart from my 86-year-old grandfather, who isn’t online these days? People use the internet to get information on pretty much everything, so why not books? With the economy in the toilet, wouldn’t a ‘casual’ reader with a ‘casual’ budget be more inclined than ever to vet the books she’s interested in buying?
With portable reading devices such as Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader gaining in popularity, e-book sales are bound to surge in the near future, if they haven’t already. For a reader intending to make an e-book purchase, where’s she going to get information on the book? Online.