Books demand a considerable amount of time and attention; so how do you go about trying to sell them? Traditionally, publishers send authors on book tours to generate word of mouth interest, which can be very effective. Then again, the life of letters hardly prepares someone for a guest shot on Oprah. Something as fundamental as book cover design certainly encourages potential readers to pick one up and consider it further. And in the case of industry heavy-hitters like James Patterson, publishers occasionally turn to television ads, usually with unfortunate results.
But in the past month, I’ve come across two deeply-engaging websites that do an incredibly effective job of selling books. Photographer Andrew Zuckerman has a new celebrity-interview powered book out entitled Wisdom and a tremendous multi-media site to promote it. Photographer Phillip Toledano created a slightly less-sophisticated but deeply moving site chronicling the final days of his ninety-three year old father, a documentary project which will eventually become a book.
Both authors are younger (thirty one and forty one, respectively), both are photographers, and both provide generous amounts of their work free to the public in this context. The online medium fits their work incredibly well, though the challenge still remains to publicize the link and drive traffic to the site. In both cases, I followed forwarded links, an admittedly far less precise media tool but one that carries considerable weight as recommendation.
Then again, if this is the alternative, less precise is just fine…