Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The publicity machine wheezes into life

Promoting a new book was already difficult, in an era when reading seems to have turned into a lost art, and publishers have gone out of business in droves.

Too may people have designated physical media of any kind — books, magazines, newspapers, whatever — as "old school," and therefore not relevant. One can but wince.

Bad as things were, they got significantly worse as a result of COVID concerns and restrictions. Prior to this past March, authors always could count on a well-attended "coming out party" at a local bookstore, but such gatherings remain unlikely for awhile yet. Similarly, interviews with local newspapers and other outlets are conducted via phone, Skype or Zoom; best intentions notwithstanding, that lessens the collaborative dynamic that results from in-person chats.

McFarland (and many other publishers), responding to fears of transmission via shared objects, have — in most cases — sent PDF review copies, rather than physical books, to potential interviewers and reviewers. In one sense, that can be preferable; under optimal conditions, PDFs arrive instantaneously, with no USPS delay. But as I've learned, folks aren't always savvy about attachment restrictions imposed by ISPs; a 17G file sometimes just "vanishes," without alerting sender or recipient. Days and weeks go by, with both parties waiting for the other to say or do something. I've had to micro-manage a few such, ah, issues ... in one case meticulously explaining email and attachment parameters to a recipient. (And boy, you'd think radio people would be more savvy about such things.)


Queries sent to roughly 40 jazz magazines, bloggers and radio stations prompted enthusiastic interest from just over a dozen: not a bad return. I've done three interviews thus far, all of them quite enjoyable:

• KCCK's Dennis Green — in Cedar Rapids, Iowa — was first out of the gate. We had a lively chat that aired May 8, and subsequently became available as a podcast. Dennis put a lot of post-production work into the result; he even managed to find a copy of Lalo Schifrin's title theme for the TV series T.H.E. Cat, which impressed me greatly.

• Our nearby NPR station — Capital Public Radio, in Sacramento, California — booked me for a live interview June 2, on the news/public affairs show Insight, hosted by Beth Ruyak. Unfortunately, rapidly breaking news left me with only half the time originally intended, but Beth and I made the most of it; the result, brief but packed with juicy tidbits, can be heard here.

• Back in 2012, I got a great interview and plug for my Guaraldi bio on Cocktail Nation, a weekly Australia-based podcast devoted to "All Things Lounge, Tiki and Swank," and hosted by the effervescent Koop Kooper. I'm delighted to report that Koop and his podcast remain an essential part of my week, eight years later; he and I taped an interview about my two newest books in mid-May, and you'll find it in last Saturday's installment of Cocktail Nation. Koop also knows his way around the music that occupied my life for the past four years, and he dug up some great tracks.

More to come (I hope). Stay tuned!

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