Bob Baker's Full-Time Author Blog

Jan Nathan: A Wonderful Life

Jan Nathan, who served as the Executive Director of PMA (the Independent Book Publishers Association) since its beginning in 1983, died June 17 after a year-long battle with cancer. She was 68.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Jan, but I'd heard her name so many times over the years related to PMA and independent book publishing, I felt as if I did know her. All self-published authors and indie publishers owe her a huge debt of gratitude.

Jonathan Kirsch, Legal Counsel for PMA, said, "It is not overstating to say that Jan Nathan is among the most crucial and decisive figures in the media revolution that turned independent publishing into the thriving industry that it is today. Over her long and accomplished career in publishing, she proved herself to be both a visionary and a practical problem-solver, a ubiquitous and beloved figure at every venue where the publishing industry gathered."

Don Tubesing, President of PMA from 2002 to 2004, remarked, "Jan's enthusiasm and warmth, her patience with answering the most basic publishing questions over and over again, and her consistent focus on encouraging us all to produce books of the highest quality, made her an unmatched force in the growth of independent book publishing. The thousands of publishers and exquisite books produced by PMA members remain as her tribute. The current health of independent publishing remains as her legacy."

I'm serving my third term as president of the St. Louis Publishers Association (one of PMA's regional affiliate groups). While the organization is thriving today, I've been told that in its early days, it struggled and that Jan was instrumental in keeping our little nonprofit organization alive.

Jan Nathan touched so many lives during her time on Earth. What an awesome legacy and a great example to follow.


Book Publishing & Promotion Podcasts

I attended the giant Book Expo America trade show two out of its three days ... and I didn't make time to sit in on any of the educational panels they put on. I figured I just simply missed out on them.

But not so! BEA is posting many of the panels online as free MP3 files. You can listen to streaming versions, download MP3s of only the sessions you want, or subscribe to the series as a podcast. Very cool!

Check it out at

As I was writing this blog post, I wondered how many other book publishing-related podcasts were out there. I realized I hadn't listened to many. A quick search turned up a number of them.

Here are six more book and author-themed podcasts:

Powerful Book Promotion Made Easy

Lulu Radio

The Publishing Coach

The Writing Show

The Truth Behind POD Publishing

iUniverse podcast

Adventures in Scifi Publishing

That should keep your ears filled with new book ideas for days on end.


Want to jump-start your career as an independent author? Check out my brand-new Self-Publishing Success Secrets 101.

Bob on NPR's Morning Edition today

Hey, I wanted to share some good news. I was featured in a short radio piece today on Morning Edition, which is broadcast to more than 12 million people on 600 NPR stations across the U.S. and beyond.

You can listen to the three and a half minute segment here:

It was about the recent FCC payola ruling (which I wrote about last week on my music promotion blog) and, more specifically, Clear Channel radio's new attempt to give exposure to local and independent musicians. But the agreement they ask artists to make is raising a lot of questions. So I, and the two other people reporter Neda Ulaby interviewed, chimed in with responses.

The funny thing is, Neda had contacted me two days ago for a different story. I got the message too late to be included. I was kicking myself for missing a great opportunity to reach millions of NPR listeners. But I emailed her yesterday, and she just happened to be working on another story that was even more up my alley. I feel very lucky.

Thanks for letting me toot my horn (and I think we all know how painful that can be :-)


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Hilary Clinton on Viral Video Marketing

Want a great lesson on how to use the Internet to create a buzz? Keep an eye on the U.S. presidential campaign over the next 18 months. During the 2004 campaign we discovered the power of bloggers. This time around it seems video content will be king.

In an effort to show her softer side, Hilary Clinton ran a lighthearted contest to pick a new campaign song. Check out this video from a couple of weeks ago (which has been viewed nearly 300,000 times).

Also take a look at the announcement video on Sen. Clinton's site, which spoofs The Sopranos finale and makes nice use of former pres Bill and Soprano Johnny Sack.

All of this lead to a big climax: the announcement of the winning song ... which turned out to be an upbeat anthem by, of all people, Canadian songstress Celine Dion.

Here's what was right with this song contest idea:

Hilary did indeed loosen up. In these clips she shows that she has a sense of humor and the ability to not take everything so seriously (something her campaign people have been desperately trying to convey).

Kudos to her for including some of the video submission clunkers and particularly the negative comments people made about the song contest -- important aspects of open and transparent, community-driven communication. Most politicians (and corporations) try too hard to control their intended message and suppress critical comments -- much to their chagrin.

The Sopranos spoof was clever, and the use of Bill, Chelsea and Johnny Sack added some smiles.

Now for the bad: Crowning Celine Dion, the queen of female power ballad sap, as the winner was a mismatch. When I think of web-savvy, forward-thinking voters ready for a change in the White House ... Celine doesn't immediately spring to mind.

Viral buzz is all about connecting with a group of people with a similar worldview. Trying to overlap Hilary-supporting Democrats with Sopranos devotees and Celine Dion fans was a stretch by anyone's imagination.

Another important aspect of today's viral buzz creation is community involvement. While I believe Hilary did welcome new song suggestions, the voting was mainly to choose an existing popular song. Had she opened it up to songwriters and solicited a brand-new campaign song, that would have added a lot more "community involvement."

So, when concocting your own online video buzz theme, make it interactive. And make sure your concept ties in directly to your identity AND the audience you're wanting to reach.


YouTube music video promotionJoin the YouTube revolution. Read How to Use Video to Promote Your Music Online. Learn how to create, promote and profit from your own low-cost music videos.

How to Make a Name for Yourself as an Author

What can you learn about promotion from an author who's been wearing a nametag 24/7 for more than 2,400 days straight? A lot when that guy is Scott Ginsberg (who just got some great national media exposure when he appeared on ABC's 20/20 last Friday night).

In this video clip (recorded a couple of weeks ago in New York at Book Expo America) Scott and I explore what it takes to stand out in a crowd:

If you like that, watch this other video clip I did with Scott at the same venue.


YouTube music video promotionJoin the YouTube revolution. Read How to Use Video to Promote Your Music Online. Learn how to create, promote and profit from your own low-cost music videos.

Example of a Great Book Business?

Last week I was poking around some of the book-related blogs I subscribe to when I was stopped cold in my tracks. I was on Jeff Smith's InfoProduct Marketing Insiders blog reading a post titled "Want An Example Of A Great eBook Business?" when I suddenly realized ...

He was writing about me and the MySpace Music Marketing book I published last year!

Funny thing is, I've never corresponded with Jeff. But last year I discovered his site and found a ton of useful information in his database of free info-product marketing articles. Who knows, maybe some of his ideas rubbed off on me when I created the MySpace music book sales page, and he spotted some of his ideas in action.

Actually, my copywriting and web page design skills have evolved over the years based on reading lots of books and blogs on the topic and simply writing and designing countless web pages to promote my titles.

The way you describe and present your book online, and the offers you make prospective customers, can truly influence the number of people who click the "Buy" button.

For more guidance on this topic, check out Jeff Smith's articles, as well as advice from Joe Vitale, Brian Clark and David Garfinkel.

Persuading people to buy your book and inviting them into your world is a necessary part of the book marketing process. Don't be afraid of it.


Co-Create With Your Readers & Fans

Are your readers and fans active partners with you in creating your books and promotion? If not, they should be.

During the session I did with Robin Bartlett at PMA's Publishing University last week, I spoke about the importance of co-creating with your fans. It's a new, interactive world ... so you'd better embrace it. Gone are the days when consumers were passive absorbers of book marketing messages. More and more they're becoming hands-on participants.

Case in point:

Last week I asked subscribers of my Buzz Factor music ezine to send me photos, video and/or audio of them endorsing my books -- something more concrete than the traditional text-only "I love Bob's book." -Jane Doe.

Steve Dockendorf took the idea and ran with it. First, he sent me the photo above. Then he recorded a simple video and posted it on YouTube at
(Be sure to turn up the volume to hear it.)

Watch it and see how he cleverly plugs his own music and web site and asks for listener feedback. Also note that, by promoting my books, he gets a bonus boost of exposure from me talking about him!

Here's another one -- a digital pic of Scott Macmillan enjoying my Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook:

Scott is a renowned instrumentalist, composer and conductor from Halifax, Nova Scotia. Since he took the trouble to pose for this picture and send it, you can bet I'll plug his web site as well.

See how this co-creation thing works? Make this same kind of offer to your readers and fans.

And, if you'd like to see your image and link on these pages, send me your best digital photos or a link to a video of you saying something nice about my books and ideas.

So ... get out there and co-create with your book-loving fans!


Guerrilla Music Marketing HandbookWanna create a music buzz online? Check out my special report 50 Ways to Promote and Sell Your Music on the Internet.

The Power of Face Time

I was reminded of a powerful principle this past weekend. A principle you can use to further your career as an author and book publisher.

I spent five action-packed days in New York City cramming an insane amount of activity into a short time frame. I attended and spoke at PMA's Publishing University, walked the endless aisles of booths at Book Expo America, and spent more than eight hours giving two music publicity workshops with PR dynamo Ariel Hyatt.

Yes, it was tiring. And yes, just thinking about airports and shuttle buses and luggage makes me cringe. But the people aspect of all this frenzy made it all worth it. (Check out my Flickr page to see some of the highlights.)

I hope you feel the same way about connecting in person with your readers and book publishing friends. Face to face interaction is vital!

For several years, my primary connection to the public was online. I spent hours on my computer at home spreading my words and ideas across the Internet. I still do. And that approach has proven to be very effective.

But it will never beat speaking with real, live human beings in person. I traveled more in the past year than I did in the previous five years combined (thanks in large part to the encouragement of my girlfriend, Pooki). And the experiences have been invaluable.

If you attended last week's panels at Publishing University, you know what I mean. We all learned more from each other in a live group setting then we ever could have through any high-tech "virtual" setting. Meeting people I had only known before through email and web sites was priceless.

So, make the effort to attend conferences and workshops. Spend face time with your fans. Introduce yourself to people at networking functions. You know the drill.

Keep an eye on my travel and speaking schedule. Hopefully, I'll get to meet you in person soon at an event near you.

Happy travels!


P.S. Here's a short list of the great book people I got to meet (or reconnect with) last week in New York City:

Rhonda Byrne, producer of The Secret
Jack Canfield, author and speaker
Mark Victor Hansen, author and speaker
Louise Hay, author and founder of Hay House
Dr. John Demartini, author and speaker
Greg Godek, author and savvy marketer
Karen Buxman-Godek, author and speaker
Scott Ginsberg, that guy with the nametag
Peter Bowerman, author of the Well-Fed Writer series
Susan Driscoll, CEO of iUniverse
Brian Jud, book marketing coach
Penny Sansevieri, book marketing and media specialist
Steve O'Keefe of AuthorViews and Patron Saint Productions
Shel Horowitz, author of Grassroots Marketing
Robin Bartlett, publishing consultant and speaker
Ruth Klein, time and marketing performance coach
Eric Kampmann, president of Midpoint Trade Books
Carter Holliday from Lightning Source
Heidi Weber from RR Bowker
Lisa Ryan from Booksurge