Major Media Coverage: What It Does—and Doesn’t Do—for Sales

November 2004
by A PMA Roundtable

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Two findings emerge clearly from your reports on the consequences of major media coverage:

Important shows and magazines–including Oprah, Today, 20/20, Money, and The New York Times–do pay attention to books that PMA members publish.That attention doesn’t necessarily translate into sizable sales. Sometimes hundreds or thousands of copies move off the shelves; sometimes “nothing happens.”

Interestingly, the same range of results applies to books from the huge New York houses, as publicists note off the record.

Trying to figure out why a particular book did or didn’t take off when major media plugged it, people come up with different ideas, and taken together, these ideas lead to a third conclusion, perhaps the most important:

Major media coverage isn’t magic. Like every other aspect of a publishing program, it can be more or less effective, depending partly on how well it can be integrated into the complex realities of a given book’s life.

As you read the stories that follow, you’ll be able to see some of the moving parts that various members consider important, and when you’re finished reading you’ll be able to take advantage of the specific pointers many of them offer about making the most of media coverage when you get it.

–Judith Appelbaum

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