Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Tao of Book Publicity by Paula Margulies (Author Interview / Book Review)

Author Interview

Welcome to Jersey Girl Book Reviews, Paula!

You have been a book publicist for more than 25 years. What made you finally decide to write a guidebook on promotion for authors?

In the course of my publicity work, I’ve received calls from hundreds of authors, many of whom ask the same questions: When do I start my publicity campaign? How much should I plan to spend? Do I need a website? How do I build a platform? What price should I give my book? Do I have to use social media and, if so, which sites are best? Should I print a hardcover version, or will a paperback suffice? Do I need to enter contests? How can I get more reviews?

These are all important questions, and since so many authors seem to have the same concerns about their books, I decided to share what I’ve learned over the years as a publicist in one convenient, inexpensive resource guide.

The Tao of Book Publicity has a Zen look and feel to the cover and title. How does understanding the Tao principles help authors to promote their books?

I chose the Tao as a way of offering authors a practical philosophy on how they might approach book marketing. There are many authors who find promotion crass and time-consuming; a good majority would rather be writing than spending time trying to develop promotional material and schedules for themselves and their work. But I’ve found that book promotion can be a rewarding and fulfilling activity if done with the right perspective in mind.

As I describe in the book, most book publicity comes from a place of not-knowing; there are people we approach, for example, for reviews or interviews, but we cannot strong-arm those individuals into giving us what we want. Instead, we take the time to think about what our message is, who we are targeting with that message, and how to propose it in the most succinct, relevant, and motivating way we can. We then present our message (what most in my business call our “pitch”), and then follow-up with persistence to try to get a yes response. Our results are never guaranteed – it is up to the reporters or editors we contact to decide if the message we’re sharing is right for them. But when we come from a place of humility and unattachment, we tend to do a better job of both preparation (in which case, we usually achieve the goals we’re attempting) and managing our expectations.

What other aspects of book publicity do you cover in the book?

I provide how-to explanations for developing publicity material, including front and back cover text, press releases, Q&As, media and blog tour queries, and newsletter and media lists. I also cover topics such as social media, book pricing and sales, book tours and media interviews, and author websites. In addition to explaining how book publicity works, I also discuss practical topics such as publicity costs, timing, and considerations when hiring a publicist; I’ve found that many authors want to know upfront about fees for services and what steps they should have completed before they contact a publicist like me.

If you have one piece of advice for new authors, what would it be?

That’s easy – write a good book!

Of course, that’s easier said than done. I’ve found that oftentimes authors, especially those who have chosen to self-publish, are in a rush to get their books out. In their hurry, they forgo important steps like workshopping the book, spending time on revision, hiring a professional editor and cover designer, and developing their platforms. As a result, many of their books, sadly, don’t sell. If authors want their books to be well-received by booksellers, the media, and (most important) readers, they must take the time to carefully edit, polish, and package them well – there is no substitute for these steps in the publishing process.

Can you describe how an author might use this book as a guide to his or her own publicity plans?

Authors can read the chapters in any order they like (each chapter is designed to be read as stand-alone unit) and see what sounds as if it might be a good fit for them and their books. If something doesn’t sound right, they don’t have to use it. The information in the chapters is there to provide guidance and insight into what I believe are the common practices of most book publicists, but none of what’s there is meant to be a hard-and-fast prescription for any author’s individual book publicity plans.

Are you working on another book? If so, what can you tell us about it?

In addition to this latest book, I’m also the author of the short story collection, Face Value: Collected Stories, and two novels: Coyote Heart, which is a modern-day romance about a married woman who falls in love with a Pala Indian man, and Favorite Daughter, Part One, a first-person retelling of the life story of the famous Native American legend, Pocahontas. I’d like to get back to writing fiction and plan to spend the next year completing Part Two of Favorite Daughter

About The Author

Paula Margulies is the owner of Paula Margulies Communications, a public relations firm for authors and artists. She has received numerous awards for her essays and works of fiction, including her nonfiction handbook, The Tao of Book Publicity, her historical novel, Favorite Daughter, Part One, her first novel, Coyote Heart, and her short story collection, Face Value: Collected Stories. She has been awarded artist residencies at Caldera, Red Cinder Artist Colony, the Vermont Studio Center, and Centrum. Margulies resides in San Diego, California. 

Book Review

The Tao of Book Publicity: A Beginner's Guide to Book Promotion by Paula Margulies
Publisher: One People Press
Publication Date: March 9, 2016
Format: Paperback - 156 pages
               Kindle - 285 KB
               Nook - 302 KB
ISBN: 978-0991354535
BNID: 2940152774658
Genre: Non Fiction / Book Publishing & Promotion Guide 

Buy The Book:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Book Description:

The Tao of Book Publicity: A Beginner’s Guide to Book Promotion is a handbook designed to provide new and experienced authors with information and insight into the process of selling their books.

In The Tao of Book Publicity, publicist Paula Margulies outlines the basics of book promotion and explains how the business of publicizing a book works. Designed for beginning authors but also useful for those with some experience in book publishing, The Tao of Book Publicity provides information on the importance of writing a good book and the need for developing a platform, as well as how-to explanations for creating publicity material, including front and back cover text, press releases, Q&As, media and blog tour queries, and newsletter and media lists. 

The Tao of Book Publicity also covers social media, book pricing and sales, book tours and media interviews, and author websites. In addition to explaining how book publicity works, this valuable handbook explores practical topics such as publicity costs, timing, and considerations when hiring a publicist. 

Simple, straightforward, and informative, The Tao of Book Publicity includes expert advice on all aspects of book promotion and is a go-to reference guide for beginning and experienced authors alike.

“I wrote this book to help authors understand what’s involved in promoting a book and what they should expect if this is their first time trying to sell a book they’ve written,” said Margulies. “The Tao of Book Publicity is based on years of experience working with both traditionally and self-published authors and answers the most common questions I hear from new authors when they contact me about representing their work.”

The handbook has received early praise from the publishing community, including Huffington Post contributor and Author Magazine editor, Bill Kenower, Southern California Writers’ Conference director, Michael Stephen Gregory, and UCSD writing instructor, Marni Freedman, who writes, “The Tao of Book Publicity is filled with easy-to-implement, savvy, practical advice from an experienced industry insider. Paula Margulies breaks down the often-confusing landscape of book publicity with clarity, humor, and insight. Don't promote without reading it first!”

 My Book Review: 

In The Tao of Book Publicity, author Paula Margulies utilizes her thirty years of experience as a book publicist to provide authors and the literary community with a comprehensive and informative self-help guide to book promotions.

This is an all inclusive a-to-z guide that provides valuable insight into the common practice of book publicity.  With simple steps that will take the stress out of the marketing side of book publishing, this useful reference guide will definitely benefit the traditional and self-published author.

Utilizing the Tao Philosophy, the author provides the author with informative chapters on all aspects of book promotion: author platform, working with publicists, writing and editing, choosing book covers, press releases, timing of book publicity, booking events, working with book review bloggers and virtual blog tours, book distribution, social media, and links to helpful publishing resources.

As a virtual book tour coordinator and book reviewer/blogger, I think that Ms. Margulies provides authors and those involved in the literary industry with a helpful guide that can be easily referenced back to from time to time.

I think the most important advice that Ms. Margulies provides the author is: "rushing a piece of writing to market without the proper preparation, revision, editing, and packaging, can be a recipe for failure." "Write the best books that you possibly can. If a book is poorly written or riddled with typos and grammatical errors, the book isn't likely to move. Likewise, if the book title is off-putting, or the cover art is wrong for the book or the target audience, the book won't fly when you are trying to promote it." I can't tell you how true this advice really is, as a book reviewer, if the book is poorly edited, than no matter how intriguing the book topic and description is, the enjoyment of reading the book is greatly diminished in the eyes of the readers.

I would definitely recommend adding The Tao of Book Publicity to your collection. This is a resourceful guide for everyone who is involved in the literary industry.



  1. Thanks so much for the thoughtful review, Kathleen!

    1. Hi Paula! Thank you for the opportunity, I appreciate it. I think that The Tao of Book Publicity is a valuable guide that authors, readers, and the literary community should embrace and utilize. :)