As you probably know by
now, I am all for helping fellow authors and friends promote their work. As I
wrote to Sam Barry earlier in the week, this is what friends do. So when I
heard that his new book was about to be released I knew I’d want to feature his
work here in the form of a Q&A. Sam Barry, one of my co-conspirators in the Rancho La Puerta “Reads & Writes” week, has a new title that will be
published next month. It’s called How to
Play the Harmonica: and Other Life Lessons (Gibbs Smith, 2009). With his
partner, author Kathi Kamen Goldmark, he writes a monthly column in BookPage called “The Author Enablers.”
Kathi and Sam have a book on writing and publishing that is scheduled for
release in June 2010. Sam is a marketing and promotions manager at HarperOne, a
division of HarperCollins. He also is a musician and music teacher who plays in
and around San Francisco in the band Los Train Wreck and tours with the
all-author rock band the Rock Bottom Remainders, and is a regular performer on
the national radio show West Coast Live.
Sam is the father of two children, Daniel and Laura.
part two of my Q&A with Sam in which I push him to the limit to share his
promotional ideas . . .
Allbusiness: Why is it
that publishers don’t take care of all the publicity?
Sam: The truth is publishers are evil. No, really, we are. No, we’re not. But
we are in business to make money (most of us), and that means we have costs and
budgets and limits like everyone else. There really isn’t anywhere near the
amount of money sloshing around in publishing that there is in, say, Hollywood.
More and more we rely on authors to partner with us to get the word out about
their, and our, books.
Allbusiness: Could you tell our readers about your “author platform” and why
that’s such an important piece of the publicity mix?
Sam: They say size doesn’t matter, but I’m afraid it does when it comes to
author platforms. An author’s “platform” refers to the audience, contacts,
organization, and fame of the author. Especially for nonfiction, we strongly
consider an author’s platform when deciding whether or not to buy a book. I
have a modest platform—I write a column with Kathi in BookPage called “The Author Enablers,” have some online presence, some clout in the Bay Area music and publishing
scenes, and some wider connections in publishing.
Allbusiness: I’ve heard you speak several times and one of your greatest skills
in that area is your ability to make each and every person in the room feel as if
you are talking just to them. How do you do that? Is it a secret?
Sam: Well thank you, Leslie. I’m not sure, but I guess it’s a combination of
generally liking people and a neurotic desire to get everyone to like me. Also,
my parents taught me that everyone matters, regardless of their status.