Jim Norton took to the red carpet of the Grammys to ask stars from Steve Martin to Adele to hold up his non-nominated 2011 standup album Despicable and related merchandise onstage. It’s a pretty funny idea, and it highlights the fact that you rarely see successful album or book releases from comedians these days without a high-profile promotional stunt behind them. It seems that it’s barely even worth writing and releasing a funny book if you don’t also have a great, original idea to promote it virally online.
Lots of authors are using Youtube to promote their work, whether it’s on their own or by enlisting friends. In just the past few months, Chris Gethard threw down with all other authors to promote A Bad Idea I’m About to Do, and Tim and Eric recruited dozens of stars to publicly pledge to see Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie. Sometimes, comedians go all out for one celebrity-packed video, like John Hodgman’s for That Is All.
Of course, book promotions don’t always happen via video. They can also take written form, as with the rekindling of Mindy Kaling’s shopping blog a few months before her book came out, or the heavenly Twitter account set up by David Javerbaum to promote The Last Testament: A Memoir.
Internet promotion makes obvious sense as a sales strategy. By posting funny content, sites like this one will be more willing to direct people’s attention to books and CDs they might not have otherwise heard about. Plus, promo videos or tweets give authors and comics a chance to provide a trailer for their work that can whet audience’s appetites for the real thing, and give them a better sense of whether it’s worth their money.
It’ll be interesting to see in the coming years whether book/album promotion gets more standardized or continues to take unexpected forms. Will we see web series promoting a standup album? Podcast segments based on scenes from a book? Either way, a book without a promo idea is at a big disadvantage even before it’s available for pre-order. Take note, authors.