Well, according to my first literary agent, Berenice Hoffman, there is no such thing as bad PR. Any review, negative or positive, is good.  The review gets your name out there (wherever “there” is), and we all know that name recognition (Today, we call it a brand) is what it’s all about.

I needed to remind myself of Hoffman’s pronouncement (Was she preparing me for the shit to hit the fan?) because I got a one-star review today on Goodreads.  I have to assume that the reviewer HATED the book, but she didn’t have the guts to say so.  She just clicked on one measly little star and sent her non review out into the world of social media.  Couldn’t she have shown a little mercy on this first weekday of the New Year and clicked on one more star?

Okay.  My day didn’t start well.  But I was determined not to let one illiterate nobody ruin my life. So, I went online.  And what do you know?  The first article (rather, study) I found was titled  “Positive Effects of Negative Publicity: When Negative Reviews Increase Sales.”  Bingo!  And if the authors of the study representing The Wharton School and Stanford didn’t know what they were talking about, who would?

Now, in all fairness, the study does give sway to situations when negative PR is . . . well, negative. But as I scanned the piece, I found this:

. . . negative publicity may increase sales when product awareness or accessibility is low.  If few people know about a book released by a new author, any publicity, regardless of valence, should increase awareness.

Well, I’m not exactly a new author but I’m surely not a household name.  (Hell, even friends have trouble spelling it.)  But, in the scheme of things, despite my dogged efforts to the contrary, those friends and a few strangers know about the book.  (Okay, so it made it to #1 on Amazon in its category for about a day or two.  Let me crow just a bit because, right now, I want to disappear into the proverbial sludge pile and never return.)

The study’s big wigs went on and analyzed book sales of books featured in the New York Times Book Review, and also did experiments in which people read reviews of both real and fictitious books and were then asked how likely they’d be to buy them. The results?

  • Positive publicity does have a positive impact. Overall, a positive review in the New York Times Book Review boosted sales of that book by 32 to 52 percent. (Oh, how I wish that someday . . .)
  • If you’re relatively unknown, there is no such thing as bad publicity. For unknown authors, a bad review actually increased book sales by 45 percent.  (Yippee!)
  • If you’re more established, bad publicity is actually bad. For authors that were better-known, a bad review resulted in a 15 percent hit to sales.  (No worries.)

You’ll excuse me now, won’t you?  I have some 5-star reviews to reread.


I’m not in advertising.  I’m not the head of public relations for a big company or a not-for-profit.

So, when I think of branding, I think of cows.  I picture cowboys like John Wayne, James Stewart, Randolph Scott or Gregory Peck all macho in their cowboy attire—chaps, wide-brimmed hats, boots with spurs and scraggly beards—riding on galloping horses, swinging lariats around and around, flinging them, encircling a frightened cow, pulling the rope tight enough to bring the poor animal down with a thud.

And then out come the smoldering branding irons with the name of the rancher who owns the cattle.  And, with the sizzling hiss, the job is done.  Rancher Joe will always know which cattle belong to him.

Imagine my dismay when I was told that I needed to be branded.  Like a cow.  I needed a unique, catchy I.D. that captured the essence of my work, a tag that would set me apart from every other author in the whole wide world.

I needed to be a brand and to “sell” myself and my work like, say, Nike and “Just Do It.”







Or M&M’s:  “Melt in your Mouth, Not in Your Hands.”m-m-slogan


Or . . . well, repeat after me:  “I’m lovin’ it”

I suppose if I had a team with whom I could brainstorm for days, months, even years, I might come up with one of these catchy slogans that, when repeated, would instantly scream:  “Jane Leder, the author with the beat.”  (Oh, wait a minute.  That one has been taken by Tom McCan’s cha-cha boots.)  Or Jane Leder.  “She may be as old as your grandmother, but she’s one sassy senior.”

(Okay, the second one has nothing to do with books.  And the first one sucks.)

So, here I sit.  How can I come up with a brand that relates to all of my books?  Teen suicide (That’s a downer.)  Siblings.  (Okay, a bit cheerier.)  And love and sex in World War II.  Now, that’s more like it.  There’s the sizzle.  (To tell the truth, my editor suggested the subtitle.  The book was really about the change in relationships between men and women during and after WWII.)

It would appear that I was born at the wrong time.  The Renaissance would have been more my style.  I could have sung opera, recited poetry, excelled in sports, known the humanities and classics, painted, drawn . . .

I could have been an author without worrying about Amazon key words, drilling down to the least crowded category of books, bundling, amassing at least 100 5-Star Reviews, following, tweeting, retweeting, posting, tagging, engaging, finding people I might want to know, co promoting, guest blogging, pleading, self-publishing, publishing on demand, ebooks, and, lest I forget, branding.

I could have been an old cowhand.













Little Free Libraries

For months now, I’ve passed what looks like a little tree house sitting on a neighbor’s front lawn.  At first, I thought it was a unique, bright red bird feeder.  But when I looked more closely, I saw a glass (maybe plastic) door with something inside . . . not birds.

Yesterday, I finally got my lazy self out of my Kia (BTW, I love my Kia Soul!) and took a look.

The inside of the “house” that looked like a one-room school house was filled with books.  Books for every age group.  Megan The Librarian, Anna Karenina, House of Sand and Fog, Little Women and maybe a dozen more.


And there was a sign that read, “Take a Book.  Return a Book.”

What a clever idea!  A miniature library right on a neighbor’s lawn.

So, I did a little research based on the web address underneath the sign:

A guy named Todd Bol from Hudson, Wisconsin, built the first miniature library as a tribute to his mom, a former school teacher.  He posted it on his front lawn.  It was a hit.  Bol eventually teamed up with a craftsman who designed and built more one-room school house libraries.  Originally, the little free libraries were built out of recycled materials and given away.

But free things don’t last for long when folks are willing to pay for them.

So, the deal is you can build your own Library or order one of 24 models.  If you choose the first option, the cost of materials can be “anywhere from $15 to $150.”  There is also a one-time payment of about $40 per Library to receive a steward’s packet of support materials and 1 official charter sign and number for your Library.

On the other hand, if you don’t have the time or can’t hit a nail worth a damn, you can buy the “Essential” for $149.95.  Hold on, before your eyes roll to the back of your head, know that the “Essential” arrives with $150 worth of books.



And, if you want to be the talk of the town and librarians far and wide, you can shell out a cool $1499.95 for the deluxe “Midnight Sparkle,” described as a “work of art” more suitable for a “high-end art gallery or museum.”  This hotsy totsy version—spectacular as it is—is recommended for indoor use.  And I’m thinking: Why would anyone want to store what is meant to be a mini-library for the public in their home where anyone could borrow a book or a TV or a laptop?

Okay, so perhaps the keepers of the “Midnight Sparkle” could have hours of operation just like at the library.  Maybe between, say, 10 and midnight?









Never mind the details.  The Little Free Libraries are a terrific way to promote the love of reading and to build a sense of community.  And what a convenient way to unload those boxes of books you’ve meant to take to the used book store or sell at a garage sale but, for any number of reasons, you haven’t had the time.