Dave Bartlett has been in public relations and marketing for approximately fifteen years and the Print and Internet Publicist for Harvest House Publishers (Marketing and Publicity) for the past three years. He was in Air Force public affairs and media relations for approximately nine years, including a stint with the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service as a radio and TV broadcaster on Terceira Island, the Azores, Portugal. In that capacity, he was allowed to produce (and air) wacky radio skits for the U. S. military service members stationed there. A baby boomer, he lives in Eugene, Oregon, where he is enjoying his first home. His interests include old cars, photography, reading, the outdoors, and bragging about his rocket scientist–turned Christian book store owner father (now retired), who worked for NASA during the Apollo missions that put a man on the moon.
By now we are well into 2009, with the holidays already pushed out of our thoughts by the demands of our daily lives. But I would like to state the sincere hope that your New Year will be filled with goodness and joy, despite the challenges we all face in these difficult times.
I will share some of the things I do to help promote Harvest House’s fiction titles, but first let me share some of my background. It starts, of course, with stories.
My first recollection of knowing that I loved stories came not from books (which came soon enough) but from children’s tales on record albums.
For literally hours on end, I would listen to dramatic productions of such classics as Aladdin’s Lamp, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Rumpelstiltzkin, and The Prince and the Pauper, and many others, my young and impressionable imagination taking me to Arabia and other exotic or enchanted lands and forgotten times. Sometimes, when I was able to work up enough courage, I would listen to some of Dad’s old “radio drama” records, spine-tingling stuff from the ’30s and ’40s, like Mystery Theater, The Green Hornet, and The Shadow. To this day, the Shadow’s trademark opening line of “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?—The Shadow knows, bwah ha ha ha ha ha haaaaa” still makes me look over my shoulder at the dark corners of the room, and sends an ice-cold shiver down my back.
Dad also shared something with me that would become another literary building block in my life—something right out of his own childhood. Classic Comics. I would gingerly turn the pages on these beautifully illustrated (and extremely valuable) comic books, mesmerized by such stories as A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, Les Miserables, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Rip Van Winkle, and The Count of Monte Cristo.
Then, as I grew up, I began to read (and love) books. As a child,
the book that both fascinated and scared me to death was Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi (a De Luxe Golden Book from 1963). Another book that stirred my young imagination and left an impression on me was The Telegraph Boy, set in the 1880s.
These books helped shaped my love for story, and it is no small coincidence that my Dad’s love for books led to the fulfillment of his dream to own a Christian bookstore, which he owned for nearly thirty years. I worked for Dad for many years, read and reread a ton of books off the shelves, and then years later ended up on the other side of the industry, in publishing.
As far as my work as the print and Internet publicist at Harvest House, I really don’t have any grand strategies, schemes, or campaigns to reveal, because it really boils down to the working relationships we have with authors (as well as the individual author’s own work ethic), and the strong relationships I have with a handful of trusted reviewers, editors, and writers.
Many of these industry professionals have become friends first and media contacts second, and they are also people whom I will send a box of books to at the drop of a hat. I do giveaway promos with bloggers and review sites to help generate interest in books, and have lately been doing a lot of blog tours, which are fun and can potentially help a book make a splash on the Internet, which may give a book some sales traction (sorry, I really dislike industry lingo, but sometimes, what can you do?).
And as I said a few sentences ago, we rely heavily on our authors to work hard with us at promoting their own work. It’s all about being (and staying) connected and being serious in the pursuit of the craft, through outlets like writer’s groups and associations.
So there you have it, just a few nuts and bolts. For me, and for Harvest House Publishers, it all boils down to a little hard work (okay, a lot), and strong relationships.