I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Book issues

(updated below)

Several items regarding How Would a Patriot Act?:

(1) I can only laugh at the petulant complaints over at National Review and elsewhere that no liberal bloggers have reviewed or discussed Ramesh Ponnuru's anti-abortion screed, Party of Death. Kevin Drum summarized quite well many of the reasons why Ponnuru's book isn't the earth-shattering literary event which National Review, Ann Coulter and Peggy Noonan have been claiming that it is. Atrios and Ezra Klein add some thoughts to Kevin's argument.

Beyond that, though, it is hardly the case that right-wing bloggers lavish attention on books which advance arguments with which they disagree. Despite the fact that my book's blogger-based ascent to the top of the Amazon Best Seller List is itself a blogosphere story -- and was prominently featured as such by The San Francisco Chronicle and Publishers Weekly, among others -- not a single conservative blogger as much as mentioned the book in passing, let alone reviewed it. My book is a blogosphere book, and has sales far in excess of Ponnuru's book almost exclusively as a result of blogger promotion and blogospheric word of mouth. But if you only read right-wing and pro-Bush blogs, you would have no idea that the book even existed, because not a single one of them has even mentioned it, let alone reviewed it.

Approximately a month ago, my publisher e-mailed several conservative bloggers asking if they would be willing to review the book on their blog or elsewhere (and obviously offered to send a review copy of the book), and not a single one was willing to do so. Byron York did write an article in National Review on the book's pre-release marketing success, but York hadn't even read the book yet (because it hadn't been released) and said nothing about its content other than to dismiss it as "an indictment of George W. Bush of the sort that has become commonplace on the Left in the last few years."

Most right-wing blogs studiously ignore what takes place outside of their self-referential circle. I read the Corner almost every day and can't recall a single liberal book that was ever mentioned there even in passing, let alone reviewed -- not Crashing the Gate, not the books by Tom Tomorrow or David Sirota, not Eric Boehlert's recently released Lapdogs. To hear them complaining that liberal blogs aren't paying sufficient attention to Ponnuru's anti-abortion book is really just bizarre.

(2) Although the book tour has not started yet (it begins June 5 at the University of Florida, followed by various San Francisco events beginning on June 6, and then Las Vegas, Washington, New York, Boston and New York again - with several changes/additions possible), I have been doing one radio interview after the next almost on a daily basis, and Working Assets has begun actively promoting the book. As a result, the book has returned to the Top 100 on Amazon, and has risen to #2 on Powell's Best Seller List. The current goal for elevating the visibility of the book is to ensure that it debuts on The New York Times' Bestseller List, something which, according to those who understand these things, seems likely (though not certain) based on the book's selling trends.

(3) Over the next couple of days, Jennifer Nix of Working Assets is going to write posts on various blogs, including this one, suggesting ways for how those who are inclined to help promote the book can do so. How much of an impact the book can have is obviously a by-product of how much attention it receives, which, in turn, is determined by how well it sells. One way to begin is for those who have read the book to leave reviews on Amazon and other online retailers. Apparently, informative reviews -- especially those written by people who seem to have actually read the book -- can play a significant role in helping to promote the book.

UPDATE: Jennifer Nix has a post up at FDL documenting how the publishing industry looks at the blogosphere (not with great fondness, unsurprisingly). One of the FDL commenters, Tony Finnerty, provided a link for a Letter to the Editor he wrote, which was published by his local Nevada newspaper, regarding the new NSA data-collection progarm, in which he mentioned How Would a Patriot Act? In general, writing Letters to the Editor and particuarly Op-Eds in local newspapers is an under-utilized method for influencing public political discussions.

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