Marketing books has always been a tough business, but these days authors are joining forces with the publicity machine and working everything from fashion layouts to product endorsements to keep their amazon.com rank at the top.

“It can definitely get creative,” said Emily Giffin, author of four novels, including the current bestseller “Love the One You’re With.” Giffin, who was in Boston last week on a book tour, missed her reading at a local Barnes & Noble because of a canceled flight. But no worries – that wasn’t her only Hub event. She had plenty of time to make it to her book party at J. Crew, where shoppers could buy “Love,” get discounts on clothes and sip cocktails.

All in the name of sales.

Giffin, 36, isn’t a stranger to this. She appeared in a Bloomingdale’s advertisement in 2004 to promote her novel. She also made a guest appearance on “As the World Turns” last year – playing herself as a guest on a fictional talk show to – you guessed it – promote her book.

“I never could have anticipated the amount of time an author can spend on the promotion of a book,” she said. “You really can find yourself spending a lot of time on the business side and not writing. The key is to find the right balance. Not that I’m complaining. It’s a problem I’m very grateful to have.”
Best-selling author Jennifer Weiner, (“Good in Bed” and this summer’s release “Certain Girls,”) admitted it is an interesting time in the book world, adding that publishers expect and sometimes require an author to be an integral part of branding.

“And that, in doing so, you’ll help them earn back the advance they gave you,” Weiner wrote in an e-mail. “They expect that you’ll sit for the video interview at Barnes & Noble’s Web site, that you’ll build a MySpace page for yourself and maybe even for your characters, that you’ll do phone-ins with book clubs and online interviews with lit blogs and write magazine pieces about your lifelong struggle with enlarged pores, provided the magazine will mention your latest book in the tagline.”

Scituate novelist Claire Cook, whose third novel, “Summer Blowout,” just hit the shelves, said she owes a lot of her promotion to fans and independent booksellers, and that teaching free writing workshops has helped, too.

“Turns out karma is a boomerang, and these aspiring-writer workshops have really taken off and have become a big part of my book promotion,” she said. “But let me say that I’m going to be all over my publicist to get me a guest spot in a soap opera now. Just kidding.”

Lauren Beckham Falcone
Boston Herald