I want to share a few ideas to help you promote your public domain audiobooks with interesting pull quotes from critics’ reviews, publisher marketing text in your descriptive blurbs, and authentic cover art.
When you fill out the info about your book with your distributor, you’ll generally see a space to enter quotes about the book. With a little research, you may find some excellent reviews of your book from which you can pull quotes. You can see an example of Critic Reviews on my Audible listing for Ida Tarbell’s autobiography All in the Day’s Work.
I use these Google search terms at NYTimes.com and KirkusReviews.com, filling in those URLS where I show sitename.com below:
Site:sitename.com book title review
Site:sitename.com book title author name
With the site: command, Google searches the entire site and shows those pages with my search terms. Usually, anything about a public domain book in the New York Times would be on their Timesmachine site, which has images of every issue from 1851 through 2002. I use a link for the New York Times from my library to read any page on their current or Timesmachine sites and capture any screen shots I need.
Reading how the publisher originally described the book to buyers is very useful. For this exercise, I query the Publishers Weekly archive which is available to its subscribers. I no longer have access to PW through my library and instead have bought my own subscription for several years. The archive includes almost 150 years of issues with every ad and review in place!
I recently produced, narrated, and published the audiobook of The White Flower by Grace Livingston Hill. The book was originally published in 1927 and became public domain on 1 January 2023.
I searched Publishers Weekly. I didn’t see any reviews for this book, but I did find 2 publisher ads for it. The left one appeared on 24 September 1927, and the one on the right was in the 1 October 1927 issue.
You can click on either one to enlarge them. The one on the right from 10/1/1927 has more description. I used part of the publisher’s text when writing my own!
Inspiration for cover art comes from many places. In the case of The White Flower, I’m thrilled to report that I am using the original artwork shown in the 1927 ads!
I found an eBay listing for the book that miraculously still had the dust jacket. As a bonus, the jacket seemed to be in pretty good shape. It cost $15, and the shipping was free. Of course I bought it!
Once the book arrived here, I scanned the cover in my flatbed scanner.
Drew edited the image in Photoshop so that it’s square for the audiobook. He restored the torn edges and re-colored each letter in the title to give it a consistent, bright look. He had to re-do the author’s name in order to make space for mine. We couldn’t find the exact font from the title for the author’s and my bylines, so we used a very similar one. I couldn’t be happier with the result!
This image of the couple hanging on to a caboose platform depicts a pivotal scene in the book. However, I might not have thought about if I had needed to create or hired an artist to create cover art. If I hadn’t been lucky to find a book with that original cover, seeing the original design in the ad would have given me a good angle to pursue.
I hope this info and example spark new trains of thought for you on your next public domain adventure!
This is great! Thank you Karen . Do you also check out copyright for the artist or does that automatically come into PD when the book does? Many thanks for all you do Much appreciated.
Karen Commins says
Hi, Jennifer! Thanks for the note.
The artwork is a separate copyright from the book text. In the case of the original cover for a PD book, the copyrights expired at the same time. A later cover could still be copyrighted.
I have several other articles about cover art and interior images that are linked in my article Public Domain Narration Headquarters.
I hope this info helps.
Christine Rendel says
Another very helpful post on Public Domain research and production, Karen, and thank you. Your knowledge, creativity and generosity to our community inspires me!
Karen Commins says
Thanks for the kind words, Christine! I’m glad you find the info to be useful.
Grace Buchanan Audiobooks says
Karen, thank you for illuminating the fresh paths that you make as you produce unique, intriguing audiobooks. I love your guided tours through your processes! And I love how Drew so often supports your efforts.
Great use of quotes for “All in the Day’s Work”!
Karen Commins says
Thanks so much for this nice comment, Grace! After reading Austin Kleon’s book Show Your Work: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered, I’ve looked for more ways to take people on a guided tour!
I’m lucky and blessed to be married to Drew. He is fully involved in everything I do. 🙂