The Washington Post

Author Jennifer Miller corrals top journalists into book promotion

(Video: Jennifer Miller’s “The Year of the Gadfly” book trailer)

So this is odd: Brian Williams, Christiane Amanpour and former Secretary of State James Baker in a YouTube video promoting a new coming-of-age novel.

Jennifer Miller (Diana Levine)

Jennifer Miller, author of “Year of the Gadfly,” spent a year getting VIPs to read the opening lines of her story. She then e-mailed the finished product “to every single journalist we knew.”

(What, based on the assumption that journalists can’t resist writing about other journalists? Grrr — we fell for it, didn’t we?)

Andrea Mitchell reads an excerpt from “The Year of the Gadfly” in Jennifer Miller’s video trailer. (Screengrab with permission)

Miller, 32, spent seven years writing the novel (her first) and sold it to Houghton Mifflin. That was the easy part. Then she started worrying: her 2005 non-fiction account of young leaders in the Middle East had good reviews but poor sales. “I remember feeling very frustrated because I wanted to fight for my book,” she told us Wednesday. “I wanted to do something to get it the attention I thought it deserved.”

Brian Williamsin Miller’s book trailer. (Screengrab with permission)

She made a list and her dad got into the act. Aaron David Miller, a fellow at the Wilson Center and former advisor at the State Department, reached out to friends: Amanpour, Andrea Mitchell, Sam Donaldson, Dan Rather. It took almost a year to put the video together — Miller sent them the lines and they sent back a tape.

(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt )

What does any of this mean for book sales? “I have no idea,” she said. “We wanted to go viral, obviously.” It hasn’t: only 1,860 hits so far. “I’m willing to bet that is significantly more views than most book trailers,” she said.

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