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Case Study: How a Controversial Book Became a Bestseller via an Aggressive Web Campaign

by Kimberly Smith  |  
September 9, 2008

Company: Vanguard Press
Contact: Jeffery Anderson, senior publicity director at FSB Associates
Location: New York, NY
Industry: Publishing, B2C
Annual revenue: Confidential
Number of employees: Confidential

Quick Read:

Vincent Bugliosi is the bestselling author of Helter Skelter, And the Sea Will Tell, Outrage, and Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy. His most recent book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, also achieved New York Times bestseller status this year, but only after its publisher Vanguard Press undertook an unconventional Web campaign to promote the book.

When all the usual media channels, such as TV shows and book reviewers, passed on The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder due to its sensitive subject matter, Vanguard hired FSB Associates, an online publicity firm, to build excitement and exposure for the book on progressive blogs and alternative Web sites with audiences that might appreciate the book's theme.

The campaign worked, generating more than 85 blog posts and many more links to those threads. The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder landed on The New York Times bestseller list in July, and over 60,000 copies have been sold since the book's release in late May of this year.


Vincent Bugliosi is an accomplished writer with several books that have attained #1 status on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list. Accordingly, mainstream media is generally quick to jump on anything tied to his name.

But when Bugliosi's publisher, Vanguard Press, set out to promote his latest work, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, the mainstream media outlets didn't bite. Feedback was that the subject matter was too controversial, especially since it concerned a sitting President, and therefore carried too much risk.

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Kimberly Smith is a staff writer for MarketingProfs. Reach her via

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  • by deb mull Wed Sep 10, 2008 via web

    While I applaude the case study and realize that it is all about 'marketing', I think the timing of the article is rather interesting with the upcoming elections and feel that perhaps this could have waited until afterwards?

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