Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

Publicists Help Those Who Help Themselves

STATUS: I’ve actually been spending my time negotiating some new deals for current clients. Hey, that’s always good.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WHAT WOULD YOU SAY by Dave Matthews Band

An often quoted adage (that’s not actually in the Bible) with one little word change to make it apply to what I want to talk about today.

If you are a published author, one of the smartest things you can do when it comes to marketing and promotion is to be a squeaky wheel without the annoying squeak.

In other words, how can you politely keep yourself on the publicist’s radar without coming across as disappointed, demanding, or annoying?

One thing Lindsay and I have been working on with our clients is our weekly or bi-monthly reports of what the author is doing to promote their recent release.

It’s a great way to constantly be having a dialogue with the in-house publicist. All the publicists we’ve worked with have been really appreciative. It allows them to talk about the author in the next meeting, maybe even spotlight something cool the author has done, and it often helps the publicist make requests on the author’s behalf.

So take a moment to think about the last time you sent your in-house person a lovely report on all the amazing blog appearances, local signings, conference events, etc. you’ve been doing?

Never too late if you have some nice summaries to share—even if your book isn’t a new release.

This is just part of the reason that together, Mari and I were able to revive interest in her Blood Coven series and get that fourth book under contract. We constantly kept Berkley in the loop on all the things Mari was doing for those books.

14 Responses

  1. bingol said:

    ” … the amazing blog appearances, local signings, conference events …”

    Some nights, as I drift off to sleep, I dream of a world in which designers design, editors edit, publicists publicize, and writers write.

  2. Jeff King said:

    Great idea… without a doubt I will heed your warning.

    I you don’t show excitement in your work/career, how can you expect anyone else too.

    An author’s job is never done.

    Thx for the input, it didn’t fall on deaf ears.

  3. Lyn Miller-Lachmann said:

    Great pair of posts, Kirstin–this and Mari’s story. I had to take over all the publicity for my YA novel when my editor (at a small press) passed away suddenly just as the book went into production. He’d also asked for a companion novel from the point of view of one of the other characters but did not live long enough to see a draft.

    I found myself putting at least six hours a day, seven days a week into marketing, anything from contacting blog hosts to sending out review copies, scheduling bookstore signings and school appearances, attending conferences on my own nickel, and much, much more. All this effort slowed up my revision of the second novel, but since my publisher had suspended consideration of new material after the editor’s death, the second novel had zero chance of finding another publisher unless the first one attained critical and commercial success. The novel has met the first goal. I’m still working on the second and glad to hear there are things I can do even six months to a year after the pub date.

    I recognize some of the commenters on Mari Marcusi’s interview as folks who stopped by on my recent blog tour. Thanks for all your support; it means a lot to me!

  4. Anonymous said:

    Throwing yourself into your own marketing is good for your book, but it doesn’t always mean the house will reply in kind.

    After 120 online interviews, major print coverage, television coverage, bookseller and librarian outreach, and ten personal appearances- my house is thrilled at all my hard work. My editor thanks me for it.

    And they STILL don’t send out review copies, send my book (not me, my book) to trade conferences, or even include it on their corporate website.

    That’s reserved for lead titles. You know, the books they actually care about promoting. My advice to authors is to market the hell out of your own book because you’re the one who cares the most about it.

  5. Haste yee back ;-) said:

    I think agents should get Oprah cloned… call it, *Oprah everywhere,* outside every mall bookstore, on street corners in all major cities, send the clones to radio shows no matter how small, (even farm reports)… I mean, she does get things done!

    Haste yee back 😉

  6. Betsy Ashton said:

    This supports what I learned at the James River Writers Conference last month. When Kathrine Neville said she still spends up to 75% of her time in promotional activities, she drew gasps from the audience. I teach marketing to first-time authors, many of whom are POD writers or are published by small presses, and they are shocked about how much hands on marketing they have to do.

    I have my marketing plan in place for my novel. Now, I have to decide if I’m going to continue the agent search or test several of the other options available — POD, small press, Kindle, serialization on a web site. There are so many options. One will be right for me.

    But, regardless of the medium, I’ll be doing most of my own marketing. Good thing I know how to do it.

  7. Donna Gambale said:

    You can’t emphasize this enough to writers. I really appreciate the recommendations! It definitely makes me even more determined to publicize my butt off…. if and when that time comes. (Let’s be positive and make that a “when,” shall we?)

  8. Mel Menzies said:

    Bingol has said it all: “Some nights, as I drift off to sleep, I dream of a world in which designers design, editors edit, publicists publicize, and writers write.”

    As most of us are introverts, marketing doesn’t come easily to we authors.

  9. Anonymous said:

    Just to throw in another POV: I don’t think the author can make enough of a difference in book sales to justify their effots at promo. IMHO, the only kind of promo that makes a significant difference is that which the publisher can do, and IMHO (and I know that *many* NYT best sellers agree), the best use of an author’s time is writing. If they want to do promo for other reasons, great, but the self-promo is not what is making the top authors successful. I think that the industry likes to create this frenzy and panic among authors that they have to do all this self-promo, and authors jump on that band wagon, spending time and money they don’t have to make an infintissimal impact at best. Write phenomonal books and the rest will fall into place.

  10. Cam Snow said:

    Quick question for all you self-promoters out there: How much do you SPEND on self-promotion? I know you invest a lot of time, but I’m curious in terms of out of pocket expenses?

    I know that blog interviews and the like are “free”, but for signings, appearances, etc you must have some expenses(you are burning gas, wearing out the car, and the like). Can this be written off on taxes?

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