Pub Rants

Category: publicity

How To Get Money Out Of A Publisher

STATUS: It’s been a really frustrating week. It’s already after 5 and stuff that has to be done, I’m only starting on.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? OLD APARTMENT by Barenaked Ladies

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to get money from Publishers for promotion—even if you aren’t the lead title or the next big blockbuster book for them.

It’s all in the way that you do it and your expectation. It’s not going to be thousands and thousands of dollars but it may still make a difference for your launch. So how do you go about getting it?

1. Have a clear marketing and promotion plan for the launch for your book. And I’m talking a real plan, not pie in the sky stuff. Things you can actually do, blog tours you already have lined up, speaking events that you will be at. If you haven’t got that in place, you’re not getting any money. When you have that in place, you need to share it with your in-house contact or you’re not going to be able to get money.

2. Choose a promotional element that has the most likelihood of getting funded because you can aptly demonstrate how the publisher will get bang for their buck. In other words, you have clearly outlined goals for the event, how you can make a difference reaching booksellers, or have a workshop or speaking event already lined up if the publisher can just get you there.

3. Have clear expectation of what they a publisher will and will not pay for. For example, let’s say you have some cool media and speaking events already lined up at ALA (American Library Association) as you planned to be there anyway. Then go to your editor and say, hey, look what I’ve got going here. Would the Publisher be willing to pay my way for airfare and hotel? If you can show a reasonable benefit, I find that editors have been pretty open finding some money for you. (Let’s say you are doing events close to home, you do the driving and that cost and see if they’ll pay for hotel. Make it a partnerhsip.)

4. Here’s another good example. I have one author who does a lot of speaking at various events and sites. These speaking engagements are being paid for by the people hosting the event (publishers love that!). Great. But what about some promo materials to be at those events? We’ve gotten publishers to pay for excerpt booklets, bookmarks, special give-aways, promo posters to have there, etc.

5. Here’s another great way to get money out of the publisher. Show them exactly what you have budgeted from your own money for promotion. Publishers are more likely to give money to authors who are clearly working it from their end. Even if they don’t pony up ths time around, they might be willing to partner on promo expense for the next book. They might even pick up the tab for a book trailer.

6. Show that you are media savvy and can handle whatever is thrown at you. Collect interviews and share them with your editor and in-house contact person. Publishers are more willing to put together a publisher-paid tour for you or maybe even a call-in radio tour (which doesn’t cost them money but does take a lot of time for a publicist to set up), if they know you’ll make the most out of those opportunities.

These are just a few things. Tons more out there if you’re creative, savvy. Find out what works and what doesn’t.

And don’t assume that these kinds of things are just for the biggest sellers. I’ve gotten many different kinds paid promotion stuff for solidly mid-list authors or even debuts that weren’t lead titles etc.

The last thing you need to remember is this: You can’t get what you don’t ask for.”

What’s the worst they can say? No. You can probably live with that.

Why We Have A Marketing Director

STATUS: Heading out for the night but plan to do some much needed client reading in the next couple of nights. Hubby is out of town. Amazing how much more work gets done when that happens.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SUNDAY MORNING by Maroon 5

Early this year, I realized I was spending in ordinate amount of time talking with editors and in-house marketing and publicity people about my clients’ upcoming releases.

In fact, I was spending so much time doing that, I started wondering when I would have the time to read new material and take on new clients. After all, I’m an agent, not a marketing coordinator.

And that’s why this past March, I hired Lindsay Mergens to be out Marketing Director here at NLA.

Here’s a link to her bio so you can see what a great background she has for this job. However, being a Marketing Director for an agency is not the same as this corresponding title in a Publishing house. What exactly would she be doing? Would she be duplicating Publisher effort by actually doing marketing and publicity? Nope, that’s not what Lindsay does.

So here’s what she does—think of it more like coordinating.

1. Tracking all upcoming releases and doing a timeline of what is being done in-house and when we need to be following up with the author’s assigned publicist about the marketing plan.

2. She works on the marketing plan with all our authors so they have something to say other than “I don’t know what I’m doing with this.” All authors know more than they think they do. She adds these things to the Publisher’s plan and helps to tweak what will be done.

3. Sometimes she gets money out of the Publishers for an author visit that they might not have done otherwise if we hadn’t simply requested it.

4. She is the liaison for the in-house publicist and marketing person assigned to the author.

5. If the author would like to hire an external PR company as well, Lindsay hooks the author up with the right people. She also reviews any PR proposals that an external company might present.

6. She attends meetings with me in New York when we are meeting with the Publishing marketing and publicity people. As she used to be one, she knows exactly what to ask.

7. When the marketing plan is formed and finalized, Lindsay is the point person to see that all things get implemented and that all the info is disseminated to me, to the author, rights co-agents, etc.

8. She helps authors fill out the client Author Questionnaire (which can be a huge deal as that is often the in-house template that will be worked from).

9. When folks contact us about having one of our authors come and speak, Lindsay handles that and coordinates with the publisher,

10. Book Trailers. Marketing Materials and so forth, Lindsay reviews it all, requests changes if necessary or generally helps guide this whole process.

11. Book tours abroad. Lindsay handles it and coordinates with US publisher.

This list could go on and on. In fact, I’m probably leaving out tons of stuff but this should give you an idea of why I would hire someone to do this for the Agency. As the main agent, I’m cc’d on all communications but honestly, I’m not sure how I did without her for so long. It’s a job in and of itself.

Book Party Tips From Marianne

STATUS: Rain to start the day but it looks like it might be clearing up. Time to head to the beach!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? Nothing at the moment.

Now I have to admit that not many authors have as cool a day job as my client Marianne Mancusi. She’s a TV Producer. So, when she’s throwing a launch party [which she did last Tuesday for her debut hardcover release of GAMER GIRL with author Melissa Walker (VIOLET IN PRIVATE)] she does have access to a variety of contacts that the average author might not have.

From the press release: “Nationally syndicated lifestyle show Better TV was on hand, filming the event for an upcoming segment on Mancusi and Walker and their books. In attendance were media outlets Vogue, Teen Vogue, ELLE, InStyle, Daily Candy, AOL, Parents TV and CNN. Leading authors in both Young Adult and adult fiction also celebrated with Mancusi and Walker. At the party were Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalestier, Maureen Johnson, Bennett Madison, Deborah Gregory, Diana Peterfreund, Michael Northrop, Liz Maverick and Anisha Lakhani.”

Is Mari the gal to friend or what?

From Left: Scott Westerfeld, Mari, Diana Peterfreund, Melissa Walker

Great contacts can indeed go a long way to throwing a successful one, but even with that, she’s got some great tips and I asked if she was willing to share them with you blog readers so here you go!

Being a NYC based television producer I usually attend or cover several events each week. From restaurant openings, to Fashion Week after-parties, to charity balls—I’ve been studying what works and what doesn’t when it comes to throwing a party and used these ideas for throwing my own book party.

Here are some suggestions I used for my own book party, which I threw this week at Butter.

Consider co-hosting the party with another author. One, it’s more fun to plan a party with a partner and two it takes off some of the hosting pressure the night of. You can also potentially double the guest list, increase networking opportunities, and introduce a whole new audience for your books and theirs.

Consider having your party on a Tuesday. It’s a slow day for bars and restaurants and the managers are much more likely to offer up a private room free of charge if you can guarantee them a good bar tab. Offer them prime placement on your invitation (it’s like advertising – especially if you’re sending the invites to the media!) if they agree to host the event.

Invite everyone you can think of – even if you’re pretty sure they won’t be able to attend. It’s a great way to announce your book release without coming off as an obnoxious self-promoter. Also, you may be surprised at who shows up! I invited my friend and fellow author Diana Peterfreund, even though she lives down in D.C. She not only made the trip up to NY, but she brought some A-list author friends with her as well. Speaking of, always encourage people to bring friends/significant others. You’ll get a larger crowd and it will also take the pressure off you to entertain them when you’re trying to work the room.

Create an official invitation with your book cover (if you know a graphics artist, hit them up for help!) and send it to guests by email attachment. (Yes, you can send attachments nowadays. But also put the basic 411 in the body of the email.) This will make your party seem more professional and a bigger deal. You can send this invite to the media as well. Even if it’s your local town newspaper–you never know if they’ll send a reporter to cover the event. Make sure you put “cash bar” discreetly on the invite so people don’t assume free drinks. Send the invitation two weeks in advance, then send a reminder out a day before the event. Ask for an RSVP so you can get an approximate count.

Get creative and make the party fun. After all, your guests are giving up their night for you and probably spending money on drinks and your books—they need something in return. I had the restaurant put out some of their signature homemade chocolates to nibble on—lots cheaper than doing open bar, but still adding value to the event. I also, to go with my “Gamer Girl” book theme, purchased a bunch of fun kids’ games like Hungry Hippos, Connect Four and Operation and put them on the tables. Guests really got into them! You could also bring in a makeover artist or a fortune teller.

Gift Bags! Take a page from red carpet events and make up gift bags for each guest. You can solicit companies to donate products—it’s much easier than you might think! We got Clarins, for example, to donate self-tanning lotions for the bags. Another company donated free yoga class coupons. It’s good advertising for companies and brings added value to your party. Don’t forget to include bookmarks or postcards for your own books in the bags, too! This way the guest will remember you the next day, even if they didn’t buy a book at the event.

Bookselling. We used a traveling bookseller, but if you don’t have one of those in your town, find an indy bookseller and ask if they will come the night of your event and bring books. This way you don’t have to deal with monetary transactions when you’re trying to socialize with your guests. Offer to buy remaining books at cost so they don’t get stuck with extra inventory. Make an announcement once the party is in full swing to let people know they can buy books.

Work the room. The night of the event, don’t linger with your close friends. Try to talk to everyone who showed up. Think of it as being like the birthday girl. Everyone came to see you and should be given appropriate face time.

Follow up. Over the next week, email your guests and thank them for coming. Especially the new people you met at the party. If you have a photo with them in it, send it with the email. And speaking of photos – upload them right away and put them on your blog, MySpace, Facebook, whatever. People who attended want to see themselves and people who didn’t get to go want to live vicariously. But you lose your momentum if you wait a few days.

And lastly, while this isn’t an official tip, make sure you have fun! A book party should be a celebration—don’t get all stressed out with planning that you can’t enjoy yourself at the event. It’s not worth it. Not everything will go right. Not everyone will show up. But just go with the flow and enjoy the ride.

So Whatever Happened To That Guy…

STATUS: I literally was on the phone from about 9:30 this morning until now. Not continuously mind you but that’s a lot of phone conferences.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? DOMINO by Van Morrison

who did the Book Promotion 2.0 youtube hit?

Well, Bella Stander did an interview with Mr. Cass that you might want to check out.

It’s a revealing look on how intention can really make the difference in promotion. Art for art’s sake etc.

And one of my authors, Shanna Swendson, grabs the spirit of GOOD TO GREAT and outlines how it might apply to authors. That’s definitely worth a look!

The Dreaded Headshot

STATUS: Uh, it’s Friday, right? I think I’m going to be working this weekend…

What’s playing on the iPod right now? MRS. ROBINSON by Lemonheads

Trust me, I can sympathize. Every time I sell a client book, I immediately tell the author that it’s time to write the official author bio and to go get the professional headshot done.

This is usually met with a groan (and occasionally with author excitement).

And I know the feeling. Guess what Sara and I did today? Yep, we had our professional headshots taken. I try and do a new photo once a year (but it ends up more like a year and a half and sometimes two between shots). I wait until I change my hair style or have some other reason to endure the process yet again. In this case, it’s grown out so I don’t have super short hair anymore. I’m overdue for a new photo.

Off to the studio we went. It can be the equivalent of going to the dentist. Today I learned the importance of a really great photographer who can make you relax. That ended up being immensely helpful in the quality of the shots Sara and I did.

The first 20 shots could pretty much be thrown out. Then I decided to find out if “moving around” a bit could help the process. Boy did it. I got quite a few decent, more relaxed, normal-looking shots. When I have them to share, I will. (I haven’t done the official choosing yet as I plan to forward the link to all my clients so they can vote on which one they prefer. I figure it’s only fair when THEIR shots have been subjected to my vote and opinion. Turnaround is fair play and all.)

Here are some good tips the photographer shared with us before our shoot. You may find them helpful when that time comes for you!

1. A successful picture will direct attention to your face and not to your clothing so wear sold colors and avoid patterns.

2. Long sleeves are better than short since bare arms compete for attention.

3. Medium to dark tones are best against a dark background (who knew?)

4. Avoid bright colors (as they compete) and stick with neutrals. Also, splashes of bright can draw the eye away from the face.

5. Red is a good color for outside shots.

6. Avoid white or super light colored shirts. (Are you sensing a theme here yet? I think black or brown is going to be your best bet—unless of course both colors don’t work for you.)

7. Avoid shirts and sweaters that completely cover the neck (interesting!). V-necks are fine as long as they aren’t super wide or exaggerated (and I might add, too plunging as they would also compete with your face).

8. Throw out all these suggestions and wear what makes you comfortable. Big smile here.

In general, if you are going to a professional photographer with controlled lighting, make up probably doesn’t need to be too heavy (and I’m sure the guys just breathed a huge sigh of relief there). Lip gloss also tends to be too shiny.

And once there, see what you can do to relax or put yourself at ease. I think it helped a lot that Sara and I went together as we could casually chat and laugh at what didn’t work.

All in all, this was the least painful experience I’ve had doing the shot. I’ll definitely go back to West End Photography so you can certainly bookmark it if you live in Denver/Boulder.

And one last comment. Be sure that when you do the shot, you have the photographer agree to sign a photo release (or copyright assignment). That way you own the picture and can then use it for any type of promotional material without having to get permission, etc.

That’s really important.

Author Camaraderie

STATUS: Finished up a deal negotiation and continued work on the accounting upgrade. I’ll be so happy when that is complete and all the reports are in order for my Tax CPA.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I STILL DO by The Cranberries

There are some authors in this world who view themselves in competition with other authors for the ever-shrinkingbook buying dollar slice of the pie. And then there are authors who know and understand that this is a unique community, that book buyers will buy a range of authors if they are interested enough, and there is no reason not to support each other.

And let me tell you, it’s the latter authors who I want to work with. And nothing proves that good karma goes around and comes around more than what has happened for debut author Patry Francis.

Here’s the story if you haven’t heard it. Patry is ill with a cancer and knew she would not be able to promote the release of her debut as most authors do.

So what did the writing community decide to do? They decided to pitch in and promote it for her since she was unable to. Over 300 bloggers committed to participating in THE LIAR’S DIARY blog day.

Check this out by clicking on some links. Here’s an article in the Sun-Sentinal about the effort. Here’s some more at Red Room, Lit Park, and Backspace.

Look at all the links on Technorati!

Wow! And of course some of my authors joined the party, but here’s what I want to say. Don’t ever let anyone convince you that publishing is “an every person for him or herself” industry because it’s not. There is a real community of writers and if you haven’t got connected, ask yourself why not?

More Than Just A Signing

STATUS: TGIF! And what I have in front of me to do so I can head out of town for the Thanksgiving long weekend on next Wednesday is a bit frightening. I’m determined to plow through and finish though.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? HARD TO HANDLE by Black Crowes

Agents are book fans too. Bella Stander (book publicity consultant and friend) had mentioned that a fellow Backspace member was going to be at the Tattered Cover this week and did I want to go. I’m always up for supporting fellow members so I said yes. We were off to see John Elder Robison’s reading for his memoir LOOK ME IN THE EYE.

I also had the unexpected pleasure of having dinner with him and his wife Martha before the event—compliments of Bella—but that’s not what this blog is about.

I want to revisit the topic of authors being strong public speakers and if they aren’t, to get savvy at this skill. And I know I’ve blogged about this before (and received a wide array of feedback after the posting) but John’s terrific presentation just reinforced again for me how important it is for an author to be a good presenter—to make the event more than just a book signing.

John didn’t just read from his memoir and open the floor to questions. He engaged us in his passion—which is to make the world more aware and more understanding of those with Asperger’s. I have to say it was very powerful and in doing so, made everyone in that room a lot more interested in buying the book right then and there. I know I got in line and got an autographed copy.

And let me just point out one more thing, John has Asperger’s. If you know anything about this disorder, most folks who have it don’t really like talking and interacting with a lot of people. Hence the title. John named his book that because all his life he heard people say, “look me in the eye when I’m talking to you.” Communication can be tough for an Aspergian.

So just imagine what public speaking might be like. It’s not often an Aspergian strong suit. John didn’t let that stop him and he got savvy at public speaking because he was determined to share his story and his passion—just in case that in doing so, it made a difference.

I can’t stress it enough. If you are an author, master this skill because you never know when you might be presented with many opportunities to share your book, your passion, and your vision with the world.

Great Covers, Film Deals, Good PR, That’s What This Job Is About!

STATUS: It’s one of those days where everything has come together. It makes being an agent perfect.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SONO ANDATI from La Bohème

First off I get the news that my author Kim Reid is going to have a live interview about her memoir NO PLACE SAFE on NPR this Oct. 10th.

She will be on the program News & Notes (which is the flagship African-American talk radio program on National Public Radio and is hosted by Farai Chideya).

I love NPR and it’s always a special thrill to have an author spotlighted on their radio program.

Then I finally get to share my most recent exciting film news. Universal’s Strike Entertainment has optioned Shanna Swendson’s Enchanted, Inc. Look for the Deal Lunch announcement to appear soon. This is especially thrilling because this deal has been three years in the making—not to mention this project was optioned by a whole other company about a year ago and that deal fell through. It’s the little film option that could!

And then, cherry on top, I receive the most gorgeous cover for a recently sold young adult project. It’s always amazing when a publisher gets it exactly right. Brooke and I are so in love with this cover, so if you hate it, I don’t want to hear about it.

Just kidding. Well…maybe not.

Friday Randomness

STATUS: I actually spent most of last night reading sample pages. I might actually be caught up after this weekend. This idea shouldn’t excite me but it does. I’ve been feeling the guilt for making writers wait for a response. I may be guilt-free by Monday. That will last for about 2 weeks…

What’s playing on the iPod right now? FRIDAY I’M IN LOVE by The Cure
(Okay, even I think the coincidence is a little strange.)

I’m just shaking my head. I’m now dubbing it The Thigh-high Stocking controversy. It has yet to end.

Smart Bitches now has close to 500 comments on the issue. If you’ve got some time, like a couple of hours (because you’ll need it), you can read all about it.

The news even made the GalleyCat blog today.

Personally, I’m hoping those two simply laugh all the way to the bank. Show your support for Liz and Mari and go buy their books. And if you don’t agree, well then, don’t buy their books. Simple enough.

I also want to point out a new blog I just discovered, and here’s the embarrassing part. I only discovered it because Joe had some awfully nice things to say about me although in general he thinks agents are evil incarnate.

Okay, I made that up…

Joe of Publishing 2020 is the Vice President and Executive Publisher of the Professional/Trade division of New York publisher John Wiley & Sons. So what I’m saying is that this guy is a bit of a gearhead and is in the know…

And I bet you blog readers didn’t realize that Sara, my amazing assistant, also blogs over there on our myspace page. She’s giving out a lot of good information for free so you might want to check it out.

TGIF folks!

No Such Thing As Bad Publicity?

STATUS: I spent the day on the phone. Literally. Like four hours straight. I thought I would lose my voice at the end there.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? TURNING JAPANESE by The Vapors

Authors that spark controversy get noticed. Just recently one of my YA authors asked me how she could have her novel banned. Banned books get noticed and she’d love to be on a banned books list.

I must have looked a little flummoxed by the question because I never thought of it that way before but she’s right. Banned books get attention.

I said she just needed to use the word “scrotum” in her work.

And no, I’m not going to explain the joke because I know many of my commenters can help you out with that. But here’s the truth. Authors don’t set out to write a book that’s going to be banned. They start by writing a book that embraces an honest or essential truth (which can then offend a segment of the population). As you can probably tell, I’m not one for banning books.

But I like the idea of authors garnering attention for their books. Have you ever heard of the phrase, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity?”

For example, right now there’s a controversy unfolding regarding my author Marianne Mancusi and her promotional partner Liz Maverick and the costumes they chose to wear at their RWA signings. They basically dressed like the futuristic characters in their books forDorchester’s new Shomi line (MOONGAZER and WIRED).

I personally think they could give Alicia Silverstone in the movie CLUELESS a run for her money. Cute is the word that comes to mind for me. Here’s a pic if you want to see for yourself.

But boy, aren’t they just the talk of the town. Check out the discussion going on at Smart Bitches. And if you are of the mind that being in the limelight keeps your books in the forefront of readers’ minds, then this isn’t a bad thing at all.

I guess the real question is whether publicity (controversial or not) translates into sales.