Thursday, May 1, 2008

I just don’t feel that way about you anymore…

A bit belatedly (obvi have not been checking out other blogs enough!), I discovered this great post from Bella Stander’s Reading Under the Covers, which Bella posted courtesy of Darcie Rowan, McAllister Rowan Communications Group. I won’t repost the whole list, but in summation, for you people too lazy to click through, it’s a Top 10 list for authors: signs that your relationship with your publicist could be in trouble. Now, I’m going to assume this is for an outside publicist an author has hired, since there are references to paying for services (and in-house people obviously receive no money from the author. or really, from anywhere. god, it sucks to be us). But, in which case, this is even funnier because, for the most part, I detest outside publicists – and obvi, we in-housers would never treat you badly. ;-) Here are my favorites (with my comments in italics):

9) If after the first three months, your campaign isn’t getting the results and attention you were led to expect. Talk about this! If your publicist doesn’t want to entertain your concerns or hear your side, there may be trouble brewing in paradise.

This is why I never give expectations. It only leads to hurt feelings. Publicity is a crap shoot. I’m gonna try my best, but dude, there are no guarantees. And really, what's realistic, is probably not what you are hoping for. I can tell you our "dream spots," but I always try to convey that those are the equivalent of your reach school - the Ivy League of book coverage. However, if you think there’s something else I should be trying, definitely speak up! Oh, but please don't ask me if I sent your book to Oprah or the New York Times. I'm not stupid.

6) Be wary if your “little darling” writes a press release containing incorrect information – or it appears that she didn’t read your book. No publicist should be pitching a book that they can’t discuss with the media.

Sometimes we don’t read the books. Sorry. There’s not always time. That said, publicists, if you’re gonna slack on the “reading” portion, be extra careful with your fact-checking. There really is no excuse for putting down the wrong info.

4) If your “snookums” provides updates without specific names of media people or specific outlets. Ask for that info; it’s not top-secret. You should know who has been sent your book. If the list includes “The Sally Jesse Raphael Show” or “Montel Williams,” watch out! Your publicist is either working off an ancient list, or isn’t really working on your book at all.

Ha Ha. I remember sitting in sales meeting one time, and a publicist rattled off the names of some shows that had been off the air as targets. EMBARASSING. Peeps, make sure your contacts are up to date. And try to memorize the contact names at the big places so you can rattle off the names and appear as though you actually know them – and by know, I mean have had interactions outside of pitch emails and rejections.

2) For whatever reason, you and your publicist don’t see eye to eye, don’t have similar goals, have “lost that loving feeling,” or you’re having more arguments with them than you do with your real spouse. It may be time to have a fresh set of eyes look over the project and see what could be done differently. We aren’t condoning cheating, but it wouldn’t hurt to see what the competition thinks of your successes and failures.

Publicists, don’t fight with your authors. Come on. That’s like publicity 101. You don’t have to do everything they say, but if you’re going to reject their ideas, at least do so in a way that explains why their logic is faulty and why you are always correct. It’s really not hard to have a friendly relationship, or, barring that, a cordial one.

And the #1 sign that your publicist may not be “The One”:
She told you that you would “absolutely, definitely be on Oprah” but doesn’t have a strategic plan to make that happen. Help create one! No use in sitting around waiting for something to happen if your “loved one” doesn’t have a plan, a goal or a CLUE. And remember, when it comes to publicity, NOTHING can be guaranteed.

OMG. HA HA HA. I can tell you right now, none of you will be on Oprah, especially if you write fiction. And if you are, it probably has nothing to do with me and some great "strategic plan." The book gods just happened to smile upon you.


ps. Shameless Plug - if any authors are out there reading, and you need tips beyond the advice of Slunch, check out Bella's Book Promotion 101 workshop in NYC on May 17. Awesome PR Consultant (and one of the few outside publicists we DO like) Lauren Cerand is also a guestspeaker.


Christina said...

love your comments.. thanks for posting.

submit to slunch said...

thanks for reading!

Meg McAllister said...

Thanks for spreading the word on Slunch. You're right, the post was directed towards authors who hire their own publicists. Darcie and I often end up hearing from authors (or any other client really) who've been in bad publicity "relationships" before, and the problem often boils down to unrealistic expectations and/or less-than-strategic publicity campaigns. My partner and I have a reputation for "telling it like it is" when consulting with authors -- even when it's not what they want to hear. And for the record -- in-house p.r. people ROCK, you guys have a lot to juggle and, like us, are usually straightforward with authors.

submit to slunch said...

Thanks, Meg! You guys are obviously on the list then of outside publicists we do like! But, yeah, I'm mainly referring to the people that charge ridiculous sums of money, get nothing, and generally just make life more difficult for everyone. I'm sure you are quite familiar with the type.

Lauren said...

Well you know j'adore you too! Bisou, LC