Friday, July 25, 2008

Why I Hate Book Publicity and will Never do it Again

1) The work never ends. No matter how much publicity you get for a book, there is always more to get, something else to do, another person to pitch, news angle to take advantage of. There is never a sense of completion, just a slow winding down of how much attention you give an author and their book. I’d like closure for once in my life.

2) Too many books. You want me to effectively publicize 5 books a month? Do 3 tours in one month? Ummm, that’s an unreasonable expectation. Ain’t gonna happen. 1 will get my full attention. 3 will get the bare minimum. One will totally get lost in the shuffle. I’m tired of not having the resources, tools and time to do my job effectively. Why doesn’t the biz realize that it’s publishing too many books for the staff resources to actually work on? And even worse, publishing books that compete against each other. I can only pitch so many people so many times before I piss them off. Looking forward to less stress and getting that krick out of my neck from holding the phone to my ear with my shoulder from too many conference calls.

3) Unreasonable authors and their expectations. Yeah, I know this book is your baby, I know you spent 3 years writing it, but face it, calling me every day to check the status on your book is taking away time from working on your book. You’re a first time author and its mass market and nobody has ever heard of you and really don’t care. I’m doing my best here. Every one hour meeting with your agent, the editor and my boss you want to have is an hour I’m not working on your book. Hey, some of you were a joy to work with and for that I’m thankful but I’m really tired of dealing with the rest of you. Bye.

4) Meetings. The last place I worked we actually had meetings to discuss what we would say and cover in our upcoming meeting. I’d say ¼ of my time was spent in planning meetings, marketing meetings, sales meetings, meeting authors & agents on potential buys. Enough! I’m done with meetings… unless it’s over lunch or a beer and you’re buying.

5) Quality of life. I’ve eaten breakfast and lunch at my desk for the last time. I’m turning in my blackberry so I don’t have to get an email from my boss on the weekend about something we can easily discuss on Monday. I’m never working late or on the weekend again after a five day week because there’s too much work to be done and instead of increasing staff to cover the work load it’s been cut. I’m going to start eating at a proper table… or over the sink.

Yeah, I'm sure some of you snarky commenters will be like "geez, what a baby, suck it up and stop whining. I'm not whining but venting and moving on. If all i did was just complain and not change anything, well then, you'd be right to taunt me. However, i'm just sick of the shit and not in a position to change the industry from the inside so I'm getting out of it. Good luck, suckahs! See you in hell, or at the bar, which ever is closer.



Anonymous said...

No snarky comments from moi. I'm too tired from checking the Blackberry all weekend.

You did forget to mention, though, all the times you're asked what the producer at GMA said. And the producer at the Today Show. And the producer at Oprah. And the producer at Colbert. And the editor of XYZ Book Review. And the fact that every time you have to answer those questions you're not, say, doing your work.

What it all boils down to is sometimes shit works and sometimes it doesn't, and unfortunately there's often little correlation between publicity success and the amount of work you do. Although I count myself lucky -- I work on great books and have great bosses -- it really doesn't help when agents and authors and editors question your commitment and expertise.

Sorry you had the life sucked out of you. I'm sure you'll make a speedy recovery (and I'm sure many of your brethren will be joining you in time).

Good luck in your future endeavors. Carpe Diem.

April Morrison said...

Good luck! I think about doing what you are doing all the time. The frustrating thing is that I think I love my job--or at least I do sometimes.

There was a time when I felt shockingly effective as a book publicist. Paired with a book that (1) had genuine value as a well-written book, (2) matched my interests, and (3) hit that perfect mix of enough interest from the brass to warrant galleys and my unfettered time but not so much that people were constantly braying at me about NPR, yeah, I pretty much knocked that out of the park.

But when was the last time an editor managed to cough up a book that was worthy of media attention? When was the last time that expectations (either high OR low) matched up with the quality of the book? When was the last time I got to work on a book that was actually of interest to me?

The current model for publicists--being locked into an imprint, being assigned to books by someone who does not have your best interests in mind, needing to constantly report to bosses who don't know the first thing about how publicity works--sucks.

Do let us know how it turns out. Is it possible that there is life after book publicity?

Deathtron said...

Thanks for all your support! I'll let you know where I land and, if its any better.