I have been an independent book publicist for almost 20 years, working behind the scenes, yet many don’t really know what goes on in a book publicist’s day. I recently wrote a piece, Send Cookies, for Your Shelf Life, and a producer from a nationally syndicated radio program responded, “Now I’m beginning to understand. Folks never talk about this part of the business.” So I have decided to offer an insider’s look at the book publishing business from the perspective of an independent book publicist.
Look for informative and entertaining stories about the book publicity business…anecdotes about the typical day in the life of a book publicist…the occasional book review or a favorite recipe or two… ruminations on my current reading… news about the books I am promoting…what really happens behind the scenes.
And there are so many stories to tell. Such as the story of an author’s worst nightmare—performing a cooking demonstration on live TV when the host offers a taste of her kid-friendly meal to a child on the set and he gags.
Other stories that shed light on the daily challenges a book publicist faces, especially this year, when publishers have slashed their budgets, making it more challenging for even the best of us to promote our authors as we would like.
Such as the day I received an e-mail from a publisher’s assistant who asked me if she could send half a book to reviewers. Will there be a new book award category, my partner asked, an award for “Best Half Book?”
Or the publisher whose advertising and publicity budget had been slashed, and had a very limited amount of review copies to send me. How do I explain to the author that the publisher will only send out review copies if I get a request from a media contact? And how do you get media placements without sending review copies?
A good publicist has to be able to think out-of-the-box. I am not a magician, however, who can pull books out of a box by waving my magic wand or get media coverage by simply wishing it to be so—even though I did read The Secret.
Still, I doggedly sent 50 e-mail pitches, creating a buzz about said book. And another 50. And another 50. Bingo: At 7:00 PM, when I am about to shut off my computer, there is an e-mail from a producer in Seattle requesting a copy of the book and asking me when the author is available for an interview.
Then, at four in the morning, I received a phone call from a talk show host who can’t sleep because his wife is away. He apologized profusely, and said he wanted to book an interview with the author.
Several months after the campaign was over, the author won a prestigious award. I extended her campaign, and booked her on almost two dozen radio interviews, including several NPR programs.
All in a day’s work. When you are an independent book publicist, your work is never done. There are good days and bad days, and then there are truly spectacular days such as when your French cookbook author invites you to her 17th Century Chateau in France for cooking classes as a reward for my promotion of her cookbook.
And then there was the memorable day I made a phone call to a book reviewer at The Wall Street Journal almost nine years ago that led to a lengthy phone friendship. And then we met. And then he moved in. And seven years later we got married.
And we have lived happily ever after.
So there are good days, and then there are even better days….
For more information about the books I’m promoting, please visit http://www.susanschwartzmanpublicity.com/ and http://www.susanschwartzman.blogspot.com/