A unique blog dedicated to covering the worlds of book publishing and the news media, revealing creative ideas, practical strategies, interesting stories, and provocative opinions. Along the way, discover savvy but entertaining insights on book marketing, public relations, branding, and advertising from a veteran of two decades in the industry of book publishing publicity and marketing.
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Wednesday, March 7, 2012
The Hunt For PR
What I like most about PR is that aggression is rewarded. You become the hunter, like a dog, and push forward until you track down what you want. Maybe that’s why I owned a basset hound, a breed meant for hunting. And now I have an English Bulldog, known for her stick-to-it-ness.
I only know about being assertive in order to get what I want. I may be too pushy but I’ll take that over being passive or polite. Effort alone doesn’t guarantee success, but without the push and drive, you likely will not get far.
I fill my daily planner with little mantras that I reflect upon from time to time. “Take it to the hole,” “Drive the lane” and other sports euphemisms remind me to put the foot on the gas and to go full throttle. PR is a contact sport and the more contacts you make, the more successful you’ll be.
I like to utilize my knowledge of current events, of my understanding of the media, and my passion for books. This job permits me to do all of that. I also inject humor into the pitching process.
I remind myself when I feel pressured by deadlines or high expectations from a client. or demands from my boss, that I should have fun with this.
One time I called national radio show host to book a guest and he said “No.” I called him a week later, same guest, same pitch, and he said ”Yes.” Persistence is important. So is playing along with the media.
I once was told by a producer of another national radio show that he was sick of interviewing all of these best-selling authors with nothing new to say. I told him I don’t blame him and that I too am nauseated by representing those people. We joked around and then I said: “Why don’t we do a show about how these guys have nothing earth-shattering to say?” Go ahead, rip into him. Do what you want, but be sure to mention the book title.”
A week later I called back and he took it. Yeah, baby!
Interview With Slate Book Review Editor Dan Kois
1.Dan, as the editor of the Slate Book Review, what types of books/authors are you looking for? I'm looking for books that our writers can have fun writing about. Happily I'm under no obligation to cover every single one of the biggest books out there - nor do I have space of money to do so -- so instead I can simply focus on matching writers to books in a way that the writers and our readers will enjoy.
2.How challenging is it to choose amongst literally 50,000 newly published books each week? Basically it's impossible.
3.Where do you see the book publishing industry heading? Like everyone else affiliated with the book industry, I have no earthly idea. Seems likely that physical books will become boutique or specialty items soon, but I'd be surprised if the apparatus of the publishing industry disappears quickly -- I think that agents, editors, and marketing people are actually pretty good at what they do, and will serve a purpose even in the post-hardcover world. There might be a Hunger Games-style culling, though.
4.Any advice for a struggling writer? Remember that everyone else is struggling too.
5.Is it more fun to trash a book than to celebrate it? It's certainly easier, but it doesn't make you feel as good afterwards.
6.Do you find many authors to be egomaniacal? No more so than reviewers, editors, readers, or book bloggers. One thing the explosion of Twitter in the lit world has revealed is how many authors are very nice, supportive, friendly goofballs.
7.Are many reviewers wannabe, frustrated authors? We prefer to think that authors are wannabe, frustrated critics, who simply can't stop themselves from writing 100,000 words instead of 800.
1.Micki, what do you write about? My writing is diversified, touching upon anything that interests me. I'm not a prolific writer--I write when I have something to say. Starting out with non-fiction slice of life short pieces and essays, led me to trying every genre and style, except hi-tech science fiction, screen writing and scripts. I love writing about real people and write humorous stories similar to Erma Bombeck with less slapstick comedy. My skills lie in writing non-fiction first person, present tense but I'm practicing third person fiction and have sold some and won contests with others. My goal is to write a successful novel.
2.What inspires your writings? I began serious writing when I turned forty, as a catharsis for the grief in losing my teenage daughter to a drunk driver who severed her spinal cord and left the scene. The short story version of that first writing was accepted, which led to a career in journalism, especially political commentary. People inspire me, "the good, the bad and the ugly' as well as world events. I am curious about everything, but the humorous slice of life stories are my favorite.
3.What kind of reaction do you hope the reader will have to your work? My readers react to my writing, especially non-fiction, because I bring them into my stories with me, rather than have them read as observers, which leaves them with a greater feeling of having gone on my journeys along with me. This is particularly true when they read . . . AND THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG, my first book, relating the story of my family's loss. The book is both poignant and funny, a celebration of life rather than a eulogy of death, and most readers are highly impacted by the story--again because I draw them in and have them relive it with me.
4.What advice do you have for struggling writers? It may sound like a cliche, but they must keep on trying, do many drafts, edit constantly and when they are blocked, walk away and write about something else until it passes. They must be able to take criticism without feeling maligned, and to keep moving forward. Writing can be learned, but storytelling is a gift. Writers should try hard to be storytellers first, then learn the rules so that later they can break a few as needed. Never throw away any writing as it may one day fit something else. Remember that rejection slips are proof that someone did read your work and hand written ones are a sign that they gave the work their attention, but couldn't use it at that time.
5.Where do you see the book publishing world heading? I'd like to be optimistic about the publishing world, but in this economy with so many book stores folding up, it's become harder than ever to market one's work. E-books, like Kindle and Nook are outselling the printed books due to the lower price, leaving print books in a precarious position and in danger of becoming obsolete in this technical world. The Internet is a time-consuming but fairly positive way of getting both the book and the reader known. It must be remembered that one is not just selling their books, but themselves as well. Competition is fierce, money is tight, and statistics report that 89 percent of published writers sell a total of about a hundred books. Still, writers will continue to write because it's what we do and who we are, and book-loving readers will find a way to read--even in formats that are new and different. Book publishing will manage to survive the present crisis.
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at email@example.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.