Monday, July 16, 2012

Publicist Says: Trust Me, I’m Lying

There is nothing worse than a dishonest publicist than one who brags about his feats of lying, manipulating, distorting, and cheating. In a new book by a PR executive, Ryan Holiday, Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions Of A Media Manipulator, everyone looks bad and stupid: the media, bloggers, and the PR scoundrels who manipulate the first two. It’s hard to find a hero in this tome, but there is plenty of blame to go around for why our society is misinformed,

The book calls in to question why and how bloggers write what they write.  They are undertrained, underpaid, and motivated by the same things that dishonest publicists are moved by: lots of clicks and attention, despite the lack of veracity of a story. Bloggers want spreadability, thus they need things that provoke others, evoke anger or emotion, and create controversy. They may not always want to get all the facts or feel motivated to balance their coverage. Some publicists are all too willing to make an incomplete or incorrect story seem easy to report and as inviting as possible.

The sad thing is to appear bloggers are subjected to lies and half-truths from those who contacted them and they either lack the resources to truly investigate – or worse, they gladly conspire with marketers and publicists and celebrities to spin a story that may get a lot of attention, truth be damned. Bloggers, who often post for free or a tiny fee, are volatile to being indirectly paid off by virtue of being given all kinds of free goods, event tickets, services or trips from those they write about.

If you want to peek into how publicists and bloggers interact (badly is the answer), read Trust Me, I’m Lying.

Interview With Meaghan Gray Of  iReaderReview

1.  You work for, where you interview authors, write about publishing, review books and cover the indie world. What have you learned so far about the industry?
I'll try to break it down for you. 1. Writing: Don't attempt humor if no one's ever told you that you're funny. Don't write paranormal romance if you don't read it. Don't just "write what you know", write what you love. 2. Editing: This is not a D.I.Y. project. This is your writing career. Hire at least two editors (content & style) and a proofreader. At this point, you're fine-tuning your product, so do it right. 3. Publishing: Don't segregate yourself. Make it possible for people to find you in any retailer. 4. Marketing: This is a very personal aspect of the process. Experiment, figure out what works for you, and always communicate. Most importantly, don't over-do it. Also, readers love authors who they can connect to on a personal level. Things are really heating up between Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Indie authors are also doing better on B&N than I had expected

2.  Where is book publishing heading? In interviews, I always try to ask authors this question. The answers are varied and usually sprinkled with the phrase "I don't know." In my opinion, ebooks are not the only the future, but the present. For indie authors, anyway. I've been told more than once to avoid print publishing without a distributor. Beyond that? It's hard to say. Traditional publishers will keep snapping up those bestselling indie names. Traditional media will be virtually phased out of promotional campaigns. Print will be pushed as the intellectual's choice, despite it's ignorance of the environment.

3.  At age 22 you are writing your first book, a novel called The Big Sleep. What is it about?
"Rain Collins lives in a world that has suffered invasion. Thirty years ago the Dream Walkers came to Earth and devoured the minds of its inhabitants. Now, they're back. Rain, her family, and friends will have to face-off with their greatest fears, or else die trying." It is essentially speculative fiction, with a dash of young adult.

4.  How will you avoid the pitfalls and mistakes that snag so many writers? Research, planning, and dedication. It's the same way that I write.  First, I get to know the subject. Whether that's through free writing or wisdom passed along in author communities, it's the most important step.  Next, I formulate an effective plan. Sometimes it's an outline for a story, sometimes it's a marketing strategy. Finally, I work hard. Simple.

5.  What advice do you have for struggling writers? If I may quote the great Tim Allen in "Galaxy Quest," "Never give up. Never surrender."

6.  As a Canadian author, how will you crack the US market? The same way I plan on cracking any market: by finding my audience and connecting with them. I haven't been too worried about Americans versus Canadians versus anyone else. After all, I grew up on a healthy diet of Sendak, Vonnegut, and Bukowski (in that order). If Americans can entertain me, I'm sure that I can return the favour.

7. What are the rewards and challenges to writing fiction? I think the rewards are the challenges. I find that I have to become my characters in order to truly write them properly. That is probably the most fun part of writing for me: deciding who would do what, why, when, and how.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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