Thursday, November 13, 2014

Can You Break The Media’s Rules On Books?

The one thing I hate about my job as a book marketer and promoter is enforcing rules I didn’t make and disagree with.  It disgusts me to even have to admit to it.

By “rules” I’m talking about guidelines set by the news media.  For instance, in order to get a book review in traditional print, such as The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, or Kirkus, you generally have to send two hard copies of the book at least three and a half months prior to publication date.  There are exceptions made – but rarely.  So if you believe your book should be reviewed by such a publication and you send it only a month before publication, you will sadly be denied such an opportunity.  Your book could end up winning a Pulitzer, becoming a bestseller, and being featured on billboards but these publications want their deadlines honored.

So when authors want to hire me to do something that I know is doomed from the start It pains me to not only inform them of the reality they are up against, but to have to decline representation even when they insist on paying me to try to do something that I know with certainty is destined to fail miserably.

But it’s not just their hurt feelings or the loss of revenue that galls me.  It’s the fact that I want to challenge the status quo but know that it can’t be done in such cases.

Similar to the review thing comes the issue of whether a book is self-published or traditionally published – and whether it’s digital-only or print as well.  There are prejudices still circulating in the media about who published a book and in what form.  Though the barriers drop each year as old media fades out its older workforce, nevertheless, it still matters to many as to publisher and format.

With national television, generally fiction is ignored, unless it’s for bestsellers, celebrities, or something tied into the news – and even then, it’s a longshot to get coverage on a major TV show, but so many novelists tell me their six-month-old, self-published debut thriller should be on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show.  It just doesn’t work that way.

Not all rules or standards are bad or deemed unneeded, but no one wants to be rejected on some factor or basis other than the quality of their book’s content.  And when your publicist says no before the media does, it stinks.

Still, there’s something inside all of us that wants to tell the news media to get lost.  Who decided they are the arbiters of taste?  Who appointed them the gatekeepers?  Why should the media limit itself by its self-imposed rules when it could be missing a gem?

Authors could ignore the media, but that would be foolish.  Better, they should learn the rules and deadlines and seek to adhere to them.  Even better, they should also look to get around them.  Instead of fighting for a book review, look to get a feature story.  Supplement traditional media coverage with social media, relentless marketing, savvy promotions, and targeted advertising.

When I was a kid I didn’t fully understand nor agree with the grown-up rules of life.  Now as an adult, I impose some of these rules upon my children.  But I encourage them to challenge the status quo and to value being a rebel.  I wish I could tell my authors to do the same with the media, but change will have to come from beyond the media.  You can promote and market a book in many different ways, so don’t let one avenue detour your trip.

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. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

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