Valentine’s Day is a great time for an exploration of professional adoration. Naturally, book publicists have their favorite authors. It has little to do with celebrity-status, or who sent us a flowers at the end of a great campaign (though I won’t lie, that’s nice!). It has everything to do with who makes it not only easy to work with them, but also a pleasure, and takes on the role of partner in promoting his or her book with enthusiasm.
So, here’s my take on what authors do to make their publicist love them:
- They fill out author questionnaires. Savvy authors recognize the author questionnaire is a really helpful document. Through this document, marketers gain insight in to an author’s view of the market, a detailed description of the book chapter-by-chapter (often before we’ve had a chance to read a book in its entirety), and any media the author already has a relationship with or believes is especially relevant readers.
- They are proactive in suggesting story ideas. These beloved authors know their publicist has a handle on the type of stories the media are looking for, but they are also confident in their own expertise. They recognize that story ideas should relate to the publisher’s goals, and will work with a publicist to tweak ideas where needed, provide feedback, and suggest story ideas of their own. They take it in stride when a publicist is enthusiastic about two ideas, but thinks the third one is a dud.
- They say “I’ll do anything you want me to do to promote my book,” and mean it. A publicist may ask them to write an original article for a blog, provide four sentences answering a reporter’s question that might result in an interview, or schedule a radio interview at 6:30 am in rural South Dakota.
- They are available. They check e-mail and voicemail frequently, and get back quickly with all the information requested. They don’t go on vacation the week their book is published. If they take a short vacation in the months leading to pub date, they let their publicist know, and they make sure they are reachable for interviews.
- They keep a list of reporters, editors, producers, and bloggers they’ve worked with over the years. They have been helpful to the media, and know now is the time to reach out to them about their new book.
- They make sure their publicist is in the loop when hiring an outside publicist. These smart authors check to see if their publicist (and agent and editor) can suggest a couple publicists who know publishing and have experience working with the relevant media appropriate for the topic. They make sure their in-house publicist gets weekly or bi-weekly campaign updates.
- They are resourceful. They know that while it’s tempting to fire off an e-mail every time a question pops in to their head, doing so only clogs up an already full inbox. They keep a list of questions, and ask several at a time. These much loved authors don’t tempt those marketing their book to send them to Let Me Google That for You. They are unfazed when a radio station scheduled to call them fails to do so. They know mix-ups happen, and a quick phone call to the studio number provided to them can often put everything back on track with minimal effort.
- They are on social media, and enjoy talking to the community they have become a part of. These enthusiastic authors quickly learn which communities work for their interests and the time they can commit. They balance marketing themselves and their work with meaningful conversations that aren’t designed to promote themselves.
- They are kind, gracious, and thankful. Authors that are a pleasure to work with remember that while their publicist probably has a thick skin from handling rejection from editors, reporters, producers and bloggers, a publicist still needs to be appreciated. They know when their publicist tells them that The New York Times is going to review their book, or that NPR wants to interview them, it is better to remembered as the author who said “That’s great! Thank you!” than the author who said “What about Time?”
I’m sure others would have more to add, but it’s pretty simple to become one of the authors your publicist loves. What would you add? Tell us in the comments.