“Dear publicist, My book just released and I’d like to promote it. How can you help?”
“Hi! My novel came out last fall and sales have been close to zero. Can we talk about what your firm can do to promote it?”
Ouch! These emails break my heart.
I typically get about two like this a day asking for help with a book that has already released. Or is releasing next week. Or tomorrow. Sadly, in those cases there’s little if anything I can do.
That’s because the work of getting a book onto the radar screen of people who will review it, blog about it or interview its author must absolutely begin well in advance of publication.
I know it sounds counterintuitive: at long last a book has hit the market, it’s time to tell the world! But in fact, this is a far cry from how things work on the back end.
To understand why, we need to get inside the minds of the people on the back end — those who will be writing those reviews, conducting those interviews or publishing your blog posts. In order to even consider a book for coverage, the person doing so usually needs to read first, and then craft a thoughtful news item about it — whether that’s a review, a feature story or an author Q&A. He or she will also have to get the news item approved and possibly revised by an editor, who’s equally swamped and running chronically behind. And chances are, said person already has a pile of about 20 other books to read or consider first. It’s not unlike the process agents go through where their slush piles just keep growing but there are only so many hours in a day.
Yet this is completely at odds with the imperatives of organizations offering coverage such as magazines, newspapers, radio stations and sites like The Huffington Post. These organizations are news outlets. So are may blogs, including book blogs. By definition, news is information about what’s new. Take a look at your daily newsfeed, or turn on the evening TV news: each article or story contains information or commentary relevant in some way to an event that has taken place that very day, or to one that took place very recently and is still being buzzed about. So news outlets have to give priority to what’s new or timely. [Read more…]