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The Personal Feeds the Professional

I was on a panel recently with an in-house publicist from Penguin when she was asked by a member of the audience what an author can do to help a publicist.

“Send cookies,” she said. She further explained that when you are promoting many authors, the one who sends cookies will be the one who you work hardest for. “It’s just human nature,” she said. “Be kind to your publicist,” she added.

I remembered her comments when I mentioned to my clients that I was closing early on a Friday this past July to celebrate my birthday on Saturday.

The previous year, when my birthday actually fell on a Friday in July, I had closed for the entire day, as many firms generally do on Fridays in the summer.

One client complained that I absolutely could not take off on Friday because she was taking off the next day for an extended vacation. She made a list of things she wanted me to do on that particular Friday. Her book was not due out for four months and the publisher had not even printed advance reading copies yet. Even so, I had already written press materials: a press release, pitch letter, and a draft of the bio.

She still insisted, however, that I spend my birthday re-working the bio she already had posted on her website––and that I was planning to use––along with other demands.

This year, I received an e-mail wishing me a happy birthday from a best-selling author whose book I had promoted ten years ago. Like clockwork, he always remembers my birthday. He had, in fact, hired me for a small campaign this year to promote a television show he was hosting, but during the past ten years when I was not promoting any of his books, he still always remembered my birthday.

A few days after my birthday a package arrived. Although I regularly receive packages of books I was not expecting any books that week. I let the package sit in my vestibule for several hours before tackling the sturdy cardboard box with my box cutter.

Inside was a lovely looking brown and black box tied with a beautiful silky brown ribbon flecked with gold. How beautiful I thought. And then I opened the box. Inside were delicate looking wafers, macaroons, actually. They were Luxembourgers, small round wafers filled with delicious coffee, chocolate and fruit-flavored meringues that are popular in Europe. Their French cousins, the macaroon, are not as light and airy in consistency.

I popped one into my mouth. And then another, and another, until the box was almost empty. Guilt rescued me from devouring the entire box. I saved the several remaining cookies for my husband.

The day the Luxembourgers arrived was a humid, rainy afternoon and I was feeling sluggish even with the air conditioning. No one in the media was returning my calls and e-mails were bouncing back with vacation notices. Isolated in my home-office, I felt like I was the only one in town working on this July afternoon. It was one of those days that really test the endurance and motivation of a publicist.

But, after savoring those cookies, I picked up the phone, determined to get my client the publicity she deserved. And I did.

Days later I received several e-mails assuring me that this author’s book would be reviewed. And the magazine that I had pitched for a profile story was strongly considering interviewing my author. What more could a publicist ask for––five months before the book’s pub date?

The cookies worked their magic, both for me and for the author. And the author who always remembers my birthdays? I got nothing less than Entertainment Weekly to review his show, and People Magazine to mention both his show and the book I had promoted ten years ago, which the publisher had released in its 10th Anniversary Edition.

Reposted with permission from Susan from Your Shelf Life [1].

About Susan Schwartzman [2]