It’s like a dirty word. In fact, I’m calling it today’s Dirty Word of the Day. Once, I needed help with an author contract and reached out to a woman about hiring her as a consultant. I got an email from her that said, “I don’t like publicists but sure I’ll talk to you.” Uh, no thank you. I wouldn’t want you to slum it with little old dirty me. And I wouldn’t want to disappoint her and her preconceived notion of a “publicist” either. After all, I’ve been told I’m quite likeable (usually).
This woman, she’s not alone in her prejudice. There is this love-hate relationship that exists between authors and publicists, between publishers and outside publicists – now there is a really dirty word and occupation: outside publicist. Like… porta-potty cleaner, fishmonger, used car salesman or …porn star. (In fact, for fun, here are a few other really disgusting words, perhaps far more disgusting than publicist. And some really disgusting jobs, perhaps far worse than publicist.)
But, in all seriousness, and back to the Dirty Word of the Day: At some point as an author, you are going to have to make a decision about hiring a publicist. And at some point you might not be happy with that publicist, you might not know what to do or you might be considering firing that publicist, or perhaps looking for another porn star…err publicist to take their place. Here are some tips on how to fire – and not to fire- your publicist.
#1 Share some pie
If you are on the fence about the relationship with your publicist and whether you want to extend it or terminate it, sit down and talk. My grandfather (a true Midwesterner) liked to say that there’s nothing that a good pie can’t fix. If you live in the same area, sit down over coffee (and pie) and have a face-to-face, heart-to-heart with your publicist. They are (usually) people too. I’ve been doing this awhile and I know that sometimes it’s a matter of neither party understanding the feelings, needs, expectations, hard work and situation on both sides. If you don’t live in the same area, try Skype or Face Time. Relying on email or texts is not a great way to communicate, especially over big matters. And if you have hired the kind of publicist that would never even consider sitting down over coffee, let alone pie, with you, then you should probably fire them (just kidding…sort of).
#2 Be Patient
I often have clients say, “Why haven’t you heard back yet?”, “Well, you would think local media would be very interested in my story”, or “What’s taking so long? It’s been over a month now…”. Media relations is tough and it takes time and a good publicist is aggressive and persistent without being annoying. Sometimes who you know can help, sometimes not. Sometimes an editor is busy or out or just not interested or has other things they are focused on. Sometimes they are still reading your book. Sometimes they read it and didn’t choose it. Sometimes they didn’t like it. Sometimes they loved it and still there wasn’t a place for it. There’s never any guarantee and it’s very hit or miss. This is very difficult to hear when you are paying money for a publicist. I had a book featured in Entertainment Weekly that the editor called “The undiscovered YA book of summer”. I couldn’t have written that better myself. Oh wait, I did write that in the pitch, and it got put in the story. Amazing! But you know what? It took eight months for that to happen. So just don’t jump the gun – a good publicist knows that media relations takes time and effort and requires follow up. If you don’t think that follow up is happening, ask. Ask again. But be patient if there’s been no word. Patience and consistency wins the race, or something like that.
#3 Stay Classy [Read more…]