Earlier this month, Greer Macallister wrote a post for WU entitled, All the Things I Don’t Know, which struck a chord. In this day and age of double-masking, remote learning, and where should I get my COVID test today, I often wake up less with the Carrie Bradshaw “I couldn’t help but wonder” mindset, and more of a “how in the [insert expletive] am I going to answer that?”
You see, I spend a good portion of each day answering questions. There are the mom questions…”what did you pack me for snack?” There are the wife questions … “do I have 10 minutes to finish up this deck before dinner?” While the dog can’t speak, his eyes, tail wags, and door scratches are just loaded with questions. And since almost everything is about food, my answers don’t require much thought or even complete sentences. But then I’ll get a client question, which might go something like this: “My publisher got me something called a BookBub deal that’s running early next week in the historical fiction category, and my first question is, what’s BookBub? My second question is what else is it that I should be doing to support that deal? My third question is what will you be doing to support that deal?
These questions require greater thought, a review of the calendar, a discussion with my team, and a strategic plan. Sometimes still a client is having trouble understanding it all and then we make arrangements for a call where I lead him or her to various websites and social media platforms to get a clearer picture.
And I genuinely enjoy all of this.
With this pandemic year, where we question everything and everyone, the unknown about the book world feels a little deeper and darker. I think more about all the things I don’t know. I question more of what I do know. And I wouldn’t be surprised if everything changed completely tomorrow.
But for now, here are some of the more common questions I’ve been asked this pandemic year. I had a little help from friends in answering them.
1. [Insert Author Name] is on [Insert National Morning Show like Good Morning America] talking about the same thing my book is about. Why didn’t they choose me and can you go back to them?
We don’t usually get feedback about why a producer went with one author over another, but the reasons can be many including: that particular author may have an already established relationship with the network/show and is called on to be their expert on that topic whenever it is in the news; the author may be more well-known and have a larger following on social media, which is definitely a factor when producers are considering guests; that author may have an affiliation with an organization that can help amplify the segment that others do not; and that author may have clips to past TV interviews that show they would be engaging and have experience on TV. Those are just some possible reasons and publicists rarely, if ever, get feedback as to why a specific author was not booked. The producers do not have the time or bandwidth to report back with that level of feedback. I don’t expect they will be covering this topic again so soon, but I will continue to follow up as is appropriate to be sure you are on their radar as an expert for future bookings around the topic.—Kathleen Carter is a book publicist and founder of Kathleen Carter Communications, a literary p.r. agency.
2. Why did [Insert Bookstagrammer or Book Blogger Name] post that negative review? Can you get them to take it down?
Although it doesn’t happen very often, a blogger will sometimes post a negative or lukewarm review of a book. In my experience, this happens if a character or situation depicted in the novel makes the reader connect negatively on a personal level. More and more we see movies and television shows proactively post trigger warnings, and unfortunately, this has not yet been adopted by the book industry. The reader may have also selected a book to read that wasn’t the right fit after seeing others review it, and then find that they could not connect with the novel.Due to the strong relationships that I have built with the blogger community, typically an open and honest discussion will happen if a reader is not enjoying the book. Sometimes all it requires is a follow up on how negative critiques of a book can change ratings on review sites and what books will work better in the future to feature on social media. As a facilitator of virtual book tours, these situations help me in understanding the types of books that a certain blogger may or may not enjoy in the future and bring me closer to my community of bloggers.—Suzanne Leopold, founder of Suzy Approved Book Tours.
3. I have a really friendly relationship on Instagram with this [Insert Book Media Professional or Book Influencer] but they didn’t include me in their monthly round-up or event—did I do something wrong?
Book influencers must diversify their lists based on genre, publisher, time of the year, etc. They simply cannot include every book or author. That doesn’t mean they won’t promote your book elsewhere or that they won’t promote your next book.—Andrea Peskind Katz, founder of Great Thoughts blog and the Great Thoughts’ Great Readers Book Salon on Facebook.
4. I support other authors on social media all the time, it was disappointing that they didn’t do the same for me during my launch. Did I do something wrong?
And I’m sorry for that, but you never really know what another person is going through. Give support because that is who you are. Don’t give support because that is who you are.
What I tell my clients: don’t ever stop wishing and hoping, but don’t set your expectations so high that this book business becomes a disappointment. Remember what your mama taught you, and prioritize etiquette. Someone is always watching.—Me