Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Inside Scoop: How to Know When a Publicist Just Isn't That Into You

From publicist extraordinaire Darcie Rowan, McAllister Rowan Communications Group:

The relationship between a publicist and author is a lot like a marriage. You meet, you date, you fall in love, marry, and live happily ever after – or not! Often, an author will call just one publicist and decide on the spot to hire them without seeking other proposals or checking any references. This is like proposing to your blind date before you've met. We’ve said before that authors should approach hiring a publicist as a savvy, informed consumer. So with apologies to David Letterman, here are...

The Top 10 Signs a Publicist May NOT be Right for You

10) If a publicist takes more than a day to return your call or email inquiry, chances are she [or he, but we'll use "she" from now on] isn’t eager to speak with you. Or worse, is too busy to speak with you.

9) If she can't supply you with at least three references to talk with, you should stop and wonder why. Maybe she doesn’t have any clients that liked their campaign results?

8) If your publicist-to-be sounds like she doesn’t know or understand your genre, doesn’t have any knowledge of media in that area, or tells you that “relationships with the media don’t mean anything,” chances are she won’t know enough about your subject to do the best job for you. Move on, and find a publicist who is excited and thrilled to talk with you about your subject matter.

7) If your “intended” won’t offer a written proposal that outlines her vision and publicity plan for your book, you should stop and wonder why.

6) On the flip side, if a publicist offers to submit a proposal without actually seeing a copy of your manuscript, or shoots a proposal off within an hour of receiving it, chances are really good that you're looking at a boilerplate, “insert name here,” proposal that she uses for everyone and everything. A historical novel shouldn’t have the same PR campaign as a diet book.

5) If the “love of your life” PR pro doesn’t ask: "What prompted you to write this book? What is your publisher’s PR department doing for it?" and "What are your PR expectations?" she is not asking the right questions. And if she's not asking YOU the right questions, how is she ever going to come up with the right answers when PITCHING you to media?

4) If the publicist shows you sample materials/case studies with frequent misspellings, typos and severe grammatical errors, just imagine what your press release will look like! These bad habits will continue throughout the relationship.

3) If your "sweetie" is eager to work on your account without a written contract that outlines what you should expect from the campaign, be very careful. If you end up hating this relationship, you will have almost no legal recourse.

2) If you are told while you’re “dating” that you will definitely be on certain shows, but your contract doesn’t have any of that information, SPEAK UP NOW. Chances are the publicist only told you what you wanted to hear – not what is realistic!

And the #1 sign that your publicist may not be “The One”:

If she tells you, “Absolutely, your book will definitely be on Oprah.” Not only should she be avoided, she should probably be committed. Because she's either lying to you or to herself.

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