Friday, August 15, 2008

The Soul of Indiscretion

Good thing I'd already downed my morning tub o' tea, else I would have sprayed it all over my laptop yesterday when I read the GalleyCat post, The Lace Reader's Dirty Linen. Seems that indie publicist Jocelyn Kelley of Kelley & Hall felt dissed by former client Brunonia "Sandy" Barry, whose self-published novel THE LACE READER, which K&H worked on, went on to get a $2.4 million advance from Morrow and is now a bestseller. (I've yet to read the copy that I picked up at the BEA Editor Buzz Forum. One of these days...)

So how did Kelley assuage her hurt feelings? Not in the honorable way: dishing with other publishing industry insiders late at night over a third (or sixth) round in a dark corner of a noisy bar. Instead, she wrote a lengthy tirade against Barry, which she sent to GalleyCat and at least one other NYC media outlet. (A reporter who covers publishing told me he'd gotten it too, and found it "creepy.")

Kelley ended her diatribe:
We have received absolutely no recognition from Sandy, her husband Gary, William Morrow or any of the news outlets who have covered this extraordinary situation. Why are the publicists the "dirty little invisible secret" in a books' success?
My first response was "OUCH!!!" which is how I began my comment on GalleyCat. I also wrote:
Going public with grievances--however justified--about a client is not the way to:
1) receive grateful acknowledgements from said cllent;
2) attract more clients.
Publicists may often be unsung heroes (I tell my clients to praise and thank theirs lavishly), but they are better described as the sparkly secret--or better yet, hidden weapon--in a book's success.
My second response was, "WHAT was she thinking?!" As one GalleyCat commenter wrote:
For all the work Kelley has done, she now sounds like a petulant dweeb. She's also shown potential clients that she can harness the power of the media to complain about them. Tsk...tsk.
My sentiments exactly. To mix and belabor metaphors, that dirty linen is going to bite Kelley in the ass, shoot her in the foot and then burn some bridges. HarperCollins won't be recommending Kelley & Hall to any of their authors, and neither will I.


Blair said...

Fascinating, Bella! I agree with you, hard to fathom a publicist indulging in something that presents her in such a poor light. Feeling hurt and unacknowledged--understandable, up to a point. But even there, some of her grievances make no sense. (Like it's underhanded for an author to allow her publisher to handle publicity??) Also illuminating to read even more about Barry's path to publication. Even if she and her husband balked at sending 500 galleys to indie bookstores across the country, it's clear they were able to commit significant resources to make the book a success. It obviously paid off for them. (Still trying to get started on actually reading the book!)

Mr. Obie Joe said...

Plus, being the sparkly secret in an author's success allows to be quiet when something does not quite work.

Kelley got the best thing a publicist can ask for: a mention of a super-successful book on K&H's web site, and any other promotional material.

So, how was NYC and the conference?

Mr. Obie Joe said...

Yipes. Just saw the report below. Wow. Pinch-hitting with swerve!

Katie Alender said...

Oh, goodness! How counterintuitive.

Susanne Sanstra said...

I am a letter writing complainer, much like Kelley. Too bad she didn't realize none of what she had to say would actually affect The Lace Reader, or Barry. Looks like she really only hurt herself.

Sometimes when served an injustice it's better to just eat politely.