Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lost book promotion opportunity

Yesterday, one of my clients nearly lost a book promotion opportunity. I'd set up a radio interview for the author with the producer. It was to be the author's first radio interview ever -- not only for this book promotion campaign. So I was eager to hear the interview and listened to the radio show online as it streamed live.

The host didn't promote the interview, but I wasn't terribly concerned. The producer had just confirmed the interview the day before, and the author had the studio line as a backup in case anything went wrong.

A few minutes after the radio interview was to take place, the author called me to let me know the producer hadn't called her. "Why are you calling me," I wanted to know. "Why aren't you calling the backup line that I gave you?" The author said, "Oh, is that what you meant by 'backup line?' I thought you meant that was the line I'd call if there was static during the interview and we had to find a different phone line." (I'm still puzzling over the author's reasoning.)

The author called the studio line and hooked up with an apologetic radio show host who said the producer had never put the information about the interview on her calendar, and she knew nothing about the book or the author or the topic. However, the radio show host felt so guilty that she agreed to do the interview immediately, and the author got about 2 minutes of air time (instead of the 6 to 8 minutes she'd been promised by the radio show producer).

Lesson learned. As a book publicist, I sometimes assume that authors will ask for clarification about anything they don't understand about any instructions that I provide for media interviews. However, not every author is a veteran of book promotion campaigns, and some authors need a bit more hand-holding than others. The takeaway, for me, is that I will spell everything out to authors at the start of book promotion campaigns, and if I'm explaining too much, then I will wait for my clients to tell me so.

What could have been a wonderful book promotion opportunity for this author turned into a truncated, brief radio appearance because of a misunderstanding. I take responsibility for that, and I will work hard to ensure that, going forward, clients don't miss book promotion opportunities (or find their book promotion opportunities are truncated) because of their lack of understanding the book promotion process.

And, yes, scheduling mishaps and missed phoned calls are a recurring occurrence with book promotion campaigns. That's one of the things about media interviews that you can nearly always count on: somewhere, somehow, a miscommunication will occur. Have a backup plan! That's my new motto.