Friday, February 17, 2012

A book promotion specialist's tools

Like all professionals, a book promotion specialist has her tools of the trade. One of the most important is the relationship she builds with each and every one of her media contacts.

The identity of those TV and radio producers, magazine editors and writers, and newspaper editors and journalists, bloggers, and other media decision makers are a proprietary part of a book promotion specialist's property. But those names and the contact information behind those names are only a piece of what book publicists offer. The rest is the credibility the book publicist brings to each encounter she has with a producer, writer, editor, and journalist. A book publicist stakes her reputation on every author she represents; her association with a book is an explicit endorsement for that book. An author who would like to hire me "only" to send his or her press release, on my letterhead, to my media contacts pays full freight. If I get behind a book, then the author benefits from my reputation, and that's what I offer: my reputation, my book promotion skills, my approach to book promotion, my creativity in planning book promotion strategies, and the media contacts who help me turn unknown authors into experts with a platform.

This is how I see a book publicist's offerings, and it would surprise me to know there's another perspective -- but, apparently, there is. A publicist with whom I have a passing familiarity left a message on my answering machine after hours. When I retrieved the message, I heard a request for the name of the producer I'd worked with to book myself on a segment of "The Rachael Ray Show" to promote my book, 101 Recipes for Microwave Mug Cakes (BPT Press).

I was bewildered by the request for a number of reasons including the following:

1. The identity of, and contact information for, the producer I worked with at "The Rachael Ray Show" and every other media outlet I contact was, is, and will remain my business, and nobody else's until such time as I decide to sell my book promotion firm. Does that sound selfish? Well, okay. But book promotion is my livelihood, and to compromise my intellectual property would be self-sabotage, and that's something in which I would not engage any more than I would consider sabotaging a colleague or a competitor's business.

2. I appeared on "The Rachael Ray Show" at the end of 2009. Why would a publicist presume that the producer with whom I worked is still working at that TV show?

3. The names of, and contact information for, producers at every national TV show you can name is available to people who are willing to a) hunt for it (I've written an article about how to get this information -- click here to read it) or b) pay for it. I'd be chagrined to learn that a publicist lacked access to the contact information for a major national TV show. In fact, it doesn't make sense that a publicist would lack that information or wouldn't know how to get it. And, as Judge Judy likes to say, if something doesn't make sense, then it isn't true. Which leads me to the worst conclusion of all.

I believe this publicist wanted to use my name, and my reputation, to contact the producer of "The Rachael Ray Show" without 1) being up-front about the fact that he wanted to do so and 2) without giving me the benefit of knowing anything about the book project on which he was working. Evidently, offering me payment for this information (which I couldn't accept for the reasons I've already outlined) was not a part of the equation.

A book promotion specialist has her tools, and this is how a book promotion specialist stays in business. This is what a book promotion specialist has to offer. If another publicist places so little value on those tools that he or she would blithely request the information, to do with just as he or she pleased, then I call that an attempt at theft.

Yes, there is a Recession going on. Maybe the publicist who tried to take from me a piece of my property and to "borrow" my reputation has fallen up against hard times. But I fear that the publicist in question isn't only facing a financial challenge. I am deeply concerned this individual has declared moral bankruptcy as well.

To the publicist in question: If you happen to read this blog entry, no. I will not return your phone call. And I can't imagine why you left me the message in the first place if you consider yourself a person of honor.