Friday, October 11, 2013

A major book promotion disappointment.

You might be a veteran media guest. You might have successfully done hundreds of radio, TV, print, and online media interviews as part of your book promotion campaigns. You might have wonderful media relationships, and you might have earned those friendships the honest way: through years of offering the media what it needs, of making yourself available when you're called upon to do so, and of coming through for the media with professionalism and charisma every time you've had the chance.

In other words, you can have a long and impressive history of doing everything right. And still, book promotion disappointments can happen. They can happen to anyone, at any time.

They can even happen to this book publicist and to an author who simply deserved better.

I know that no one in the media is obligated to give my authors airtime, bandwidth, or editorial space. I'm lucky to have the media's ear and to be in a position where I can ask them to listen to my story suggestions. I guard my media relationships very jealously, and if an interview doesn't always go according to plan ... well, I take responsibility for that. Was a reporter uninformed when she spoke with my author? I make a mental note to get more background material to the reporter the next time she does an interview with one of my clients. Was a radio or TV show host combative? I make a note to warn my clients about the potential to be ambushed by this host, and I always give authors the option of taking known-to-be combative interviewers off my list of media targets as we proceed with book promotion campaigns.

So I'm disinclined to ever blame my media contacts when something goes wrong. If an interview doesn't go the way that I want it to, I see it as a learning experience, and I use the experience to be better prepared the next time around. It's unusual for me to say "never again" about working with anyone in the media.

But I make exceptions to that rule, and I was motivated to rethink my relationship with a radio talk show host by a specific unfortunate event.

Here's what happened. One of my favorite clients -- in fact, one of my favorite people -- committed to staying up very late last night (or very early this morning, depending on how you look at it) and to forfeiting a good night's sleep to accommodate the host of an overnight radio talk show host's interview request. This author has done hundreds of interviews, and she is a consummate professional. She appreciates all interview opportunities, and she was glad to have another one.

The author was to call into the studio line, and her book publicist was awake -- I'd purposely set my alarm for this -- only to hear that the interview did not take place. The author emailed me to let me know that the host had cancelled the interview opportunity because he was onto a topic that was working for him, and he had spontaneously decided not to switch gears (and, potentially, sacrifice all of the enthusiastic calls he was generating). He wanted to reschedule the interview, at some point.

If he does want to reschedule, my client and I are both on notice that, as likely as not, he'll flake out again. Therefore, my best advice to this client is to cut her losses and never deal with this inconsiderate radio show host again. And this may very well be one radio talk show host who is on my short list of media people to avoid dealing with on the grounds that he is just too undependable to take chances with (unless I'm working with an author who is a night owl and doesn't mind taking a chance on being disappointed by a talk show host).

This was a good reminder for me, though. Even reputable shows (or other media outlets) can cancel interviews, with or without a good reason, at the last minute -- and, this, after an author has put aside time and made scheduling changes to take advantage of a book promotion opportunity. Cancellations don't happen often, but they can, and they do, despite meticulous planning and the best of intentions.

Don't internalize book promotion disappointments, when they happen. Just do what I have decided to do: note the person, log the event, learn from the incident, and move on.