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Thursday, June 13, 2013

PUBLICISTS, PART TWO: CAN A WRITER WORK WITH TWO PUBLICISTS AT THE SAME TIME? Guest Post by Rachel Sentes

THIS GUEST POST IS PART TWO of Rachel Sentes's posts on publicity and what publicists can do for an author. Can a writer work with two publicists at the same time? I can see how this might be an issue if a publisher dedicates one or more of their staff to help the writer publicize their book, or if the writer is working with a publisher and an outside agent, or if the writer is utilizing two different publicists to share the promotional workload. This is what Rachel has to say about it:

Can you work with two publicists at a time? For the most part, yes. But each publicist must be very clear in defining their role and the client's role in the booking process. I’ve worked alongside all kinds of publicists, and working in tandem can be very beneficial. We aren’t in competition, we collaborate to get our client results. And I must admit, working with another can spur you on to see how fast you can garner media for your client. Both publicists will share their lists so that all bases are covered. If you plan to do this, get your publicists together as soon as possible so they can establish ground rules as to who is doing what. 

The best way to choose a publicist is to do your research to see what kinds of books they represent, then to contact them to see if they will answer whatever questions you might have. Ask for referrals and spend some time determining if they are a good fit. 

What’s in it for me? This will be one of the first questions a member of the media will ask you or your publicist(s) when determining if they want to give you air time for an interview. Never forget: their job is to garner ratings for their station and increase readership for their newspaper - not to help you. They'll want to know if what you're offering will inspire, entertain, or help their audience. They aren’t interested in how long it took you to write your book, or why you wrote it. Instead, they'll want to know how your book connects to current trends, headlines, or newsworthy topics. No one (except for breaking news items) is interviewed on television by accident. Interviewees are there as a result of someone behind the scenes making countless phone calls and e-mail pitches to convince producers and editors that their client is the best fit for what they need. That’s what good publicists do.

The media is important because they provide a direct line to an audience who will purchase your book and value the message you are offering. A publicist will take apart your book to see what trends (however soft they may seem) can be turned into opportunities to garner interviews and reviews. She will look for strengths in themes and plot, but more importantly, she'll look for that common denominator with which the public can identify. Having a publicist is beneficial because she won't have the same personal connection with your book as you do. She can distance herself from the material. This is similar to self-editing. Anyone can edit their book, but the really well-written ones benefit from a professional editor who isn't close to the material. 

While publicists might identify with the ideas and experiences and qualities of a book, (and it’s important for them to like your book and your writing), overall, they are only thinking about why the content matters to others. And this may end up becoming a very different angle or focus than what the author thinks it is. It’s this objectivity that makes hiring publicists so valuable. For example, I recently started working on a book of fiction that features a young twenty-two year old protagonist in the oil and gas industry who talks about that lifestyle and its pitfalls, plus what solutions might address those issues.The most obvious angle was one that appealed to young men (and others) in the oil and gas industry. This was a good angle. But the actual hook that interested the media was the appeal the book would have for parents with offspring in the industry who aren't aware of its darker side when looking for a decent job. This was a market that didn’t occur to the author, but it was the one that garnered interest. The book is currently being targeted to parents. Fear and desire are the two top emotions that garner interviews.

To wrap this post, if you're doing your own publicity, or hiring others to help you, always think of what’s in it for the media and their target audience. If you do, you’ll get better results.

Rachel's Bio: Rachel Sentes is a professional writer and full-time publicist/CEO of gal-friday publicity, based in Vancouver, B.C. Her clients include actors, sports figures, publishers, authors, top tier businesses and dog rescue associations. She specializes in building publicity platforms and garnering media bookings for authors,helping them negotiate their way through the ever-changing maze of the publishing world. Rachel has booked clients on CNN, CTV National, BNN, The Seattle Times, Global, Shaw, City TV, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, NewsTalk 1010, TSN, Bloomberg Radio and The Vancouver Sun, to name a few. 

(Thanks again, Rachel!)

Next Post: Publicists, Part Three:What 'Exactly' Can a Publicist Do For Me, and How Much Will It Cost?

Stay tuned.

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