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Dear Publisher: A Publicist’s Cry for Help

I just got off the phone with a friend of mine, super talented publicist gal who works at another house. They’ve recently had some cut backs (I get it, who hasn’t) and they are now down to two publicity people for all of their books. My friend is now managing 100 titles. When she said that I thought my head would explode.

So, look, I get that we’re all downsizing, rightsizing, upsizing, whatever. But we lament the fact that books aren’t selling yet we reduce our talented marketing staff and then complain some more. Am I the only one who is confused by this?

Here’s the deal: if you want more sales, we need more time and more staff to help you get more attention for these books. We can’t be productive or creative if we’re pushed to the wall. And, further, we scream that we want better titles, better authors and then we take these precious books and we toss them into the wasteland of generic pitches and sub-standard programs. Look, if you don’t really want to market your authors then fine, get rid of your marketing departments and just tell the authors: “Sorry, you’re totally on your own.” But don’t promise them a marketing team and then deliver them a publicist who is one email away from a nervous breakdown.

I often cite author failings on this blog and don’t take publishers to task as often as perhaps I should. I guess I figure it this way, who’s gonna listen to me? I am, after all, just a publicist. We are often overlooked, under appreciated and under paid. We do this work because we love books, we love authors and we love helping them build their market. We can’t do that if we are managing a hundred different campaigns. My friend also told me that last week in their sales meeting she got two books confused (which is always horrifying in a sales meeting) and this was before they upped her author count to one hundred.

Publishers if any of you are reading take note. We love our work, we just want less of it. If you want better sales, take better care of your marketing team. I know most of the other teams in this industry and they are, by far, the gold standard of excellence. We deserve better.

I need to keep this post short because I’m off to help my friend who is probably rocking in the corner.