[A little note from Kat about this post: The other day I kind of let Amazon have it because they are Twitter-phobic. I was quick and harsh to judge them, when I should have been understanding and reached out to offer my help. Maybe they just don't "get" the technological nuances of Social Media. Maybe they are just overwhelmed with their many other high-quality customer service efforts. In addition, it must be difficult for a company of Amazon's size to find the resources to put into learning and executing Social Media Strategies. So - feel free to think of this post as my apology to you, Amazon... It isn't, but feel free to think of it that way.]
Isn’t technology great?
With the touch of a button, we can reach out to almost anyone, almost anywhere. And that’s something that as book markteer (and sometimes publicist), you’d think I couldn’t be more pleased about.
And I am — in theory.
It’s when attempting to put the theory of new media marketing and publicity into practice that I occasionally run into trouble.
New Media book PR is a whole new ball game–complete with new equipment and new tools, and lacking any established rules.
As a result, people on both the pitching and receiving sides of this new game are facing all kinds of hurdles and frustrations. Even “Twitter-Happy-Go-Lucky” me has more than my share of social media mis-steps every day of my book pitching week. So, sit back and I’ll share with you a day in the average book publicist’s life.
First of all, lets get something straight. There’s this perception that being a book publicist is all about long lunches, early happy hours, and fabulous book parties – but it’s just not so. Personally, I blame those eyeball hungry sensationalists Ron Hogan and Jason Boog over at GalleyCat for posting all those festive book party pictures rather than more realistic portrayals of book PR. (Though, I suppose no one really wants to be subjected to photos of anxiety-ridden publicists stuffing books into cardboard boxes at 4:45 while the Fed Ex guy looks on disapprovingly. )
No, the sad truth of the matter is, book PR is mostly work. Sometimes it’s fun and rewarding work, but it is quite often a lot of plain old fashioned hard work. For the average book publicist, her day is spent planning and managing multiple events for multiple current authors; making sure books and people are where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be; dealing with the day to day endless and mandatory meetings about production schedules and acquisitions and budgets; and placing and returning a bazillion (yes, a bazillion — I counted) phone calls and emails.
These phone calls and emails are usually to a bazillion media contacts that may, or may not still be working at the same outlet doing the same job they were last week when she pulled her media list, but hey, that’s part of the game.
How could we forget? The game has changed. It’s all new, remember?
So, now it’s the age of the Internet, and blogs, and Facebook, and Twitter, and whatever other social networking app just sprung up while I was writing that last sentence. And now, on top of the work that was already too much to handle, your friendly neighborhood PR maven has to figure out:
- If her audience of core readers for a particular title is using Facebook or MySpace or Twitter or blogging or reading blogs; and…
- If so, who are the most influential/relevant Twitterers, or bloggers, or facebook friends, etc., etc., etc.; and…
- Just what part of her other publicity activities is she supposed to give up in order to find the time to first learn and then acutally use this new time-saving and fun new medium?
I know, I know – get out the violins, right? This is not insurmountable. This is not rocket science. And, we’re bound to get the hang of it… eventually.
But, in the interim, may I ask one little favor of you?
Could you pretty please – with sugar on top – cut us PR types a little slack while we try and figure out the future that is now? Because, we will make mistakes.
If, for example, we forget that you are only willing to be contacted via Facebook; or if we do not follow you back on Twitter right away; or if we mistakenly send you a sci-fi ARC, but you only blog about fantasy; or if we accidentally skype you and then hang up in a panic just as you are answering because we didn’t know that was what that button did — would you please not assume we did any of these things to offend you? And will you please be kind and gentle and forgiving – the way you would with an otherwise adorable and well-behaved child who has just dropped your iphone in the toilet?
Because, we’re just learning how to play this new game.