Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Odour of Vanities

Recently, one of those topics surfaced that buzz around the blogsphere like a crazed clothes moth.
Writers are advised to plunk part, if not all, of their first advance into pushing their book.
Now, it seems, the anonymous voices suggest that this goes further than pretty bookmarks, visits to every librarian and bookstore south of the Arctic Circle and e-mailing all your relatives, the kids in your Grade Four class picture, and the cop who gave you the speeding ticket.
You know, the Marketing Plan that some publishers imply is necessary for them to consider your book in the first place, the suggestion that acceptance is contingent upon your production of a Plan.
Now, there is talk of hiring professional help, a publicist.
In fact, some suggest that publishers are recommending it. A professional person to arrange those interviews, find those media slots, and push, push, push.
Like you're a football and they're a rugger coach.
In my new-found liberation of language, my reaction is acronymic, if not incredulous.
What happened to the golden rule taught to us as Miss Snark's knee?
The line that goes "It's the writing that counts?"
Why then this emphasis on the Writer, not the Book?

Radio host: I'm opening the show this morning...if 2:30 A.M is morning, all you night-owls... with an interview with Miss Emily Bracegirdle, the author of the fascinating trilogy "Sexual Hang-Ups," "Climaxes in the Closet," and "Moth Balls." And it's not about dancing.
We've constructed a special closet in the studio to lure Emily here to talk to us. It was difficult finding a closet rod strong enough, let me tell you... Miss Bracegirdle, before we cut away for our regularly scheduled fifteen minute advertisement for Acme Cleaners and our Daily Tip on Protecting Your Woolies Off-Season...let me ask you to tell our listeners, if the dark and penetrating motifs reflect your personal experiences with the dark night of the soul and how you managed to produce 900,000 words upside down..."

Excuse me, got hung up there.
What I'm saying is that who cares about some unknown, first-release writer? Readers are more inclined to get interested by an unknown, first-release Title. If they like it, they'll get to the writer later.
My wobbly point is there seems to be a trend to push more and more costs off on the writer. Some we understand. They make sense. Very good sense.
Others seem sliding in the direction of, with good intentions I've no doubt, the obnoxious pit of vanity press - where the writer pays part or all of the cost.

Bakshee, backshee, baksheesh, buckshee: spelled variously; a tip, gratuity. Near-eastern and Anglo-Indian; from about 1750. From Persian ( thence Arabic, Urdu and Turkish) word for a present. [Sometimes used now in the sense of "bribe."]
Balaclava: a full beard, circa 1856-70; the beards worn by those lucky enough to return from the Crimea.
Bald-headed hermit; the penis; "cultured" slang; late 19th -20th c.; obsolete.
Bald-rib: a thin, bony person; jocular colloquial; from 1620.


Gabriele C. said...

I'm not going to use my advance money to promote myself.

For one, I think the book is what should get promoted, and the publisher is in a better position to do that (like ads, getting reviews in the right places etc). I'm willing to have a good website, keep my blog active and promote via the net.

Book signings are a bit trickier because I don't live in an English speaking country, and I won't play for promotion travel. To combine promotion with research travel is another matter, so people in the UK will stand a chance. *grin*

No conventions. Crowds tend to make me aggressive.

Media presence - well, if it's primarily about the book(s), about history, fine. If it's about me, sorry, no.

Tsavo Leone said...

I often wonder why it is that the public at large might be interested in the author behind the prose. By extention, why would the publisher want to push an author into promoting themselves (unless the author in question happens to be something of a celebrity already, and their book is simply another in a long line of brands their name is attached to)?

Possibly my opinion here is tainted: From Bill Gates and the Pope, right down to the guy who (occasionally) delivers my mail, they're just people.

Granted, I'm not a "hard sell" kind of person. However, if a publisher is willing to invest £x in an author's work then surely they should also have factored in marketing costs. Perhaps I'm just being silly about that one? Perhaps it's more a case of "throw enough paint at the wall and some of it will stick" when it comes to what is bought and published...

However, I digress. An author should rightfully expect to be a part of the promotional machine (it's their career after all), and if they have ideas about how to market their work then all power to them. But they should not be expected to be the driving force behind the marketing of something they've already done all the really hard work on (that'll be the writing bit then)...

Savannah Jordan said...

I'm currently facing some of this with the e-pubs that I am/will be contracted with. There is only so much that a small company can do. There are SP messagboards, and promotional opportunities posted often; and the publishers are doing marketing also.

My agent seems to think it is important to sell yourself as well as your work -- one of the reasons she's gone through so much to get me to BEA.

I keep wondering if I'm that great of a catch...

Shesawriter said...

It wasn't always this way, but you're right. Writers are being asked to take on much. And this is even before a book is sold. Witness the increase of agents wanting clients with "platforms" already in place. It's more of a self promotion thing than anything else.


Bernita said...

I tend to agree with you, Gabriele.
Seen some reports come back that lots of this public appearance stuff does not appear to translate into sales - WHICH IS THE POINT!

I can see some of it after the first two or three books, Tsavo.

What's BEA, Savanna? Sorry, I'm dim about these things.

I'm afraid it's heading beyond what is reasonable, Tanya.
A platform and a marketing "plan" before one even knows if the book is salable? Before signing an agent and then a publisher? C'mon.
Starts to look like plan = $ = vanity.
I think a writer should be prepared to actively promote, but there is a limit.

Savannah Jordan said...

Book Expo America, Bernita. It's the weekend of May 19 - 21, in Washington DC. It's a book seelers converntion, mostly, with publisher reps, editors, authors, etc.

Bernita said...

Thank you, Savannah.
Now that might be useful. Judicious attendance at this sort of thing occasionally might well be worth while.
E-pubs seem to have no problem surrendering rights to print publishers from what I've read and that gives you opportunity in a useful way.
Sounds like your agent is thinking ahead.

R.J. Baker said...

It comes down to "branding". Which is what any successful business strives for.

In order to become a brand there must be an identifiable produst and pitch person, i.e the author.

It all comes down to selling books. That's what the author and publisher wants. Earnout leads to more books published.

If properly spent(and this is the tricky part) promo money is an investment in yourself. Your career. If wisely spent, I think it is a good investment.

Bernita said...

Why does "branding" always make me want to go check my cheeks in the mirror?

Rick said...

I can understand why publishers like the idea of promoting the author, because if they can turn the author into a celebrity, that is where the big bux are.

And there are some kinds of books where the whole selling point is that the book is supposedly real - that is what the whole Frey kerfuffle was all about. Here was a book that was peddled as a novel and turned down everywhere. Then it was peddled as a "memoir," sold for beaucoup, and Frey went on Oprah.

Obviously this wasn't about the writing, or it would have been sellable as a novel - it was all about Frey's persona.

For writers like most of us, this is simply not an issue. Even the Oprah crowd isn't gonna believe that Bernita went back to the 12th century, and they sure as hell aren't gonna believe that I was ever Queen of Lyonesse. No one is gonna buy our first books because of us.

We become marketable commodities only if our books are already successful, so our only concern is selling our books. And, as Gabriele sort of implied, for us the Web is a godsend, because it does allow us to jump up and down waving to the sorts of people most likely to buy our books.

For example, there is a group of people out there - not a big one, but an identifiable one - who are suckers for anything to do with Good Queen Bess, Mary Queen of Scots, Bluff Hal and his wives, etc. They may not haunt the fantasy shelves, because none of those had much to do with dragons. But I'll certainly tailor my website and blog to try and draw them in, because if they have a bad enough jones for Renaissance queens, they might even settle for a fake one.

Sandra Ruttan said...

A lot of small publishers are asking for marketing plans now when you submit your work.

Frankly, I think the internet is as good a marketing tool as any, if not better than most. The reality is I never go talk to an author I don't know when sitting in chapters at a desk looking bored.

I'll be investing heavily in promotion, but more from a broader business perspective. I went to Harrogate last year and will return this year, and it's done HUGE things for me career-wise. I'm adding BoucherCon this year.

But I've seen the pay-off, for sure, so I'm willing to do that.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I ain't the voice of experience, since I'm not published yet ~she smiles hopefully~...but what I've gleaned from the myriad of books that I've read, including Tiger Marketing, and then Guerilla Marketing....hmmm, I wonder why the animal names?

I digress! Publishing is such a tight market, especially for unknowns, that houses don't want to spend their thin advertising budgets on unproven commodities.

The majority of new authors, historically never even earn out the initial advance, let alone justify large advertising budgets.

So therefore if you really want your name and your book name out there, you have to invest the time, and sometimes your own money.

I think (mind you, I'm not there yet)the reason for asking for a marketing plan is to see how committed you are to your project.

Example: Publisher has one slot left for the quarter production. Three good, first-time novels, all equally salable. Publisher asks for marketting plan...only one person turns in a plan that looks like they are willing to get out there, press the flesh and spread the word themselves....

Which one do do think the Publisher is going choose as the better bet?

Like I said, this is only my opinion, 'cause I ain't there yet....LOL

Kirsten said...

Writers are advised to plunk part, if not all, of their first advance into pushing their book.

Yeah, unfortunately, writing books has a lot in common with going into business for yourself. Agents and publishers are business partners, not employers . . . that said, I've seen advice to hire your own publicist here & there for years, and pretty much assumed that if you can manage it, it's a good idea.

Gabriele C. said...

The problem with marketing the author rather than the product is that they would expect you to turn yourself into a product. Lose some 10-12 pounds, do something about the hair, wear a blouse that shows off the fact there are two nice things hiding under it and, for your author pics, pose in a chick in chainmail bikini and a big sword. Hint at that you've had the sex you describe even if it's faaar from the truth. Date an actor, or fake dating him. Things like that. It's not yet fully as bad but if writers give in too those tendencies, it might happen one day.

And I so would not want to be at Oprah. She's exactly the part of the American culture I want nothing to do with.

Gabriele C. said...

Though I admit, dating Sean Bean would not be such a horrible idea. ;)

Savannah Jordan said...

The BEA trip is to market the paranormal romance novel/series that she's been representing for me; not for the works already sold. Although, my agent is much more interested, at current moment, in pimping me/my erotica than the more standard fair that I have (even though that has a 'romantica' flair to it).

Dark and erotic is on the upswing. Who knew I'd actually fit a trend??

Bernita said...

Exactly, Rick and Sandra, a lot can be done via internet - historical groups, mystery lovers groups, the made-to-order net works. The writer, sometimes in these cases, is substantially less important than the genre or the topic.
I'm wondering how to tap into the genealogical angle, there are thousands of Conyers' descendants, for example, and I deal with a legitimate myth, not one made up out of a fevered imagination.

I can see it, Kirsten, for a multi-published author with three books out there, or a writer with a series that has some recognition, but not for the first time writer.

I can see that, too, Bonnie, after they've considered the book for acquisition and expressed interest. It's this prelim business that seems to be putting the cart not only before the horse, but five miles down the road.

alexandra said...

OMG! I nearly wet myself I was laughing so hard. I had to stop and go, you know, just in case. Dang but this blog needs a parental sticker!

And anyone, if the Publisher isn't marketing your book, then you're with the wrong publisher. But. Marketing was why I left publishing I saw this happening back in the late 80s, and the last ten years has seen a steady decline in publishing first timers.

If you want publishing? Go online and publish on your blog. It's going to be cheaper via Blogspot as that's what's coming, in America at least, in the next 5-10 years.

Oh, cynical thy name is Alex. Okay, off my soapbox. Goes away quietly to write some more and find a cloth to clean my keyboard. Again.

Erik Ivan James said...

In my opinion, Kirsten has come very close by saying; "....writing books has a lot in common with going into business for yourself. Agents and publishers are business partners, not employers...."

I believe one important factor has become the mitigating of financial risk by the publisher in particular. As R.J. Baker passed on to us upon his return from the recent conference in Chicago, the printed publishing industry does not have a good handle on where the market is headed----the internet being a primary wild card in the market deck.

Businesses are in business for one and only one reason, to make money and most importantly, profit. If a 'for profit' business is not able to generate ongoing profits it will not be long in business. In addition, relationships with most authors are likely transactional meaning the publisher will have only one (or just a few), opportunities to generate profit from the vast majority of authors. Consequently, with the future of the market turmoil the industry seems to be in, new competitive pressures by the internet and a potentially reducing number of people who will buy books instead of getting their entertainment from other sources, it makes good business sense for publishers to spread costs out over as broad a base as possible.

Carla said...

"Even the Oprah crowd isn't gonna believe that Bernita went back to the 12th century, and they sure as hell aren't gonna believe that I was ever Queen of Lyonesse."

Really? Are you sure they won't believe that?

Bernita: aren't there genealogy societies and family history societies that have websites and newsletters and could be emailed?

I think Rick has the heart of it; celebrity authors sell millions, therefore make the author a celebrity and their books will also sell millions. Yeah, right.

Kirsten said...

I can see it, Kirsten, for a multi-published author with three books out there, or a writer with a series that has some recognition, but not for the first time writer.

Because you see it as a waste of the first-timer's money, Bernita?

Bernita said...

You left me wondering, "WadidIsay? WadidIsay," Alex.
Warning: Don't read Bonnie or Bardawill, unless prepared.
Anyway, happy to assist with the keyboard.
You should clean it more often, you know.
Some hi-jinks by publishers might make blog pub a self-filling prophesy.

Well put, Erik.
We know why they're off-loading, I'm just concerned where it seems to be heading.And there's something suspiciously circular about some of the rationale.
I doubt if most writers are the sort to want to sit on their wee behinds and do nothing to promote their books, happy to co-ordinate and supplement, but not to the point where they might as well hire a printer and go on the road alone.

Yes, Carla, there are. The thing is to figure out how not to sound like spam, I guess.
Can you figure out how Rick and I could convince readers that I time-travelled and Rick was the Queen's lover?

Bernita said...

Yes, Kirsten, I do. Publicists that is. What's there to publicize? The new writer doesn't have much usually except their book.
Better bang for the buck elsewhere, in my opinion.

Gabriele C. said...

Bernita, I bet there would be some people who'd believe it.

Remember the Hitler Diary fake? A bunch of journalists and even historians fell for it. Though there were so many incongruities that it screamed fake louder than the Italians after their guy won the 1500 m skate race.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

LOL...the bottom line for me book is going to become "my business". I will do everything that will help to promote my business!

But yanno, I think I'd look kinda' creepy in a chainmail bikini and a sword....ROFLOL...but thanks for the visual Gabriel...word pictures is what it's all about.

LOL...thanks, Bernita...I did sorta get carried away with the bathroom stall post, didn't I!LOL

Rick said...

Gabriele - You can put your mind at ease: Oprah is never going to invite you onto her show, or plug your book. Her demographic doesn't know that the Roman Empire ever existed, or care.

My guess is that for writers in our zone, having a marketing plan is a very good idea, but that doesn't mean plunking down the advance to hire a publicist. It means knowing who your possible target markets are, and having some thought-out ideas of how to reach them - like what Carla said about genealogy societies.

We are marketing a niche product, and not many publicists are going to have any clue about how to reach people interested in the Roman Empire or the Middle Ages, etc. But it is the sort of thing we can and should think about.

Breaking in is always going to be a challenge, but still the fact is that the industry needs a steady flow of new "content." Every first novel is really a sort of test marketing - the publisher spends not much money, but throws it out there to see if it might stick. So we have to do what we can to make sure that it does.

Gabriele C. said...

Sure, I'll do what I can to promote the book, but that won't be much, I'm afraid. A nice website, some giveaways on my blog, sending the book to reviewers that are not named Harriet Klausner (though I suppose a publisher stands a better chance with some of these), do signings as long as they don't cost me a fortune to get there. I also won't mind participating in a History Channel report The Historical Facts behind "Storm over Hadrian's Wall" but that's all about the book, not me, with some 5-6 kilo overweight, a - deceased - Nazi grandfather, and a faible for British upper class life style. :-)

Dennie McDonald said...

From my point of view... with two e-pubs coming out... like you could keep me quiet about it! It is a product and I am gonna tell every person I meet about it and try to sell it. I have begun the self-promo process, have pens, working on other stuff - it's all tax deductable. I am new to the business, so maybe my naivity helps me push the product so to speak.

Dennie McDonald said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernita said...

Sure, Gabriele, but those people who would believe time-travel are usually too busy buying tin-foil to buy books...oh wait, the alien abductions...maybe you're right...

A coffee snorter, for sure, Bonnie!

Very well put, Rick, hook up with some re-enactors or something - and not follow last year's over-saturated and blah promotion tricks to induce interest either.

I think you'd be a hit, Gabriele.I do.

Bernita said...

Of course, Dennie,I'm not suggesting or implying that a writer shouldn't contribute in any way they can to the marketing of their work.
Nor is anyone here.
The trend, however, may ultimately be penny wise and pound foolish for some publishers.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Dennie said, "I have begun the self-promo process, have pens, working on other stuff - it's all tax deductable. I am new to the business, so maybe my naivity helps me push the product so to speak."

You know, this raises a good point, for me, about why I'm going to two of the biggie conventions in my field. I heard a report back from Bouchercon a couple years ago that addressed the relative effectiveness of different marketing items. One guy had drink coasters for his books, others bookmarks, others pens, others pins.

The conclusions the panel made about what items were and were not effective was intriguing. Though it was just their opinion, and one of the reasons I'll go to B'Con, besides getting to hang out with a bunch of my internet writing pals, is to see for myself what I think works.

I'm still planning on the chest-level-text t-shirts though. Maybe even get the name stitched across the backside of my jeans...

Dennie McDonald said...

Sandra - you have the right idea - LOL unfortuantely the confernces that I would attend are all women - darn the luck!

I know Bernita - I just meant that I don't know anything to compare any of this too, the friends that I have that have been published really haven't said much - other than the one that is e-pubbed and she sent me this whole long list on who to cpntact and whatg to do - my head is still spinning.

and I got the pens 'cause I am a pen nut and well I couldn't not get them - LOL!

Carla said...

"The thing is to figure out how not to sound like spam, I guess." I should think that if you write a single, concise, carefully worded, polite press-release-type email saying what your book is, where it can be obtained, and why their members might be interested, and send it to the main contact for each society with the suggestion that they may wish to put it in their next newsletter or on their website, that would be seen as an expression of interest in their society, not as spam. You could perhaps make contact with them ahead of time if you have specific research questions they could help you with - people usually love to be asked for their opinion on a subject they're interested in, as long as it's a specific question and not a vague 'tell me all you know about....' question. Then you already have a relationship with them long before you're trying to send out publicity emails.

"Can you figure out how Rick and I could convince readers that I time-travelled and Rick was the Queen's lover?" Well, if Manda Scott can convince people that she can teach courses on shamanic dreaming, anything is surely possible.

Bernita said...

Good advice, Carla, thank you.

Probably what may work in one genre might not in another, Dennie, but by asking you're certainly ahead of the game.

I like that. Can we see a picture, Sandra?

And Bardawill has another up. You know, they sound so real...

Sandra Ruttan said...

When I get them made up!

Dennie, what do you write? There's a forum group I belong to now called Murder Must Advertise - the whole point is mystery writers sharing tips on promotion and such. Not all of it pertains exclusively to mystery writers and you get to hear from those who've 'gone before you'.

Surely there must be something similar for your area?

Dennie McDonald said...

Sandra - I am a romance writer - I belong to the national chapter and the local one and three online ... I really need to start looking into ones like you're talking about

MissWrite said...

Miss Snark's 'its the writing that counts' still holds true. That's what gets you the sale...

...after the sale, it's the selling that counts.

It's a different market now than it was 10, 20, and definately 50 years ago.

50 years ago, reading WAS the main form of entertainment. There were the picture shows, but that was a real treat, and a good book at night was the family entertainment.

20 years ago, there was tv, (sparse though it was), and radio... but a good book was still a great way to entertain yourself after a long day of work.

10 years ago... enter cable, satatlite, and video tv... wow, who has time for books.

Now...? It thrills me no end when I'm reading a book, or typing at work and someone comments about how they love to read...'s a sad rarity anymore. Those of us who do love to read don't always realize how rare it is, or how all-encompasing the competition is.

It makes me nearly want to wet my pants when it's a young person who makes the 'love to read' comment. (Had it happen a few weeks ago at work, I happened to be reading a book by an author this young man just loved, and thought was awesome! Glory be, I wanted to jump the counter and hug him. LOL)

Use to be a lot of differences, but the publishers not pushing the books that aren't sure things is only a small part of it.

The big part is how hard it is to get ANYONE to buy your book, especially if you don't have 'a name'.

So yes... marketing is part of being an author.

I'll admit it's a sucky part of it, but, a necessary evil.

MissWrite said...

Oh, and Gabriele... not living in a country really condusive to booksigning... don't sweat it. Booksigning for the large part is very ineffective anymore.

People are just not that impressed.

In years gone by, meeting a 'real live author' was a great thrill. In some rare cases it still is, but it's not the line up by the droves thing anymore unless you're JK, King, or whatever name is hip at the time.

(However, being a 'real live author' can get you a few free lunches in your hometown... at least it has me... lol, and lots of table stopping at the restaurant you happen to be at.)

Ric said...

See what happens when I wander away from the computer for the afternoon?

Bonnie talking about chain mail bikinis and Sandra talking about stratigically placed lettering on T-Shirts and Jeans.

Publicity was the topic. What works to sell books? I've been in advertising 20 years and would be hard pressed to help you guys answer the question.

though I would definitely read the title of a book printed on a wet T-shirt over a chain mail bikini top.

Probably remember the title, too.

MissWrite said...

Dang Ric, I'm afraid that wouldn't work for me.. I don't write horror.

Anyone seeing me in a wet t-shirt (title or no title) would run screaming into the night... I promise.

Lisa Hunter said...

I used to be a publicist (though for museums, not books), and I always found that the best promotional successes were the ones that did NOT cost a lot of money.

Media attention -- feature stories in newspapers or magazines -- costs almost nothing. Don't believe the "consultants" who want to charge you a lot of money for a fancy media kit. Those go right in the garbage. All you really need to do is write to an editor and tell him why you have a story his readers would like. To be pertinent to readers, it needs to have a hook: a local author, local setting, subject matter that interests the readers, etc.

Let's use Gabriele's book as an example. If I were promoting it, I'd go to all the obvious publications first (history-enthusiast magazines for reviews, your alumni magazine and hometown newspaper for a profile, etc.). Then I'd find lists of Medieval fairs or historical reinactments, and email all the local newspapers radio stations for each event. Offer your expertise in helping them write about the event. Those article won't be about your book, but will quote you as "Gabriele, author of ____." Every medieval enthusiast who's been to the event will read the article (natch) and learn about your book (and think that you're a big authority because you were in the paper.

Okay, this is getting too long for a comments post, but you get the idea.

Bernita said...

Never such as thing as "too long a post" on this blog, Lisa - especially one as helpful as that. Thank you.

We know you like boobs, Ric - you're male.

Tami, what you need is that one that says "Stop staring at my tits". (Sorry, that one still cracks me up whenever I think of it.)
Have heard that too, about book signings.

For The Trees said...

I've stopped fighting. I read blogs and articles and interviews about how hard it is to get published, especially the first time, and how many hundred rejection slips you're gonna get, and how you're supposed to do all the promoting yourself, then the reality: the books aren't going to "sell through." So why be a one-shot wonder?

I went POD at It's free, which is me because I'm on disability and the checks are small. And I know about publishing, and what I want.

That's fine, for printed copies. I'm building a website to promote the books - both printed and ebooks - because I think the web is where the future of publishing lies. I am watching the publishing industry writhe in the throes of agony of a dying/changing field, and how they're pushing pushing pushing more of the traditional business services of a publishing house onto the writer. That's not very conducive to more writing - especially GOOD writing. Read Joe Konrath's blog to see what I mean - he's ALWAYS at work.

I have a life. If I can get my stories out to people without sacrificing my life, fine. If not, I'm not gonna beat my brains out by spending tons of money in postage and time trying to get some agent to tell me they love my cross-genres stories. And then get published - oh, the lottery of getting published! - and be a one-hit wonder who's remaindered almost immediately.

Forget it. There are way too many articles and blogs saying that internet publishing is where it's at. I think I'm gonna stay right where I am and have a life, AND write.

The key to selling on the net is having enough tags for the search engines to lock on to.

I tend to keep reading the bumper sticker I've thumbtacked on the wall over my computer:

The only thing that remains the same - forever - is Change.

Thanks for reading this mini-blog.

Bernita said...

M'dear, thank you for your input.
Glad you've found a method that satisfies. I do know Lulu is well-spoken of for those who choose that route.
It's a very confusing and contradictory world, to be sure.

S. W. Vaughn said...

Hey Bernita,

Great blog -- surfed over from Miss S to find it. Just wanted to comment on this excellent and so-true post of yours:

I work as a copywriter for Radio-TV Interview Report Magazine. Our mission is to help our clients, who are almost universally authors, gain media exposure through radio and television interviews. Talk show producers read RTIR to find guests to fill in the many, many slots they need to cover on their respective shows.

We rarely write ads for novelists. In fact, the only one I can recall ever seeing an ad in RTIR for was Stephen King. The headlines we write usually run thus: "Is Spanking Child Abuse? This Expert Says No" or "Former Stylist to the Stars Helps Your Listeners Get What They Really Want." They are written to scream "pay attention to me! I'm interesting! I can entertain your audience!"

King's headline was a bit more succint: "Interview Stephen King"

Unfortunately for us novelists, there is a HUGE difference between what publishers and agents want to see in a book (a damned good story) and what the media wants to see in a book (something that will make thousands--or millions--of people watch their show or tune in to their radio program). That is why publishers love authors who have that mystical thing called a "platform." Platforms get media attention, and media attention sells books.

Don't blame the poor, hapless editors and agents who really only want to get great stories out on the shelves. Blame the media. They're a whole different animal.

I'll be popping over to your blog more often. Great posts -- and best of luck to you. Write on!


Bernita said...

Nice to see you, S.W., and I hope you will be back. Your perspective and experience would add a lot!