A Note About Book Publicists

It’s been a very stressful week for the publicity department. Between excerpt requests, looming fall titles, social media queues, and backlist press, my colleagues and I definitely need a staycation. There are a lot of things that I love about being a publicist. The main thing: I get to talk to people about books and bring attention to the ones that really deserve it. I have fun creating content for social media platforms. Making spreadsheets gives me a rush. Figuring out how to write effective releases and pitches is both a challenge and a joy. But, out of all of those things, there are some really really hard parts to being a publicist. Especially a book publicist.

A lot of people (including those in the industry) don’t seem to really understand what a publicist does, or they don’t appreciate it. There are numerous questions and requests that I receive on a daily basis that I have to redirect to another person or department. Publicists get criticized by many different arms of the publishing world for not doing enough, not doing things correctly, and being difficult to work with. This is probably no one’s fault specifically, but the fault of the industry as a whole for not being wholly educated on all steps of publishing a book. Being in a Master’s in Publishing program has helped me greatly understand the different parts of publishing, what they are each responsible for, and what their motives are. I think that this type of education should be more of a standard in the industry. A whole degree isn’t necessary, but education to at least understand the people who you may have to work with would be helpful.

Publicists also have to face a ton of rejection and, even worse, silence. I’m pitching books to media outlets a couple times a week, and there are a very small percentage of contacts that actually get back to me. I send out e-blasts of letters, advance copies and ARCs, follow up emails, and press releases and usually less than 10% of the pitching that I do actually results in something. There are constant rejection emails and editors saying that something isn’t quite right. I understand why. The market is saturated with too many things to write about and not enough outlets to cover them. You have to have a really standout book in order for places to be interested in talking about them.

Finally, we all have SO many titles that we work on every season. It takes finely tuned organization skills (which is great because I love spreadsheets) and, believe it or not, patience. All of these frustrating and difficult things about my job don’t make me love it less, though. Facing rejection, people not understanding my job, and busyness make me just want to work harder to reach success. The difficulties in my job give me the motivation that I need to reach my ultimate goal. All of the pros and cons aside, that’s probably the best part about my job.

[If you have any questions about what a book publicist does, feel free to ask in the comments!]

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