“A public relations professional is part business manager, part sociologist, part cheerleader, and part confessor, and part pit bull.” Lucas Westcoat, Waggener Edstrom, Seattle, WA
Two years ago, I began discussions with agent Janet Grant regarding what was to become a first in CBA: an exclusive in-house publicist position at a major literary agency. We, along with agent Wendy Lawton, covered the general points and finer details of the arrangement then agreed to pray about what was best. Some months later, we came together in an agreement that plunged me into the most exciting, challenging, and rewarding season in my life. I’ve been privileged to work exclusively with fabulous authors and agents, and I now count as valued friends some of the best and brightest journalists working in media today. All of this I attribute to my association with Books & Such Literary Agency.
But what, you might ask, does an in-house publicist do? Much like those who work directly for publishers, my main goal is to see that the books represented by Books & Such are mentioned in the best possible light. In addition to highlighting the clients, I look to the best interests of the agency as a whole. Thus, a typical day might include phoning the press with an author’s response to a news item related to his book; crafting a release about an agent’s latest accomplishment; or sending out an E-blast announcing a new novel. Sometimes an author needs media training before an on-camera interview. Other times, an agent is looking to place a new author in the spotlight in preparation for a book release. Just last week, I helped a videographer connect with a Books & Such author, rearranged an interview for an author with an ailing parent, and paved the way for media coverage of a high profile mid-January book launch. And that was in a holiday week!
Another service I offer for Bookies is the ability for them to partner with their publishing house to subcontract my services. This arrangement has the benefit of easing the workload of the publisher’s in-house PR department while giving the author much closer attention. In addition, because I am exclusive to the agency, arrangements have been made to offer a reduced rate for clients. Thus, I can give more personalized service at a cost that often allows the client to have more flexibility and to achieve a more aggressive publicity plan.
My favorite part of this job comes in connecting Bookies with the press. As the PR contact for the agency, I often receive calls or emails requesting particular types of authors or, in some cases, specific authors. By acting as go-between, I can help authors to choose interviews that will best represent them and what they write. Also, as I become aware of interview opportunities, I can choose from a list of well-qualified authors to find the right slot. Often this is a question of branding, which is something I try to work through with the agent beforehand.
One last important point: Though I am associated with Books & Such Literary Agency, the agents are my clients in the same way as the authors. Thus, I do not receive a salary or any other payment from the agency beyond each individual task I do for the agents. This is an important point in that our agency believes an agent’s only pay should come through commissions earned on books sold.
Now that you know what I do, l’m looking forward to talking more about what I love: Publicity!
Every Wednesday I’ll be bringing you tips and topics on the fundamentals of publicity and marketing in my Marketing Matters column. I am especially excited about next week when I’ll kick off a series called Publicity FUN-damentals with Fifteen Minutes to Fame: Reaching your PR Goals 15 Minutes at a Time.