Writers soon learn that to be a successful author one needs to be one’s own PR staff, communicating regularly and engagingly with potential readers. But some authors never figure out that they have an equally important audience to communicate with–also regularly and engagingly. That audience is the staff at your publishing house. PR=Publishing Relations.
How Publishing Relations Enhances Your Relationship
Authors often don’t know when they should communicate with their publisher. They don’t want to be pests, but this reluctance to communicate can cause serious repercussions.
A few years ago I started to represent a multi-published author. When I met with her current publisher to find out how the publisher saw the relationship, I was dismayed that the author (whom I’ll call Teresa) was viewed as reluctant to promote her books.
When I told Teresa that was the perception, she presented me with an impressive litany of regular promotional activities she had engaged in for her most recent title.
“Did you communicate any of that to your publisher?” I asked.
“No, I just thought they’d see on my website and social media what I was doing.”
Why You Need to Keep the Communication Channel Open
Think about that assumption. How many titles does your publisher produce each year? The staff work with how many authors each year? Do they have time to track what each author is doing to promote his or her projects? (Especially since an author will continue to promote titles years after they’ve been released.)
Note: You should be sure that you’re connected to your publisher on all the social media sites you’re active on, whether that’s following their account or befriending them. That way the marketing department is much more likely to see your posts. And the publicist might well share your posts. Since most publishers have significant social media connections, they can help to broadcast your message.
How to Upgrade Your Publishing Relations
I suggested that Teresa keep a log of everything she did to promote her writing and then to send that log once a month to the marketing and editorial personnel she regularly worked with. That small communication changed the publisher’s view of Teresa.
Soon I was hearing, “We can’t imagine anyone working harder than Teresa to promote her books.” What had changed? Teresa started to think of her publisher as an audience she needed to keep informed of her publicity activity.
What she did wasn’t intrusive or even frequent. But it was informative. It told her “audience” what it needed to hear: that she was hard at work fulfilling her job as an author.
What You Should Communicate
Other items publishing personnel want to hear include:
- letters, emails, etc., you receive from readers, showing that individuals appreciate what you’ve written and are being moved by it–sometimes in life-changing ways;
- ideas of ways you could promote your title that the publisher might coordinate its marketing/publicity efforts with (be realistic; talk to your agent; send a list, not a scattering of ideas every week);
- pics of book signings and speaking engagements, especially if a nice crowd shows up. And especially if the signing is at, say, a Barnes & Noble. The B&N sales rep might well show that photo to the B&N buyer to underscore that the author is supporting B&N in his/her own way.
Keep These Pointers in Mind as You Rev up Your Publishing Relations
- Make the communication regular but not frequent (monthly is about right)
- Send one email rather than a smattering of thoughts each time something occurs to you
- When in doubt, talk to your agent
- Make sure the communication is respectful and enthusiastic rather than whining or demanding.
What other items might be of interest to your publisher?
By the way, Wendy Lawton and I have written a book about how to be successful in your publishing venture. Check it out on Amazon: The Inside Scoop: Two Agents Dish on Getting Published.