A Difficult Job Well Done

One of the difficult parts of being a book reviewer is having to say “no” to nice people. This time I am speaking of publicists, the fine folks who work very hard trying to get publicity for their clients’ books.

Publicists come in two basic varities: in-house and freelance. The in-house ones work for publishers. In the larger houses, where the publicity department can span a large number of employees for all its different imprints, the publicists are assigned books that the house is issuing. Freelance publicists, whether they work for a publiity firm or themselves, are hired by the authors. If they are excellent, they are expensive, sometimes running $5,000, even $10,000 a month and many have a required minimum number of months for a contract. Not all of them are in that price range, and not all of the less expensive ones are less able. Certain specialties such as primary television appearances cost more than others such as Internet-focused ones.   

I have enormous respect for them. Despite the numerous blogs, websites, radio and television shows, newspapers, magazines, trade journals, and other media interested in authors and books they and their clients are competing against an almost unbelievable number of “competitors”—288,355 “traditional” and 764,448 “non-traditional” books  in 2009.

And publicity is key for these books. An unknown author has a better chance of having a book published than does a second-time author whose first book didn’t do well. So the pressure is on to get publicity even if the author has the house’s publicity team behind her. Authors have to be “out there,” helping to reach readers. For that reason, many turn to independent publicists to supplement their own and their house’s efforts.   

And that’s what makes the career of book publicist one of the toughest jobs around. They are hired to get publicity and they work very hard, but ultimately they cannot control the outcome of their efforts. BiblioBuffet and other review venues are sent books continually in the hope that some of them will get that desired review.

In this holiday season I’d like to send a special acknowledgement to book publicists, especially to those who remain nice in the face of rejection. There are so many of you who should hear “thank you!” more often than they do. Well . . .  Thank you. We at BiblioBuffet appreciate your efforts because without you we might not hear of some great books. We love your e-mails, your press releases, your ARCs, your books. We love your niceness. Have a great holiday season!


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