Publicists often complain that bloggers don’t do what they want; bloggers often complain that publicists don’t understand them. At this panel, bloggers will have a chance to talk to publicists about what it is that they find most helpful and expect from them, and publicists will have a chance to talk to bloggers about how to make their lives easier and what the best way to work with them is. The panel, moderated by Nicole Brinkley, will start with a twenty-minute Q&A before dissolving into a round-table discussion between everybody in the room.
I don’t, by in large, request books from publicists. That is to say, I don’t cold call email them for books I’m interested in. I used to, but over the years I’ve gotten so many from industry events and with the advent of NetGalley & Edelweiss, I largely just don’t. My interactions with them revolve around twitter, blog tour maybes and seeing them at events.
This panel however featured one of my favorite bloggers (Nicole) and one of my favorite publicists to just follow because she’s awesome (Ksenia), so I felt I could get a lot out of it.
Nicole started off the panel by bringing up the one question a lot of new (and old!) bloggers have in regards to physical galleys/ARCs/uncorrected proofs. This is a question I hear and see a lot since honestly there never seems a rhyme of reason to who receives what at times. Which is apparently because every Publisher handles it differently.
Ksenia, who made the move from MacKids to Tor/Tor Teen as senior publicist, said that when she had to adjust how she handled ARCs since MacKids had a much freer plan then Tor/Tor Teen. She suggests Netgalley as the way to go for requests because she only has very limited quantities for most titles. She pushes for more ARCs on titles she believes in (such as Vassa in the Night), but that’s not always a guarantee.
Lizzy, who is senior pub at Bloomsbury, outlined their dynamic. They have very small quantities for bloggers, so they rank who gets a copy based on a lot of different factors. Largely they have a group of 150-200 bloggers they’ve worked closely with over the years who receive periodic emails about what’s available so they will receive priority. She also states that Netgalley is the best way to request a title, especially for new reviewers.
This brought up the topic of when bloggers reach out—etiquette or rules to think about. Emma, who runs the blog Miss Print, said to do your due diligence. Research the publisher a little bit, figure out if you’ve read their titles before and what you liked or didn’t like about those titles.
Ksenia related a story about a very enthusiastic blogger who emailed about a particular couple of titles. What caught her attention was that the blogger didn’t just ask for the books – she also explained why she wanted them. Thoughtful things like that go a long way.
Lizzy said that they do check the links you provide when you email them. If you list your tiwtter/Instagram/blog/tumblr/whatever social media platform you want – they’ll check them. See what your interactions with others is like, see if your social media presence is limited to just promoting your blog, check out if you talk about anything other than your reviews.
And above all always include your address. Even if you’ve worked with them before. Even if you talk to them every day. It makes the process so much quicker.
When asked about their “normal” day to day, both Lizzy and Ksenia sort of laughed nervously before saying what is normal exactly? For Lizzy she has over 29,000 emails in her box (not all unread! But just in general) that she has to go through and Ksenia agreed she gets somewhere around 200-250 emails each day. Not just from bloggers, but from everyone. Please lots and lots and lots of meetings.
Bloggers make up about 15% of their job on average (sometimes more, sometimes less depending on the title). They also have to figure out author event tours, travel for those tours, handling media relations outside of bloggers, marketing questions, author questions, editor questions. They advise if you reach out to them, but don’t hear back within a couple of weeks, feel free to email again. Polite emails with gentle nudges go a long way.
The discussion of promoting a book and what works/doesn’t work started with Nicole saying there are tons of different ways you can promote a book without reviewing it. Over at YA Interrobang for instance, they don’t do reviews. They feature authors for interviews, for guest posts, write articles about recent news, etc.
Emma tries to do one author interview a month at the least. She suggests reaching out to authors and Nicole advised specially to debut or “quiet” authors, as they tend to be the most energetic and ready to take on the world (so to speak) to promote their book. Ask them about not only their forthcoming, but their backlist as well.
Lizzy advises you volunteer to be part of something, or to organize something. She especially loves any suggestions that don’t involve the author as often the author is so busy being an author that it can be hard for them to commit to writing a dozen guest posts or answering a ton of interview questions.
When reaching out it’s a good idea to give an idea of your plan as well—mention a couple interview questions or guest post ideas for instance. Be creative! Feel inspired! Details details details! This is a book you feel a passion to help promote, so show that in your email.
Change of topic and oh hey who wants to talk about ARC etiquette at industry events? 😀
Both Lizzy and Ksenia made sure to state that as representatives of their houses they couldn’t say anything out of turn, but they had some advice. Take one copy and then ask for another politely. Don’t try to sell them. Understand that at certain events—like ALA—the copies are specifically there for the librarians so if you are asked to refrain from taking a copy, be gracious. You can always email the publicist later and ask for a copy, or request a digital copy even. The conversation only ends at the booth if you let it.
Make connections and friends at events. Approach the people in the booth with an open mind; discuss more than just what books you want. They want to talk to you, they want to gush to you. If they seem busy, well they may be, but there are polite ways to make your interest known. Don’t be afraid, don’t be rude and it goes from there.
After requesting a book follow up with the review. Tweet, send an email, enter it through Netgalley/Edelweiss – just remember to follow up. Publishers want to know the book is getting promoted, so show them it’s being promoted.
So basically guys: make connections, be creative in your promotion for a book, look to Netgalley for copies and above all be polite.
All in all this was an informative panel! I really liked hearing some of the stories that both Ksenia and Lizzy told us, and it was interesting to hear things from their side. I admit I don’t tend to follow up as much as I should. I get nervous I’m being a bother, or maybe this isn’t exactly what they wanted. However poking folk on twitter whenever they make funny comments or discuss something I like? Yep. All over that.