The Book Publicity Blog

News, Tips, Trends and Miscellany for Book Publicists

Best-laid plans

A lot of publicists focus on how to book interviews since, after all, this is our job.  But anything scheduled can fall through.  What then?  So I was interested to see this post by Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists about what to do when those hard-earned interviews … don’t pan out.

I also wanted to point out that scheduling an interview isn’t just about scheduling one interview on one day; the interview is merely one link in the chain, so missed interviews have ramifications.  There are, of course, legitimate reasons for cancellations — breaking news, insane flight delays, illness and other personal emergencies, etc. — but when an author decides at the last minute they simply don’t feel like doing an interview (or when a host decides at the last minute they feel like bumping one guest for another), book publicists are left scrambling either to placate producers with whom we’ve carefully tried to cultivate relationships or to fill sudden gaps in the schedule.  Not.  So.  Fun.

As a book publicist (or as an author or producer), what’s your craziest story of a missed interview?  And how have you resurrected missed interviews?


February 11, 2009 - Posted by | Author-Publicist Relationship, Miscellaneous | ,


  1. As a publicist of a non-book thing, I actually managed to get 2 local TV news crews to promise to come do a live interview at an event. But 20 minutes before they were due to arrive, the first snowfall of the year happened. And Aerosmith was playing down the street. So every news team in the city went down the street to stand outside an arena and cover the weather. That one was un-ressurectable.

    As an author, I would bring myself back from the dead if I had to, to make it to an interview.

    Comment by jill | February 11, 2009 | Reply

  2. I don’t do PR. (Well, that’s not entirely true. As someone with a self-published book out I do a lot of PR). I did PR professionally in the political real for a decade, and I always had to have a backup plan if we were on the road and an event fell through. Sometimes the subject just wants to take it and grab a nap or dinner, but if they’re expecting notebooks or microphones, it never hurts to have a backup plan.

    Hell, just drop by a bookstore and say hi if you have to. Political handlers have to make these sort of adjustments all the time.

    Mark Folse
    Carry Me Home, A Journey Back to New Orleans

    Comment by Wet Bank Guy | February 11, 2009 | Reply

  3. I don’t know if this is crazy as much as it’s hair-pulling time but over the years we’ve had authors that sometimes felt, eh, “above” doing certain interviews and therefore bailed on them, sometimes at the last minute. This doesn’t bode well for *anything* you do whether online or off. There’s a lesson here. Be grateful for everything and unless you’ve written a book on childcare and are being interviewed by a cooking site (hmmm, someone fire needs to fire that pr person). Do every interview that comes your way!

    Comment by Penny C. Sansevieri | February 11, 2009 | Reply

  4. In the nearly 300 interviews I’ve conducted, there have only been two cancellations on my end — one because of an unexpected emergency and the other because of miscommunication, for which I take full responsibility. I’m a big believer that, no matter what goes down, the show must go on. In fact, in one instance, some strange guy physically attacked me on the subway just before I was to interview a fairly prominent author. Surprisingly, the interview went very well. I think that an interviewer or a producer should have more invested in preparation, so that the interview is that much more vital to carry out as scheduled. Particularly if they’re going to cancel for strange reasons. This may be a somewhat utopian vision. But then I try and take this work seriously. And I always try to be as mindful as I can of not going over the time I have allotted.

    Comment by ed | February 11, 2009 | Reply

  5. This didn’t happen to me, but to a colleague when I was at an agency. He had booked a radio tour, with one interview after another all morning long. Quite common at an agency, and of course to facilitate that, he was using a conferencing service. Early in the morning, a repair crew from the local power company accidentally cut the conference service’s phone lines. Whoops!

    Comment by Kama | February 13, 2009 | Reply

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