Aging publicity practices to jettison for the new decade
Book publicity has changed a lot in the 10+ years I’ve been doing it. Here are some things I try to stay away from these days:
Blind copying pitches. In an ideal world, all pitches would be personalized. But there are few (if any) book publicists who have the time to personalize every single pitch. (Realistically, most of us do some of both.) Still, nothing screams mass email like a blind carbon copy. With the mail merge options available today, using the Bcc function seems crude (and doesn’t even save that much time).
Being wedded to one application for all author itineraries. For years I used Word for author itineraries (and I still do use it for those authors who prefer it), but about a year ago, an author requested I use Google Calendar for her tour schedule and it turned out to be a life saver (given that she and two co-authors were all traveling at the same time, but not always to the same place). These days, with more and more authors using calendar applications like Outlook or Google Calendar for their appointments, it saves them time if I provide their interview /event information in a format that doesn’t require retyping — and double checking — time that could better be spent networking online, or writing guest blog posts, or just getting some extra shut eye.
“Static” data. Generally speaking, anything stored offline is static (my word — those of you who are more technologically savvy feel free to correct my terminology), while data stored online (on the Web or on a company’s intranet) is live. In book publicity, we need to transmit data frequently — schedules to authors, publicity hits to editorial and sales, etc. — and we need to make sure the information is accurate and up-to-date. Sending this information via email (or a Word attachment in an email) is quick, but it’s not long before this static information “degrades” and we’re no longer sure if it’s accurate.
The solution is to maintain a “live” source of data. Larger publishing houses generally have network applications that allow publicists to input interview / events and other publicity information (that then generate schedules and reports and that can be accessed by others in the company). But even publicists who do not have access to those applications can make use of free (or cheap) file-sharing applications like Google Docs and others that allow multiple concurrent users to view real-time information.
You may be wondering what that means. It means that more than one person can access an author schedule without being locked out of a Word document because someone else is using it. It also means there’s no ambiguity about what information has been added (or taken out of) a tour itinerary. It means you don’t get confused about whether this version of a press release is an early version or a revised one. (The key to file sharing, though, is that you, well, share files. Resist the urge to download information and then save it to your hard drive — you’ve just broken the chain. )
How have your publicity practices changed over the years?