Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Interview with a Book Publicist

The idea for this interview grew out of two fronts – first the “anti-blog-reviewer” article at The Huffington Post online and the rebuttals by LisaLynne and Amy – and second the discussion over at Reviewer X’s blog about the author/reviewer matchmaking process in which several people who commented asked how to get in touch with publicists.

Courtney, a publicist with Penguin, was kind enough to answer some of our burning questions:

What genre of books do you represent?
I represent a lot of adult literary fiction, but also books written by politicians and historical books and biographies. Occasionally some “chick lit” too, so quite the variety!

How important are blog reviews to your overall publicity strategy?
I think blog reviews are definitely growing more and more important each day. It’s the kind of thing where you know if an author is googled, the more hits the better. I also just really appreciate what bloggers have to say. I find it always to be a fresh take on books, love the personalities that come through and what the people who comment have to say, and find as a consumer (if I’m looking for a non-work related book to read) I sometimes tend to get ideas from the web as opposed to the book review sections.

How do you choose which bloggers you ask for reviews? What qualities should the blogs where the review will appear have?
I try to follow a whole bunch of blogs to see what the popular and well written ones are. I read Maud Newton, Book Daddy, The Elegant Variation, Editorial Ass, About Last night, The Book Publicity Blog, Galleycat and a lot of others, and then usually end up reading a whole bunch more depending on what those blogs are linking to. I’ll usually send a book to a blog for the same reason I would read the blog – like I said, well written and well read, with a lot of personality and if I think the book would be a good fit for them and their site.

How do you feel about cold requests for review copies from bloggers? And how do bloggers find you?
I am open to cold requests from bloggers as long as it feels like they are not taking advantage of the free book and seem genuinely interested in it, even if it is a small blog – you never know who’s reading. I’m not sure how bloggers find me, other than my name being attached to press releases. I find myself doing outreach to blogs more often.

Thanks Courtney!

I also got some comments from other publicists I am in touch with that deal with the “cold request” question:

“We are definitely excited when bloggers reach out to us about a forthcoming book. We do check out the blog to see if it’s someone with serious intentions, someone who updates pretty frequently and if so, and we have extra copies, we’re happy to send them out.” – YA Publicist

“We have a database of reviewers, both traditional and online, and we keep a list of what types of books the reviewers like to receive and contact them when we have a book that might interest them. Someone who puts in a cold request will go into the database if we are able to send them a copy of the requested book, and we do try to follow up. If that reviewer sends us a link to their review, then they are more likely to be contacted about reviewing a book in the future.” – YA Publicist

So there you go – publicists confirm that blog reviewers are important and that it’s ok to ask for a review copy of a book. Any other publicists, authors, fellow bloggers want to chime in?

26 comments:

Tina said...

Hi Lenore: Thanks this was very informative.

I always wonder what publicist think of cold requests - and I do agree that bloggers are getting more and more important to the whole process.

Thanks again for this.

Jen - Devourer of Books said...

That was a fantastic interview, thanks for sharing with us!

Lisa said...

Lenore - thanks for including me in the conversation! It's been really interesting to hear from authors and publicists and their take on book blogs.

I was especialling pleased to see that Courtney gets ideas for her personal reading from blogs. I generally find that blog reviews are like a recommendation from a friend, which is always a good way to find a good book.

Luanne said...

Hey Lenore;

What a great idea for an interview. - I really enjoyed it -thanks.

Ann said...

Thanks, this was an interesting read.

Ali said...

Great idea for an interview, Lenore, thanks! ::::off to check out Reviewer X and the blogs Courtney mentioned::::

Stephanie said...

Great post! You may find a post I wrote in January interesting. It is all about the value of word of mouth on the internet and how to get books from publishers and authors. You can find it here: http://thewrittenword.wordpress.com/2008/01/21/free-books/

ambeen said...

Thanks for asking and posting the publicists opinions. I'm happy to see that my name may be in the databases of publicists I've worked with. I try to follow up as if it was the author personally sent it to me. I know the publicists are busy but I still email them if they've sent me a book and I review it. :)

julesjones said...

Interesting and useful interview -- thanks to you and Courtney for that.

Tracy said...

Insightful Interview! I actually had asked a publicist I work with to do a guest post but she hasn't go back to me about it. I asked her last week, so we had the same idea:)

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Great interview, and I always try and send the review of the book to the publicist or whoever to show that its been reviewed.

I like the questions you asked and it's always nice to know what various people think.

Personally, I love blog reviews and the like, because I'd rather hear what these people think then just read some review in the newspaper or something you know? It makes me more interested!


Lauren

Steph said...

Hahaha I know Courtney! Never emailed her myself, but I do know her ;) This is great stuff! I was on the process of interviewing a publicist myself, so don't be surprised if you see one of those on RX one of these days!

Steph

Amy said...

Thanks for the link and great interview. I do try to follow up with a link to the review...it's fun b/c sometimes you can see in your stats if they read it! (i'm just a little stalkery like that)

Kathleen said...

Great interview :) It's always fun to hear from publicists.

Oh and I've tagged you!

Kathleen said...

Lol I just realized that I tagged you for my last meme too! I guess I just notice you on my blogroll :)

Lallybroch said...

Thanks for the great interview! I am glad to hear that more and more publishers are taking blogging reviews seriously.

Anonymous said...

hi!

Great idea Lenore, interviewing a publicist!

what exactly are cold requests?

Liviania said...

Cool interview - great choice of subject. I'm glad to hear publicists aren't taken aback by cold requests.

Lenore said...

A cold request is when you contact a publisher, author or publicist and ask them to send you a review copy of a book that hasn't been offered to you.

Booked Books said...

I read all the pages you linked, and it was pretty interesting.

I love your interview questions as well. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

hey Lenore!

THANK YOU for answering my question!! like i said before great idea! so helpful to us bloggers.

Sunny Lea said...

Wow, great resource.

I've always been a little nervous about making a "cold request" but maybe I'll give it a shot now!

Matt said...

I'm glad to hear that book bloggers are playing a growing and more substantial role in this book reviewing process.

Sandra said...

I followed your link from the LT group. I'm just learning about requesting ARCs outside of LT and I enjoyed reading this interview very much. Thank you.

katie said...

Thanks for this interview. I actually found a lot of the answers to questions that I have been thinking about.

Evangeline Han said...

Hi Lenore, I've been doing a spot of cold requests lately and wondered whether they were being received negatively by the publishers. So, thanks for posting this insightful article!