Sunday, March 22, 2009

When a publisher acquires a book, everyone isn't always on board

Publishing houses don't always agree on books, and that may include your book. Yes, your editor wanted it. That's usually a given unless your editor left and someone else took it over. But sometimes that editor prevailed over the skepticism of other editors, or of the marketing team, or even of the editor-in-chief. Sometimes editors get shot down in contentious acquisitions meetings, but other times they prevail. That still doesn't mean that everyone loves your book, and it could account for some of the ambivalence you feel from the publishing side.

Is this bad? I personally think it is neutral, and just part of the real world versus the imaginary one. It's like being hired at a company and fantasizing that everybody voted for you. Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn't, and sometimes you have to deal with the guy down the hall who applied for your job and didn't get it.

If you know going in that publicity is difficult, that publicists have a whole catalogue of books to love and care about, and that yours is certainly important, but not the only consideration in their day, then you can start to think constructively about how to work with your publicist. One editor in a recent edition of Poets & Writers suggested flowers. My personal style would lean more toward a terrific sandwich platter sent to the whole publicity team with a thank-you card. Either would be a great start. Along with this outreach, consider making a personal, 40-minute visit if you live close enough, or at least plan a phone conference with your publicist about six months before pubdate, armed with the attitude that you want to learn how to be the best author ever when it comes to teaming with your publisher to sell your book.

Gifts, thanks, and a terrific attitude? These will go a long way toward engaging publicists in your cause beyond routine efforts, and they can also overcome any in-house ambivalence that may have lingered around your (or any) book's initial acquisition.

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