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Navigating the Publicist-Author Relationship

Book publishing is one big group project. Learning how to navigate relationships with authors is an essential part of being in the industry. There is bound to be some disagreement with the way the book is being edited, designed, marketed, and publicized. As the publicity manager for Ooligan Press, I have been in delicate situations with authors where everyone’s feelings must be taken into account. And the most important thing I’ve learned from going through these slightly awkward situations is that communication is king. Below, I will give some advice on how to coach your authors and clearly lay out what is needed and what they can expect when their book is ready for publicity.
The first thing a publicist should do when preparing an author for their book launch is to get with the author and listen to their elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a thirty-to-sixty-second spiel on what the book is about and why someone should read it. It is called an elevator pitch because it should take the amount of time it takes to ride an elevator. Now, some authors may have already come up with a pitch like this when they were looking for publishing houses to publish their manuscripts. The difference between that pitch and this one is that this one should be slightly different to better sell the book to readers instead of publishing houses. It is also important you and the author are on the same page with how you want to sell the book. Working with marketing is a great way to do this because they have already come up with selling points and buyer personas for the book. Similar to the elevator pitch, it is also helpful for publicists to help authors come up with key talking points for interviews. This way, the interview stays on track and the author doesn’t feel lost or nervous.
Throughout the process of publishing an author’s book, there are bound to be disagreements between the press and the author. The most important thing to remember is that both you and the author want the same thing—to get their book read by people who will enjoy it. Always listen to and respect the author’s point of view. But remember that the author does not always know what will best sell and publicize their book. Clearly explain why you and the press are doing what you are doing so the author can understand where you are coming from. Sometimes you will want to compromise, and other times you will need to put your foot down.
Above all else, you are helping to run a business, so being professional is important. Clear communication, active listening, and compassion are important in professionalism. A publicist’s job is to make sure an author is knowledgeable about the publicity process. This may mean anything from making sure they are comfortable with interviews or author meet-ups to explaining to them how everything works. Again, remember you and the author have the same goal: to get their book to the right audience. Hopefully these tips will help you to have a successful relationship with your author.
For more tips from book publicists to authors check out: 33 Tips From Book Publicists For Self Published Authors or What to Look for in a Book Publicist.