Armchair BEA Day 4: Nurturing Relationships

Welcome to Day 4 of the Armchair BEA – I hope you are getting a chance to spend some time over at Armchair BEA Central…there are some great vlogs and content. I have to give props to Emily who is posting a daily vlog. Last year I was so tired at the end of each day at the BEA I could hardly think, much less come up with content…so yay to Emily!!!

Today we are being asked to talk about relationships:

Today post about a relationship you’ve formed with a particular publisher, author, blogger, or bookstore. Or you could give us your best tips on working with publishers and authors, like how and when to ask for ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies), dealing with review requests, etc.

There is a lot that can be written about relationship building with publishers, publicists, authors, and other bloggers. I have decided to focus in on a group of people who I have come to respect and adore: the publicists.

I feel enormously grateful that my overall experience with publicists has been positive. I think that speaks well for the level of professionalism they exhibit, but I also think it is because of good communication on both sides. I thought I would share a few “pointers” for bloggers interested in accepting review copies and what has worked for me re: building a working relationship with a publicist.

Know who the best contact is for the books you are interested in reviewing.

This can be difficult sometimes. There are many imprints for the big publishing houses and for every imprint, there are several publicists who are tasked with handling certain books. I created a binder with information about each publisher and their imprints…and listed the publicists I work with under each imprint. It helps me keep it all straight. Even when I get confused about who I should be talking to about a certain book, I have found people are more than happy to steer me in the right direction. I have also created folders in my email box and I save emails (and label them) for the different publishers I work with…it can get a little unwieldy, but for the most part it works.

Be honest.

If you are “pitched” a book which is really not the type of book you would read, tell the publicist who has contacted you. It benefits them to know which bloggers are the best bloggers for a specific book…and it will save you a lot of annoyance if you make it clear which books you are excited about and which books you have no interest in reading. Along the same line, be honest about when you think you can provide a review. Sometimes I am excited about a book, but I know I won’t be able to read and review it for several months. I tell the publicist this right up front and give them the option of not sending a book if there is a “deadline” for reviews.

Create a review policy.

Granted, not everyone will read your policy…but, I think it helps to have something in writing on your blog to which you can refer publicists. I think they appreciate it too. Here is mine.

Respond to emails and keep the lines of communication open.

I think part of why I have such a good working relationship with certain publicists is that I answer their emails. I try to go through my in-box weekly and respond to pitches. I also make a point of using my email folders to keep track of the books I have accepted and who sent them to me. I always feature review books on Mailbox Mondays, and email the publicist (or author) who sent me a book with a link to the post. I also let them know when the book has been reviewed, and send a link to the review. It is a lot of work to do this follow up, but I think it is important. My mother always told me I should write thank you notes when someone gives me something…and I guess I have just naturally extended that to receiving books by acknowledging their receipt. Not only does this provide important feedback to the publicist, but it opens the path to enriching and building relationships.

Building good relationships with publicists is really no different than building good relationships with anyone. Treat people how you would like to be treated. Be respectful, and that will foster mutual respect. Be kind. Be responsible and do what you say you are going to do. Don’t be afraid to show who you are; allow your unique personality to shine through.

I had thought to do a shout out to some of the publicists I work with – people who I have come to see as not only coworkers, but friends too. But, then I worried I would forget to mention someone. So instead, I want to just say a general THANK YOU to those publicists I have worked with over the last couple of years (you know who you are!). I have appreciated your attention to detail, your prompt responses to my requests and questions, and your friendship!

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  1. This is a great post! I have been slammed with books, lately and mostly rely on the library and friend loans but this is always super information to have. Thanks so much!

  2. Great tips. I find I much prefer working with a publicist to a publisher or author, except in some circumstances, which are my fav publishers to work with. Generally an author doesn’t know enough about the best way to market the book and a publisher is often too big to send personal messages, remember who you are or what you read and sometimes are too busy to answer. Publicists are in between.

    • Wendy on May 30, 2011 at 15:43

    Pam: Glad you found this helpful – it is always a challenge!

    Callista: I agree about working with publicists vs. authors – I like have the “middle man.”

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