Sara Pearce is the only person at the Cincinnati Enquirer who should be receiving books. Although they no longer run book reviews, there are opportunities for features (in some cases). She took the time to explain in a little more detail:
“We now write about books of local-local interest only, which means it is:
- by an author/illustrator who lives here now
- by an author/illustrator who lived here for a long time (which means at least four or five years) and/or has long-time ties to Cincinnati (grew up here)
- by an author/illustrator coming here on tour
- set here or about here/the area
- something HUGE – like Harry Potter huge – that I could develop a local angle for
I do not review books – no one on our staff does. Staff book reviews were dropped a few years ago in favor wire reviews. I do, however, write a weekly notes column, briefs, features and interviews.
I would like to continue to receive catalogs to look for books meeting our criteria. But please remove us from your mailing list for publicity, galleys and books that do not fall within the parameters above. If you could spread the word around your offices, I’d appreciate it.
Also: I should be the only person at the Enquirer on your mailing list at this point. If a book falls outside my realm, I pass it along to the beat reporters and editors. We’re trying to cut back on the massive amount of mail from publishers and time we spend handling it.
Other people whose names you may have on your mailing list but who should be removed are:
- Jennifer Schwertman (copy editor who was filling in when books beat was empty)
- Margaret McGurk (now a reporter in Local News)
- Paul Clark (A&E editor, passes the books to me, so no point sending them to him)
- Ann Haas (Deputy Features Editor, passes the books along)
- Jim Knippenberg (he stopped covering books years ago)
- Laura Schwed (she left the paper about 6 years ago)
- Pamela Fisher (she left the paper last summer)
- John Wolfe (he compiles calendars, does not need to receive books for touring authors – it duplicates what I get)
- John Johnston (family reporter who does not write about books on his beat and asked me to add him to this note)
- Lauren Bishop (also does not cover books and also asked that I include her name here).
Also II: We no longer have a movie critic (that was McGurk), so please refrain from sending those titles to us if there is no local connection because we are not writing about them.
Important PS: Want a book(s) to come directly to me, please please please ask for it to be marked “special request” or “requested material” or something like on the envelope. Otherwise, our news aides open the books and I’m finding that – sadly – books are getting borrowed/lost/misplaced/stolen.”
Some of you may remember when WIRED EIC Chris Anderson posted the email addresses of PR people whose addresses he blocked because they had emailed him pitches (rather than bothering to look up the appropriate editor). Late last week Lifehacker editor Gina Trapani created a PR Spammers Wiki that allows entire PR companies to be blocked. (Some PR people respond to Trapani’s move on PR Squared and The Bad Pitch Blog.)
The good news is that I didn’t see any book publicists / publishing houses on either list. The other good news is that both editors have been clear about how their publications should be pitched and they’re only exacting revenge upon people who aren’t following the rules. (Gosh, wouldn’t it be fun if we didn’t send out review copies to people who didn’t follow our rules? If only …)
Moral of the story is be careful who you pitch. For us, we’re mostly pitching book editors and producers. But it can get hazy at publications that don’t have book editors (which is more and more these days). Do you pitch an arts editor? Or features? At some smaller publications, it may be appropriate to pitch a managing editor or an editor in chief. For those of you who use Bacon’s Online, one trick I use is I export my list into an Excel document, “Find” the phrase “not a PR contact” (that appears in the “Pitching Tips” field / column) and then delete those records.
In our defense though, it is pretty darn hard (read “impossible”) to be familiar with every publication, blog, and radio and TV show out there. I know a lot of publicists spend a lot of time doing this; me, I have well over 200 websites (including blogs, newspapers and radio shows) in my RSS reader and scroll through at least 2000 headlines a day. I have subscriptions to about a dozen magazines and go through probably a dozen more at work. I still come up short. So to those editors and producers who testily tell PR people to be familiar with the show / publication before pitching, I’d like to say, we try, folks, we try.
Yesterday on the LAT’s Jacket Copy blog, Carolyn Kellogg talked about Newpages.com, a site that provides ”news, information and guides to independent bookstores, independent publishers, literary magazines, alternative periodicals, independent record labels, alternative newsweeklies and more.”