Sarah Weinman from Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind checks in on The Penguin Group (Berkley, Penguin Books, The Penguin Press, Putnam, Viking, etc.) on yesterday’s Publisher Imprint Report Card, Part V.
I’ve been surprised at what gets caught in my spam filter — “Lolita” did in one release — so I was interested in see this post by Catching Flack’s Jon Greer about how to spam check press releases. I haven’t yet tried it out (and it may be more trouble than it’s worth — common sense probably does the trick most of the time) but I might give it a gander if I have some spare time.
Mary-Kate Figur is the new Editorial Coordinator at Kirkus Reviews who can answer questions about review status or other related general inquiries. She reminds us to check their “coming-soon page” (which I think I have seen in the past, although when I just checked for it, the Coming Soon link took me to the home page). If you need her contact information but did not receive Figur’s email, you can check Kirkus’ About Us page or try calling 866-890-8541.
Publishers Weekly reports that the Amazon Bookstore Coop, a feminist bookstore in Minneapolis, will close at the end of June.
For those of you not at BEA, like me, you can look at photos of people at BEA. Carolyn Kellogg of Pinky’s Paperhaus (and the L.A. Times’ book blog Jacket Copy) posts some pix of her and some other well-known lit / publishing bloggers whose blogs you may be familiar with but whose faces you may not know.
I thought this post entitled The Art of No on PR Squared might resonate with book publicists. I would like to draw your attention to the following quote: “No, I’m sorry, your Enterprise IT Security product probably won’t be a good fit on the TODAY Show. We’ll both have egg on our face if we try that outlet.” Happy half-day Friday. (Unless you’re in LA. In which case you’ll be working through the weekend.)
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.
I came late to Twitter. I didn’t think a lot of my friends used it (they don’t) and I thought “Twitter” was a stupid name (it is). But why’s it so important that everyone can’t shut up about it?
There are actually two types of things you can do on Twitter: post your status for people who are following you and follow the status of those people whom you might be following. You may be thinking this sounds dumb because we really don’t need to know what someone is eating for lunch, but some journalists and bloggers also use Twitter to post queries or even to conduct interviews (and of course there’s that Berkeley kid who managed to post the word “arrested” to his Twitter account when he was nabbed at a protest in Egypt).
In the past couple days, PR Squared posted a list of media people who use Twitter and ReadWriteWeb explained how they use Twitter as journalists. Both posts show Twitter screen captures so you can see what exactly is going on. Yesterday Valleywag chimed in. (Apparently there are 80,000 Twitter users. Business Week’s Blogspotting blog just posted about how various business are using Twitter and if you really want to stay on top of the Twitter big shots, check out Alltop’s Twitterati.
What I’m going to discuss really isn’t new, but we’re in an industry that hasn’t changed much since Gutenberg, so basically it counts as new for us. All book publicists are accustomed to pitching by phone and email (and sometimes fax). Have you thought about pitching via IM or Facebook? Or what about setting up a feed for your press releases? If you pitch or are thinking of “Web 2.0″ pitching (using IM, social networks, RSS readers, etc.) you should read this ReadWriteWeb post about how they like to be pitched. (Incidentally, they don’t like being pitched by IM, Twitter, phone or Facebook.) Granted, how you pitch someone varies from person to person and this post covers only the preferences of the RWW editors, but it raises some important issues to consider.
I’m excited to try out all of this, but at the same time, it does takes time to figure out how to work something new (and work it well) and at the end of the day what matters is the book and the author, not what the release looks like or how many hyperlinks it has. So play it by ear — sometimes what will work best is plain and simple; other times you may have the opportunity to try something new, so carpe diem.