Thoughts: Relationships in SFF Publishing

image credit unknownSO – it turns out I completely suck at holding contests and then actually clicking the little button on Rafflecopter to draw a winner. Thanks for your patience! The winner is Meg Winikates!! Thanks for participating!

The main thing I wanted to talk about today is the ongoing conversation I’m seeing across Twitter, blogs, and podcasts about the relationship that reviewers have with various members of the publishing world – readers, authors, and other reviewers.

A recap:
SF Signal Mind Meld: The Evolution of the Author Fan Relationship
Rob Bedford and Justin Landon talk about it extensively on RocketTalk
Paul Weimer talks about why he can’t review every book on his personal blog

It was Paul’s blog post and a previous Mind Meld that ultimately inspired me to join this conversation. As a publicist, I typically stay out of the conversations that are going on in the SFF community unless I’m actively promoting my author or reaching out to reviewers and other media professionals, but this time I wanted to take a moment to portray my point of view on this as a publicist.

For those of you who aren’t all that familiar, the publicity department at a book publishing house attempts to get as much coverage of a book and/or author as possible. That means we’re writing press releases, reaching out to reviewers across all media platforms, establishing relationships with reviewers, coordinating travel and events, and just trying to do whatever we can to let people know that the book exists. This is different from marketing in that we are not purchasing any sort of advertising, we do not make promotional items (though we use them occasionally), and we don’t sponsor anything through publicity. We have a marketing department to handle all of that.

The most important part of our job is the relationship between publicist and reviewer. This is a process that takes place very much behind the scenes, and our efforts are meant to be invisible to the general public. I think that SFF publicity is vastly different from other kinds of book publicity because the community is more tight-knit, and there’s a lot of opportunity to interact with reviewers through social media. When I’m working on mystery/fiction titles, I don’t have nearly as much access to people reviewing my books as I do with the SFF peeps (I’m hoping to change that!). I also think that the genre community is vastly more enthusiastic about new titles as well. This is the thing I love the most about my job.

I love getting to know the reviewers and the authors. I love seeing all of the interaction on Twitter and through blogs. I also deeply appreciate that most of the reviewers I interact with are reviewing out of love for the genre and not for money. Most of them have full time jobs and full time families, but they always make the time to regularly interact with each other and with the readership to promote the books they love. I hope they never doubt their value to the community, and I’m excited to see more awards being given to these wonderful, dedicated people who make this community as unique and interesting as it is. Rob Bedford said that without publicists, you wouldn’t have much to talk about. I think that without reviewers, not very many people would learn about our books. It goes hand in hand, and I’m just really happy that I get to be a part of a vibrant community of like-minded people. I grew up always wanting to do something that helped people, and I can’t imagine doing anything other than getting to tell everyone about amazing books and encouraging more people to read. So, reviewers, thanks for all you do, and thanks for making my job such a great experience!

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