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What an author can do to help the publicity process

Be helpful

Accept that publicity is going to help sell the book; decide to cooperate even though personal coverage in mass media is not to your taste. Be prepared to be resourceful about what you have done in the past. The publicist will want you to be as unsqueamish as you can about others digging into it. Here Janice Dickinson responds to a question on why people are fascinated by models – does the profession drive people mad?

‘It’s no different from writing or rock ‘n’ roll or acting. It’s the same. You’re obviously fascinated with it because you’re interviewing me. It’s a fascinating subject.’
Janice Dickinson, the self-proclaimed first supermodel, being interviewed by Metro, 21st September 2006

Be pragmatic

Don’t talk about things you are not prepared to discuss with journalists. You will just create frustration. 

‘The publicist at my publishing house noted that I had dedicated my novel to the memory of a child. She asked for details, which I gave, but I added that this was not something I wanted to be interviewed about. She then seemed to lose interest, as I could see that all other angles were weak by comparison. I wished I had not mentioned it, although perhaps the problem had been created by me; adding the dedication in the first place was bound to raise questions so was probably not wise.’

Be pro-active

Provide a list of your useful contacts, experiences, future plans, and so on. 

‘As my books have a direct link with particular venues. And appeal to tourists as well as to the local population, I contacted these places and suggested they come on board with school groups and local press. This worked exceedingly well. The only downside has been the huge amount of time involved on my part, but it has meant getting into some interesting places and has led to quite a lot of press coverage and other publicity opportunities.’
Linda Strachan, creator of Hamish the Haggis

Keep in touch

Let your publicist know what you are up to – all snippets of information can be useful. For example, if you are asked to judge a literary prize, or awarded a directorship, your publicist may be able to sell a feature about you on the back of it.

Be realistic

An appearance on Oprah will not be possible for everyone. Very few authors get mass-market advertising.

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