Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pimpin' Your Book:
More of your questions answered...

More questions from the comments section:
Q: I'm wondering if the marketing team would object to an author engaging in that sort of shameless self-promotion? I was actually thinking of posters and personalized trinkets that relate to the book in some way. Or would that be considered stepping on their toes?
A: It really depends upon what you want to have made, but most likely - as long as you're footing the bill - the marketing and publicity folks would probably love you for making your own giveaways. It's always best to have a conversation with them first, however, because they may be able to tell you what they think would be most useful and what would be a complete waste of your time. (For example: I'll tell you from experience that - unless you are a children's book illustrator or a comic book artist - posters are pretty much a lost cause. They're hard to give away, take a up a lot of counter space, difficult to transport easily and most often end up in the garbage can at conventions and book shows. There is also the inevitability of your forgetting to provide rubber bands, a minor but annoying poster-faux pas.) Additionally, they may be able to send out some of your giveaway material with a galley mailing or finished copy mailing. But do understand that you'll need to find a way to distribute the majority of the materials on your own.

Q: I'm wondering how exactly one would go about breaking into a career in book publicity? I know there's not one direct route, but I'd love to hear your story since it's a career I'd really like to explore.

A: I don't know that there's any one way to break into a job in book publicity. I came to publishing after having first worked for many years as a bookseller and events manager at various independent bookstores in the San Francisco Bay Area. I started in sales and marketing, and eventually moved over to publicity. That's one way of doing it. (FYI, a lot of people from sales, marketing and publicity break into publishing this way, so I'm hardly unique.) Another way is to apply for an internship at a publisher, or what they call "the associates program" at Random House. (Other publishers may have this as well; I'm only familiar with RH's.) The difference between an associate and an intern is that an associate moves around to various departments over the course of a year, so as to get a feel for all parts of the publishing process; an intern usually stays within just one department for the course of the summer or a semester. Publishers frequently hire assistants from the intern or associates pool if there is an opening. There are a lot of resources for someone seeking an entry-level position in publishing: Bookjobs, MediaBistro, and Publishers Marketplace are really places to start. Additionally, you can explore the websites of individual publishers; they usually have a careers sections somewhere online. Good luck!

Q: I'd like to learn more about what goes into creating covers & titles from the marketing department's perspective.

A. I'd love to be able to help you with this but the truth is that I had very little to do with the jacket design of any of the books I promoted. I'd point and say "Pretty, pretty, shiny!" or "OMFG, what were you thinking?" if asked, but that's about it. Anyone out there know anything about the mysterious world of book jacket feng shui???

Q: Do any of the trades actually review mass market paperback originals whether from bound galleys, ARC, or finished books? I've always thought mm were very close to the bottom of the reviewer's heap.

A: Yes, absolutely, the trades (Kirkus, Booklist, Publishers Weekly and Library Journal) all review mass market originals if they get a galley or manuscript early enough to do so (at least three months prior to pub date). And Publishers Weekly even has a whole section that focuses only on mass market reviews.
Keep the questions coming!

(And, NO, I'm not ignoring the online questions. Cross my heart! I'm just trying to work all of the answers into one larger piece so that I don't accidentally leave anything out.)


Anonymous said...

Re: the posters thing, and tangenting to things like bookmarks (such as I have seen at SF&F conventions) -- if you want to have bookmarks/postcards made yourself, what hurdles would need to be jumped through to get the cover art on them? Or is that really easy and they have boilerplate in the artist contracts to cover "author is paying for bookmarks with picture of book on them"?

clindsay said...

Archangelbeth -

The publisher usually is pretty good about letting the cover art be used for promotional purposes. Really all you'd need to do is ask the marketing department to email you a high-res JPG of the cover. As long as you're not selling anything with the cover art on it, it shouldn't be a problem at all.


Elissa M said...

Maybe this question is out of your area, but you've touched on something I'd like to know: who owns the cover art? The publisher, I assume, but do the rights ever revert to the artist? Art is a pretty hot commodity in the SF/F world, and some cover artists are as big name as the authors (or even bigger). I've seen cover art repros (sans type) for sale as posters, calendars, and in books. Just curious who gets the money from these sales.

Anonymous said...

Elissa_m, that's actually something I know a *shred* about. If you're Michael Whelan, you almost certainly are keeping re-sale rights to your cover art. Alan Dean Foster's book, "...Who Needs Enemies?" (an anthology of his short stories) has a Whelan cover which was later used as the cover for the roleplaying game book GURPS Aliens, by Steve Jackson Games.

I suspect it all depends on the contract. Work-for-hire never reverts, for instance. Whelan does re-sale rights and sells prints of his covers, on the other end of the spectrum.

(And thank you for the answer, milady agent! O:D Useful data to file away in my untidy mind.)

Gawain said...

Thanks for this, I hadn't even considered the trouble that posters might cause. Since I write primarily young adult, I always envisioned these signings at libraries and middle schools, rather than conventions and book fairs. In the first situation, the posters and trinkets might actually make it home, but I guess the latter scenarios are more realistic. It would suck to put the work and money into these gimmicks and then end up handing them out to adults who proceed to drop them in the nearest trash can.

I guess it might actually be more feasible to do giveaways through my website, should I ever be so fortunate.