What Is The Most Stressful Part of Being a Book Publicist?

I’m continuing to answer direct questions from readers. Here’s the next one:


What is the most stressful part of being a publicist or being your own publicist?


Unrealistic expectations.

Be careful of those who Monday-Morning-Quarterback your publicity efforts. It’s very easy for someone who is not accountable for the actual work to flatter you and your book and tell you which celebrities would love to interview you and where your book should be featured, and on and on and on.

Respond by saying, “I am so happy to hear you say that,” and then ask them to get you on the Ellen show or Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday or whatever your greatest dream is. Suddenly you’ll hear a lot of back peddling, “That’s not my specialty, but you really should be there.”

Remember that if someone isn’t actively doing the work, then listen to their advice with a grain of salt. They mean well, of course, and it’s always lovely to hear someone rave about you, but it’s a bit like a parent saying to their child, “You can do anything!” That very well may be true, but you know there is a lot of work behind that to make it so. Keep your aspirations big while keeping your expectations realistic.

You can wish and wish that you weigh 120 pounds, but when you actually weigh 147, just wishing isn’t going to do it. This doesn’t mean you can’t weigh 120: You simply need a better strategy than wishing to achieve it, like eating less and exercising more. I know, I know: no one wants to hear that, and yet it’s true.

It’s fine to dream big–in fact, I recommend it. This isn’t about wet-blanketing your aspirations, but it is about having realistic expectations, being okay with starting out where you are, and building up to the bigger possibilities. Having cheerleaders is nice, but they don’t have the experience of what it takes to get you there, so the advice is very short lived.

Isn’t it better to know what you need to do to achieve your goals than to magically think that they’re somehow just going to happen? I think so. It’s having those kinds of high expectations without understanding and doing the work required that can set you up for a fall.

Expectation vs intention

Let’s look at the definition of each word first.

Expectation: A  strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future. “Reality had not lived up to expectations.” A belief that someone will or should achieve something.

Intention: A determination to act in a certain way. What one intends to do or bring about.

Walking in with preconceived expectations is one thing, living with intention is quite another. Expectations can leave you feeling bad when you aren’t seeing your dreams come to light quickly enough.

Instead, how about creating a wish list and setting the intention of landing each one of the listed items? Then it is a journey and an adventure that you create. Where should you be? Who needs to know about you and your book? Where are they? Let’s go find them. Be a detective. Have some fun with it? Someone said “no” to you? Ha! Next!!

I’ve had the good fortune of booking my clients on some of the best shows and media outlets in the country, including book reviews in the NY Times, Ellen, NPR, the network morning news shows, and many others, so I know it’s doable. But it takes effort and skill.

It’s extremely competitive out there. Every author wants these opportunities and there are only so many available slots. Media is less likely to take a chance on an unknown author than ever before, so all the more reason you must have great ideas and an engaged platform. Having great distribution and covering the digital options is also essential.

If you have a huge network and connections with others who have large networks, then you can go direct to them and sell tons of books. Then, distribution really isn’t such a big deal. You can drive people to online outlets or have them buy directly from you. Or, if you simply want to speak and sell your book in the back of the room, then you can do that too. There are many, many strategies available. You simply have to know what you want, what it takes to get you there, have a plan for doing in, and then take the necessary actions. If something isn’t working, do something else.

I want each and every one of my clients to be mega-successful, and I do everything I can to help make that happen, but it’s stressful when a potential client comes to me, yet doesn’t understand the challenges that need to be overcome. This is where that conversation about realistic expectations and intentions comes into play. Fortunately, they get it. I want everyone to understand it.

In our very open world now, it’s easy to look around and see others who are getting lots of attention and visibility for their books and figure we should be too. Right now. Immediately. Well, it may take a little more time than that, so if you’re doing your own publicity, realize that you have a marathon in front of you, not a sprint. But it is doable. I just want you to understand that this doesn’t happen automatically.

There are a lot of variables at play here. We discussed some of them last week here, such as having the power to create great ideas and get them into the hands of the right people, but you can’t control what they do with it. Other variables that haven’t been mentioned yet include your vision and where you want your book to be available, distribution, copies in print, how you published, and more. All of these choices impact everything right down the line, including your options for promoting your book, so I am always a fan of finding your team well ahead of your publication date so that you aren’t missing good opportunities.

Bottom line

Being a publicist never stops, because you’re only as good as your last hit. However, savvy clients who have been around the block a time or two really get this. They understand that there are variables that our out of our control, and we just keep going. Sometimes we change our ideas, or change our strategy, and we keep going. Then it is much more of a collaborative process and it becomes a whole lot more fun too. That makes all the difference.

To your success!


P.S. Even the big boys and girls started out small. By taking the necessary steps and actions, many have created large, successful followings and you can too, but you need a plan. We can talk about it here, through a Media Strategy Session.

#stressful | #beyourownpublicist | #bookmarketing | #bookpublicity

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