As we are completely geeking out over Big Little Lies, it’s hard not to get all wrapped up in Reese. First of all, she’s a major bookworm, like us (#RWBookClub). Second, she takes great books (like Gone Girl, Wild and BLL) and puts them on the screen.
Now our minds are racing wondering, “What if her characters were book publicists?”
Come along with us on this semi-obsessive nerd journey as we consider what the lead characters in Legally Blonde, Sweet Home Alabama, Cruel Intentions and more would be like as a book publicist.
Elle Woods – The Power Listener
The dirty secret about PR is that it isn’t the publicist who talks the loudest that succeeds. It’s the one who listens the best that lands the coverage.
Just like Elle listened to her client when everyone else had made their assumptions, a good publicist is someone who has their ear to the ground waiting to hear details that most would miss.
How to know if your publicist is an “Elle”?
Does your book publicist send you links to articles that she thinks share similarities with your books? Do you hear from your publicist frequently about following up with an editor who recently covered a title similar to yours? This is a publicist who is listening. They know that they can shout “COVER MY CLIENT” to every editor or they can listen to what is trending in the media and make poignant contacts.
Melanie Smooter – The Chameleon
While some may consider this Alabama darling a liar, what she really is, is a chameleon. Melanie Carmichael would drop her accent, pick up some pumps and strut a NY catwalk. Melanie Smooter played pool, drank beer and had one heck of a drawl.
In PR, you have to be able to package up a client’s book in many different wrappings.
To the editor of Cosmopolitan, you may call a book “a sizzling and delightful summer read.” To the Wall Street Journal you might pitch the same book as “a modern American classic in the making.”
This art of transforming the approach depending on the audience takes an experienced publicist years to hone.
How to know if your publicist is a “Melanie”?
Look at the book publicist’s previous coverage wins. Do they have a wide variety of coverage? Or do they seem to hit the same publications and the same niches over and over? Many publicists tend to focus in on genres. For example, we tend to work in women’s fiction and nonfiction, memoirs and YA. But just because a publicist specializes in a genre, doesn’t mean they can’t have far reaching contacts and opportunities for authors.
Madeleine – The Straight Shooter
Oh Madeleine. Though that mouth of hers may have been trouble, no one ever had to guess what this Big Little Lies mom was thinking. In a crowded parent pick-up line or on the phone with her nemesis or out for cocktails with Celeste, Madeleine had no qualms with saying exactly what she was feeling (especially to Renata).
Though we all have to have some communication filters, being direct is a key part to publicity. A publicist who dances around their pitch is unlikely to land coverage with any consistency. A good book PR pro will get to the point as clearly and as quickly as possible.
How to know if your publicist is a “Madeleine”?
When you hear from your publicist, do they answer your questions in long, uncertain, roundabout ways or are they direct and to the point? Publicists, especially in emails, can almost come off as rude when they are so direct. If you are feeling like your publicist is a little too concise, you probably have a really good one.
The best pitches happen in a matter of a couple sentences/seconds. It takes real skill to master this form of communication. A good publicist likely talks as if they are delivering information one Tweet at a time.
Annette Hargrove – The Two-Sided Sally
Annette in Cruel Intentions may have come off as an innocent, shrinking violet type, but when faced with Sebastian’s initial advances, Annette strong arms that well-known player. She has this two-pronged ability to be sweet and strong, bold and vulnerable.
Though we still aren’t sure she should have ever let that creep touch her, Annette, as a book publicist, would probably be fierce.
She’d be able to ease authors’ nerves while applying heavy pressure to an editor who is dragging their feet. She’d be able to conceptualize an effective campaign while leaving room for spontaneous opportunities.
How to know if your publicist is an “Annette”?
Do you feel totally comfortable with your publicist, but also a little intimidated by them? Congratulations, you have an Annette! These PR pros are brilliant, business-minded and also intimate, all at once. You want someone who is capable of relieving your stress and putting in major sweat equity.
Jennifer – The Grower
When Jennifer first enters Pleasantville, she’s far from perfect, but she’s popular. She starts stirring up that utopian world by hopping in a car with any letterman she can find. On the surface, she’s popular, pretty and powerful. As time goes on though, she realizes, that role isn’t what’s best for her. So she pivots and grows.
A great publicist knows that there are times when you have to hit the brakes and do a 180.
How to know if your publicist is a “Jennifer”?
If your publicist can be honest with you about an angle that just isn’t working and explain a new approach, then Jennifer has just entered the building. Some strategies, for whatever reason, just go stale. A book publicist could have had a tried and true method working for a long time that just suddenly dries up. Maybe an editor contact left a publication or maybe everyone and their mom has jumped on a particular train (I.e. calling every book “the next Gone Girl”).
A great publicist isn’t someone who gets every approach right every time. A great publicist knows when to make a change and grow your campaign in a different direction. They are adaptable and honest.
Reese Witherspoon’s characters have been everything from valedictorians to fashion designers to lawyers, but not a book publicist… yet. Still, they all have characteristics you should be on the lookout for when hiring a book publicist.