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Saturday, December 11, 2010

David Brown Interview

  The Novel Road Interview: David Brown
alt tag goes here  Have you ever tried to count the number of people involved in the successful publication and release of a book? Let’s see… author, literary agent, editor, copyeditor, marketing, finance, the person in the big chair(publisher), plus a plethora of assistants, interns, lawyers… I missed a whole slew of positions necessary, but you get the idea. One of the positions I missed makes the difference between lines waiting in front of a bookstore to open for a book release and a book ending up as if it never existed.
  All Hail the Publicity Specialist!
  Public Relations is crucial to the release of any book. Publicity, Publicity, Publicity! Unless you’re Charlie Sheen, then it’s Spin, Spin and wear dark glasses.
  P.R. personnel help to not just get the word out, but shape what those words should be. They corral the right media, answering questions while forming a concise message. They are social media incarnate. They are the predecessors of Twitter, their rolodexes of old the first Facebook. They live to connect the dots: Client to customer.
  The Novel Road welcomes David Brown, Deputy Director of Publicity for Atria Books, a division of Simon and Schuster. He’s handled campaigns for Brad Thor, Vince Flynn, Shirley McClaine and a slew of diverse clients. He has led authors to the Bestseller lists and gone on whirlwind bus trips to get the word out.
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David Brown
Pursuit of Honor

Me:  The author and the publisher are an enormous part of the process of getting a book into being. Without publicity, a book can be merely one of many. Describe your part in the process. Do you get involved at the manuscript acceptance stage?

David: There are times an editor will ask publicity to chime in on the viability of an author or a book to garner interest in the media or review attention.  Publicity is a very important ingredient in a book's overall marketing and promotional campaign but it is just that, one ingredient. Marketing, advertising, promotions, store placement (which is negotiated) and no matter what axiom says, people do sometime judge a book by its cover, so cover design is immensely important as well.

Me: Publicists and social networking. How have the many available avenues to reach out electronically helped you in your work?
David: Social networking, blogs and the like have given rise to an enormous amount of new strategies and techniques and experimentation.  The specificity in which we can target readers and the depth in which we can reach fans of certain genres or enthusiasts of certain interests have greatly improved the way I can do my job.  The tools technology has given us has allowed me to become better at my job.

Me: How involved do you like to see an author be in social networking their work?
David: If an author has the time and desire needed to devote to successfully interacting with their readers and colleagues through various social networks, then I am fully behind them doing it.  If the author has no interest or no time to do it correctly, the worst thing I could do is to talk them into it.  Unless you do it right, its not worth doing at all. Its not for everyone and it doesn't have to be.

Me: Does this ability help an author to sell their work? Do publishers pay attention to an author’s personal network when considering a book deal?
David: Publishers look at everything about an author while considering a book deal.  An active social network is definitely a plus.  It certainly helps galvanize readers to show up at events, review the book on sites like and Barnes and and to actively share information on the author amongst their social network.
The Athena ProjectMe: Describe the process from the first day you receive a book to promote to the day of release.
David: This varies from book to book and author to author.  A typical scenario would have the publishing and publicity team develop strategies for promoting a title while the author is still writing a book.  We'd begin to implement that plan in stages leading up to and through the publication.  This will usually consist of putting together a comprehensive press kit, targeting markets and stores for book signing events, pitching and booking media, both national and local, on TV, radio print and online.

Me: Talk about the relationship between a publicist and an author?
David: This also varies from author to author and project to project. There are many authors that I work with on an annual basis for their releases and we have an intensely close working relationship.  I even have some of their cell phone numbers programed into my phone which is an honor I don't bestow to many in my professional life.

Me: Do you involve yourself in things such as book signing or do you stick to broader, mass marketing.
Sage-ing While Age-ingDavid: Book signings are a very important part of campaigns for many authors. Building authors benefit from visiting stores by meeting sales people, getting to know the people on the floor and on the front lines of book sales so that hopefully when a customer comes in looking for a recommendation, the sales clerk will remember the nice moment he or she spent with that author and recommend that author's book.  Big time authors benefit from book signings as way to move large amounts of books in a short period of time, the type of velocity that helps move an author up on bestseller lists.  Fans of recurring authors always love meeting, hearing from and getting books signed by their favorite author.  That's goodwill and creates word of mouth that can never be replicated in any other way.

Me: The publishing industry is going through an evolution. What changes do you see coming over the next few years?
David: Publishers will begin to continue to come to the realization that they no longer sell books, they sell content.

Me: How do you see the job of publicist changing?
David: The job has been changing and will continue to change in the same direction. Social networking, blogs, websites, Amazon and B& reviews have blurred the line between consumer and media.  The consumer is becoming and probably already is the media. We'll be working more and more in a hand to hand combat style.

Me: Talk about some of the craziest campaigns you have worked on.
David: We currently have Olympic hero Apolo Ohno on a multi-city bus tour for his book Zero Regrets.  When it is all said and done, he will have visited over 50 cities and met over 20,000 people in the span of just 2 weeks!  I've also worked on book written by a dog and a book written by a pimp.

I'd like to thank David Brown for his time and consideration
Please visit Altria for a look at their list of incredible books.
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