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Do you need a publicist?
October 23, 2008
|Hello Poets and Poetry Lovers
I would like to thank everyone who took the survey last week. If you did not take the survey, please do so and tell me what you think of Hyperbole. It will only take a few minutes. The password is "poem" without the quotation marks. Click the link below to be taken to the survey. Thanks.
Apart from the survey, we've got a great issue this week. I got an exclusive interview with publicist Teresa Conboy and she's got some great things to say about publicizing your poetry and getting the P.R. you need to succeed. Plus, I'll share a little bit about the results of the survey. Keep reading!
Table of Contents
Hyperbole Survey Results
After several subscribers completed the survey I noticed a few trends. Here are some of the results of the survey, based only on what subscribers have said:
Your feedback has been valuable and I thank you from the bottom of my cliched heart.
New Poetry and Music Review
This week I've added a new poetry and music review to the website. That of course means the poetry reviews page was updated.
The new review is a bit different than the other reviews you've seen. This one is a compilation of poetry and music. It is also a follow up to a similar project that came before it and a companion to a book previously reviewed, Driving With Dante by Brian Michael Tracy.
"Midnight Tea" is a CD that features the poetry of Brian Michael Tracy along with musical pieces by the duo Andy Hill and Renee Safier. I never got a chance to review that CD, but I did receive an advance copy of "Midnight Tea: A Second Cup". This is the follow-up to the original and a small dose of the talent of these three individuals. You can catch the review of "Midnight Tea: A Second Cup" featuring Brian Michael Tracy, Andy Hill, and Renee Safier right here. I hope you like it.
American Life in Poetry: Column 186
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-2006
Every child can be seen as a miracle, and here Minnesota poet James Lenfestey captures the beautiful mystery of a daughter.
A daughter is not a passing cloud, but permanent, holding earth and sky together with her shadow. She sleeps upstairs like mystery in a story, blowing leaves down the stairs, then cold air, then warm. We who at sixty should know everything, know nothing. We become dull and disoriented by uncertain weather. We kneel, palms together, before this blossoming altar.
American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright (c) 2007 by James P. Lenfestey from his most recent book of poetry, "A Cartload of Scrolls," Holy Cow! Press, 2007. Reprinted by permission of the author. Introduction copyright (c) 2008 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.
New World Class Poetry Blog Posts
Interview: Publicist Teresa Conboy
1) What exactly is a publicist and what does she do?
I see my work as a liaison between the artist and the media. I try to find the best aspects of an artistís work and translate that into a press release or bio thatís palatable for the media. I then use existing contacts and research new media outlets to which to present the artistís work for possible mention, review or feature. I also create MySpace sites for the artistís current work, or, if needed, redesign their existing one to make it more visually appealing, and use it for updates (posting reviews or interviews) about the artist. For authors and poets, I also set up in-stores Ė that is, readings or signings (more effective if positioned as a reading) - and publicize those appearances in the local media. Getting the book in stores, on Amazon, etc. is up to the client and/or their publishing house, though I do assist with writing the pitch letters. And if I do have a contact at an outlet then I donít mind making the introduction. As all this comes together, I keep interested parties (bookstores, radio, media) up to date with reviews, features, etc.
2) Why does a poet need a publicist and how does a poet work with a publicist?
Any time an artist is releasing new work (in this case, a book or Spoken Word CD), he should think about publicizing it, either by doing it themselves or hiring a publicist. Whether youíre publishing your own book and/or have your book of poetry published, ultimately you do need to publicize it/announce it/market it in some way. Many times, I find that artists are not the best judge of how to do this, whether it is writing their own press materials or contacting the media (either overkill on the e-mails/phone calls or giving up after not hearing back right away). You may craft wonderful prose, but this doesnít always translate to the straight-forward format of a press release, or knowing where to position the most important aspects about your work within the copy. If possible, itís best to have a third party write a bio or press release for you, and preferably someone who does this for a living and ... is not a significant other.
Part of my expertise is knowing when to contact, how long to wait to follow-up, when to pull back, and who to contact based on where an artist is at in their career. You can also figure this out through trial and error. In my case, it helped early on in my career to have worked at a major PR firm where I had a sort of birdís eye view of how this all worked. I got to see publicists work with high profile celebrities, art galleries, award shows and concerts as well as lesser known clients and projects. When I left there I immediately set up author interviews and signings in various cities around the U.S. for two pop culture books through St. Martinís Press and William Morrow.
3) What is the going rate for a publicist and how is she paid?
Publicistís rates vary. They can range from $500 per month to $6,000 per month for high profile public relations firms handling major publishing houses and celebrity authors. For poets, I offer a set monthly rate or project fees, keeping in mind that we're working on an artistís budget and I try to work something out that benefits both of us. Usually, expenses to cover postage, mailing envelopes (book or press kit size), phone charges, etc., are extra, but I keep these to a minimum. I also have rates for writing bios and press releases, if thatís all an author needs or can afford. Iím typically hired for three months and my services are often extended beyond that time.
4) What recommendations would you give for helping poets interview and select a publicist they'd feel comfortable working with?
Try and do some research before contacting a publicist. Look at the writerís magazines and notice what they are reviewing. Many times those poets whose books are reviewed or profiled are usually, first, through a noted publisher (you can find this out by doing a web search on the publishing house), or the writer has had some previous pieces published in that particular publication. There are, however, other media outlets where a new poet has a better shot at getting some coverage. Spoken Word radio programs and blog sites are also really effective, the latter helping to enhance your web presence. Be sure to ask a publicist about all these opportunities.
Be careful of guarantees from publicists to get you into such-and-such publication, media outlet, etc. Publicity is a process and the only thing that really guarantees you coverage is a paid advertisement. I canít force writers to write a review or feature you. I can, however, present your work in the best way possible and encourage them to look at your work. When they flat out donít respond, I accept that as a ďnot interestedĒ and move onto the next outlet.
As publicity is a process, patience is key. It can sometimes take weeks or months before anything appears online or in print. Even radio interviews or in-store bookings can take time. Don't send emails every few days asking "whatís up?Ē as that takes the publicist away from answering a media personís email and/or contacting or researching other outlets. If you change publicists be sure to keep copies of your reviews and give that list to your new publicist.
5) When should a poet start looking for a publicist?
When you're getting ready to release a book or Spoken Word CD into the marketplace, want to publicize your readings/Spoken Word events, and if youíve tried to do this on your own and find you're not having any luck doing so. Most publicists will want to work with you in advance of your bookís release. Iíve been hired in advance as well as the month prior. Either way, Iím still able to get an effective amount of work done on a clientís behalf. The Internet has really changed the game as far as that goes. If your book has been out for two years then youíre limited as to how much press you can get. In that case, if youíre a good reader, I would suggest recording (relatively simple these days to make a decent recording) yourself reading some of your work for Spoken Word radio programs. Also, if you canít afford a publicist for a full campaign then itís a good idea to talk to one about writing your press materials. Ask to see samples of their work to make sure youíre comfortable with their style.
Also, on a personal level, Iím a voracious reader, go out to see my favorite authors when theyíre in town, rent documentaries about authors (I'm reading mostly classic literature at the moment) and equally love music and art as well. So, I have a pretty broad appreciation for a variety of styles of work. That said, Iím also pretty particular about whom I represent and I donít work with an artist until I have first read their work, had a conversation with them at length (or several email exchanges) and researched their work via their websites or doing my own Google searches. While there are plenty of publicists out there who will publicize anyone who will pay them, I have to be really into the material and feel that it will interest the media on some level.
For more information about Teresa Conboy, visit her MySpace page.
Poetry Book Of The Week
This week's poetry book of the week is not a poetry book. It is a CD consisting of poetry and music. Midnight Tea by Brian Michael Tracy, Andy Hill, and Renee Safier is the original recording, not the one reviewed in this issue of Hyperbole. That CD has not been released yet, hence the reason I've chosen the original recording as this week's poetry selection of the week. You'll love the folk and jazz sounds of Hill and Safier interspersed with Tracy's great reading voice toned to his own poems.
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Wednesday - TypeWriterGirls
Thursday - Literary Bitch
Friday - Vermont Literary Review
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Sunday - Tales of the Unanticipated
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