The Corner Office: On the Record With: Paul Bogaards
When you teach classes on publicity, what do you tell future publicists are some of the most important skills they need?
● You need to read with comprehension and know how write well (still). You need to distill essential information about your books (outgoing process) and digest media and data (incoming process). You need to be personable (for relationship building). You need to have a strong network of contacts.
I always ask people who are interviewing with me if they’ve ever worked in sales. It’s the second question I ask. The first is “What are you reading now?” You’d be surprised how many people say Tolstoy. F***ing Tolstoy! Anyhow, almost everyone says “no” in response to the question about sales. Then I ask them how they would feel about working in sales. Almost all of them grimace. So I categorically reject most candidates after the third question because, in my view, you need to have the tenacity of a commission sales rep to perform this job well. You need to be unrelenting in both your advocacy and outreach on behalf of authors. If your friends don’t say to you once a week, “Can you just stop talking about books for a minute?” you are not doing your job well.
You need to chase leads. You need to cope well with rejection. You need to be highly functional and irrationally happy. You need to be connected to the world and engaged. You have to listen to conversations that spring up around your books (and sometimes step in and change them).
What are some qualities writers need to be successful promoting their books?
● Fabulous hair and comfortable shoes.
Writers need to understand the value of promotion: why it matters. Writers need to be engaged with every audience they come into contact with—publishers, sales reps, booksellers, librarians, media, social hubs—because every audience represents an opportunity. And proper engagement begins with enthusiasm for their work. That may sound obvious, but I’ve been around a surprising number of authors who are kind of “meh” about their work (or if not their work, the process of selling it). Listen: If you’re not excited about your book, why should the reader be? Writers need to send the appropriate message. Shamelessness, adaptability and an awareness of the marketplace all help.