In a spin

<p>As a bookseller you are always keen to see the publicity plans behind a book, especially one that you are considering for promotion. You want reassurance that you aren't putting a title front-of-store to fend for itself, that readers are going to be aware of the book when it hits the shelves.</p>
<p>But here's the strange thing. Despite their eagerness to see the PR plan, most buyers, quite rightly, view them with some scepticism. At Waterstone's I used to consider them greater works of fiction than many of the books they were designed to promote. So much of the content is &quot;to be confirmed&quot;, and very little, at least when you need to make the buying decision, is set in stone. You can take it as read that the big celebrity biogs will be plastered all over the media. But what about all the other books that are published and vying for attention? How can you tell if that publicity plan, so optimistically presented by the sales rep, is actually going to deliver anything at all?</p>
<p>Recently at The Friday Project we have seen the fickle nature of publicity at close quarters. On the one hand, we have had two author appearances on &quot;This Morning&quot; cancelled at the last minute. On the other, we saw Emma Kennedy on &quot;Richard &amp; Judy&quot; and &quot;Loose Women&quot; in the same week, and Rachel North's <em>Out of the Tunnel </em>was featured on GMTV and the ITN News, and in Cosmopolitan and the Daily Mail.</p>
<p>It is a hit-and-miss affair, as anyone working in publicity in publishing can tell you, and yet without the right plot, your book may not get supported by the retailers.</p>
<p>This presents a problem for smaller publishers. Doing your own PR takes a lot of time and specific expertise, neither of which are necessarily in abundance at an independent press. Employing an agency to handle it for you can prove expensive. At The Friday Project we do a bit of both. We have found agencies to be excellent, delivering fantastic results, but we can't afford them for all our books. At the other extreme, one afternoon mailing out copies of <em>Anatomy of Cinema</em> from the office secured us a full-page article in the Express and two features on Jonathan Ross' BBC Radio 2 show.</p>
<p>Which just goes to show that you never know quite what will work and what won't. I guess the best that indie publishers can do is to build up a reputation for delivering on their plans and hope that retailers recognise that. Crossing fingers is not the most professional tactic, but when it comes to publicity it is often the best option.</p>