Rebeca Seitz is president of Glass Road Public Relations. Her second novel, Sisters, Ink, hits store shelves this month. We sat down with Rebeca to learn more about the world of publicity. Rebeca, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed today.
How long have you been in PR?
Was there ever a time in your career you thought of quitting?
How many clients can you serve in a year?
What can your agency offer to first time authors that they might not be able to do on their own?
What about established authors? Can you give us an idea how working with Glass Road Public Relations can help them?
Sure – it depends on the author’s previous media coverage and desires for the future. Some authors have published eight books, but if you mention their name to an avid reader, all you get is a raised eyebrow. With publicity, that shouldn’t happen as often. Your title list equips the publicist to pitch you to media, who in turn write articles about you and review your books. Consumers see that media coverage and become more familiar with your name. Then, when they go to purchase a book, they know to find your books. We know from a survey in 2005 that author name recognition is in the top five reasons consumers name for purchasing a book, so getting your name out there is very important!
Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?
I do have one main peeve – it’s when we don’t conduct ourselves as Christians, either with each other or when dealing with non-believers in the industry. I’m as guilty of this as the next person, so know that I’m pointing my finger inward! If we’re going to say we’re “Christians” then we should operate at a level more excellent than the rest of the world. I get frustrated when people say something is “just a ministry” – as if that phrase is ever justified! Just a ministry? A ministry is a calling. And we’re told to do everything as unto the Lord. Which means if I’m operating a business that is also a ministry, I ought to be making it the most excellent business/ministry I possibly can. No cutting corners, no half-way doing stuff – 110% all the time.
I really love getting newbie authors off the ground. I love teaching them the ropes of the publishing world and walking alongside them on this path of publication. Don’t get me wrong – working with established authors lets me flex my publicist muscles and call up the big dog media outlets – but there’s a special joy in seeing an author’s eyes light up as those first reviews come rolling in. I’ve been really honored to work with several debut authors and I count my work with them as something I’m proud of.
Do you have a scripture or quote that has spoken to you lately?
Can you give us a look into a typical day for you?
I let the dogs out, then go to the office and see what’s landed in my inbox overnight. I spend about half an hour responding to anything that can’t wait until later. About the time I finish, I can hear my two-year-old talking downstairs so I take a break to go say, “Good morning” and get that ever-important morning hug. If it’s Monday, Wednesday, or Friday I help him get ready for pre-school, then go back to the office. If it’s Tuesday or Thursday, I just get my hug and go back to work. Next is my Task list. I first do anything that has a deadline on it – creating press materials, updating activity reports, sending out contracts, following up with media who let me know they were meeting a deadline, etc. Then I move on to things without hard and fast deadlines, just loose timeframes – calling and emailing media, developing media lists, scheduling trips to media-rich cities, pulling together presentations for writers conferences, talking with authors, reading new manuscripts that are coming in, etc. I break around 1 or 2 o’clock if I have a few free minutes for lunch. Otherwise, I just keep working and my darling husband ends up sitting something on my desk when I’m on the inevitable phone call. I usually stop officially working around 5 or 6 unless I’ve scheduled a call with someone on the West Coast. In that case, I keep working until the call is over.
What is your favorite and least favorite part of working with authors?
What’s your favorite part of marketing?
Getting a “big” hit for a “little” author. Totally makes my day every time! My favorite part of the campaign is crafting the press materials and the branding. That’s the dreaming stage!
What things have you found work particularly well when marketing a book?
We all hear how subjective this business is. Can you elaborate on that?
When you think about it, there’s really no reason to expect otherwise. We’re made in the image of an infinite God – infinite in being. Each of us has the tiniest portion of characteristics of His making. Before the Fall, all those characteristics probably worked in beautiful harmony together. Now, they war with each other. What one person calls art, another calls horrid. We lost the ability to see the complete picture, so we praise the portions that connect with our creation.
That’s why it’s so important to measure ourselves by His standard for our lives, not one we create ourselves by looking at everyone else.
What’s the best piece of advice you can give our readers about marketing?
Also, be teachable. My mom drilled this into me as a child. None of us knows everything, so listening to each other and being open to new information is nearly always a wise choice!
What are the biggest mistakes writers make when marketing their work?
Not tailoring the information to the outlet they’re pitching – which goes hand in hand with not knowing the outlet they’re pitching. Take the time to Google stuff. Find out what books the reviewer read in the past and liked – then reference that in your email or phone call or letter. Familiarize yourself with the outlet and you’ll know if your product is appropriate for them.
Do you have any parting words of advice?
Keep your head up! Twenty years ago, promotions folks could find a silver bullet that shot a book and author up the charts almost without fail. With the plethora of outlets in the world today (blogs, internet sites, radio, internet radio, podcasts, billboards, newspapers, magazines, newsletters, book clubs, libraries, bookstores, church libraries, reading groups, etc.), there is no longer a single magic bullet. There are forty bullets and they’ve all got to be aimed carefully. Now, more than ever, promotions at the grassroots level is what will consistently bring good results. As I told an author just this morning, it’s not sexy, but it gets books in bags.