Monday, April 18, 2005

What is a publicist?

A publicist is a creature midlist authors dream about. I have my own personal version. She is dressed in one of those casual/dressy sort of outfits that says, "I am not in banking. I am my own person." She is brilliant, and knows book section editors at newspapers and magazines. She knows them well enough to call them and invite them to lunch at some trendy place in the historic section of any city, anywhere USA. She is your advocate--wherever she goes, there is background music that screams, "R-E-S-P-E-C-T." And if you're doing a book launch, she will step in as soon as that strange-looking little man pulls a 300 page manuscript out of his briefcase and says, "Would you take a look at these poems? My family says they're brilliant."

Ah, the dreams of a midlist author. The reality of course is that we handle our own publicity, whatever we can get. News releases, chance conversations with media personalities, personal invitations, book marks, posters--you name it and we're in charge of our own destiny.

I think most of us hate that part, the part that makes us try to get our books noticed. Aiming for the mind or imagination of the average information-bombarded American is tricky. I once told my publisher that when someone asks me to sign my poetry book, I have this deep-seated gratitude. I have watched famous authors like Nicholas Sparks sign their books. I once interviewed him for a now defunct Net news site. He was polite, but not extremely grateful. He had this cool breeze attitude that suggested, "Buy it or not, up to you."

Then I think is that what we're all after? Is that why we do what we do, this coupling with a keyboard in an obsession a shrink could have a field day with? So that someone will notice and one day we might have a publicist doing the book advocacy dance for us? So that we get reviews without beating our heads bloody against an imaginary wall stacked with best-sellers that tell us how to lose weight, and for crying out loud, how to have a life with purpose?

In the middle of this meandering post, I keep hearing the same questions. Will this book be different? Because it's true, will it be more widely received than poetry? What's the difference between a poet and a writer of nonfiction?

I reckon I am about to find out.

And I more than likely will never have a publicist. Truly.

But then there's the prospect of an agent. Who knows?
Some of my friends mentioned I should clue my guests in to pages about my new book. You can read about Killing Earl at my Net site,

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