Publishing and the Publicist

Question: How important is image to the success of an author?

Crosley:  I think a back story is important to success. I think I know for me, people have developed a sort of tempest in a teapot kid of lore about how I got published. It can be very frustrating because it can cannibalize and find its way into legitimate reviews. You’d like to think that book review sections exist in sort of a vacuum. It’s like 12 angry men somewhere but it’s not. They read the same thing you read and the same thing I read. So that’s just annoying in terms of just real estate-wise. It can take up a lot of a review. But that review might not have existed were it not for the back story, so it’s totally impossible to tell how much it’s helping and how much it’s hurting to have that kind of thing. In terms of image, in terms of appearance. I think it’s important for I guess hype reasons. It’s a vehicle to get people to the book. But so is everything. The cover is a vehicle. The title, everything is a foot in the door, and then if you walk into an empty room, you leave. That’s really all there is to it. That’s all there is to marketing. It’s funny. My boss always says that the funniest thing about our jobs is that no one has any idea what we do, which is true because there’ll be a lot of people who say “Can we do this with this book? Don’t you think the Wall Street Journal should cover it? Don’t you think it should be on Oprah?” Yes, I do think those things and it’s difficult. The best part of publicity, when it’s most fun, is when it snowballs. It’s such an uphill climb, especially paperback publicity is such an uphill climb and it’s really difficult. But then if a book starts to take off and you have one big media hit and then another, my job gets really fun and it’s like chum in the water. And you start looking around and you’re like okay, who hasn’t covered this and it’s the best feeling ever because you actually feel like you’re getting someone to read something that you care about. Then the next day you go back to being a glorified Avon lady, just calling people and begging them for just a little bit of coverage of this reissue of a collection of Icelandic short stories. Please, God.

Question: Are you the most popular publicist in New York?

Crosley:  No. I don’t even know what that means. I feel like I have a good relationship and really enjoy my job, and have a good relationship with the people that make those decisions. And when you do this job for long enough, you can work it backwards. You can see a byline or an article and you can see how it was pitched. You can see someone clearly approached that person to write this piece; they didn’t pitch it. Or you can see how they needed to get something in order to do it and in my case, to me it seems crystal clear that I have a combination of really good work contacts and a couple of sincere friends who work at the New York Observer. I think that they were in a meeting and someone said Sloan has a book coming out and someone else said hey, I know her. I think it’s a little bit more than that. I think it’s a little bit more widespread. I don’t want to sell myself too short but not by a whole lot. Isn’t Ken Sunshine or somebody like that the most popular publicist? I will say that Sweet Smell of Success is one of my favorite movies. It’s a fantastic movie but I don’t think I’m quite at the level where someone’s going to let me hijack their column and let me write it.

From "glorified Avon Lady" to successful author.

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