Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Holidays!

We’re making a list
checking it twice
gonna find out who’s naughty or nice

Before I start handing out Christmas goodies, let me take a minute to wish everyone Happy Holidays. We hope that all of our readers have a wonderful holiday season and we look forward to a fantastic 2008! Our blog will be going on hiatus until the first week of January so that we can all take a much needed break.

In the spirit of annual year in review feature stories that are likely already running in your local papers, we decide to hand out some presents for media members that stood out for being naughty or nice this year.

Who is getting coal?

- Katie Couric for moving to CBS Evening News. Katie: we miss your unnatural but refreshing early morning cheer!

- The writers currently striking from our favorite sitcoms: Does "24" really refer to months? Didn't think so. Soon "Lost" will be a lost cause...

- Sports reporters who blamed Jessica Simpson for Tony Romo's poor performance against the Eagles last week: we know you just wanted an excuse to show her picture on the air.

- Book reviewers that write book "reviews" without reading the book. 75% of you say it's unethical but sometimes we wonder.

- Stephen Colbert for dropping his bid for the White House. So much for that I Am America thing.

- Conde Nast for canning JANE Magazine. Thanks, but we don't want Glamour subscriptions instead.

- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and countless other papers for cutting their book review sections.

Who is getting a full stocking?

- Regis Philbin: thanks for 20 years of great programming!

- Oprah Winfrey, who started a Leadership Academy for girls in South Africa. Nice work O!

- OK! Magazine. They've certainly surged to the top of the "tabloid elites" after launching state-side just one year ago.

- NPR for declining interviews with both President Bush and Senator Clinton because they were trying to control the interview by specifying the interviewer and the questions to be asked.

- Steve Wasserman, former editor of The Los Angeles Times' book review section, for lobbying to keep book review sectiosn and not cater to the advertising and marketing department by only reviewing best sellers.

- The expanding network of bloggers who write reviews for quality books from new authors. This was perhaps the most significant trend for authors in 2007.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Books on Film: Golden Globes honor literary adaptations on the big screen

“The book was better.”

A favorite phrase uttered by bastions of pretentiousness the world over, “the book was better” is meant to separate the literate cinephile from the everyday filmgoer in one fell swoop. But no matter how unnerving this phrase can be, with many films adapted from books, it’s simply true. Many, but not all.

The Golden Globe nominations were announced today, and leading the pack in categories including best drama, best musical or comedy, best dramatic actor and best dramatic actress were critically acclaimed films such as “Atonement,” “There Will Be Blood,” “Charlie Wilson’s War” and “No Country for Old Men,” all of which are based on books.

The jury is still out for most audiences on whether these critically-acclaimed films truly live up to their literary inspirations. I think we can all remember a few movies in the past that either surpassed the book on which they were based (“The Godfather,” anyone?) or else completely and horrifyingly missed the mark (need I bring up the great “Dune” debacle of ’84?).

I have hope for this recent crop of literary flicks, though. Admittedly, of the titles listed above I have only read the novel “Atonement” by Ian McEwan, and I haven’t yet seen the film. But I can certainly understand how the book would be perfect fodder for a good, solid British drama. Remember “The Remains of the Day”? “Howard’s End”? Not a lot of stretching for the cinematographer and screenwriter going on there. I think it’s safe to say, along with the rave reviews critics have given it so far, the film adaptation of “Atonement” lives up to the novel.

On the other hand, I recently saw the Cohen brothers’ version of Cormac McCarthy’s “No Country for Old Men” without having first read the novel. How the book could possibly strike white-hot fear into my heart the way Javier “Crazy Eyes” Bardem did in the film as the serial killer Anton Chigurh is beyond me. Move over Hannibal Lecter, Chigurh is coming for you, and he has his giant, compressed-air tank in tow. (Seriously, just see the movie.)

This is actually one of those films that makes you want to go and immediately pick up the book, a triumph for those of us in the literary industry. Bloody, yet moving, bleak, yet full of rich characters, if “the book was better” is true in the case of “No Country for Old Men,” then…well, okay I wouldn’t be that surprised. Cormac McCarthy is the kind of author that other authors aspire to be. McCarthy is the type of author who grants an interview with Oprah, not the other way around. In fact, according to the Internet Movie Database:

“Contrary to most successful films made from books, much of the film's action is taken word for word from Cormac McCarthy's novel and to boot occurs in the same order of events. Bell's final speech in the film, for instance, can be read on the final page of the book.”

Perhaps that’s why the film is so good in the case of “No Country for Old Men”—we have an author to thank. Many authors today may attempt to write books that read like movies to get that coveted film deal; but keep in mind, writing for the big screen is a screenwriter’s job. Just write something real, write something exceptional, and perhaps the producers may one day come to you.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

2007 Year in Review

This column appeared in our corporate newsletter this month and though the purpose of this blog is not to talk about our firm, I thought it might be helpful to our readers to learn more about the work that we have done this year. Here is our 2007 Year in Review:

Since things move so quickly in the literary world, I like to stop during the holidays and take stock of what we have accomplished as a firm during the year. It is always difficult to review progress made during a specific year because in the publishing industry the years tend to run together. Books are written and edited years before they are released to market. Publicity campaigns begin in one year and end in another. Hardcover editions are published well in advance of paperback versions. And the list goes on and on. For that reason, it is hard to “package” a year in review column. We are already well into campaigns for books that are launching in early 2008, making 2007 a distant memory at this point—and we still have one month left.

Though we may be looking ahead to 2008, let’s take a brief look back to review what our clients have accomplished this year. In 2007, P&P clients have:

* been scheduled for more than 2,500 bookings.
* sold film rights to A-list producers for two true crime books.
* included best-selling authors like Dr. Kevin Leman, Philip Carlo, Nancy Rue, Vicki Courtney, Dr. John MacArthur, Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott, Al Janssen, Brother Andrew and others.
* included top publishing houses like Thomas Nelson, WaterBrook/Multnomah Publishing Group, Zondervan, St. Martin’s Press, B&H Publishing Group, Baker Publishing Group, New Hope Publishers, Harvest House, Hunter Press, Tyndale House, Howard Publishing, Tertulia Press and several others.
* been published by leading publishers like Farrar, Straus & Giroux/Sarah Crichton Books, St. Martin’s Press, Bantam Dell, Tor/Forge, Clarkson Potter and others.
* received bookings in every top-50 newspaper, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, etc.
* been featured in the nation’s most read magazines, including SHAPE, Woman’s Day, Playboy, The Costco Connection, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Money, Woman’s World, Entertainment Weekly and others.
* lit up the phone lines on the nation’s most listened-to radio programs, including "The Mancow Show," "The Michael Reagan Show," ESPN Radio, Focus on the Family, Air America, "Coast to Coast AM," "Oprah & Friends" and hundreds of others.
* been interviewed on national television programs like "The Today Show," MSNBC, "Life Today," "Living the Life" and others.
* had their books reviewed and discussed on blogs, web sites and other online news sites throughout the year.

This year, P&P also joined the Web 2.0 generation, launching this blog, which has been a great way to share our publicity knowledge with readers around the world. We have heard positive reviews from industry contacts and clients, and I certainly encourage you to keep an eye on it in 2008.

We also forged alliances with top literary festivals, handling national promotion for the Texas Book Festival. P&P team members were also in demand for speaking opportunities at various industry events, including the Writers League of Texas' annual Agents & Editors Conference and Harvard University’s annual publishing course.

As we head into 2008 I am bullish on the prospect of an even more successful year. But before we start looking ahead, I want to take a minute to thank our authors for everything that you do to be great partners during each campaign that we run. Your hard work, preparation and talent does not go unnoticed by our team. Your success is our success, and we hope to continue to build on the long-term relationships we have with so many of you.

To the best in-house publicists in the country at the many publishers we work with, thanks for working closely with our team throughout each campaign that we partner with you on. We value the ability to work with you on such great books and look forward to working together to send more books to the best seller list in 2008.

By building on the relationships we have grown over the last fourteen years with top publishers, high-profile media outlets and the best authors in the business we will continue to put our clients in front of millions of book buyers in 2008.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Don't shoot the messenger!

Last week, daytime talk show host Montel Williams was involved in a heated confrontation with a reporter from the Savannah Morning-News.

To sum it up, Williams became upset during an interview following one of the reporter’s questions. Not only did he terminate the interview before it was finished, but he allowed his anger to get the best of him. When a group of the newspaper’s reporters returned to the interview site later that day for an unrelated story assignment, Williams confronted one of them and allegedly threatened her saying: “Don't look at me like that. Do you know who I am? I'm a big star, and I can look you up, find where you live and blow you up."


While Williams later apologized for his unwarranted outburst, the damage was already done. Not only did he end the interview before he had a chance to share his side of the story, but he also tarnished his image in the media—and public– eye.

As a publicist who majored in journalism and once worked as a reporter, I have a few words of wisdom for authors to remember before every interview. Even if a question might tick you off, or you think you’re being “set up for a slip up,” don’t let your anger get the best of you. Take the high road. Trust me; it’ll be better in the long run.

Of course it is important to know your facts before an interview. To know what kind of story the reporter is working on. To know what kind of things you might want to talk about. To know what your role is in the interview. But it’s equally important to know the role of the media, especially if you are planning to use the media as a way to promote your message, build your platform and boost your credibility.

In my multitude of journalism training and experience, I heard time and time again that the central purpose of journalism is to provide citizens with accurate and reliable information they need to function in a free society. To do their job effectively, a reporter might have to ask nosy, and sometimes irksome, questions. Coverage in mass media, if any, is not paid for; therefore interpretation of the message is in the hands of the media.

If you come across as standoffish, annoyed, or simply displeased with the reporter’s questions during an interview, you are going to come across that way in the article.

Remember, that if you have valuable information to share that can add to a debate, the media can be your friend. Don’t get angry if you don’t like the direction an interview is headed. Don’t lash back at a reporter if you don’t like the story they ran.

Be informative. Be happy to share the information. And trust that the reporter will live up to the journalistic standard of sharing the truth.

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