Thursday, November 20, 2008

Annnnd The Publicists Speak Up!

Hey, guys! Remember my post a couple weeks back about how long before publication most people prefer ARCs be reviewed? Well, I decided to spam-attack mass email a bunch of publicists and marketers from houses I have contact with and see their take. Not *all* of the ones I emailed got back to me (folks are quite busy!), and some did get back saying they preferred not to reply, but we love them anyway. :)

Anyway, here are all the responses I got. Please note this is an informational post—don’t take any response as law for any of the publishers named below because the circumstances are ever-changing. And guys? I'm not at liberty to set you up with any of the publicists herein—so as much as I like to help out my fellow bloggers, please don't ask me. Also, please don’t post any publicist details in the comments area.


The Question:

How far ahead of the release date you consider ideal for bloggers to post about ARCs you send out?

The Answers:
(In no particular order. I decided to mix it up and do a long one, a short one, another long one, etc. Make it easier to read! :))

To answer your question – I’d say we generally like to see reviews about two weeks to a month in advance – but sometimes it differs for certain books because we try to generate an early “buzz.” Still, a review posted at any time is wonderful! -Laura

Random House
In new media publicity, we handle things much closer to the actual on-sale date than traditional publicity efforts. Since bloggers do not work on a specific deadline, and in my experience their turn around time from reading to review is much faster, I send the books with only a few weeks lead time. If a blogger asks for a specific title to review, I’ll honor that request as soon as I can, but if the publication is months away, I ask them to hold off on posting a review until closer to the on-sale date. For a publicity perspective, a review that is printed months before the book is available – while always appreciated!- detracts from its positive effects, since people will forget about the book by the time it’s on sale. Our end goal is that a review is printed the same week as, or the few weeks following, the on-sale date of a book. -Jenny

Well, from my experience I prefer to have a few reviews out there a few months in advance to start building awareness, but I like most reviews in the month leading up to on-sale. No set answer to this question really! -Jillian [interview]

Bloomsbury USA
This may sound convoluted, but it depends on the site/blog and its outreach.

Since online is so immediate, if it's a site/blog whose audience extends to teens/book buyers, we prefer the posts go live right around or after the book's on-sale date so that the enthusiasm (hopefully) of the blogger will make the reader want to go buy the book. So, if the post is well before the book's available, the concern is that (to be blunt) we won't be able to capitalize upon the positive effects of a blogger's good review.

However, if the blogger's audience is more industry people (educators, librarians, publishing people, authors, booksellers) then posting as soon and as early as possible is great; it starts and continues good buzz for the book. -Deb

Berkley/NAL JAM (Penguin)
We prefer to see a book review on, or very soon after, the book’s pub date. Posting a review before the book is available in stores really doesn’t help with sales, we’ve found. We like knowing that a reader of the review can potentially go out that same day and buy the book, if they’re so inclined. If they have to wait a few days, weeks, or months, they may forget that they wanted to buy the book at all. -Caitlin

Henry Holt (Macmillan)
I'd like it if there was a bit of buzz going into the release date, but I don't prefer the review to appear so far ahead of the release that people forget about the book before it's available. -Sean

St. Martin's Press (Macmillan)
I would say that in most cases, you want something coming out 2-4 weeks before the book. That way, when blog readers get excited about the book, the book is already available for pre-order and when books appear in the stores, people recognize it. Keep in mind, this may vary from book to book depending on specific marketing plans or how much buzz the marketing/publicity team wants to get before books appearance in stores. For some really big bigs, you want buzz to begin 2 months or more in advance. In many cases, though, you want people to be able to read the review, and then go out and purchase the book soon thereafter. ALSO, timing of review greatly depends on how long it will appear on main page of site. If the review is going to remain prominent on the homepage for, let’s say, a full month, then 1-2 months in advance of publication is right. If it stays up for a week, then 2-3 weeks in advance is better. If the review is only up for a day or two, and then is replaced by newer posts/reviews, I’d say that it should only come around a week before publication. Again, timing is all about imagining the the blog’s readers will read about the book, have their interest peaked, and then remember it long enough to either order it online or recognize it when it appears in stores.

I would say that even more important than when the review comes out, is the “extras” that go along with the review. 1) Book jacket should always appear 2) A link to a place where the readers can buy the book 3) A link to the author’s website or blog OR the publishers website for the book, when applicable. -Sarah

Little, Brown
We’re happy to have review coverage whenever you are able to post it, but ideally it would be in the weeks leading up to or just after pub. Anything more than a month beforehand can lose its impact by the time the book is actually available. -Jillian

Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan)
I’ve always been of the mind that it’s bloggers that REALLY start the buzz around books. That buzz has to happen before the book is published to really make an impact. It’s those circulated ARCS, ones passed from hand to hand, that wind up being the books seriously discussed later on in the year.

My boss felt this:
I think it's about WHO reads WHICH blog.

Teachers have short memories and even shorter budgets. When they read about a book, if the book's not available, they are likely to forget about it, partly because they cannot afford to commit money to a thing they might want (even want very much), but not get right away.

Librarians have longer memories and more flexible budgets -- but they mostly cannot buy a book (i.e., preorder) unless it will arrive within a certain, specified time span: 3 months, 4 months, less... This is about cash flow in libraries, and rules manage the process.

Consumers -- well, consumers -- a much less predictable bunch. But again, they'd have to be mighty mighty moved to preorder a book. A blog might get them there, but I'd say that's rare. Some consumers will remember -- or respond to reminders. But again, too far in advance just might not pay off well even here.

So I'm thinking 6 weeks is a good lead on blogs. Maybe as much as 3 months. -Colleen

It's always great to get a review. Ideally we like reviews to run as close to the on sale date as possible, whether it is the week before or the week after. -Elyse

Simon and Schuster
From a publicity standpoint, the best time to post a review is a few weeks before the on-sale date. If a blogger posts before that time, readers are more likely to forget about the book once it goes on sale. That being said, it’s OK if bloggers post any time after that – we’d be happy to have the publicity, especially as we get closer the on-sale date. -Andrea


Annnnnd that's a wrap, everyone! A big, huge THANK YOU to all the publicists and marketers who helped me put this together. After all, without their words, I would not have anything. Hope you all enjoyed. Oh, and if you want more publicist-related posts, you should check out my interview with Jillian from Penguin Group USA. (I totally linked to it above, but a double-plug on my own blog is not a crime, right?) :)


Lenore Appelhans said...

Great info! I've often wondered about the best time to post reviews especially since you sometimes see the same book on all the blogs right around the pub date. Overkill or the perfect marketing blitz? Apparently the latter!

Unknown said...

That was really helpful. I know that HarperCollins' First Look program tells you when they'd like the review, so that's really helpful (to me at least) to have a deadline.

Alea said...

Wow Steph! What a great post, I think this is going to be a ton of help to me! I'm going to have to wait a bit to read it or risk of course, missing the bus! Will read immediately when i get to work and may comment again! Thanks for doing it!

You may have answered this in there, but one thing i am wondering about it when to review books that are being re-released in paperback?

Steph said...

Hey, guys! Glad everyone is liking it so far! :)

Alea, I'm not sure! I'll ask some of the above publicists and get back to you on that. :)


Alea said...

Oooh thanks! I was just going to email the specific house but I'd love to see another overall answer! You rock Steph! Is it weird that I just like reading information like this haha!

Alea said...

Ok I read it! Thank you for doing this! It seems for the most part, a few weeks before and a few weeks after release are the general answer. I'll definitely refer to this post in the future!

Anonymous said...

I think St. Martins press had the best answer -- it depends how long it's going to be on the home page of the blog.

I read a couple of books a week. When I spot an interesting book on this or other blogs, I'll jot the title down and get it while I'm out running errands. But if it's not available for a month or (gasp) two, my interest usually wans. Not because I'm an impulse buyer, but simply because by then I've already found 5 other books to buy and am out of money/reading time to add yet another book to my TBR pile.

Amee said...

Wow, what a great response!

Thanks for compiling all that info, Steph. :)

Anonymous said...

Thannks for compiling all this information. It should really be helpful, and it's interesting to hear from The Other Side.

Abby said...

Thanks for posting... this is great information to have! :)

Anonymous said...

Great post, really informative ;)
Seems like I'm the exception to the general consumer. If something catches my eye, no matter how far away in advance, I usually try to quickly add it to my Amazon or Chapters wishlist so when it does come out, I'll know I wanted it.

Diana Dang said...

Oh that's quite helpful! =) I'll me sure to keep that in mind!

Unknown said...

Great post! I'm glad to see HarperTeen is on the same page with me (since they're my publisher and I agree that a week before or after is ideal). Of course, FRENEMIES is *still* getting a review here and there and I have to say it's pretty cool to have the book written up at any given time. I also LOVED getting a few early reviews (I was so totally advance buzzing!) ... and, yes, the more people who buy the book in the first few weeks, the better the chances that a publisher will stay on top of the project and not give up on it. But there's something to be said for building momentum once the book is out, too.

Wow, that was a really convoluted way of saying any time is the right time. :) Oy. Anyone out there want to adopt a three-year-old? Mine is clearly exhausting me! (JK...I mean, exhausting as he is, I'm keeping him.)


Sarah MacLean said...

Terrific post, Steph...really interesting insight into the world of book pr and how it's tackling new media. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Nice work, Steph! Thanks for compiling so much useful info.

Steph said...

Thank you, everyone! (And Alexa - you still have your ability to make me laugh at all times.) I'm glad people liked it! Took a while to compile, so I'm glad that's paying off :)


Ali said...

Thanks for doing this post, it's great to see all these answers in one place!

Ali (Worducopia)

Heidi R. Kling said...

Great info! I always try and post my author interviews on their release date.

Anonymous said...

When do YOU post the reviews of an ARC? Just curious. :)

Steph said...

Hey Anon :) Fair question. I used - when I began this blog - to post them MONTHS before the release, for the few ARCs I got through contests or whatever. Now? I review them either two weeks before the release at most. Unless I'm not recommending the book, as was ths case with the review I posted today for DEADLY LITTLE SECRETS by Laurie Faria Stolarz, in which case I do it threeish or so weeks before. The reason for this is because I'm way faster about negative reviews. I guess it's just clearer to me why I disliked a book vs when I liked one, and getting the review written is easier then. And when I have a negative/lukewarm review written, I generally can't put off posting it! :)


Anonymous said...

ohhh okay, I was just curious because in the ACR poll thingy you never answer, or at least I don't remember. When I was re-reading my question it seemed to me like I was coming off as a snob trying to prove a "point" which I totally wasn't. I was just curious. Well, thanks for answering :)

Alyce said...

Great information! Thanks for sharing! I know that this is something that I had wondered about. I usually try to post my reviews within a few days of the release date unless instructed otherwise. It's nice to know that most publishers seem to prefer that. I did think it was funny that there was such a variety of responses from the publishers.

Anonymous said...

I totally missed this post. Great information!

Sandra said...

This information is very helpful, thank you for putting it together for us.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting their responses, Steph! I thought a week or two before the release date would be best in most cases and this just confirmed it.

bermudaonion said...

This is a great post. I wrote a review really early one time and contact the publisher's rep and told her I would hold onto it until release date and she asked me to go ahead and post it. I did post a reminder and link to my review on the actual release date, though.

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for gathering & posting this info! Wonderful post!

Fi-chan said...

"If they have to wait a few days, weeks, or months, they may forget that they wanted to buy the book at all."

I agree. This happens to me.

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Hey! For some reason, this embedded comment form makes most people click twice before the comment is processed and published. It's not you - it's just that it's a new Blogger feature with kinks and all that. (But I adore it and don't wanna get rid of it!) I removed Captcha to make the process easier. You don't have to rewrite the comments twice; just click on SUBMIT twice and it should work. If not, email me. Thanks! -Steph