When you are a publicist, you deal with many different types of people. And since you often end up spending a considerable amount of time with them, you soon learn their particular strengths and weaknesses, much the way a teacher learns her students' abilities, or a management type comes to understand the dynamics of the work place around them. A cross section of society, then, is what we deal with. And like any widely diverse bunch of humanity, there are nice people, there are not-so nice people and everything in between.
I've had clients who have had meltdowns, bad marriages, hissy fits, abusive behavior towards little ole' me and just plain general lameness. Thankfully, these people are not the norm - if they were I'm sure I'd be somewhere else by now.
As much as one wants to like all one's clients, (and many have gone on to become friends long after a job has ended) it's just not possible. Partly this is because not everybody clicks and that's fine, but it's also a function of what the client thinks you should be and what you are in reality.
1) We are not your therapist. Yes, we will listen to your stories of stupid editors, low event turnouts, rude store employees, low sales, dashed hopes. But c'mon, we are here to enhance, not be prey to your vampiric needs. I had a client who complained that I wasn't giving them enough "compliments". I wasn't gushing over good reviews and I wasn't enthusiastic about what efforts they themselves were putting forth. Guess what? It's your fucking book, and you should be charging ahead, hired a publicist or not. It's not really about you - it's about doing the job and hopefully helping you.
2) We can't always read every word of your book. Yup. We do understand how much of you is in that book - we respect you immensely for writing it. We certainly want to be familiar with its content, its style, its quality - but you are not our only client. And to sit here and read every word of every book (although exceptions are not infrequent!) we are working on is flat out impossible - when would the work get done? The media won't read your book either. And that's where we can help. That's why we pitch you in a way that is enticing. Well, we try anyway.
3) The more you annoy us, the less we seem to be able to do. Funny, huh? Sounds unprofessional. Sounds childish. Sad perhaps, but true.
4) I've had many people think that by hiring me they will magically get reviewed. Just like that. Of course, now that hardly any of the traditional venues for books getting reviewed exist anymore, this may not be an issue much longer. It's true that sometimes it all falls into place, the editor listens to us - when we get their attention -- but most of the time the decsions are made regardess of our desires. Shocking, isn't it?
5) Despite all the above, don't forget that we live our work lives vicariously - through you. We get a real buzz when the NPR interview comes through. We are happy to get up at 7am on a Saturday morning to see your appearance on the morning news. We are thrilled to see the feature in the insert name here paper. Hell, we like to see the little "best bets" things that are sometimes all we can get for you.
6) We can't work those glorious miracles all the time, but trust me, we want to.