For the month of July our First Friday Club guest was Brendan Fredericks, a publicist and author manager who has his own freelance publicist and literary agency BFPR. In the past Brendan has worked for Hachette Australia and Bloomsbury Publishing. He has been working with authors and promoting their works since 2006 and has worked with authors such as Germaine Greer, Elizabeth Gilbert, A.C. Grayling, Margaret Atwood and Nick Earls. Earlier this year he worked on a short course with the Centre on the Essentials of Publishing and he has also contributed to Huffington Post Australia writing an article concerned with the price of books versus their value.
At First Friday Club, the Centre’s Membership and Development Officer Sherry Landow spoke with him at length on his role as a publicist and the experiences he’s had. He shared stories about working with authors and gave professional advice to writers.
… On his role as a publicist.
Brendan likes to focus on two things: author care and championing their works. Brendan describes this as making sure that the authors are comfortable and their needs are being met while championing their work involves getting the right coverage to match the work. Although it might seem obvious, the best way to publicise a book is to read it. As Brendan mentioned, ‘this can be challenging when you’re working on 40 titles a month’.
Although touring is his favourite part of the job, the work never really ends; as long as a book has legs, the campaign doesn’t finish even after publication. ‘I take on a book because I believe in it’, Brendan says. He admits to getting a real kick out of seeing the books he’s worked on featured in newspapers like the Sydney Morning Herald.
Part of the role of a publicist is providing media training for the author. Being a writer naturally requires long periods of time spent alone with the work, yet a part of promoting the work involves public speaking and making festival appearances. Because of this Brendan says that authors need to be performers to a certain extent but it should be balanced out by what the author is comfortable with. On the whole, authors seems to be becoming more comfortable but this doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t challenge themselves; readers expect a lot.
… On whether authors should be on social media.
Brendan admits that to some extent authors have to engage with social media however this is entirely dependent on the author’s persona, their work and finding the right discourse to fit both. Publicists and publishers are there to help.
Brendan also spoke on the dangers of maintaining a blog. Even though the blog might initially be intended to promote both the author and their work, he warns that the time spent on maintaining and writing a blog could be time used for writing the actual book. For this reason, it’s important to ask yourself, ‘Are you writing a book or are you writing a blog?
… His views on the true cost of books.
Brendan is also very passionate about the cost and value of books, an issue he covers in an article on Huffington Post Australia titled We Will Pay the Price for Making Books Cheaper.
According to Brendan, the cost of a book comes down to so much more than what you see on the shelf – it’s about valuing art. Brendan emphasises ‘I go to bat for authors and think they should be paid for their work.’ He also makes an interesting point that the people complaining about the prices of books will be the ones complaining about the lack of quality in books in ten years time.
You can keep track of Brendan’s work through his twitter account.
Don’t forget to RSVP for our next First Friday Club event!