Desperate on the side of the publishers anyway ….
My library (I’m a public library director) was approached a couple months ago by an “author publicist” eager to set up a few author visits here at the library. For free.
It seems that the publicity arms of some publishers are beginning to realize that it has long been bookstores and libraries that actually sell books by exposing people to new authors … and that with fewer bookstores out there they were going to have to start talking to the libraries.
It’s a good deal for us and for our readers. The authors sell a few books and they get their names in the papers (plus in our own publicity material). We don’t incur the costs associated with other types of programming.
I do wonder how long this will last. Publishers, after all, are not printers and their true functions have always been author development, editing, or publicity. These are all costs and, truth be told, we librarians (and the bookstore owners) likely did the last as much or more than the publishers themselves.
Here’s the thing: local authors without either talent or story approach libraries on a regular basis, convinced that our publicity can help their sales. That would be true if we wanted to lower our standards (and thus also public expectations for what we vet for our collections).
What happens when non-local authors with talent and with good stories decide to avoid publishers altogether?
We’ll soon see.