Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Interview with National Book Publicist Charlie Barrett

Joining us today is national book publicist Charlie Barrett. We’ll talk to him today about The Barrett Company, what they have to offer, and what he sees in the company’s future.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Charlie. It is an honor to have you with us. Can you start by giving our readers a brief history of your work in media relations and marketing?

Charlie: Before I became a publicist I was a print journalist working in New York and later Los Angeles for The Hollywood Reporter. I have been a publicist in Hollywood and New York for some 25-plus years, working in books, movies and television. My firm, The Barrett Company opened a book division some 12 years ago with author and Hollywood producer Marty Jurow (he produced "Breakfast at Tiffany's") and his book "Seein' Stars: A Show Biz Odyssey" from Southern Methodist University Press. Aside from books, we also handle TV shows, most recently CBS' "The Amazing Race" and movies too with MGM, Paramount and Universal. Before opening my firm I served with the NBC TV network, first as manager of information for NBC News and later Johnny Carson’s and Ed McMahon's publicist on "The Tonight Show," which led me to open The Barrett Company in 1992. Not many know that Ed McMahon was also a very successful author, penning four best seller books, including "Laughing Out Loud."

What made you decide to strike out on your own?

Charlie: After Johnny and Ed exited NBC I was already repping Ed as his publicist and decided right then to open my own firm...it was September 1992. Ed was my first client with his show “Star Search" and also TV producer Larry O'Daly who created the seminal TV comedian's show “An Evening at the Improv" that ran for years on the A & E network.

The Barrett Company serves a diverse client base. How are you able to meet the needs of each client?

Charlie: We emphasize close and personal attention for each of our clients in books, TV and films and we are available to hear from them almost 24 hours a day with e-mail, texting and phone. Each of us here are specialists in our fields...mine is books, TV and some movies now. We hold daily meetings on the phone with our clients and look for every marketing op we can see day-to-day. To really do a good job at this, one has to really be a media junkie. Each client has a unique story to tell and the key is knowing the media so well you know where to take it to get maximum coverage and attention.

Is there something special you look for to help you decide if you can form a solid relationship with a client?

Charlie: Yes. We are contacted daily by many potential author clients either via e-mail or by phone. I prefer a phone call from a potential client and not e-mail to start out. We look first to see if the potential client is honest and trustworthy and if they are for "real," because some callers have posed as authors and really they are just looking for free advice on PR, or they are unsolicited phone marketers. We do not reply to blind e-mail requests for proposals...never, never. However, once we feel a new potential client is worth our time and we are interested, we always offer a free consultation to get started and answer their questions as best we can. We also require seeing a copy of their book or final galleys before going further. The Internet can be a tricky landscape and even publicists need to be on their toes for fakes. I think we look mostly for credibility and trust in our clients.

How has your company changed over the last decade?

Charlie: Well, mostly we have been expanding our services for self-published and trade published writers as well as serving some small press companies too. We are very interested in where electronic publishing is going as well and what vistas EP will be opening for authors. The Internet plays a huge role today in a publicist’s life since so much is done with the media and clients via e-mail, online social blogging, Twitter and Face Book. This has made a huge change in our operations since 1992, which previously was built around word processors and fax machines. It is an exciting time to see a new model emerging in publishing and so much change.

What is it that makes your company stand out from the rest?

Charlie: The single thing I find that most makes us stand out may be that we are based in the nation's creative center...Hollywood. Many authors can be attracted to that since they have ambitions to create screenplays from their works and also want us to place their books with celebrities and select producers we know or perhaps a studio head or network program executive. I personally am among very few book publicists out there that have strong credentials as a former print journalist from the AP to The Hollywood Reporter and that counts for a lot too, I think. We also have a great track record with the major book reviewers and USA TODAY along with CNN, and the “Today" show.

What does the future look like for The Barrett Company?

Charlie: We want to get more into the growth of electronic publishing with our authors. While stand alone books, in real time, will probably always be with us, there is a new model coming and Amazon, Barnes and Noble and others that are at the forefront of a new dawn in the industry. Traditional publishers are developing new pathways to sell their books as many book stores are closing, especially independent ones here in Los Angeles.

Where can we find you online?

Charlie: Our web site is http://www.thebarrettco.com/ and a new more specialized book web site is coming in the near future from us via http://www.hollywoodbookpublicity.com/. Our e-mail contacts are info@thebarrettco.com and barcopr@earthlink.net. We can be reached in Hollywood at 310-471-5764.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Charlie: Yes. Before an author decides to write their first book he or she should do some basic research on the publishing industry and understand where their position is within its vast structure. Many authors are not aware that as many as 3,000 or more books are published each day in the United States and that number is growing. Most books published are from self-published authors too. If they do self-publish, they need to do some homework on selecting who they want to work with, which is crucial for costs and service. Lately I have found many self-published authors very happy with CreateSpace to publish their SP books.


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1 comment:

Dreambeast said...

Sounds extremely interesting and worthwhile.