Listen to Your Authors: Meet the Publisher of “Yes,”Pegasus

21 November, 2014

I recently had a rather extraordinary experience.

Let me give a little context.  So often, my clients get frustrated with their publishers.  They are, of course, grateful to their publishers for having selected their boo4k. But when the time comes to plan marketing campaigns, communication often seems to turn to a one-way street.  The publisher sends the author an exhaustive questionnaire to fill out in which the author can share everything he knows, every contact he has that might prove useful in pitching the book to media and for general promotion.   The publisher then keeps asking:  what can you–the author–do for us?  The author, who generally has some level of platform he or she has worked hard to build–jumps and then jumps higher.  The author is smart enough to know that a pro-active author who brings a lot to the table and is cooperative will be viewed as a “good” author.  An author who balks at these tasks or asks too many questions could be labeled “a problem.”

Then we wait.  Publication comes and goes.  Within a week of pub, if the book is not flying out of the stores or off the virtual shelves, the publisher expresses deep disappointment.  The book is not performing well.  The publicist is very busy and stops responding to calls and emails from the author.  The publicist has sent out many pitches, but no, there is little response.  The publicist moves on.  The author, it is sometimes implied, has not delivered.

Imagine a scenario in which two authors who have been previously published, one with an award-winning book and another, with a string of international bestsellers that are often tied to television series, find themselves with a small, but gutsy publisher.  This publisher is unafraid.  This publisher takes risks. This publisher listens to the authors and their ideas.  This publisher doesn’t have a huge budget, but nonetheless, invests heavily, not just in terms of money but also sweat equity.  This publisher actually hires a publicist in the UK, where it is distributing the book, and facilitates a brilliant launch event that spawns publicity worldwide.

This publisher says yes to just about every good idea the authors have.  This publisher is a joy to work with, agreeable, feisty, clever, resourceful.  The publisher is Pegasus, run by husband-and-wife team Claiborne Hancock and Jessica Case. The book in question is THE LOST GOSPEL, by Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson, and is it extremely controversial.  Claiborne and Jessica fly to London for the press conference launch at the British Library no less, and voila: we are suddenly everywhere with this book.  GMA, CNN, Conan O’Brien, msnbc, on and on and on.  Some posts on social media go viral. The book makes it at one point to 92 on Amazon’s list (before Amazon finds itself out of stock).

Hats off to the publisher of “yes.”  What a concept! A publisher who listens to the authors, who actually believes that perhaps the authors know something about their audience, their subject matter, and how to pitch their book.  How refreshing!  I’m so pleased that this agency has five books under contract to this wonderful independent publisher, and I am looking forward to each and every publication, in the spirit of true collaboration.

Thank you, Pegasus!

–Joelle Delbourgo