When I first daydreamed what it would be like to be a book publicist I imagined myself introducing an author to a packed Barnes and Noble book signing. In my daydream I also look like Angelica’s Mom from Rugrats.
The reality turned out to be a bit different. When I’m asked what it’s like to be a book publicist my answer is a short question: have you ever had so much email you wondered if Google’s headquarters was going to call you up to ask you to kindly stop clogging their server?
Seriously though, email is 99% of the work I do. And it starts really early too. Here’s a breakdown:
7 am: I wake up and check my email as I’m waiting for the shower to get hot. I am checking to see if I received any further responses from a pitch I sent out yesterday. Email life/balance is something I’m working on; but, in this industry, when the lead comes in, you have to run with it or else you might miss it. I am also looking to see if my author’s op-ed article was picked up. I’m looking at you, Washington Post!
8:30 am: I get into the office and immediately toggle between email, Twitter, and the news. A big coffee is in immediate reach. I need to see what is trending and what’s happening in the news. The media wants to hear from experts who can offer commentary for the latest news cycle, so it’s imperative I stay on top of trends. However, I am also thinking about things 3 to 6 months from now. Magazines plan their editorial schedules very far out. For example, it’s currently October and I am drafting pitches for Valentine’s Day.
9 am: I am writing my first pitch of the day. The book I am working on is a children’s picture book that comes out soon. I am trying to arrange a TV appearance for the author in her local market. Some cities are much easier to book than others. Blows kisses to the Midwest and the South. Gives shady eyeball to Philly [I’m from Philly, it’s ok].
10 am: Now I’m working on a blog tour for a fiction campaign. Here is where I flirt with book bloggers by offering them free books and smiley emoticons in return for a scheduled review. These people make the book community go round. They are essentially book angels.
11 am: It’s time for an author check-in call! I typically work with 5 to 10 authors at a time, and I usually have a 15-minute call with each one every week. This is so we can go over pending interviews, op-ed and byline opportunities, and brainstorm pitching angles. By far, the most successful campaigns are the ones where the author and I work closely together. It takes two to tango on a publicity campaign and the more I know about the authors, the more juice I have to pitch to the media.
12 pm: Speaking of juice, it’s time to eat. I try to get some reading in during lunch, but I am tempted to check my email. Woo-hoo, Washington Post accepted the article! I can’t wait to tell my author. In a job that comes with so much rejection, the successes become that much greater! I love passing along good news to authors.
1 pm: Now comes the time when I ensure my authors have all the interview details they need for the week. Working with authors is really interesting because not only do you get an inside look at the book world, you also get an inside look at people. As it goes with all industries, people come with all different personality sets. Some authors need friendly reminders for interviews, while others are satisfied with a Google Doc listing all the necessary information for the week.
2 pm: I am writing a new pitch now. This time it’s related to the presidential election. We’ve had a lot of books and authors come in with themes related to the election. You’d be surprised how many Trump books exist! My job is trying to come up with something that hasn’t been done yet. Any journalists interested in an expose on Trump’s hair stylist? Oh, who am I kidding.
3 pm: Research, research, research. The media landscape is constantly changing, so my job is to learn who is covering what. And there are always new ways to discover influencers. Lately, we’ve been looking to Twitter and Instagram to find new tastemakers. Journalists on Twitter have been known to respond to DMs and also leave emails in their bios. And Instagram is an awesome place for book lovers. It’s the perfect place to look to when I’m working on photo-worthy fiction titles.
4 pm: The rest of the day could be filled with a myriad of things: Uploading a book to NetGalley, writing talking points for an author’s radio interview, researching statistics that will emphasis a point in my pitch, or simply calming an author who has received a less-than-perfect review. This is the tough part in my job. Reviews are an inescapable part of this industry. My advice for authors who receive hard feedback is to just keep plowing forward. Keep looking for the people who appreciate your words, who relate with your work. They are out there. Trust me!
Essentially, my job is to empathize with authors. I sometimes see myself as a book therapist, someone who is there to be a cheerleader for my author, to really “get” where he’s coming from, and to understand why he wrote a book and for whom. I may not be introducing authors to packed audiences at Barnes and Noble dressed like Angelica’s Mom, but hey, maybe one day I will. Until then, I get to work with so many talented authors behind the scenes—from NYT bestsellers to self-published authors—all of whom are passionate, bright, and working toward sustaining this magical world of literature.
Elizabeth Anne Martins is a book publicist from Philadelphia, PA. She is also a middle grade book author. Learn more at www.elizabethannemartins.com
Category: On Book Marketing