Today we have a guest blogger with us, Marketing Publicist for Cedar Fort Publishing Kelly Martinez. I really wanted to get the goods on what a day in the life of a publicist was and what they do for their authors. I hope you enjoy the interview with Kelly.
Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get started in this business? I actually haven’t been in the book publishing business very long. I come with a background in sports marketing and publicity, which, I must admit, fits nicely with the book publishing industry. I worked in athletic marketing and promotions at two junior colleges in southern California for about 18 years and for the Los Angeles Clippers for about five years.
What’s a typical day like for a book publicist? Mountains o’ email! A typical day starts with about 25-50 emails to start the day and involves a constant stream of them throughout the day. After dealing with the myriad of issues contained in said emails, a typical day includes a variety of tasks, including staff meetings, research, graphic designing, mailings, phone calls to authors and media and blogging. Basically, you’ve got to be able to shift gears quickly and deal with multiple interruptions throughout the day.
How does Cedar Fort Publishing promote and market your books? It’s actually the authors’ responsibility to market their books. My job is to help them market and promote their books, not do it for them. I liken my role as a publicist to that of a counselor: I can guide and offer suggestions of what to do, but ultimately it’s up to the author to sell the book. That said, my job is to make sure the author stays on track to maximize their marketing efforts. I encourage book signings, launch parties, media interviews and just about anything else that comes to mind, so long as it is aimed at selling books.
What do authors need to do these days to market their books and push sales? My number one suggestion to authors is to have a strong social media and online presence and to use these valuable marketing tools often. Authors also need to be willing to interact with prospective buyers in a an assortment of settings, such as through email or in person at book signings or launch parties. Authors also need to be willing to use some of their own money to hold effective marketing events. If done properly, using their own money will prove to be a sound investment in their book’s success.
I recently had an author take the initiative by suggesting herself as guest on a local morning TV show through the show’s website. Lo and behold, a few days later they contacted her and are going to have her on the show the day her book is released. Authors need to be actively engaged in the marketing of their books and not be afraid to follow whatever idea comes to them, no matter how far fetched it may seem.
If authors want to do it themselves, what are your 3 top tips on how to get publicity? Effort, effort and effort. Contrary to what some authors think, no matter how good the book is, it’s not going to sell itself. The way I see it, if an author was able to carve out enough hours to write the book, they should be able to set aside enough time to market it, as well. In today’s book marketing climate, I can’t say enough for the value of online marketing.
What do you love most about being part of the book world? Dealing with such creative people! From authors to editors to cover designers, it’s so inspiring to see how talented these people are! As an aspiring novelist, all the creativity I deal with on a daily basis only motivates me in my own writing endeavors.
Are blog book reviewers good to use? Book-reviewing bloggers are an extremely valuable way for authors to get the word out about their books. I can’t imagine book marketing without these bloggers!
What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job? I was attacked by one of those Sesame Street “Yup! Yup!” creatures at our Halloween party!
What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field? As far as skills go, you should be an effective communicator, both with the written and spoken word. You will frequently be called upon to write a variety of documents, including press releases and cover letters. You’ll also be required to talk to your authors and media contacts on the phone and in person. College education requirements will vary from publisher to publisher, but it’s a good idea to have taken courses or had training in writing and customer service.
What’s your usual workload of authors, and what are the types of things you do for them? Currently, I’m juggling about 36 authors for whom I provide marketing support and counseling services, such as press release proofreading and editing and blog tour assistance. I’m also regularly pitching local and national media outlets in an attempt to get my authors media attention. I constantly am patrolling their Facebook and Twitter feeds for book-relevant material that I can share with our following. I gather information from my authors to try to get them into the book signing and launch party circuit. I also design online banners for my authors’ blog tours and deal with any questions or concerns that arise.
Do you have any unique ways of marketing your books that are different from how others market their books? You mean other than forcing my kids to stand on street corners and sell them? (laughs) Not really. We all pretty much use the same marketing tools, but go about it in different ways. It’s kind of like sports, each coach and player’s objective is to win, but they all go about it in different ways using the same tools.
What do you think of authors’ tours and how effective are these in the promotion and marketing of a book? Blog tours play an integral part in our marketing efforts. Thanks to these tours, our books are put before thousands of prospective buyers.
How do you use book reviews in the promotion of a book? Our sales department relies heavily on book reviews to get our titles into bookstores. Every book review gets shared with our sales personnel and management to provide a feel for how the book is being received. I also use these reviews to plug our books on Facebook and Twitter and, if the publication is presigioug enough, on our company blog.
Anything else you want to add that we haven’t talked about? Go 49ers!