- Literary Publicist -
Welcome to my first interview with a literary publicist.
Welcome, Jennifer ...
1. Why did you become a literary publicist?
It was something I sort of fell into. I have always had a passion for words and literature but took the career path of Early Childhood to start with. When I had my first daughter I decided to home educate her and whilst doing so reviewed educational books for Australian publishers Allen and Unwin. This soon led to reviewing all genre and to requests for helping authors in other areas. During this time I was continuing my own education studying children’s writing, poetry, an advance diploma in journalism and a diploma in business studies.
2. What do you enjoy about your job?
A tough question as there is really nothing about my job I hate. I feel blessed to be able to travel with authors from the initial idea to manuscript, published book and beyond.
3. What do you dislike about your job?
The fact that there are not enough hours in the day to be able to work with every author who contacts me and read every book I want to.
4. Is there one main point, or many points that convince you to take on an author?
There really isn’t any points as such that convince me, I just get the feeling that a I can help a particular author. I usually know by the end of our first correspondence whether I will take them on or not. Being a supporter of self published authors I take into consideration what they have already been doing to help themselves, if I feel they are passionate about their books and whether they are willing to learn. A large part of my working with an author is empowering them and giving them the skills they need to promote themselves. The book itself does come into play to a degree. I look for books that are a little different and ‘out there’. Books that mainstream publicists will not touch due to them being controversial or outside of mainstream literature. Of course I still carry a passion for children’s books.
5. What is the worst moment you have had as a publicist?
I don’t recall any ‘worst’ moments. Working with a large amount of authors globally each year means I work with a lot of different personalities. This can be a challenge so of course there are good and bad times but nothing that has been so bad it could be put in the worst category. I have only ever had one author who I would never work with again and I know there are a lot of people who feel the same about her. She would praise my work in an over the top gushy way then at the click of the fingers turn to being nasty and want something else. I soon found out she has used a lot of people. It is a reflection of her and her product and I just became another on her list. I just marked it off as a learning experience and moved on. They only do harm to themselves and reinforced to myself the support I have from my author family.
Time is short and there are a lot of authors who benefit from my help, I do not dwell on the negative experiences.
6. What was the best moment?
Again there is no best moment. Every day is amazing. I am rewarded each day as I watch the growth of authors both professionally and personally. I started working with some of my clients when they were publishing their first book and am still with them 4 or 5 books later. Watching this progress is wonderful.
7. Do you have any tips for authors seeking a literary publicist?
You are going to spend time working closely with the publicist so it is important to make sure that communication is kept open and honest at all times. Make sure that their personality suits yours. The authors I work with know they can contact me 7 days a week at no cost to them for honest advice. This contact is probably one of the most important things as it leads to successful publicity. A publicist should not be afraid to tell you if they feel something in your book does not sit right, there are errors or the publicity direction you wish to take is not for the best. A publicist should always have the success of your book as their top priority.
8. Would you recommend your career to others?
Definitely! It is long hours and you need to be good at multitasking and working with more than one author at a time but it is very reward.
9. Describe a good author from a publicist point of view?
One who is dedicated and passionate about what they do. They need to be able to take criticism and want to better themselves. Regardless of what you do books will not sell themselves. A good author will understand this and be willing to work hard to achieve sales.
10. If you had your time over, would you be a literary publicist?
Definitely! I wish I had chosen it as my initial career path.
11. What inspires you the most?
The talent I see as I go about my day. Authors inspire me with their devotion and passion for what they do. The way they play with words creating a world of adventure and learning. Illustrators also inspire me. Such talent I only wish I had.
12. Describe your perfect day?
Coffee, coffee and more coffee. On a serious note a perfect day for me is a day that I am surrounded by authors, books and the love of my children.
13. How do you see the publishing industry now and into the future?
With the introduction of ebooks over the past years the publishing industry has changed but it will only continue to grow. I have always maintained that there is a place for the ebook but they would never replace the paper book, we are now seeing the decline of sales of ebooks as the paper book picks up momentum again. I hope that this will lead to the decline in the amount of cheap, poorly written books with stock photo covers. Sorry my pet hate.
As far as publicity goes technology has seen a change in the way we go about getting our message out there. Social media currently leads the way and I see this only growing as more and more people choose to buy their books from Amazon and online bookstore. We are slowing become a ‘one click’ society.
14. What are your personal plans for the future?
To continue to grow my business globally. To continue to support self published authors create growth in what they do. The last 12 months has seen me doing a quite a lot of ghostwriting. This is something I look forward to doing a lot more of in the near future.
15. Any regrets?
None at all!
Clancy's comment: Jennifer, you have been very generous with your time. Thank you. It's great to meet someone who loves their job, and someone who who is helping independent authors. More strength to your arm.