Due to boring circumstances beyond my control, I will not be online much for the next week or so. Fortunately I’ve been able to line up a number of stellar guests to fill in for me. Most are writers, but I also thought it would be fun to get some publishing types to explain what it is they do, teach you some more about the industry, and answer your questions, as well as one or two bloggers.
Today we have Lauren Cerand, who is a freelance publicist. I know that many people are confused as to what exactly a publicist does. (I know I frequently am.) It took me ages to realise that there are basically two kinds, freelancers like Lauren, and in-house publicists who work at publishing houses (or record companies or what have you.) Read on and Lauren will tell you more.
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Lauren Cerand is an independent public relations representative whose current projects include Barnes & Noble’s “Upstairs at the Square” series. Lauren has been described as one of the “cultural gatekeepers in the literary world” by Time Out New York and as the “Best of New York” by The Village Voice. She is often asked to share her perspective with audiences, such as at Book Expo America in New York and Penguin Books in London, and will appear next at the Nebraska Summer Writers Conference (June) and Squam Art Workshops Readers Retreat in New Hampshire (September). Lauren writes about art, politics and style at LuxLotus.com. She serves on the board of directors of both Girls Write Now and The Writers Room, and as an advisor to Fictionaut. Lauren is a graduate of Cornell University.
I am a freelance publicist. My clients pay me by the month, the project and sometimes by the hour to create new media opportunities that engage and expand their natural audience. My main areas of interest are online media and events. I also consult with creative professionals on how best to capitalize on their existing resources to generate some buzz around a forthcoming project. Some ways to generate buzz are: learn how to use social media effectively, contribute to a website you read regularly, and support your scene.
In-house publicists at a publishing house send out books to reviewers and work to “place” reviews and features about an author (Noted: that is the verb we use because, as a publicist, I do not actually generate any content myself. Rather, and this is a major point, I convince others that my projects are worth covering in their publications and on their programs). They have many books per month and a very tight schedule. The best way to coordinate your efforts is to have a very honest conversation six months in advance where you, with grace and acceptance, understand exactly what your publisher is able to create and commit on your behalf. And then you come up with your own strategy. Why? Because your publisher is going to promote your book for about a month, max.
What do I think? You should give it a year. After all, it’s your career and this book’s success will make or break the next one. How can you extend that brief window, created by external pressures you have no control over? By committing some of your own resources to online ads that reach your audience, nominating your book for awards, booking events, and continuing to generate buzz per above.
A typical day in my life: 9 or 10am, wake up, answer urgent emails (about 50). Talk to clients on the phone. Noon – 2pm, lunch meeting with a journalist or colleague, discuss projects and possibilities. Afternoon: repeat all of the above. Evening: manage or attend event. 24/7: cultivate the relationships that will lead to premium exposure for my clients when the opportunity presents itself.
Questions? I’d be delighted to answer them.