Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Small Press 411: Publicists Day 1

Before this series started, we asked you on twitter what you wanted to know most about small presses. The answer was a resounding plea for marketing information. Some people believed they knew exactly what kind of marketing authors get at a small press, while others were genuinely curious about the process. To answer your questions, we passed on your questions to our featured small presses. 

Today and tomorrow we have four wonderful publicists to answer your questions. Let's meet them: 

Kaamna, Senior Publicists at Coliloquy

Kaamna is the Director of Marketing and Publicity for Coliloquy. She is the author of  “The Giant Book of ‘How-To’ Lists for the New Dad” and the founder of, a community for traveling parents. Kaamna is a writer, a dancer, a lover and sometimes a fighter. In her spare time she obsesses over karaoke and yoga, teaches Bollywood dance, and circles the globe with her two pint-size travel companions,  Karam and Kimaya.

Cindy Thomas, Senior Publicists at Spencer Hill Contemporary

Cindy grew up in rural North Carolina, where she first became addicted to writing when she won a contest in third grade. Although she has since moved, not much has changed. She still loves to write, and has a book with her at all times. She is the mother of two handsome boys, and the wife to one incredibly good looking husband. Three dogs, two guinea pigs, and an aquarium full of fish complete her super busy household. She started her journey to being a publicists by running a popular book book blog for the past five years, and loves her current role at the new imprint of Spencer Hill Press.

Heather Riccio, Publicity Director of Entangled Teen, Entangled New Adult, and digiTeen. 
Heather has been a publicist with Entangled since December 2011, and has done marketing/publicity with the Palm Springs International Film Festival since 2008. Her Masters degree is in Fiction Writing and her undergraduate degree is a double degree in English and Anthropology from University of California, Riverside. She also works for Bowker part-time as a market researcher, which keeps her up-to-date on book trends. On the side, Heather can also be found doing pro-bono work as the Director of Partnerships for Project Migration, a fashion accessories company with a charitable initiative, and as the Features Editor for Urbanette magazine. Her life-long goal is to work for Entangled and write at night! Find her on Twitter @HeatherRiccio

Jaime Arnold, Senior Publicist at Entangled
Jaime has been a publicist with Entangled since May 2012 but before that she was an intern helping out the editorial and the publicity departments. She is currently working with authors in both the adult and teen genres. She’s been with Entangled in some form or another since December 2011. She is also a book blogger and has had her blog for almost 2 years. She has built relationships with other bloggers as well as authors, publicists, and publishing houses. Jaime also review books for the San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review. In her past life she was a Band Manager, Hairstylist, and a Bartender. But she’s always been an avid reader. Find her on twitter @arnoldjaime13

What is the typical marketing/publicity plan for your books?

Kaamna from Coliloquy: Because we only sell electronic books, we concentrate our efforts on channels that have the most overlap with ebook readers. Depending on the subject matter and target audience of the series, we've deployed everything from official press releases and journalist/blogger outreach to investing in websites to creating social media or real-world community events. Our focus is to send authentic messages to people who will genuinely benefit from hearing them. 

Cindy from SHC: I don’t like to categorize any of our marketing plans as typical because I believe each author and book deserves their own specific plan and attention, but we do try to offer similar opportunities to every author we publish. Some of the more standard things we offer include book trailers, at least two types of swag, promotional blog tours, and blogger outreach, online and print advertisements, and appearances/signings at book conventions and other events local to the author.

Heather from EP: The marketing for an e-book is different from that of a print book. A print book requires months of planning, building up cover reveals, exclusives, and sending review copies out to big outlets like Seventeen, Cosmo, etc. An e-book is run a bit differently because we can’t do anything promo wise without buy links, once we have the buy links, we can start promoting and doing a blog tour and gathering up reviews from bloggers. We’ll set up events that involve either the author individually or as a whole line (EP Teen, Select, Brazen, Covet, Suspense, Bliss, Indulgence, etc.). 

Jaime from EP: What Heather said. We also do promotion for our books on our Facebook pages (Entangled Teen Facebook) and our Goodreads group as well. We also have advertising on sites like Romantic Times, Fresh Fiction, and Goodreads.

What role does your press take in developing and executing the plan? 

Kaamna from Coliloquy: We create the entire plan including everything from pitches to advertising spend. 

Cindy from SHC: At SH, we like to look at each author and book as an individual and plan their campaign as such. We don’t want any author to feel like they aren’t getting personal attention and we always try to listen to the author’s ideas. For instance, we are just about to sign a new author who has come to the table with tons of her own ideas for promotion on her book and I’m thrilled at the ideas she has. We really do try to tailor each marketing campaign for each book. This way we know that we’ve all done our very best to spread the word about our amazing books.

Heather from EP: Entangled’s marketing, publicity, and editorial department are all extremely involved in developing and executing the plan. It’s all about teamwork. You want everyone to love the book, not just the author, or the editor, or the publicist, everyone involved needs to love it, and be behind it. By planning extensively, we all are. 

Jaime from EP: Heather gets the cake for best answers! But here’s mine: we may all work from home (Best Job Ever, by the way) but we’re in constant contact with everyone from editorial, marketing and publicity, and the authors. We truly work as a team to get things done. 

How much involvement (if any) does your press expect from your authors? 

Kaamna from Coliloquy: Our authors are not required to do anything on their own, but we do request their availability and participation for interviews, etc. I will say that we have a few authors who are incredibly marketing savvy and have already built out their own author platforms, so in those cases, we've been happy to coordinate deeply with the authors' existing relationships.

Cindy from SHC: We love it when authors can be actively involved in the promotion of their own book. I enjoy working directly with my authors to coordinate events online and in person. It’s not always easy for authors to market themselves, but we are there to help give them that extra push. Readers may like hearing from the publishers from time to time, but we all know the true rock stars are the authors.

Heather from EP: I expect 50/50. I want the author to put in just as much time into their book and marketing as their team is. We all want the same thing, the book to be recognized and picked up. There is no I in Team, and this is all about teamwork one hundred percent!

Jaime from EP: I agree 50/50. If an author doesn’t help promote their book they will definitely see it in their numbers.  People love to connect with the authors; they don’t want their publicists doing all the talking/promotion for them. I know before I started working for Entangled the authors that I interacted with definitely got more support from me.

What kinds of publicity/marketing have worked the best for your press?

Kaamna from Coliloquy: Social media promotion has been a powerful tool for us, but we also think too many young publishers underestimate the power of a well-placed article. From the WSJ and The Atlantic to TechCrunch and HuffingtonPost, we've tracked significant sales from both on and off-line reporting. Again, our mantra is authentic messages for people who will genuinely benefit from hearing them.

Cindy from SHC: Some of my authors are extremely active and quite honestly, are marketing geniuses. They come to the table with wonderful ideas and know exactly how they want to be seen as an author. They plan unprompted giveaways and appearances. They take the initiative and aren’t afraid of throwing themselves out there for all to see. I love that!

Heather from EP: They have their own websites, swag, contests, etc. They attend conferences and do book signings. They interact with their fans, which I think is the most important.

Jaime from EP: I agree like I said above fan interaction is key. And not just talking about their books. I know some authors are very private but when you see them on twitter or Facebook talking about TV shows they love or even other books you just want to join in on that conversation.  The websites, contests and swag are really good too. 

Thank you, ladies. 

Come back tomorrow for some more time with our four publicists! 

1 comment:

  1. Awesome interview. It's great hearing how smaller presses are helping their authors with marketing. It sounds like they're really supportive and try to work with their authors.