Friday, May 06, 2011

What does a book publicist do? Meet Erin Galloway from Penguin Group

As a debut author this year, one of my challenges has been...well...not knowing what the heck to do. There are lots of things that go into turning a story from my head into a book on a shelf--and lots of talented people are needed to make those things happen. For instance--how does the finished product get into the hands of readers who don't reside on a branch of my family tree?

One of the things my publisher did was assign me  a publicist. Actually, I had two--but my main point of contact is Erin Galloway. Erin introduced herself early on in the process and helped me set up all my blog tours. She kept me organized and on track. And also, she was fun! I had a lot of compliments from bloggers who communicated with her. She does a great job and is a fabulous asset to the publisher.

One of the perks of blog touring is "meeting" all the bloggers out there--and boy is that a savvy group of book lovers. Many of them are teens or college students looking at turning their love of fiction into a career, so I thought I'd invite Erin to Fictionistas to tell us a little more about her career in publishing and how she got there.

1. Thanks for joining us Erin. Can you tell us what a typical day at the office is like?
One of the things I love about my job is that I rarely have a typical day.  I certainly have regular tasks, but every book, campaign and author is different so my job is ever changing.  My job is to get the best possible media exposure for my authors, so everything I do works toward that end.  I write galley letters and press releases, pitch print, broadcast and online media, and book in-store events and author tours.

2. What kind of background and or schooling is recommended?
In publicity it’s very important to have strong written and oral communication skills, so it’s best to have a degree in English or a communications field, like journalism.  I would also suggest students getting involved in their college’s newspaper and/or public relations organization.

3. Do you work with all the authors or are you assigned a few...and then say, since we worked together on Falling Under, will you also work on my next NAL book?
Each publicist is assigned a group of books and authors.  Where possible, we continue working with the same authors because it allows us to maintain a sense of continuity.  So I should be working with you on the next book!

4. Do you work in teams?
Sometimes more than one publicist does work with an author.  It depends on what is involved in a particular book project.

5. Do you read the books you promote?
Yes!  Not only is it important to have a good feel for the material so that you can promote it, but I also really enjoy the books we publish.

6. Do you get to have field trips or is your job mostly in your office?
My job is mostly based in the office, but I do attend my authors’ events if they take place in New York and I do occasionally travel for business.  For example, I attend the RWA conference each year.

7. What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is working with authors.  Being able to work with the creative minds behind the books I love to read is a privilege.  Plus I am often able to get tidbits of what they are planning for future books. ;)

8. Is this what you always imagined doing? And if not, how did you become interested in it?
I always knew my career would involve writing in some way, but I didn’t know what it would be.  I thought I may work for a newspaper, but when a college professor of mine suggested I look into publishing, I found my calling.  I moved to New York to get a master of publishing degree and when I first entered into the industry I was an editorial assistant.  I quickly realized that I was meant to work in publicity.  I love books and as a publicist I am able to share my enthusiasm and promote the books I love to read.

9. Do you have any words of wisdom for teenagers interested in working in publishing?
Really work on your communication skills.  No matter which area of publishing you enter, written and oral communication skills are vital.  Apply for internships in the publishing industry to learn more about the career path you’re interested in.  A number of publishers offer open houses for college students or have opportunities where you can learn more about the industry to see if it would be a good fit for you.  Check in with your college career center to see if they have relationships with any publishing houses.

10. Do you have a Twitter account? How important do you think social media is for your job?
I have a personal Twitter account that I have posted on exactly one time.  For personal use, I have no interest in Twitter.  But, I recognize that it can be a useful tool for a business.  So I am one of the people that posts on the @BerkleyRomance Twitter account.  Social media is always changing. The particular service, like Myspace, Facebook or Twitter, might be obsolete tomorrow, but social media is certainly here to stay.  I don’t believe everyone needs to be an expert, but I do think it’s important to have a working knowledge of the major services so that you’re well prepared.

Thanks for sharing, Erin. I know I would have dropped the ball big time if I hadn't had you organizing my calendar and checking in with me. I can't wait until we get to promote Dreaming Awake


  1. Hi, Erin! It's been a while since we worked together on the Launching A Star contest (2006-8) where you were one of our primo judges. It's great to "see" you on Fictionistas today. Thanks so much for giving us a little insight into your job as a publicist at Berkley.

  2. Thanks so much for being here today, Erin. This was very interesting.

  3. Thank you to Gwen and her lovely fellow authors for hosting me as a guest today.

    Leigh, it's great to "see" you again too! I hope you are doing well.

    Amanda, I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

  4. Oh, this is so fascinating! I've always wondered what it was like to work with a publicist.

    I was wondering, is there a standard set of media avenues (blogs, magazines, etc) that you go to or is it really tailored for each book? What kind of elements do publicists look at in a book to decide how to promote it? What are some examples of some unique or risky things publicists might try to set up? How do you tell whether the publicity is working -- i.e. how do publicists measure success?

    Totally cool topic. Thanks Gwen and Erin!

  5. Neat interview. Best wishes to you, Gwen, on your debut novel. Mine just came out this head is swimming trying to make things happen.

  6. There are so many things a writer has to discover on the journey to publication. We sit down thinking to write a book with no clue to the many facets that go into making it successful in the marketplace. Thanks for demystifying this one, Erin.

  7. Thank you again, Erin, for stopping by.

    And thank you for the well wishes, Nancy. Best of luck to you as well.

  8. It was great to see a "day in your life". Thanks for stopping by, Erin!

    And a shout out to my awesome publicist guys at Orbit, Alex and Jack.

  9. Jeannie, there some standard publications or outlets we always send material, such as Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, etc. However, each media list truly is tailored for each book.

    How do we decide how to promote a book? It's a combination of factors, but it's largely dependent on what audience the book appeals to and thus what combination of media outlets will best reach that audience.

    One unique thing I've done recently was set up a book signing for an author at a boutique dog store in NYC. A dog plays an important role in her novel and we thought it would be fun to change things up and plan a signing event different from the norm.

    How do publicists measure success? Certainly we like to see our efforts turn into media coverage and we hope that coverage will boost book sales.

    Gwynlyn, I'm so glad you found this Q&A helpful!

    Nancy, best wishes on your new book.

    I hope you all have a lovely weekend!