Saturday, May 31, 2008

Day One Reflections

Before I get into my reflections I must mention that fellow Texan and Dallas Morning News Book Review Editor Michael Merschel is doing an excellent job of covering this year's event on his Texas Pages blog. Amidst several anecdotes from day one of the event, Mike tells a very funny story about trying to navigate his rented Ford Focus to Prince's mansion [and secret book party]. Apparently the fact that one of his three passengers had an invite to the secret party was not enough to get his Focus through the gate. If it makes you feel better Mike, I wasn't in one of those limos that rolled by you into the party.

The LA Convention Center is both a)huge and b)spread out. This year's convention floor is divided between the West (where the action is) and South (home to signings, indie publishers and, sadly, the international rights center) halls. We always get a table in the rights center for meetings during the show and it is normally a great location.

Not this year.

It's not enough that the rights center is miles up the coast from the main convention floor, but it's also completely separated from the actual event itself--off in its own room. Not sure we'll take a table the next time we're back in LA.

Enough grumblings. Here are a few quick hits from day one:

- The best promo button I was handed came from a group of ebook designers and read "*&#^ the Kindle!" Apparently they are not fans. I, however, got my first demonstration of Amazon's new digital reader and I have to say I am impressed. Easy to navigate, compact and very readable. I'm not sure I'm quite ready to make the switch but I'm more open to it than I thought I'd be.

- NetGalley is getting a LOT of buzz this year. Their reps have been filling up seats on panels throughout the week and have heard their name in several of my meetings with top PR directors. It sounds like they are still working out some kinks but it is clear that e-galleys are here to stay. To me, the electronic medium of galley submission is not nearly as important as the dialogue NetGalley plans to create between publicists and reviewers through its service. I'm meeting with them at 11 AM today and am curious to see how we can get in the game.

- There is a reason why Karen Kingsbury is the queen of inspirational fiction (or as she calls it, "Life-Changing Fiction"). She is notorious for creating lines that go for miles atICRS but yesterday's autograph session was proof that her work is crossing over in a major way. Her line was not only the longest in her timeslot but she was the only author standing in front of her autograph table to greet her fans. That's the way to do a signing.

- Primetime BEA shuttles (either 8-9 AM or 4-5 PM)are never a lot of fun. Always full of cranky literati feigning interest in the work of the attendee sitting or standing next to them, they are a necessary but unpleasant part of the experience.
Apparently folks have been spicing it up a bit this year. As I was getting off the bus yesterday I noticed a sign reminding passengers that no gambling is allowed during the trip. Not no smoking or no standing but "NO GAMBLING". Maybe people didn't get the memo that we don't head to Vegas until 2011.

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Friday, May 30, 2008

On the eve of BEA

It's 7:32 AM on day one and I'm gearing up for the madness of BEA--appointments, old friends, free books, sore feet, parties, $10 sandwiches and other trade show accessories.

Yesterday, after our flight landed on time(!), I headed over to the convention center to attend a panel discussion I had been looking forward to. Titled "Strategies for New Publicity Opportunities in an Expanding Media Universe," this discussion featured a panel that included John Pitts (VP & Marketing Dir., Doubleday), Ron Hogan (Founder, Beatrice & lead writer, GalleyCat), Matt Baldacci (Dir. of Marketing, St. Martin's Press), Ami Greko (Marketing Director, Folio Literary Management) and Cindy Dach (General Manager, Changing Hands Bookstore).

It was a lively panel, with Pitts discussing his house's marketing efforts for Chuck Palahniuk's new release, Snuff. Not only did Doubleday start a MySpace page for the porn star protagonist, but they actually created trailers for three of her supposed movies. We were treated to one of them to open the panel. Brilliant idea for reaching the target market for the book (135K views on YouTube in the first week) but I'm not sure the footage itself was right for everyone in attendance. I mean, it was a trailer for a fake porn movie after all.

It was also interesting to hear from Ami Greko, who heads up Folio's internal marketing department. I am seeing this more and more from literary agencies--bringing PR and marketing folks in-house to assist publishers, publicists and authors in the promotion of all of their books. I think it's very smart.

Finally, Ron Hogan had some insightful thoughts on what book trailers should and shouldn't do. I thought his best line was "trailers shouldn't tell me about a story--they should tell me a story." That is what we have been shooting to do with the trailers we have just produced--and I hope we've accomplished it.

Ok, off to the convention center for what should be a very interesting day. More soon.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Book trailers, putting a face with the name.

video
If you missed him on "Dateline NBC" or in the Wall Street Journal, stay tuned. Nate Self is someone we're going to be hearing from more as the war on terror rages on, and stats about soldiers returning with PTSD continue to climb.

Touring the airwaves

...from our Austin HQ, we've got Rebecca St. James on the line for a morning radio tour. RSJ is a Grammy and multiple Dove award award winning artist, bestselling author (of her book, Wait for Me) with more than 100,000 copies sold, and the big sister to thousands of teen girls, leading the purity movement. 

Tune your dial to hear RSJ live on 20 stations coast to coast this morning, 7-11am CST. She's talking about the re-release of her runaway bestseller, Wait for Me

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Talking Shop: Q&A with your favorite insiders

Chip MacGregor, Founder & President of MacGregor Literary
You spent many years as a successful publisher at Time-Warner—what drew you back to agenting?
I love agenting. I enjoy working closely with authors, doing book development, planning careers, and spending time talking over projects. Actually, I never really got comfortable in my role as publisher – I always felt like a “suit.” Much happier being back on the agenting side of the desk.

Publishers Marketplace regularly lists you among their top dealmakers (this week, #2)—to what do you attribute your success as an agent?
Most likely it’s my good looks and Scottish heritage. But aside from that, I have a pretty good eye for writing. And let’s face it – an agent is only as good as the authors he or she represents. If I’ve had good success, it’s because I’ve had the privilege of representing really good writers. Go to my web site, select any author, and read a novel… all of them can write. That’s the main reason I’ve been successful.

What type of projects do you get excited about when they come across your desk?
I always tell authors at writers’ conferences that I’m looking for “books that change me.” It’s true. I get excited about reading a book that will leave me changed, since I know it will have the potential to significantly impact readers. I also look for a strong voice – your book shouldn’t sound like everyone else’s book. If there’s great writing, a strong voice, and a message that has the potential to change me as a reader, I know I’ve got a winner.

On the flipside, are there tired topics that make you yawn?
Sure – The tough-guy hero opens his eyes, squints, stares at the ceiling fan, looks out the window, stares at himself in the mirror, and reflects on life. The Christian novel that starts with a rape scene. A novelist who feels a need to describe every piece of furniture in the room, or every article of clothing the smart-but-rambunctious heroine is wearing. ANY novel that wants to re-create Left Behind, or correct perceived theological errors in Left Behind. And, of course, the romance novel that has a first page filled with adjectives. Yeesh.

How would you describe your ideal author?
Great writer. Creative. Listens. Low maintenance. Good sense of humor. Strong writing voice. Wants to change the world. Love God and other people. Preferably Scottish.

What is one thing that would surprise our readers about what agents do?
Read books on writing. I love words and books, so I’m always reading books that offer tips on improving writing. That makes me a better agent.

Other than the good news surrounding Baker’s recent success, the industry has been pretty down. How do you see publishers responding to the economic forecasts?
The economy is having a rough time, the cost of paper and transportation is up, and publishers are feeling the squeeze. Thomas Nelson’s recent announcement (coming at a time when they actually grew their backlist 16%) has made publishers skittish. Mike Hyatt’s response (trim the staff, cut the list, focus on money-makers) is interesting, but I’m not sure it’s an easily repeatable solution. The fact is, publishing isn’t an easy business to track – we all get surprised by the books that break out. If a house trims all of the unknown authors, there will be no chance to grow new voices. I know some of the NY houses will do 15 titles, expect 2 to break even, and expect 1 title to break out and carry the line. Successful publishing requires we take risks on new voices. So I hope publishers continue to reach out, to try new ideas, to give unknown authors a chance. And Dwight Baker is a friend of mine, so CONGRATULATIONS to him for leading his company to such significant growth.

You frequently update a very interesting blog—why do think blogging is important for you as an agent?
I don’t know if it is important. But I enjoy having a place to vent, it keeps me close to people and offers me instant feedback. I suppose the best thing for readers is that it gives them a bit of a peek behind the curtain into what an agent is thinking, and the best thing for me is that my blog has proven fairly popular and has given good exposure to my agency.

Talk to us about how agents view book publicity and what role you like to play in the PR process.
This is the single biggest change in the years I’ve been an agent. We’ve always done editing, and talked through book ideas with authors, and kept healthy relationships so that we could effectively sell manuscripts for authors. But nowadays it’s imperative an agent become involved in the marketing of the books he or she represents. Since “platform” is now king, an agent has to help his or her authors strengthen platform, make an effort to work on publicity, and maximize the marketing done by the publisher. Frequently that means helping the author fill in the gaps in the marketing plan. Most agents probably don’t enjoy the publicity angle a lot (it’s usually the “word” side that got them involved in the business in the first place), but it’s absolutely necessary. So I’ve become more of a marketing strategist than I ever planned to be.

Many agents steer clear of conferences while you seem to thrive in that atmosphere, working behind the scenes to mentor authors and provide one-on-one feedback. Why is that important to you?
It’s true – going to writing conferences probably isn’t significantly boosting my agency business. I do get to spend time with editors who are on faculty, and I occasionally see an author with a great voice and platform, but for the most part it’s just a way of giving back. I’ve had several people question why I have spent time at conferences over the years, and the simply response is probably, “Because I enjoy it.” I like speaking to people about the industry and helping newbies navigate their way. Some of us were made with a built-in desire to mentor, so I find it hard to stay away from conferences.

What should readers be watching for from MacGregor Literary this fall?
An incredibly strong list. New novels from Lisa Samson, Brandt Dodson, and Susan Meissner – all established writers with great stories releasing. (Keep an eye on Susan – she has 7 or 8 books out, but is about to be discovered.) Claudia Mair Burney, Ginger Garrett, and Alison Morrow are younger writers who have all won awards and are taking a big step forward in their careers with novels this year. Two more established names, Irene Hannon and Susan Page Davis, are gong in some new directions that are exciting. Nonfiction projects include Shane Stanford (a pastor who is HIV positive and has some great lessons to share), Charles Marshall (a full-time comic), Lorilee Craker (with a fun baby name book), and Lael Arrington and Kelly Kullberg (they are doing a great devotional book for Christians who think). We’ve also got a handful of finalists for some major awards – it’s going to be a great year.

What are you reading right now?
Lawrence Bergreen’s Over the Edge of the World, which is the story of Magellan’s circumnavigation of the globe. Fascinating stuff.

What is your favorite industry conference and why?
I just attended the Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing last month, and found it to be the best writing conference I’ve ever attended. Great presenters, great wisdom, and lots of different directions to go. Loved it. Easily the most complete conference I’ve ever attended.

Who is an up-and-coming author we should keep an eye on?
May I offer two? Kimberly Stuart has just released Act Two, and it’s fabulous – the story of an opera diva who takes a job teaching voice at a small liberal arts college in Iowa. And Jenny B Jones has got an incredible writing voice. Both of these writers have the personality (in their work as well as in their lives) to be stars.

What would surprise authors about Chip MacGregor?
I have a soft voice. People read my blog and assume I’m a loud guy – but that’s only in print. I like to tell people I’m much bigger in print than I am in real life. It might also surprise people to know I’ve been married 26 years – hard to believe anyone would have the patience to stay with me this long, but Patti has done it.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Morning Round-up

Baker shrugs off slow economy, turns in big year

Though many publishers have struggled to advance into the headwind that is the current economy, Baker Publishing Group just turned in extremely impressive numbers for their most recent fiscal year (ending April 30th). From this week’s Publishers Weekly:

“Baker Publishing Group reported record results for its fiscal year ending April 30, 2008, with publishing sales up 16%, to $57.9 million. President Dwight Baker emphasized that although sales of its bestselling 90 Minutes in Heaven helped the company achieve the gain, "this is much more comprehensive, with growth in all divisions." Revell was up 26 %; Chosen, 25 %; Baker Books, 15 %; Baker Academic, 13 %; Brazos, 10 %, and Bethany House, 9 %. "In just about all channels and all categories we are up," Baker said.”
As PW mentions, blockbuster books like 90 Minutes in Heaven—a title that found its way on just about every bestseller list in the industry--certainly help, but Baker posted gains across just about every imprint they have, which shows a keen eye for building momentum across genres.

Congrats to Dwight Baker and the executive team at Baker Publishing Group for such a strong year. Kudos are also due to Deonne Beron, B.J. Heyboer, Caitlin Mackenzie and the entire publicity team for their savvy promotion of Baker titles.

Writers' League of Texas Agents & Editors Conference schedule announced

This year’s conference features Sara Nelson, Editor-in-Chief of Publishers Weekly, as the keynote speaker, along with editors from Crown, Thomas Dunne, Seal and other top houses, literary agents from Sterling Lord, Triada US, Full Circle Literary Mgmt and other top agencies, as well as a number of aspiring authors. It also features panel discussions on a variety of literary topics, including the one P&P organized, that boasts industry media from Publishers Weekly, Mediabistro’s GalleyCat, The Dallas Morning News, The Austin American Statesmanand KUT, Austin's NPR affiliate.

I don’t know of another conference outside of BEA that puts this many publishing heavyweights in one place. I asked outgoing Executive Director John Pipkin how the conference has attacted such a great group...

"The main reason that the Writers' League of Texas continually attracts top agents and editors to its annual conference has everything to do with the professionalism of the aspiring writers who attend," says Pipkin. "Agents and editors regularly tell us how impressed they are with the level of talent and the quality of writing that they find here in Austin, and this keeps them coming back. The conference has become an important recruitment and networking tool for many agents who are looking for new talent, and we have earned a solid reputation in publishing circles for running a first-class event."
For decades, Austin has been the muse of many a songwriter, launching careers of aspiring artists at South by Southwest and the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Already widely renowned for its music scene, it is nice to see Austin's literary prowess starting to get noticed. Thanks to a well-connected writers’ community and a city with a great reputation, publishing insiders around the country are eager to make the trip.

You can view the full schedule here. If you are an author shopping a manuscript that wants face time with some of the industry's top agencies (23 represented at this conference), there is no better place than this event. You can register here.

Live BEA updates coming next week

For those of you sitting out the west coast swing of BEA, in between meetings, panels and cocktail parties I’ll be updating the blog with pics from the event, so keep an eye out for updates…

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Talking Shop: Q&A with your favorite insiders

Jessa Crispin, Bookslut.com founder
and editor-in-chief

Jessa Crispin is the founder and editor-in-chief of arguably the most popular literary blog out there: Bookslut. We wanted to discuss how book publicists and authors can more effectively work with bloggers - so naturally, we turned to Miss Crispin. Read on for Jessa's thoughts on the online literary community, her favorite books, and how she once threatened to kill a writer.

Tell us a little bit about you, and a little bit about your blog.
Probably all you need to know about me is that I am a giant dork. I get really excited trying to figure out how things work, and "things" can be anything. Physics, baking, neurochemistry, history, farming, religion, whatever. I also like figuring out how one thing connects to another, so sitting around following trains of thought with the help of the Internet is a great little job to have. The blog is whatever I dig up while drinking my morning tea plus the first thing that comes into my head while reading it. I know I should pretend like it's really hard work, and that I spend hours agonizing over my commentary, but that would be lying. I think Bookslut's usually referred to as a book news blog, but that's sort of misleading -- that gives the impression that I'm blogging about what Sloane Crosley is having for breakfast. It's more like book news filtered through my very specific interests. I could probably have a bigger audience if I blogged about the books everyone else is talking about.

How did your blog get started?
The blog started when I was 23, living in Austin and working at Planned Parenthood. It started as a diversion from a job that took me approximately two hours to complete, and I had to fill the other six hours somehow. Why not troll the web looking for the latest interviews with Neil Gaiman or whomever? Now it's six years later, and Bookslut has grown to about half of my day job -- the other half being freelance writing.

What is a "typical day" like as a book blogger? (Knowing there are likely very few "typical days"...)
It's mostly a lot of reading. Between Bookslut and my books column at the Smart Set, I have to read an awful lot. I try to get all the actual blogging done by 10 am or so, so that I have the day to run errands, proofread/format/edit the new issue, read, and sit and wonder if I can bother my editor into letting me change one more thing about my column before it goes up without him just firing me. There's also a lot of obsessive e-mail checking.

How has the internet changed the way we view literary communities?
I think it's closed the gap between author and audience. Or shortened it. Now that everyone can see each other, it's a little awkward. No one knows what to do with each other. It's still early to tell how it'll change writing and publishing, but it'll be interesting.

Why do you think some books take off, and others crash and burn - even if those crashing, burning books are outstanding?
I think there are a billion reasons. The publicist not hitting the right notes, the author not knowing how to find his or her potential audience, the publisher just not making an effort and dumping the book, the press isn't able to find an angle to write about the book, another blockbuster comes out at a similar time and eclipses it... Star alignment at the release date might have something to do with it, because sometimes even savviness can't overcome bad luck.

What are you reading right now?
That's always a complicated question. I'm reading Bonk by Mary Roach, We Are Now Beginning Our Descent by James Meek, an old issue of London Review Books that had fallen behind a bookcase and I just found, and the Kitchen Sink by Albert Goldbarth. I also keep meaning to finish up Roanoke by Lee Miller -- I forgot to pack it for my trip to London, so I have about 60 pages left.

Rank your top three books of all time?

Just so you know, this will change tomorrow:
Dubliners by James Joyce
Varieties of Religious Experience by William James
Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

Who is an author we should keep an eye on?
Last year, there were three women writers who just eclipsed everything else I read: Scarlett Thomas, Joanna Kavenna, and Mia Gallagher. The Gallagher ("Hellfire") was not released in the States I don't think; I picked it up in Dublin. But with Thomas and Kavenna, they wrote quirky books that didn't find the massive audiences they deserved, but I have faith they will. All three of them are too good to be ignored for long.

What would surprise Bookslut readers about Jessa Crispin?

Probably a lot. I don't talk about my personal life too much on the blog. I'm almost pathologically reluctant to share any personal details at all. I don't know why that is. But I think I actually threatened to kill a writer I was dating about a year ago if he ever blogged about me. (We broke up over the blog.) It might be a bit surprising that I was a cheerleader back in school in Kansas. I told someone that recently, and he was flummoxed. So yes, I was a cheerleader, but I was a cheerleader who read Thomas Hardy books on the bus on the way to games and painted her fingernails white and magenta in honor of Molly from Neuromancer.

Craziest email you have ever gotten from an:

a) Book publicist, and/or
b) Author?
The e-mails I get from publicists that I don't understand are the ones talking about how attractive the author is. "She's beautiful! He's handsome!" I always wonder what I'm supposed to do with this information. I want to write back, "Is he coming over to my house? If not, what the hell do I care who attractive the author is?" As far as authors go, I get the occasional 3 am e-mail from an author who is obviously drunk and self-Googling -- "Who the hell do you think you are?" etc. -- but I never make them public, because I also have a drunk e-mail habit. I need to keep the good karma so that the universe will not retaliate with an ex suddenly putting my drunk e-mails online.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Who says publicists are always behind the scenes?

Ok, well I guess we do, because we normally are. This has made our time in the spotlight on Novel Journey over the past two weeks even more enjoyable.

The second installment of our interview series is up today. Head over there to hear Tolly and Amy talk about online publicity, challenges facing publicists today and how to promote your science fiction novel about aliens taking over the U.S. government.

It can be done!

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

That's a Wrap!

I’m pleased to say P&P’s first literary video shoot was a total success! It was a long day for us, but everything went off without a hitch. Needless to say, it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the AMS Production Group's talented staff, the unwavering energy of “Shelf Life” host Kimberlie Dykeman, and the creative minds of the seven authors who participated in the shoot.

Each filming session lasted about an hour and a half, giving each author time to film their “Shelf Life” interview, a bio and a book introduction. The first shoot of the day started bright and early at 8 am with Traci Slatton, author of Immortal followed by J.J. Austin, author of It Starts With You! In the afternoon, it was Mark Pickering (Story of the Sand), followed by r.b. mitchell (Castaway Kid) and then Steve Simpson (Runaway). The last two shoots of the day were of Mike Thomas (A Harvest of Miracles) and Nate Self (Two Wars).

WHEW!

The videos are now in post-production, and we can't wait to share the end result! In case you were wondering, this content is the main ingredient for P&P’s new Online Video PR Campaign and should be going viral soon. Check back soon to view the final clips which will be available all over the web in a couple short weeks. As promised in yesterday’s post, here are some more pictures from the day…


Nate Self, author of Two Wars, films his bio.


Nate Self and host of "Shelf Life" Kimberlie Dykeman pose on set.


Rob Mitchell, author of Castaway Kid, films his book introduction.


Traci Slatton, author of Immortal, pauses between takes.



Kimberlie interviews Traci on the set of "Shelf Life."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Live from the set

We're reporting live from the scene of our very first video shoot of ShelfLife.tv over at AMS studios in Austin! For those of you who don't know, our new web-based TV program is dedicated to authors and their stories. It's all about "Real People. Real Purpose. Real Perspective." Stay tuned for the official launch of ShelfLife.tv coming soon.
 
So far, today's shoot has been a success. Three authors have filmed interviews, bios and book introductions and we're right on schedule. Just four more authors to go! We wanted to share some pictures from our shoot this morning. Check back later for updates...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Retire the catalog mailout.

HarperCollins just announced an eco-friendly industry move - online catalogs! According to the AP, Penguin (USA) and Random House are moving in a similar direction. Mike Merschel over at the Dallas Morning News just blogged his thoughts on the possible industry shift, confirming a little inkling I had.

Formerly a publicist at a division of Random House, I logged many hours (and subsequent papercuts) stuffing the shiny new catalogs into envelopes addressed to our list of coveted media contacts and over the years. I wondered how many trash cans they might have graced. I was in the literary pr biz at the crux of a ditigal turning point, yet the old school catalogs kept coming. As it turns out, things like blindly-mailed catalogs only tend to multiply in said contacts' mailboxes and then migrate to the garbage bin.

Recent initiatives in green publishing are also good news for book publicists. Online galleys + digital catalogs = more time for targeted pitching.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Talking Shop: Q&A with your favorite insiders

Karen Campbell, Director of Public Relations, Zondervan
Karen Campbell heads up the Public Relations department at Zondervan and is one of the best in business. It is always interesting to hear about publicity from the publisher's perspective, so we asked her to share some of her wisdom with our readers...

Describe your role as Director of Public Relations at Zondervan.
Create communication and PR campaigns to increase awareness of Zondervan and it’s brands with consumers, retailers, and authors. I communicate with media regarding new product releases, best-selling backlist products and titles that speak to news-breaking events and trends. I also secure interviews and media attention for Zondervan authors, contributors, and related spokespeople for maximum sales and brand impact.

Zondervan has been on the cutting edge of Web 2.0 promotion (a blog, online newsroom, social networking pages and other initiatives) for many years--how have these ventures helped your titles?
We have an amazing team of people at Zondervan who are completely dedicated to communicate information about our authors, books and tours online through social networking sites, blogging, websites, etc. It really is amazing how fast word can spread about a new book by posting information on our website or working with an author to create a group on a social networking site.

How have you seen book publicity change during your years at Zondervan?
I think book publicity changes as the publishing industry changes—more technology based. It is also directly affected by culture and as pivotal events take place, the need for experts, information or just a good story change. There are also more and more media outlets available with more and more competition for those spots.

What type of media do you think is most effective for new authors?
I think it’s getting the word out there about your books—having people engage with it and start talking about it. Whether that’s through interaction online via a YouTube video, an author’s personal blog, reviews or television interviews.

How would you describe your ideal author?
Someone who doesn’t want to be on Oprah. Seriously, I would have to say it’s someone who has reasonable expectations, is available for appropriate interviews and appreciates the hard work put into getting the word out about their book.

What is one thing that would surprise authors about what publicists do?
An author of mine recently wrote her own press materials. She mentioned in her email that writing these materials was a lot harder than she thought. It took her days to figure out what to say and she is the one closest to the book!

What is your favorite thing about working in the publishing industry?
It’s the pleasure of reading books and talking about them for a living. It’s a great industry to be in for a book lover!

Is there a particular booking that you are most proud of?
I secured an article in The New York Times for Greg Boyd, author of The Myth of a Christian Nation. At the time, I wasn’t sure where the article would be placed. When I got the paper the morning it ran, I looked and it was on the front page! Needless to say, the article spurred more media attention and we doubled our first year sales expectations in just a couple weeks.

What advice would you give authors about book publicity?
Let your publicist know about any media outlets you’ve been on or worked with in the past or any relationships you have with media that might help secure coverage for your book.

Be patient. It’s not always an instant thing and may take a month or so to build interest and momentum.

How do you think book PR is likely to change over the next few years?
I definitely think coverage and word-of-mouth will continue to grow online/electronically.

What should readers be watching for from Zondervan this fall?
We have quite a bit!

Jesus Wants to Save Christians by Rob Bell and Don Golden, Sin Boldly by Cathleen Falsani, Where’s Your Jesus Now? by Karen Spears Zacharias, Faith & Doubt by John Ortberg, You Matter More Than You Think by Jim Cymbala, Every Now & Then by Karen Kingsbury, The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher by Rob Stennett

What are you reading right now?
The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR by Al Ries and Laura Ries, Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw, My Beautiful Idol by Pete Gall and Certain Girls: A Novel by Jennifer Weiner.

How did you land in the publishing industry?
One of my most respected college professors was an author at a publishing company and knew they were looking for people. I started out my first year in customer service and then moved to publicity—that was 10 years ago…

Who is an author we should keep an eye on?
Rob Bell.

What would surprise Zondervan authors about Karen Campbell?
I’m a huge NHL Hockey fan. Let’s Go Red Wings!!!

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Friday, May 9, 2008

Friday Morning Round-up

Is anyone going to LA?

It is hard to believe that we are less than one month away from Book Expo America (BEA). I'm looking forward to seeing old friends, attending great panels and catching a Dodgers game.

One downside of this year's event is the attendance is always lighter than normal in LA. I've talked with several contacts that are mainstays at BEA that aren't making the trip this year thanks to travel headaches.

To make matters worse, Slunch thanked JetBlue this week for cancelling its New York to LA service just in time for the show. Many of our friends in New York will now be facing the harrowing traffic jam that lies between Long Beach and LA. I think I'll pass on that.

New Interview Series Starting Next Week

We have decided to introduce some new voices to our blog, so starting next week, look for installments of our weekly interview series. We're going to reach out to various industry contacts and ask them to pass along their wisdom to you all.

First up--Karen Campbell, Director of Public Relations at Zondervan (a division of HarperCollins). Karen's leadership has put Zondervan authors on the cutting edge of the Web 2.0 movement and she'll be stopping in next week to share her thoughts on publicity, publishing and much more.

Blog Interview Just Posted

Those of you who frequent literary blogs know how fantastic Novel Journey is. Writers Digest just named the site one of their 101 Most Valuable Websites for Writers 2008. We have been loyal readers for a long time and were recently asked to conduct an interview series them.

The first installment was posted today.

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Monday, May 5, 2008

Who says readings don't yield results

You never know who is going to show up to a reading at Book Soup. One of the biggest and sadly, last, major independent book stores in the country, Book Soup is located on the infamous Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. The quirky shop is known for lots of things: floor-to-ceiling book shelves, a great blog, unusually famous clientele and well-attended events.

Among publicists, Book Soup is to readings in LA what BookPeople is to touring authors in Austin—the most sought after venue for the biggest events. Over the next few weeks Book Soup will host events for Augusten Burroughs, Barbara Walters, James Frey, Arianna Huffington and other famous authors. Though top publishers have their sights firmly set on the bookstore, true to its independent roots, Book Soup also opens its doors to small publishers, university presses and other non conglomerated publishers that have authors touring in the area.

One of our titles last fall, Entering Hades (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux/Sarah Crichton Books), by John Leake, received widespread coverage and rave reviews from everyone but Janet Maslin. The book is a fascinating true crime tale about the world’s first intercontinental serial killer, Jack Unterweger. John did not do a formal book tour, but had signings at the Texas Book Festival, BookPeople, Book Soup and other locales throughout the campaign. Book Soup made sense as a venue because the story had a significant local connection.

From the LA Times:
“In 1994, Unterweger was convicted of murdering nine prostitutes, including three in the L.A. area. The bodies of Shannon Exley and Irene Rodriguez were found in Boyle Heights, and the body of Peggi Jean Booth, who also used the name Sherri Ann Long, was discovered in the Malibu hills. Police determined that Unterweger had strangled his victims using their brassieres.”

Each event he had was well-attended but the one that stood out was his Book Soup reading. Why? None other than John Malkovich was seated in the audience. Apparently Malkovich had followed the Jack Unterweger case in the early ‘90s and according to the LA Times, Leake’s book “reignited his interest in the notorious killer.”

As it turns out, Malkovich was not just a casual observer. On Friday the LA Times announced that the actor “is playing real-life Austrian serial killer and bestselling author Jack Unterweger in a world premiere production, "Seduction and Despair," which debuted over the weekend in Santa Monica.

Not only is Malkovich starring as Unterweger, he’s also directing the play. According to the LA Times,
“The idea for "Seduction and Despair" originated nearly two years ago when Malkovich first met Martin Haselböck at a dinner at the Austrian Consulate in L.A. The two fell into a heated debate about European politics but later agreed to work together on a project that would somehow bridge Austrian culture and Southern California.”

Apparently the two had originally settled on another piece for their collaboration, but thanks to John Leake’s event at Book Soup, they found a fascinating new source for their work together.

It all goes to show that book signings, which do demand a lot of extra time and energy from an author (not to mention time-consuming tour media from their publicist), can yield some outstanding results - and sometimes book sales are only the beginning.

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