~Guest blog by Jamie Tan
As a senior publicist at Candlewick Press, my job involves a lot of travel, conversation, logistics, and a ton of e-mail. When I started out in publicity, I walked in thinking that the job would be about reaching out to event and media contacts, acting as an author liaison, and being a public-facing representative of Candlewick Press. The job is that, but with a whole lot of fun and unexpected tasks, mostly involving troubleshooting when the random things go awry.
My typical day at the office involves a myriad of tasks. I set up events, pitch journalists, talk to my authors about plans for their upcoming titles, and contribute to the department hive-mind when we have queries or are looking for fresh leads. I spend most of my day responding to e-mail, checking relevant social media, and planning for future campaigns. In my head, I’m thinking at least two seasons (one year) ahead. It’s nothing compared to my editorial and design colleagues, who are often times thinking two years (or more) out.
A few of the Candlewick books Jamie has publicized.
My typical day at an event or conference involves being an author liaison and amateur photographer. When I am with authors, I make sure I know their schedules inside and out so that I know where we need to be, how to get there, and who to contact if an issue arises. I also want to make sure that the authors are as comfortable and event-ready as possible, which involves taking them out to coffee or simply walking around to ease their nerves. I’ve learned how to situate myself in an audience so that I can take the best photograph possible to be used in social media or a photo round-up post-event. I admit that I’m glued to my phone during events, whether it be I’m waiting for a call or text response to a question, checking to see if anyone has posted about my author on social media, or am trying to decipher the best way to get from point A to point B. For publicists, a strong internet connection and access to their inboxes are musts.
When I think about my job description, I think about it like casting a wide net. I’m trying to hit up every angle I can, even the unusual ones. I get my fair share of rejection, but I also have successes. It can be depressing to send out more than twenty e-mails and not receive a response, but it is gratifying when the twenty-first e-mail you send out gets an enthusiastic response. The one thing I’ve learned? Keep trying. You never know what’s going to happen!
My advice for authors would be to keep an eye out for opportunities. They are my partners in the publicity process, and I really appreciate it when an author has built relationships within the industry that result in being asked to participate in interviews and also appearances. Several of the authors I work with have really robust social media presences which are really helpful in keeping their names in the public eye. While the publicity department and I have access to a wider range of events, authors are able to tap into their local literary scenes and be aware of opportunities that I might not be.
Jamie Tan is a Senior Publicist at Candlewick Press and has her MA in Children’s Literature from Simmons College. Before working at Candlewick Press, Jamie worked in events and marketing at several independent bookstores.
You can find her on Twitter @thejamietan.
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