An Evening with Publicist Jennifer Abbotts

"Creativity is, quite simply, a genuine interest combined with initiative."
Scott Belsky

Making connections, coming up with a plan, and setting goals are only part of what a publicist does, according to our New Mexico Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators March Shop Talk guest speaker, Jennifer Abbotts. Jennifer is a PR, marketing, and communications professional. She has worked with book festivals, award-winning authors, and major publishers. She previously worked in the publicity departments at Scholastic, J. Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, Little, Brown Books, and HarperCollins. Presently, she is freelancing.

What Exactly Does a Publicist Do?
Large publishing houses may have a publicity department, or publicity may be part of marketing. Most of these houses have at least one publicist.

First, the publicist takes into consideration where the author is in her career. From there, a plan is hatched locally, regionally and nationally. Services run the gamut, from sending books out to media, acquiring author interviews, making connections on social media, and setting up events and tours. When the paperback comes out, the publicity wheels spin once again.

What a Publicist Needs from You, the Author
In a word: goals. What are your goals? What do you want to accomplish with the publication of your book? What makes you unique? What do you have that no one else has to peak readers’ interest? If you’re an educator and you want to present yourself as such, then that’s your focus. Whatever you decide is your pitch, it needs to feel real, be at a level of comfort for yourself. That’s the best way to connect with your audience.

Jennifer pointed out that it is not always necessary to hire a publicist, but if you have a project moving forward and you’d like to get in touch with one, unfortunately there is no data base. The best way to find one is to talk to your agent and editor. Or google an author and look for their press release to get a name. Ideally, lead time is 6-9 months. The cost varies according to the project. We are fortunate that Jennifer graciously shared her expertise with us.

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Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate, has published over 150 articles for adults and children, and several short stories for children. She has recently become editor of the New Mexico SCBWI chapter newsletter and is working on several projects for children. Follow Linda on Facebook.


Karen Cioffi said...

Linda, I was just discussing publicists and book marketers with a client. If in the author's budget, a publicists can definitely help get the word out. Thanks for sharing all the things you learn at these workshops!

Linda Wilson said...

You're welcome! Jennifer just moved to Albuquerque so we felt very fortunate to have her come speak to us.

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