This year our Summer in Words conference line up will include a talk about book publicity by Jessica Glenn. (Saturday, June 16) It’s such and important topic these days especially when more and more writers are traveling the independent publishing route. And that road can be long, rutted and winding.
Jessica Glenn works as a book publicist through her agency Mindbuck Media. She loves authors and books and helping authors sell books. Glenn’s also a bit of a Renaissance woman and is involved in social activism, writes, gardens, raises kids, cooks, and is about to appear on this season’s Masterchefs. So you might want to meet her and find our what Gordon Ramsey is really like. You could also ask her about her thing for squirrels.
Q: It seems that you have a lot of interests and passions. This makes
me wonder how you chose publicity and working with authors in
A: Having a lot of interests and passions is definitely a defining characteristic of my personality. I started off as a freelance writer mostly writing content, which is great for people interested in everything plus it made me discover how much of a research junkie I am. From freelance writing, I moved to writing and strategy for INKEDblog (A&E’s website for INKED, the reality television show about tattoos) through employer Electric Artists Marketing Services in NY.
As I worked on the INKEDblog project, I learned how marketing is affected by community alliances and discovered my ongoing love affair with interactive web 2.0. After that project ended, I started my own marketing company to use what I had learned with Electric Artists.
My personal interests are mainly artistic and political, so naturally, many of my clients fell into those two categories. After about two years, I realized that a lot of what seemed most effective for campaigns was PR plus web 2.0 strategy rather than traditional marketing. At that point, most of my clients were authors or doctors because of my interest in the arts scene and because of my association with OHSU as a board member and treasurer for the Richmond clinic serving uninsured and under insured patients.
While I’m still dedicated to healthcare reform, these two groups did not have enough in common and I decided to work exclusively with authors three years ago.
My varied interests still serve me well even in this very niche position because one thing books have in common is divergent subject matter. Every book I work on starts with hard research in the subject and genre so that I start a campaign with an authentic knowledge of the subject matter. And this keeps work fresh and interesting.
Q: What are your thoughts on the current revolution in publishing?
A: Whenever I start to answer this, I realize it’s impossible not to step on someones’ toes. That said, I’m not one to avoid controversy… Candidly, I am ecstatically grateful that I am able to work in this industry at this time. Every morning when I sit at my desk, I am able to bend the rules, change the rules, break the rules, create the rules. Because of interactivity, I am able to invent new ways to contact people and new paths for readers to feel personally invested in the books and authors they love.
There are many people who are very unhappy at what they see as the fall of the local bookstore. I love our local independent bookstores. That said, as a matter of principle, I like innovation better. I don’t like clinging to something because it is part of my tradition, I like the thing that is most environmental, efficient and enjoyable. I see stores like Powell’s doing some very smart things such as their print on demand printer where people will be able to order a book and have it printed and bound right there in the store. Brilliant.
To the others I say: Evolve! Innovate! Come up with some good ideas! One obvious one I still haven’t seen is having Indy bookstores contact publishers directly for ebook sales links. Then with a simple app, customers can come in, scan the book they want in the bookstore, and upload it to their reading device without waiting in line and the profits go to the BOOKSTORE. That would require no shelf space, no inventory, etc. Yet, people would still be able to be part of a community and be in a communal space.
Q: What’s your number one bit of advice for writers about publicizing
A: DON’T FORGET THAT IT TAKES A MINIMUM OF 6 MONTHS TO PUBLICIZE A BOOK. Authors (and sometimes publishers) come to me all the time either with a book coming out in a month, or a book that came out a month before. I can (begrudgingly) squeeze the publicity into 3 months, but if the book has already been released, don’t believe any publicist who says it’s worth it to spend a bunch of money on a resuscitation campaign.
Q: What are the major mistakes you see writers making when it comes to
Authors don’t make good publicists, period. The biggest mistake is pushing for an early release date because it seems like everything taken so long already and the author just can’t wait to get it out to the world! Another one is authors sending out their own press releases to every media outlet in the universe. Another one is purchasing any service which has the word “blast” in it. And lastly, if authors insist on doing their own publicity (which I understand is financially necessary in some cases), buy and read a book about how to do book publicity. There are some great ones. Then, use a pseudonym for the publicist name. As unfair as it is, people aren’t as inclined to believe a glowing recommendation of a book from the writer of that same book…
Q: Pasta or sushi?
A: All of the above and everything else! Cooking is another interest: I’m a contestant on the current season of Fox’s Masterchef and I love to gossip about other contestants so let me know if you want the dirt.
Q: What’s on your night stand?
A:Sex, drugs and rock and roll. So to speak.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I’m really enjoying my work with international authors. I’ve had two from the UK and I have a new author from France (US ex-pat) with two books coming out in the next year. Fun stuff.