It's been quite a while since I shared an interview with an industry professional, but that's what I have for y'all today. I met Courtney Griffin at the Boldly Bookish author tour in Chicago a year ago, and she's been a wonderful contact to have at Bloomsbury. (Although, if I'm being honest, everyone on the Bloomsbury marketing and publicity team is great.) So without further ado, here's the interview!
Emma: What does a normal work day look like for you?
Courtney: Part of the fun of working in publicity is that every day can be different. Last week I was out on the road with our Boldly Bookish tour, and literally woke up in a new city every day. Going on tour is always fun because it’s a chance to spend time with your authors, and to hear them speak passionately about their work while interacting with their readers. I also get to talk to authors every day, whether it’s working with them to set up an event or coordinating an interview. I work with bookstores all across the country (and have luckily gotten to visit a lot of them on tour). I collaborate with the rest of the publicity department, plus our marketing and editorial teams, to brainstorm ideas or just communicate information. A large part of my job is working with media to help our books get publicity, so I’m always pitching, updating existing contacts, or researching new ones, as things are always changing. But it’s not all glamorous. I spend a lot of time doing things like writing press materials, mailing books out, processing invoices, keeping track of mailing schedules, and organizing piles of paper on my not so neat desk.
Emma: What role does social media play in publicity and marketing campaigns in the publishing industry?
Courtney: Social media can be crucial to publicity and marketing campaigns. I’ll confess that I stayed off of Twitter for as long as possible, but finally getting on board has really allowed me to expand my circles, personally and professionally, and build some wonderful connections and friendships. It’s so exciting when you see other people posting and sharing enthusiasm about a book you’re working on, and social media is such a great catalyst for spreading that excitement. It’s also really fun when I get to meet bloggers when I’m traveling for work.
Emma: What do you recommend someone study in college, if they want to become a book publicist?
Courtney: I studied English in college and thought I wanted to work in editorial, but a publicity opportunity came along and I haven’t been able to give it up! I think you can really study anything, as long as your writing and communication skills are strong, you have patience, and you are easily excited by things like orderly signing lines.
Emma: Do you get to read for pleasure, or is your reading time consumed with books for work?
Courtney: I do make time to read for pleasure, though I always wish I had more. I love reading YA and middle-grade, but I also really enjoy reading adult fiction and nonfiction. I think I need the balance to keep me sane.
Emma: What should bloggers know about working with publicists?
Courtney: Working with bloggers is so lovely and seeing their excitement about a book is definitely contagious. Though we wish we had enough ARCs to send every book to every blogger who requested it, we truly do have limited quantities. I’m also a big fan of when bloggers send me review links; even if I’m not able to respond to every email, it’s very much appreciated!
Emma: What should aspiring authors know about working with publicists?
Courtney: It’s always great when authors are excited and willing to work to promote their books. Publicists generally are working on several titles at one time and maybe even several tours at one time, but we always aim to do our best for your book. We’re all book lovers and we want your book to do well!
Emma: Bloomsbury has some of the best preorder campaigns. Is there a particular one that's been your favorite?
Courtney: Our marketing team does such a wonderful job creating the preorder campaigns. I think my favorite so far has been the tote bags for Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series. As someone who read through nearly every preorder email, I think it’s safe to say this has been a favorite for readers too.
Emma: What upcoming 2016 and 2017 releases are you excited for?
Courtney: I got excited just reading this question. Danielle Paige’s STEALING SNOW in Fall of 2016. I love the twists and turns she works into her books, and think her fans will really love this one. I’m also really looking forward to Emery Lord’s next book, The Names They Gave Us, which comes out in 2017. You can always count on Emery’s novels to be smart, thoughtful, and feel so genuine. I’m also really looking forward to reading Diane Guerrero’s memoir, IN THE COUNTRY WE LOVE, which just came out. I love her in Jane the Virgin and Orange is the New Black, so I’m looking forward to learning more about her background and her family’s experience in the US.
Emma: I can't even begin to describe how excited I am for Emery Lord's upcoming book. She's such a great writer.
Courtney Griffin is a children’s book publicist in Manhattan. She enjoys cuddling with dogs, reading books, watching TV, and drinking coffee. She lives in Brooklyn with a stuffed unicorn and other roommates.
You can find her on Twitter at @cocogriff.
So does the publicity side of publishing interest you? Or what other careers in the book industry would you like to see interviews about?