Everyone, meet Kat, one of the wonderful people from the Simon & Schuster UK publicity department. She was kind enough to answer the questions I sent her, and her answers provide a TONNE of insight into the business.
And so you guys can put a face to the name, Kat has sent along a cute photo. You may notice that she is dressed for summer but the people behind her are wearing wellies and Kat herself is posing in front of rain clouds. In Britain, this is how we roll.
1. As bloggers/readers, we only know our side of it – the part involving ARCs. Could you please tell us more about your role and what it involves?
My role involves both marketing and publicity which is somewhat unusual –from writing press releases to organising tours to securing review coverage to producing marketing materials such as sales sheets, catalogues and websites. Oh, and keeping up to date with Twitter, Facebook and all the brilliant social media available to us. Very varied but very fun!
2. How did you get into the publishing industry? Is it as glamorous as it seems to us bibliophiles?
I started out as a bookseller – I was 18 when I started selling children’s books and was very lucky to get a link into publishing when I was 23 due to having acquired five years’ worth of knowledge. Work experience is great but don’t be disheartened if you have trouble getting any as there are other routes in if you show your passion and enthusiasm for books. As for the glamour… we do get lovely opportunities to go to lovely launches and meet lovely authors – but there’s a lot of hard grind involved too.
3. What’s a typical day at work like?
There is no typical day! Given the sheer variety of tasks and different projects involved in this job, every day is different – which is why I love it. One day you can be working on zombies, and the next day it’s fluffy kittens and books about scorching teen luuuurve.
4. How is it decided on how much publicity a book requires before its release? Is it the same for both published authors as well as debut authors?
I think it is very varied – a campaign for a debut novel will always be very different to a campaign for an established author, in just the same way that a campaign for a new series on killer pirates would differ from a lyrical standalone tale of tragedy. Some books are better suited to an online audience, some books are ideal for print reviews. The key is to have creative ideas and ways to make a book stand out – which I’m making sound far easier than it is! Luckily we all love the books we promote, and that can get a publicist a long way.
5. How is a media kit usually put together?
Putting together information for the media is mostly about working out the message you’re sending about each book, and getting that across with the right copy, the right tone, and the right quotes. Quotes are particularly useful for debut novels, to show that people have read and loved the book already. Being concise is important as a lot of press contacts are very busy and receive a lot of emails and press releases – always a challenge for a chatterbox like me.
6. How do you discover new authors?
We have absolutely brilliant editors who work with agents and trawl through manuscript after manuscript after manuscript looking for just that – I don’t envy them, and I love getting to see what they bring to us for feedback.
7. Tell us your top 3 favorite books.
Off the top of my head – The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst (I must have read it five times), Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, and The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. It is quite mean to make me pick just three!
8. Could you tell us about a few exciting upcoming YA titles from Simon and Schuster?
There are lots and lots – we are very much looking forward to continuing to publish with authors such as Darren Shan (Amber: EEEEEEEEP!), Philippa Gregory, Becca Fitzpatrick, Michelle Harrison, Andrew Fukuda, Sarah Alderson and more, whilst welcoming some absolutely fantastic debut YA talent to our list, and growing our new authors. Keep an eye on our Twitter – @simonkids_UK – and Facebook page as we are constantly posting reviews and snippets there of what’s coming up. You can also sign up to The Blurb, our quarterly fiction newsletter.