Quick introduction – my name is Sabah and I look after all the publicity here at Avon Books. Publicity is something that people tend to get mixed up with marketing and events but the roles are very similar and there is a lot of crossover so I work very closely with the marketing and events team here at HarperCollins, as well as with the editorial and sales teams.
The role of a publicist is really varied so every day is different, and that’s what I love the most about it. Essentially I manage all the authors on our list, as well as every title they publish – so the job itself can be anything from writing and selling in acquisition announcements when we first sign the contract, working closely with the author to determine the best strategy for them to reach their fans, which will depend on their own following and if they are a debut, sending books out for review, organising blog tours and book signings, pitching for festivals and appearances and all awards, and working to place features and opinion pieces.
I also work with authors to help them place short stories, approach regional media on their behalf, pitch them for broadcast opportunities and recently have been doing much more work with podcasts. I also attend launch events and festivals/talks, both with my own authors and for other authors who I am a fan of. This does sometimes mean that I’m working seven days a week without a break, but festivals are always a lot of fun and it’s nice to be able to spend time with authors outside of the normal working arrangement and just get to know them a bit better.
Because all media outlets work to different timeframes, I’m usually working to three different timelines in my head – so being organised is key! I work six months ahead for the long lead magazines, about three months ahead for supplements and weekly magazines, and then on a shorter lead time for newspapers and websites.
As well as doing all these planned bits of activity, I try and be reactive to the news where I can too.
For example, when the news of the third royal baby being born broke, I secured a piece for one of my authors to write about what the Duchess could expect being a parent to two boys and a girl.
I also work hard to tell the Avon story wherever I can – I’ve devised a 12-month strategy for the imprint which means I’m always championing the brand at every opportunity, and working closely with other divisions and teams here at HC to make sure we’re included in all conversations – so making sure that Avon is represented well and truly across the publishing industry.
As a publicist, I have day to day contact with most of my authors. A book campaign starts very far ahead of publication, and particularly as our authors publish more than one title with us, I’m working to build them as brand names rather than just focussing on releases, so they know that they can come to me with any question and I’ll do my best to answer it, and they also know that I will always offer an honest opinion about whether an opportunity is right for them. I have a lot of love and respect for my authors so I always put them and their interests ahead of anything else.
In addition to doing this, because we are a small team here I get to be much more involved in the rest of the book process – so I also read submissions, attend cover art meetings where we develop the jacket looks and brands for authors, go into sales meetings – and also get to work with the international press teams in the other HC offices as some of our authors get published in different territories. This means that I get to see a book through the whole process – from acquisition to publication and see it in different forms and watch how it changes.
As we are a small team, I also consider myself events planner here – so anytime we’re celebrating the launch of a new book, or if it’s a team day out or the Christmas party, you can be sure that I will have been involved! I’ve already sent out invitations to our authors for the Avon Christmas party which is going to be amazing, and last year we celebrated our tenth birthday so I was lucky enough to plan that party too.
I’m always happy to be contacted via twitter if anyone wants any more information on publicity so feel free to get in touch with me – @sabah_k.
Thanks for reading!