The most important relationship an author has at her publisher is with her editor (or for an illustrator this might be the art director or the editor), but relationships with people in publicity, marketing, and sales are also very important. Depending on the size of the company, this could be one person or many. In larger companies, a publicist will be assigned to you (or your book), but you may also work with a School & Library Marketing person on a regular basis. At smaller companies, this is most likely one person.
The first conversation you have with someone in publicity or marketing is very important because it’s your chance to ask all the “stupid” questions. Let me rephrase that — it is very important to ask all the supposedly stupid questions now. It saves a lot of confusion later.
This phone conversation may be initiated by you or by me, depending on what’s being planned for you and the book. You are welcome to call me….really you are. For me with a new author/illustrator, a good time to talk is in the six to nine months before publication. We’ll keep emailing/talking after that, but it’s a good time to get focused.
What we’ll talk about…
Our general plan of action
Bookstores and other retailers: how you can help (and how you can’t)
Author Visits: how to get started, why they are important
Review Copies: where we send, how you can help, where we don’t send
Title specific ideas: niche markets, promo ideas, etc.
Author specific ideas: your contacts and influences, your website and social media presence
Your promo ideas: we’ll discuss what could work best
Your questions: anything, really anything you want to ask
You do hear stories about authors unable to reach their publicists (and I fall into that sometimes too), but we really do want your participation. During a specific project — say the creation of an activity guide — we may be talking/emailing every day. For some books, we might only speak that one time and then a few follow-up emails for suggested mailings, etc. For most books, I’m probably directly in touch with the author 4-5 times over the course of those 6-9 months.
I know that for some authors and illustrators, finding that balance between being a strong advocate for your book and being too overzealous can be tough. Therefore, in working with your marketing/publicity specialist:
Be friendly and polite
Maintain, regular but not contant, contact
Just remember, we want to sell your book (almost) as much as you do.