Monday, July 7, 2008

An Interview with a Real Live Publicist: Random House's Kathy Dunn

It is an exceptional privilege to have Kathy Dunn, Random House Publicist, with us today. Kathy has worked at Random House Children’s Books for over twelve years (is that like a record??), working with both introverted and extroverted authors. She describes herself as a combination of the two. She resides in Southampton, NY with her husband and two sons.

We asked Kathy what authors can do to help her more effectively do her job. And, realistically speaking, what can one single, introverted author do to help promote their book?

So, I’m going to dim the house lights and let Kathy take it away!

* * * * * * * * * 

Get to know your local community.

Research area newspapers, magazines and media outlets that you can alert your publicist to as he or she is actively pitching your book. You know your hometown better than anyone else does, right?  Also, if your state has any specific book awards that your publicist may not know about, definitely let them know that as well.

Introduce yourself to the librarians at your local schools.

Librarians are obviously wonderful supporters of all books, and have access to tons of your target readers! Make a few calls and introduce yourself. Offer to come in for a free school event to discuss your book. (I know this might be hard if you are a Shrinking Violet, but at least make the phone call, right?) Kids see tons of other kids at extracurricular activities, and if they liked your book, they may tell their friends about it. Same goes for teachers and librarians!

Introduce yourself to the local bookstores.

Again, just make a call, or stop in and introduce yourself. It’s nice for people to be able to put a face to the name that they see on a book jacket.

Do online research.

These days, there are tons of blogs, sites, etc, many of which welcome new books by authors, interview, etc. Since pretty much all kids are online these days, what better way to get to them then the web? Many authors have even arranged their own “Blog Tours” by contacting websites and seeing if they would be interested in mentioning their books or doing interviews.

Remember your book’s publication date.

Try not to schedule any appearances, etc, before your book’s official on-sale date.  It is sometimes hard to early release a book to a specific location, as it gives them an unfair advantage over the other places where books are sold. Policies on this may vary from house to house, but it is something to definitely be mindful of.

Loop your publicist in on anything you might arrange on your own.

Sometimes authors will be contacted directly from a school, library, etc.  If you decide to handle the calls on your own, be sure to let your publicist know that you have arranged an appearance, etc.  In terms of the media, I recommend letting your publicist field any requests, and be the only person pitching to various outlets. It can be awkward for authors to pitch their own books.

* * * * * * * * * 

Thanks, Kathy!  This is great info for all of us, published and pre-published.  If any of you have some questions you'd like to ask Kathy, those that would benefit the greater good, fire away.  I can put them all together and schedule a follow-up with Kathy. And, I will report back lickedy split.

Wish me luck, everyone!  My new book hits the streets tomorrow!!  (Gulp.) Thanks for all the excellent ideas/questions you've shared during our pre-launch planning.



Anonymous said...

Great interview, and Mary I hope your book has record sales!

Shari Green said...

Great info - thanks!

Congrats on your book launch day, Mary, and good luck! :)

Anonymous said...

I have a question. I'd be interested to know how valuable Kathy feels it is for an author to hire and outside publicist. Especially a debut author.


Anonymous said...

The very best of luck to you for your book launch. I amsure it will be a great success.

R.L. LaFevers said...

Thanks for another outstanding interview, Mary! Not only did Kathy have some great tips, but her boys are adorable, too!

Mary Hershey said...

Thanks, everyone!

And, great question, Joelle! I'll pass that on--


cindy said...

congrats and good luck, mary! how exciting! i admit, when i think about the day for myself--i'm more terrified than anything. haah!

and thanks for sharing such a great interview with tips! cheers!