Bio from The Elevensies

Name: Randy Russell 
2011 Book:   DEAD RULES, HarperTeen Harper/Collins, Summer 2011. 

Your book's synopsis:  YA.  Sometimes falling in love means you've got to kill somebody.

Twitter handle:  Randy__Russell
Favorite books:   Paddy Clarke, Ha Ha Ha (Roddy Doyle).  Every sentence makes my heart scream.
Share 11 random things about yourself.
1. I trained to be a plumber in high school.  I can sweat all the copper for a new house in 4 hours.
2. I went to college on an 4-year Army scholarship.   
3. My first publications were poetry in literary journals.  I had two works in The Paris Review while I was a student in college.  I took the small amount of money they paid me and bought a little tattoo of a star to remind me what I was supposed to do when I turned 35 --  write books.
4. I lived in the woods in Maine for ten days.  I was going to stay longer, but there were too many bugs.  I hitchhiked to Boston and slept on a friend's front porch instead.   
5.  After dropping out of my mfa program at the end of one year, I moved to NYC for six days.  I was going to stay longer, but.... I was offered a job in Kansas I couldn't pass up. 
6.  I worked in an office for ten years.  I was going to stay longer, but they told me I had to quit wearing jeans to work.  So I quit to write books.  
7.  I believe dogs are the best the thing on the planet.  
8.  I collect True Ghost experiences from people who have had ghost encounters.  I also teach a week-long annual Ghost Seminar for the state of North Carolina.  I wrote a book of short stories called Ghost Dogs of the South  and another one called Ghost Cats of the South.  My first adult novel was a mystery.  It was a nominated (finalist) for an Edgar Award. 
9. I have a heart tattooed on my left earlobe.  It is supposed to remind me to listen to my heart.  Oh, and to make sure I never get hired should I EVER feel the need to interview for a job. 
10. I write to learn.  About people.  About love.  I think I can figure out love if I keep writing for two hundred years or so.
11. I broke my toe.  A broken bone hurts less than a broken heart.  And, listen, a broken toe hurts a lot! 

Bowling Shoes of the Dead - DEAD RULES

Dead Rule # 1:  No staring at the new girl.  

If you haven't seen this really short teaser trailer for DEAD RULES, please take a look and tell me what you think.  

Just click here: Randy Russell.  Dead Rules.


It's my turn for A Day in the Writing Life.   Where I work, and stuff.  
I decided to use pictures and captions to portray my life as a writer. 
And to answer a few of the usual questions writers are asked.  I hope you don't mind.  
P.S. These writing machines are very expensive.  But worth every penny.:


When I can't be in my office (uh, you know, watching TV or something), I usually sit here:


As for the first most commonly asked questions of authors, I give you:


It's not all day work, btw.  I mean there are nights in the writing life, too.  
And I know some people would like to know who my agent is and who my editor is
and, in general, about all the many women in my writerly days and nights.  So:


Okay, what the heck. My agent is the wonderful and beautiful Stephanie Maclean at Trident Media Group.
And my editor is the incredibly talented and ravishing Erica Sussman, Haper/Collins.
But no numbers! 

The worst part of any writer's day is waiting. 
Here I am soon after I finished my book DEAD RULES and just before I started querying agents. 
This was one long day, let me tell you: 


The best part of any writer's day is when we go outside.  I like to work the crowd between chapters:


(I think the readhead is looking at my butt, btw.  Writers get that all the time!)

Well, that's it.   When it's sunny, I sometimes remember to wear sunglasses. 
I also eat , and play in the yard with dogs and stuff like that. 

And sometimes I use a microphone when I do readings from my work.
I like to be really loud and I find it helps make people buy my book.
Here I am telling people to buy my book for else! :


Julie Schoerke Interview, Part I, Book Publicity 101

Interview with Julie Schoerke, JKS Communications. Part I. Book Publicity 101.

JKSCommuncations, founded by Julie Schoerke, is an established freelance literary publicity agency. Julie and agency publicist Marissa DeCuir specialize in providing publicity and promotion for YA/MG books and authors. JKS also has associate professional freelancers who provide custom project-by-project speciality services. 

Julie generously allowed me to ask her a few questions for posting at The Elevensies.    I’ve also included questions submitted by members.  The interview is in three parts.   Parts II and III appear in subsequent post (scroll down). 

I.                    Book Publicity 101

II.                 Book Publicity Senior Seminar

III.               Book Publicity Graduate Degree

Julie, I know that you were a successful and well respected public relations professional before specializing as a literary publicist. What drew you to promoting books and authors? 

JKS: I had been in PR of one kind or another for 20 years…not-for-profit management, corporate and celebrity PR, politics, etc. When I started working with authors it suddenly just felt like the right fit for me. Every author has an intellectual curiosity. Book people tend to be thoughtful, considerate and bright…no crisis management issues in literary publicity (at least not with my wonderful clients!).

Generally, how can a publicist help an author? Can’t I do all this publicity stuff myself?

JKS: One thing that is tough for most people to do, and just about all self-deprecating authors, is to toot their own horn. A publicist can say things about you that you can never say about yourself. For example, I’m really lucky that I get to work with books and authors that I really like and believe in. 

Since I don’t work for a specific publishing house, my team and I are not assigned specific books. As a result, we are honestly enthusiastic about a book we’re pitching the media or for book tours. I can say, “I stayed up all night reading this book –you’re gonna love it!” An author just can’t say that about their own book.

The other folks at JKSCommunications can be equally effusive. One of the publicists now tells the media that a book we are representing is her second favorite book of all time – think that book is getting good traction? You bet!

Also, a publicist calling on behalf of an author and his/her book makes the project seem more professional and that it has a bigger campaign behind it (which it most likely does) than when an author is sending out their own information.

On another level, an author specializes in writing gripping, fascinating, entertaining, enlightening books. While authors are busy doing that, publicists are busy doing what they do best – networking with reviewers, bookstores, book festival organizers, producers and editors in the media. So when the time comes to allow the world to experience the book, the publicist (hopefully!) has the contacts, enthusiasm, and expertise in pitching and positioning the book to help as many readers who are the most likely to buy your book find out about it.

Being an author can be a lonely business. We are confidential sounding boards for an author when they become concerned about something and don’t want to go to their editor or agent yet. There are ups and downs and we’re there for the author through the “birthing of their baby.”

The past three or four years have seen tremendous changes in the publishing industry and in the promotion of books. We were among the first publicity firms to put our authors on virtual book tours (having authors “visit” book blogging sites through interviews and reviews of their book being posted during the week before and two weeks after the launch). 

Now there are Twitter, Facebook Fan Pages, Skype, author blogs, book trailers, and new opportunities present themselves all the time. Lots of authors don’t want to mess with setting up their own social networking or they don’t know how to make it work for them once they have the accounts. Publicists do that for you. Of course, there are some authors who are brilliant at doing some of this themselves. While we do lots of things for our author Susan Gregg Gilmore, LOOKING FOR SALVATION AT THE DAIRY QUEEN and THE IMPROPER LIFE OF BEZILLIA GROVE, she is absolutely brilliant at promoting her book through social networking and is often asked to speak to groups on that very topic.

Julie, I noticed I am sending my interview questions to you in Washington, D.C., this week. Whatever are you doing there?   And, uh, couldn’t you do it by telephone or email? 

JKS: I have been in Washington, DC meeting with the producers and correspondents for the NPR programming nationally. I walked in to the headquarters with a stack of books and support materials and spent some great time talking to some of the nicest people in the world about our clients’ books that will be hitting bookshelves over the next year. It was great to see the enthusiasm! I’ve also been meeting with bookstore managers and pitching them books for national book tours that we are creating. And while I’m here, I always drop some books by school librarians who make decisions on author visits.

We do lots of email and phone calls to our contacts throughout the year, but there is nothing like a face-to-face chat.  So when we have the opportunity, the publicists at JKSCommunications get out of the office and spend time with people all over the country who are good to our authors.

When do you get involved with promoting and publicizing an author’s book?   Can you tell us briefly how you spend your time as a client’s book approaches publication?  

JKS: An author can never call a publicist too soon after learning the publishing date of his or her book. We like to hear from authors as soon as they have signed the contract with the publishing house.

That way it gives us time to read the prospective client’s book (yes, we do read every book ahead of time to see if we’re the right fit for the book) and to talk with the author about what their goals are for the promotion of their book – it’s never just as simple as “sell as many copies as possible.”

Early contact also provides us time to keep our ears open for opportunities that may come along months before the actual campaign may start. We like to work with the clients three to six months before the launch of the book and the month the book is in bookstores.

Sometimes our clients like to have us stay on and work with them for up to a year afterward – right through the launch of the soft cover – and sometimes the authors decide that they’ve put as much of their heart and soul into promoting the book through personal appearances and media interviews that they want to and that they’re ready to go back to writing full-time.

What are some of the recent books you’ve worked on? 

JKS: We have the most amazing books coming out in the next few months! The fiction list includes:

ONCE UPON A BABY BROTHER by Sarah Sullivan (Children’s)

SCARS by Cheryl Rainfield (YA)

CROSSING by Andrew Fukuda (Cross-over YA)

BY ACCIDENT by Accident by Susan Kelly (Adult fiction)

IN THE BELLY OF JONAH by Sam Brannan (mystery, thriller series)

THE IMPROPER LIFE OF BEZILLIA GROVE by Susan Gregg Gilmore (Adult fiction, probably cross-over YA)

LONGBOURN’S UNEXPECTED MATCHMAKER  by Emma Hox (Adult fiction – Jane Austin inspired)

We have great non-fiction books launching as well. If you visit our website page at  you can see the wonderful books that have already been published.

Before I get to specific questions from Elevensies members, do you have any general advice for new authors on how to promote their books, whether or not they hire a publicist? 

JKS:  This is going to sound so basic to most authors but, GET A WEBSITE!  Do not think of not having a blog or website. It’s just like a business card was years ago. It’s a great way to interact with fans and to create enthusiasm with promotions, etc. Also, get a FaceBook page and start “friending” people you know all over the country and keep them up-to-date on your book’s progress – when it comes out, when you’ll be doing book signings, etc.

I do work with authors on lots of promotional giveaways to their fans. For example, we’re working on a project right now that includes a novel, a CD of music and a stage production inspired by the book and music. In order to get more FB fans for the project, we’re offering a grand-prize of a stay in Washington, DC for the world premiere of the stage production, VIP tickets and backstage passes, second prize is a membership for a year to the winner’s local zoo and third prize is a signed copy of the book.

These are great prizes, but don’t cost a lot of money. An author can do contests and giveaways on their own through their website and by asking people they know to help get the word out (which drives traffic to the website and builds excitement). We’ve also done contests in which kids can write a short essay about a topic that relates to the author’s book and the author chooses a winner that receives a gift certificate to iTunes or an iPod – the promotions can be as simple or complicated as the author chooses.

Talk up your book with your family, friends, colleagues, whoever you know, to help spread the word. Think about people you haven’t seen for years that live far away. Shoot them an email or friend them on FaceBook and tell them you have a book coming out, that you’d love for them to buy it, post reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites, and to choose it for their book clubs — that you’ll call in and chat after they’ve read the book. Or plan a trip to stay with these folks and ask them to use their connections to set up events for you in their cities.

Be sure to have a card made with a jpeg of the cover of your book that you can pass along to people everywhere you go.

What does a publicist charge to promote a book?   Can I afford you?

JKS: Publicists charge in all different kinds of ways and have different levels of fees.

I like to talk with an author about what his/her goals are. Surprisingly, they are actually almost never the same. You’d think the goal is “sell the most books possible” — but once we talk it through, the author has to weigh that hope/goal against how much time, energy and money to put into publicity and promotion.

We have some clients who will go anywhere anytime to sell books and talk to book lovers. Other authors have family or businesses commitments that keep them close to home most of the time.  Some clients are really committed to protecting their writing time above all else. We tend to work with authors who like people, because they are the ones who are actively looking for ways to connect with their readers and are interested in hiring a publicist.

I’m often asked what genre we specialize in. We pride ourselves on specializing on creating publicity campaigns that are specific to the needs and strengths of the individual author and the individual book. No two proposals that we create are the same, because no two books or authors are the same.

I create a proposal based on what the author says he/she wants: book tour, book launch, book trailer, only radio interviews, only virtual book tours, or the whole shebang. The publicity campaigns that we create are a minimum of four months. The cost varies depending on the estimated amount of time we will spend. We’ve had agents and publishers that send a number of clients to us because they think we’re very reasonably priced.

It’s a good idea to set aside some of your advance for publicity expenses The expenses could include a publicist, website design, travel costs for a book tour, printing costs for posters for your events or postcards to send to librarians, fees to attend conferences for your own networking, buying additional copies of your book if your publisher is set on only providing a certain number of copies to you (I’ve only met one author who hasn’t gone through all of the copies their publisher provides and bought more). I’d suggest putting aside $5,000 - $10,000 for all of this depending on how aggressive you decide to be in promoting yourself.

This is the end of Part I.   In Part II of my interview with Julie Schoerke, Book Publicity Senior Seminar, she answers specific questions provided by other members of The Elevensies. 

Julie Schoerke, Book Publicity, Part II, Senior Seminar

Interview with Julie Schoerke. 

Part II.  Book Publicity Senior Seminar.

 JKSCommuncations, founded by Julie Schoerke, is an established freelance literary publicity agency. Julie and agency publicist Marissa DeCuir specialize in providing publicity and promotion for YA/MG books and authors. 

Here Julie responds to questions submitted by members of The Elevensies.

 [Alissa Grosso.]   My question is (and this may be a trade secret that the publicist does not want to reveal) what strategies are employed to reach the teen market?   I think this is a market that is unique from the traditional adult market and distinct from the children's market as well, and I would be interested in seeing what the thoughts are on reaching these readers.

 JKS: Hi Alissa. This is a great question!

Absolutely the teen market is different from the adult market. For example, book tours to bookstores probably won’t work as well for YA authors because their readers aren’t going to show up on a Thursday night or Saturday afternoon for a meet and greet unless the author is pretty famous.

So, doing stock signings at bookstores and talking to the people who will hand-sell your book (especially in independent bookstores) may be a better use of your time. Getting on panels at educational conferences attended by librarians and teachers is a good idea.

While 70% of all adults now get their reading recommendations from Internet sources rather than print publications, teens almost exclusively get their recommendations from the internet rather than through magazines and newspapers. So you better have a great presence! For example, Cynthia Lietich Smith does a wonderful job of connecting with her teen fans as well as librarians through her Cynsations blog. She just hit the New York Times Best-seller list. Cheryl Rainfield is another great example of an author who has built a strong platform as a book reviewer (recently named one of the top 30 on the Internet) and has a large fan base for her books as a result.

Helen Hemphill, author of THE ADVENTUROUS DEEDS OF DEADWOOD JONES, wanted a book talk video. We had high hopes of creating another e-trade-type video with a baby dressed up as a cowboy talking about her Middle Grade book. The baby we worked with wasn’t up for being a star that day, so we took the handkerchief off of him, put it on my rescued golden retriever mutt, put peanut butter in Goldie’s mouth and created a trailer that looked like the mutt was giving a great review of the book. Doing fun stuff like that will get the attention of kids.

 I’ve got one client who tells every group she speaks to that she doesn’t want them to check her book out at the library – she wants them to buy it. But the good news is that statistics show for every book purchased by a library on average, six sales of books are leveraged. So, when we work on YA books, we really target librarians and want them to know about our books.

[Shawn Goodman.]   The big question I have is which of the most commonly talked about strategies for promotion are tried and true, and which ones are experimental, trendy, or just plain shots in the dark?

 JKS: Well, the book business is changing so fast that probably between the time I write this and you read it, something will have changed. Tried and true has been the book tour. Three years ago on-line reviews would have been considered fringe promotion. Now, on-line reviews are the thing and book tours are starting to become dinosaurs because publishers aren’t paying for them much any more. Skype is making it possible to “visit” bookstores without an author leaving his or her sofa!

Six months ago authors laughed when we’d suggest putting some of their content on the internet, now we have prospective clients asking us if we’ll make sure it happens for them.

Shawn, the bottom line is that you want to connect with the people who may, are or have read your book…that will never change. How you connect with them is what is morphing at lightning speed right now.

 [Sheela Chari.]

1. Are book trailers still worth the money?

JKS: Depends on how much you spend for the book trailer and how clearly you’ve thought through making the video go viral. We work with several companies that make book trailers for our clients and we’ve been able to figure out ways to get them made for $1,000 or less with a production company that makes content for television. You can also make a book trailer yourself if you’re patient enough…it’s probably not going to be great quality unless you really know what you’re doing. But, I think the key to a book trailer is making it entertaining and less than a minute and a half long.

2. What are some ways to market to teen readers (and middle grade readers) off the internet?

JKS: In a word, gatekeepers. Marketing to the adults to get the books in front of the kids – librarians and teachers – is really important. School visits are great! You generally sell a number of copies and the kids become long-term fans of your future books too (assuming they like you and your current book of course!). You can promote yourself to parent/teen book clubs. The hard fact, though, is that kids are on their computers and it’s usually the way that they directly find out about the books they want to read.

3. What elements are essential for a successful web site?

JKS: I’m so glad you’re thinking in these terms, Sheela! You need a home page with your photo and a jpeg of the book cover; you need to have links for ways your book can be ordered – make sure that you include an IndieBound link so that the independent bookstores that hand-sell your book can reap the benefits and get some on-line sales as well.

Your bio is important. Obviously make it interesting for your readers (it’s not a resume!). Include the catalog copy of the book and reviews. I especially like to see great blurbs sprinkled on various pages, as well as having a “what people are saying” page.

A contact page is crucial. Make it easy for your fans to send you an email and for the media or people inviting you to make personal appearance to get a hold of your publicist. Also include a section for your electronic press kit; your blog, if you choose to have one. For your blog, it’s also helpful to understand Search Engine Optimization issues.

4. I hear the best time for promotion is about 3-6 months before your book release. Is there anything we should be doing now? (A year or so before).

JKS: Yes. Get your website done. I can’t tell you how many authors are scrambling and frantic at the last minute because their website wasn’t ready when they thought it would be.

Start interviewing publicists. If you can, plan a trip to meet the team at your publishing house. I was having lunch last summer in New York with one of my clients’ in-house publicists and she said she had 70 books she was working on and had only met three of the authors (one being my client). She said it’s naturally easier to get excited about your project if they have a connection with the author. It’s worth the trip for a brief meeting.

5. Any tips for approaching bookstores? Is it better to arrange for signings by yourself or as a group? 

JKS: I have really strong feelings about this.  Independent bookstores can be your best friends. They will promote you, having signings for you, take out ads in the newspaper and spend money on extra staff to get ready and possibly some refreshments or decorations.   Independent bookstores are really struggling right now. It’s important for an author to not only think about how the bookstore can help him or her, but how he or she can be a good friend to the bookstore.

Make it clear to the people in the bookstore that you appreciate them, you will work to make the event good and that you will be loyal to them, such as putting a link to them on your website and talking them up in your social networking. Twitter abut your great experience there!  

When you do a book signing, think about buying a couple of $15 gift cards ahead of time from the staff and give them out as prizes to the people who attend, for asking the first question during Q&A or for some other reason. They bookstore will  appreciate your support and the winners will never forget you. They’ll tell their friends and families all about it.  

Off my soap box now and answering your question more specifically… Bookstores sometimes get up to 20 requests a day from authors. If you know someone at the bookstore, go for it and set it up yourself (we have clients who adore and are adored by bookstore owners and managers all over the country).

If you don’t know the folks at the store, that’s when a publicist is helpful because we know how to pitch you to make the bookstore feel like it’s worth their while to put the time, energy and money into doing an event for you.

We’ve done solo and group book events. The advantage to a solo appearance is that the people who come are more likely to buy your particular book than have to decide from their budget which author’s book to purchase.  If you have a group signing then it’s more of an event with potential book buyers, who attend because of another author, seeing and noticing you and your book.  

[Lisa Desrochers.]  I'd love a list of the top five things a YA author should do pre-publication, and the same list for post-publication.

JKS: Top 5 things a YA author should do pre-publication:

Save some of your advance to promote your book.
2. Interview publicists (if you think you might want one).
3. Get a website.
4  Let your editor know that you are invested in making this book a success and you want to be a great partner in doing whatever it takes to make that happen.
5. Get all of the pieces in place for the launch of your book because 80% of the publicity work is done before the book is released.
JKS:  Top 5 things a YA author should do post-publication:

This entirely depends on what the action plan is for the promotion of your book. One thing for sure, get plenty of sleep and eat well because, especially for first-time authors, the rigors of promoting a book often are more exhausting than they expect.

 [Bettina Restrepo.]   

1. How does a YA book get national media attention?

JKS: There are so many different ways that this can happen and it can be really frustrating when it doesn’t happen. One of the most well-known publishing house publicists and I were talking about this several months ago and lamenting that it’s impossible to be sure just what will grab the fancy of the national media.

I’ve been in meetings with editors and publishers who are frustrated when a rather mediocre book gets amazing attention and an amazing book gets mediocre attention from the media. Sometimes there is no apparent rhyme or reason.

Your book certainly won’t get attention if the national media doesn’t know about it, doesn’t have an electronic press kit and doesn’t have a copy of the book.

If the book can be tied to something timely and newsworthy, that is always a good hook. If the author has a great personal story, that can help.

Certain literary awards can ensure that the book will garner some good attention.

2. What is the best way to approach a television producer?

JKS:  Have the best hook possible…which may not even be the book itself. We recently had an author featured who wrote a memoir. CBS Sunday Morning did a story on her and her husband because I pitched them for helping provide excellent health care for poor women in West Virginia. The piece focused on their work, but her book was the beneficiary of the good publicity she received.

This is the end of Part II.     In Part III, Book Publicity Graduate Degree, the conclusion of my interview with Julie Schoerke, she answers very specific questions I have about the role of an outside book publicist in the successful publication of a debut MG/YA novel. 


Julie Schoerke: Book Publicity, Part III, Graduate Degree

Interview with Julie Schoerke. 

Part III. Book Publicity Graduate Degree. 

founded by Julie Schoerke, is an established freelance literary publicity agency. Julie and agency publicist Marissa DeCuir specialize in providing publicity and promotion for YA/MG books and authors. 

The conclusion of my interview. Here Julie responds to my very specific questions about the role and expertise of an outside book publicist in the successful publication of a DEBUT YA/MG novel.  

[Randy Russell.]    Why would I need a publicist for my first MG/YA novel?   Since the publisher will create a base number of sales for the book, and they don’t anticipate a debut author getting much attention (and they didn’t invest a lot in the book) to begin with, wouldn’t I be better off to wait until Book 2 or Book 3 is out to spend resources on publicity and promotion?  

JKS:  If you blow the doors off the sales numbers for the first book and the publisher has to go back for second and third printings, then you’ve made them money and they’ll want a second and third book. You’ll have their attention and you’ll probably get more of their resources the next time around because you’ve proved you’re a “winner.”

If your first-book sales are weak, those numbers will follow you forever, and will make it harder to sell your next books, even to a different publisher, and your advance will likely decrease if you get a deal. You have ONE CHANCE to be a debut author and receive the attention for that hook.  Don’t squander it!

Do you actually read a book you are hired to promote?   Does the content of a novel have anything to do with the way you would approach publicity and promotion for the author? Or do all MG/YA authors fit into the same pattern of steps you take to garner publicity? 

JKS:  1. I absolutely will not do publicity for a book unless I’ve read it. We’re really fortunate that we get to choose which books we work on since we are able to represent about one out of every five books we are sent. 

A few months ago an author contacted us about doing publicity. A number of large publicity firms contacted him because his book was getting some really early buzz from the publisher. He had pretty well decided on an LA firm when he and I got the opportunity to talk by phone. I told him that although he was ready to make a decision, I couldn’t give him a proposal until I’d read his book and knew whether we’d be a good fit for him.

He went back to the other publicity firm and asked if they’d like to read the book (since they hadn’t mentioned it). They told him, no, that they’d read the book when it was in ARC form. I read the book and was blown away by how amazing it is. He went with us because he said we were the only firm that asked to read the book and he wanted someone who cared about his book talking about it.

 2. The content of the book has everything to do with how we do promotion! We never do two publicity campaigns the same way…we tailor them to the author and the book. If the author is an intellectual, we go for serious author interviews with the media and it affects who we solicit. If the author is bubbly and connects well to people, we are more likely to find high-profile public events for them to do.

Our authors become like family to us and they often get to know each other even though they are with different publishing houses. Sometimes our authors will have a party in their own town for another JKSCommunications author who is coming in for a book event. Sometimes we all travel together when there is a conference that is especially important for their networking. It’s fun to see our authors exchange ideas and swap stories when they are together.

Do you accept all authors who approach you for publicity and promotional services?   

JKS:  No. We want to be sure we’re a good fit. If we aren’t, we recommend other firms that we think will be a better fit.  

I had an author that had a very specific niche need that another firm I knew could do better promotion for that particular book than we could.  I encouraged her to hire the other firm…we had about three conversations and she really wanted to work with us because of our communication style.  I finally convinced her that the other firm was going to get her some promotion that her book specifically needed.

We work on about one out of every five books that we are offered. It’s not a matter of not liking a book when we turn it down, it’s a matter of being a good fit. Ultimately that’s important for the book, the author and for us. The media members and bookstore owners get a kick out of how enthusiastic we are about our books because they say they get pitched all day long, but we seem to genuinely love what we bring to them. I represented a cookbook and decided I better make the recipes to be sure it was good. It turns out the people at the publishing house had never tried the recipes! They were great! The authors got booked on television repeatedly because I could talk specifically about the taste, the cost, the ease of the recipes. 

We have some good credibility built up with our contacts because we shoot straight about the books we represent.

Do I need to ask my editor or my agent if I can hire you? Will you talk to my agent or my editor about what you’re doing, or is the additional publicity you do just between you and the author? 

JKS:  This is a great question! Almost always editors, in-house publicists and agents are delighted that an author is committed enough to the book to hire an outside publicist. We work so well as a part of the team. We all want the book to do well and some of the best referrals and recommendations we’ve gotten have come from publishing houses and agents. Only once have we had a publisher that didn’t want an outside publicist involved…the author insisted. And at the end of the campaign, the head of marketing of the publishing house wrote me the nicest note saying that we had changed their opinion of working with outside publicists and that he hoped we worked together more in the future.

 I like to get on a conference call at the beginning of the campaign with the author and inside team….find out what they are planning to do and how we can support those efforts. More often than not we’ll throw out some ideas that the inside team agrees to fund for the author that will hold down the costs of the author to promote the book.

Our authors know they have a group of people behind them that are rooting for the success of their book about as much as they are, and it’s reassuring on some of the tough days that authors inevitably have when their books come out.

Do you find out what my publisher is or is not doing to promote my book before you decide where my for-hire publicity efforts should be concentrated?   How can I make sure my own efforts at publicity aren’t at cross-purposes with what my publisher is already doing?      

JKS:  As noted above, we have a conference call at the beginning, the author shares the action plan we’ve presented to them and we all divide up duties. There is more than enough work to go around, so we haven’t run into any turf problems and we are there to support what the publisher is already doing.  The more resources the publisher puts into the project, the better and we don’t want authors paying for things that they can have for free from the publisher.

I have a fondness for traditional ink (I am way behind the times, I suppose). But, since my publisher is already sending books or copies of ARCs to reviewers, both in print media and on-line, is there really anything a publicist can do to help my book get reviewed? 

JKS:  Yes!  We often have slightly different lists than the publishers do (publishers are just getting up to speed with on-line reviewers and bloggers with whom we’ve had rather long relationships) and they’ll send out extra ARCs to new ones we present.  

The in-house publicists are usually incredibly hard workers and have huge amounts of work because they are launching many books at a time. One in-house publicist told me that she has two weeks tops to work on a title, so she gets the ARCs out, make two or three calls to television and radio producers and then has to move on. That’s not always the case, sometimes they create amazing book tours for authors (that are paid for by the publisher) and have more time to spend.

But we always offer to do the follow-up to the media who has received the ARCs. Although media lists are quite valuable and not shared often by in-house or outside publicists we often have a trust built up in which we sign confidentiality agreements so that we can work their list too. Then too, there are going to be ARC requests that come out after the buzz has started and we often do the work on those media contacts also. We tend to schedule the majority of the radio and television for our clients.

If I asked you who Jason Boog or Carolyn Kellogg is, could you tell me? And could you tell me why I should care?  

JKS:  Yes! If you aren’t reading Jason Boog or Carolyn Kellogg now, you better get RSS feeds and start paying attention! Jason is the editor of MediaBistro/GalleyCat – one of the best on-line publications for the book business. I start my day by reading GalleyCat. Ron Hogan, who was an editor there for years, and I are speaking together on a panel next month at the Alabama Book Festival about book publicity and we’ll be speaking again at the Decatur Book Festival in the fall. It’s important to understand what an impact Jason and GalleyCat can have on a new author and book’s success.

Carolyn Kellogg is the social networking guru for the LA Times book reviews and writes the Jacket Copy Blog for the venerable media outlet. As you may well know, the LA Book Review print publication has gone the way of so many newspaper publications. You want to grab her attention and you want her to love your book!

We’re all aware of the “faux” review Ya-Ya websites, and of the ones who charge to have our covers posted there, etc. Is there anyway we can tell which on-line sites are worth messing with and which aren’t?   Do we simply check the number of “followers” to create an on-line review A List?

JKS:  You could make a career of trying to figure that out…and that’s when you go from being an author to a publicist. This is one of the reasons you want to hire your own publicist. You probably don’t want to have to figure this out on your own. It’s a new world and there are good reasons to send ARCs to certain book bloggers who have a small following and there are valid reasons to avoid some huge book blogging sites for certain books.

Thank you, Julie. I could ask a hundred more questions, but I know how busy you are right now. If any of our authors have specific questions for you, would you mind if we contacted you directly? And, uh, while you’re at it, how do you pronounce Schoerke?

JKS: Thank you so much, Randy, for inviting me to The Elevensies.   This is a great support service you provide each other and I am honored to be here!  I also admire the support you are providing other authors at your blog, Randy. I can’t wait for DEAD RULES to be published. I think you may have a game-changer on your hands and plenty of people will be scrambling to jump on the new dimension your book will be bringing to YA literature.

[ Randy Russell notes: I left this last bit of Julie’s comments in as an example of how a publicist can talk up your book in ways you can’t.  ]

JKS: I’d love for authors to contact me with questions. We all have to work together to keep the book business vibrant and help readers find new voices in literature!

 I can be reached at or or 646.318.1193 or 615.476.1367. Or visit  for more information.  Follow me on Twitter at @JulieSchoerke and find me on Facebook, Shelfari, GoodReads and JacketFlap.

Schoerke rhymes with “perky” – I used to say it rhymes with “turkey” but my mom said that wasn’t as appealing. J

Randy Russell - Teen Ghosts with Bodies

My name is Randy Russell.  I write books  

You can find me through my website, or on facebook.    Or twitter.


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