Thank you to Ellie Holmes for this interesting interview with Bethan James. What an interesting career!
I am delighted to welcome Bethan James to the RNA Blog’s monthly series where we speak to book bloggers and reviewers and get an insight into their world. This month we are taking a slight departure by speaking to Bethan who is an account manager at PR Agency EDPR.
Welcome Bethan, tell us a little bit about yourself and your work at EDPR
My name is Bethan James and I am an Account Manager at publishing, lifestyle and entertainment
How long have you worked at ED PR?
I moved to London in February to start my new Account Manager role at EDPR, so it’s been nine months already. Time flies!
ED PR are described as a boutique PR Agency, what sort of authors do you work with?
One of the benefits of a boutique agency is you get to work closely with authors who write in an incredible variety of genres. I’ve enjoyed running publicity campaigns on literature in translations for independent publisher Belgravia Books, as well as titles from the ‘Big 6’ London publishers. A typical month could involve doing PR for authors who’ve penned nail-biting crime; gripping historical novels; gorgeous hardback non-fiction; trailblazing sci-fi; the latest celebrity releases (like Matt Lucas’ autobiography); and fabulous romantic fiction, of course! At the moment I’m working on lovely RNA member Elaine Everest’s heart-warming saga Christmas at Woolworths which is out on 2nd Nov – perfect timing for a festive read.
Tell us a little bit about a day in the life of a Book Publicist
The great thing about being a book publicist is it’s never boring because no two days are ever quite the same! But in general, I’ll start my morning with a cup of Earl Grey at 9.30am as I sift through my emails. Then I might have a PR meeting with my Director Emma Draude and the team to catch up on media coverage for titles I’m promoting. I’ll also spend some time on the phone following up with journalists about book reviews. Crafting email pitches to secure features and interviews for my authors is also a key part of the day. Other tasks can include meeting journalists, writing press releases, putting together mailing lists for book proofs, setting up blog tours, compiling PR updates for publishers, and delegating social media activity to our assistant. If one of my authors has a book launch I’ll look forward to heading along for wine, nibbles, and mingling that evening!
What sort of contact do you have with your authors before, during and after a campaign?
Ahead of a book campaign fully kicking off, a publisher will usually put me in touch with the author so I can get to know them. For example, it’s good to get a sense of how comfortable they are with broadcast interviews, what their availability is for press/ event activity, and any personal media contacts they’d like me to reach out to. It’s also really important for me to know if they have an interesting personal story they can talk about linked to the book. Is there a real-life experience that inspired your story? During the campaign, I’ll keep in regular contact with the author to set up interviews and keep them updated on coverage plus press cuttings. Afterwards, I’ll send a full round-up of all press and reviews secured. It’s nice to keep in touch and see how sales are going and hear how readers are responding to the book as well. Communication with the author and publisher is key!
What’s the best part of your job?
The authors! Working with creative and passionate people who’ve poured their heart into a story, then helping readers to discover and enjoy it is incredibly rewarding. The buzz when you land them a big piece of national press coverage is fantastic. (That, and all the books I get to read before they’re even out in bookshops…)
If you could give one piece of advice to authors what would it be?
Learn what goes on behind-the-scenes to bring your book-baby into the world, and gain an understanding of the wider publishing process. It all helps to avoid confusion and makes things smoother if you know the roles of different departments at a publisher and the key timelines for a book.
I’m cheating a bit here, but my second piece of advice is to communicate. This of course works both ways, but once an author forgot to tell me they were away abroad with almost no email or phone access for a month before publication! That was a bit of a nightmare publicity-wise…
What are your interests away from work? Do you ever read just to relax?
I’m a London newbie as I used to live in Wales, so I’m still enjoying everything the capital has to offer, from theatre, to art galleries, eating out, and exploring hidden gems. I’m also writing my debut novel, which is historical fiction with a dash of fantasy and romance – watch this space! That’s keeping me pretty busy, but I try and read widely as well. Sometimes it’s nice to wade through a novel without having to stop and get my notebook out to jot down a potential PR angle.
We often ask agents and publishers what they consider to be the next 'big thing' - what do you hope to see next?
I’m sure agents and publishers will roll their eyes when I say this, as in some areas it’s
already happening, but I’d love to see more cross-genre fiction making it mainstream and hitting the Sunday Times bestseller charts. There can be a tendency sometimes for the industry to say that a manuscript that bridges genres is too confusing: What shelf in a bookshop would it go on? How could you market it and would it sell? What section of the book pages would a newspaper review it on? I think readers deserve some credit – if it’s a good story they’ll champion and discover it. I’m sure many RNA members are already breaking the mould. Bring on that next big historical crime romance thriller…
Thank you Bethan for a very interesting insight into the world of publicity and well done for including a plug for Elaine Everest of this parish.
Ellie Holmes writes commercial women’s fiction with her heart in the town and her soul in the country. Ellie’s debut release was The Flower Seller. A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Alliance of Independent Authors, Ellie’s latest book, White Lies is out now.
http://Author.to/EllieHolmes http://www.twitter.com/elliehwriter www.ellieholmesauthor.com www.facebook.com/EllieHWriter