Wednesday, January 8, 2014

WORDS on LITERARY PUBLICTY from JULIA DRAKE (eden unger bowditch)

 As we head into the new year, many of us have books out there or plan to get books out into the world. Perhaps it might be helpful to get some words of wisdom from someone in the publicity business. Whether a writer has published her twentieth novel or he's wondering how to get published, it is good to know how to get your book out there and into the hands of readers.

Today, we have the lovely and talented Julia Drake, CEO of Julia Drake PR in Los Angeles. She has worked with many authors and has a wonderful reputation as an honest, devoted, hardworking, and tireless promoter of the writers she works with and loves. I speak from experience. Julia and her team were hired by my publisher to work on The Ravens of Solemano... and I have only glowing things to report. I thought it might be fun to have her as a guest.

 Welcome, Julia!

What can an author do to help with PR? To maximize publicity for your book, a good publicist will try to leverage your entire author platform to gain media coverage instead of merely focusing on publicizing your book. But often authors are not aware of the many resources that are part of their author platform and that could be vital for the success of a PR campaign. An author platform includes an author’s web presence (website, blog, social networks, etc.), previous public speaking engagements/readings, teaching credentials and awards, published stories and articles and any previous media coverage or media connections––anything that's related to an author’s built-in readership.

In addition, an author’s education and professional background, principal and previous occupations other than writing, travel experiences, inspiration for his/her book, and any hobbies aside from writing might offer a wonderful human interest hook for media coverage.

Last but not least, I highly encourage authors to spend some time to compile an email list for their potential audience, including family, friends, colleagues and co-workers, acquaintances, and anyone they have come in contact with during their professional and private life that might be interested in learning about their book. The more comprehensive and detailed that list is, the more firepower a publicist has to orchestrate a successful launch which will build legs for the author’s book, future books, and overall platform.

What are the three most important things to let the world know about a new MG/YA book?

1.    Mom/Dad Bloggers: Once a book takes hold in this community, it can spread like wildfire, so make sure to incorporate a blog tour or PR outreach to blogs into your PR plan. Make sure to study each blog beforehand to get a sense for their review preferences and website/blog traffic to maximize positive coverage.

2.    School librarians and bookstore event coordinators: School librarians and bookstore event coordinators work in tandem to orchestrate school book fairs, book festivals, and author events and will be your biggest advocate if your book fits into their school demographic and offers viable educational themes. Often, school librarians and bookstore program coordinators also maintain their own blogs.

3.    Pre-publication trades and top middle-grade/YA media:

3.1 Pre-publication trades:

·      School Library Journal
  • ALA BookList
  • Publishers Weekly
  • Foreword Magazine

    3.2 Top Middlegrade/YA Media: There are literally hundreds of publications for YA/middle-grade books, with new ones emerging and old ones folding every day, but here are some of the most important ones:

  • The Horn Book Magazine
  • The Children’s Book Council
  • Shelf Awareness
  • NPR Books
  • Bookpage
  • Girls Life
  • KidsGuide
  • Scholastic Parent & Child
  • Teen Ink
  • The Kids News Network
  • The Reading Life
  • American Girl
  • USA Book News

What is different about promoting MG/YA books? The main challenge, especially for middle grade books, is that to get to your target reader, you have to go through their parents. So in essence, you are marketing your book to the parents, and have to convince them first that your book is a good fit for their child. Although times are changing and more young people are using the Internet at home and in school, parents are still the gatekeepers, so keep that in mind when presenting your book and its benefits to your audience and to media contacts writing for that audience. Make sure to point out any themes/features that speak to national school curriculums and any educational benefits and timely themes (bullying, sexuality, violence, diversity, etc.) aside from pure entertainment value. Also be sure to submit your book for consideration for the Accelerated Reader Program. Accelerated Reader (AR) is a computer-based system for tracking reading in schools. Students earn points for reading AR books, so they are motivated to read AR approved titles and forego titles that are not listed in the program. Demand controls supply, so libraries and bookstores also prefer to carry AR listed books.

How important is having a PR person behind you instead of going the road alone? Publicizing your book is a full time job, so if you are a fulltime writer and have another book you are working on, or maintain another full time job or have family to care for, going this road by yourself can quickly become overwhelming. A good publicist can help you develop your message, brand and platform and advise you on how to position yourself with media and consumers. Your publicist can help you define a targeted list of print, online and broadcast media in local, regional and national markets and will be able to leverage his/her relationships with media in these markets to help get your book through the door and have a better chance at coverage, especially when it comes to high tier media. A good publicist will also help you prep for media interviews and build your brand to work toward a sustainable platform that will continue to create future opportunities for your book and future writing endeavors.

Can you share a funny story? Share something that stands out to you as particularly inventive.

The reason I love what I do is because stories are still what brings us together. There is a magic in this connection. And I feel very fortunate that I see this magic happening right before my eyes. One of my clients, Derek Taylor Kent, is the author of The Scary School Series. He celebrated the launch party for his first book at a small indie bookstore in the Pacific Palisades in CA (which soon after closed its doors). The Scary School series is purportedly penned by Derek, a nine-year-old ghost, so Derek, the author, put an empty chair in the middle of the room, and explained to the attending kids and parents that Derek The Ghost was here to answer questions about the book and what it’s like to be a ghost. Derek, the author, then relayed the ghost’s answers to the kids in some funny way. It was such a simple idea, but it caught like wildfire with the kids, and soon, families formed a line all the way along the bookstore’s storefront, waiting to ask Derek The Ghost a question. It was such a wonderful experience to listen to the kids come up with the most specific and imaginative questions, and watch both kids and adults, anticipating the ghost’s answer. A simple idea brought everyone together in an afternoon that left everyone with the feeling that they had just participated in something magic. 



  1. Fascinating! I particularly love the story about Derek the Ghost (and you can bet that after this I'll be researching the author and the series.)

    Thanks, Eden and Julia!

    1. Thanks for the comment, Michael. Yes, Derek is a hoot. Definitely check him out. Lots to learn.

  2. Thank you, Eden and Julia! Tons of great info in there. Filing it away for future reference!

  3. I've read tons on pubilicity, and what you have here is gold. Off to share.

    1. Thanks Caroline! I appreciate it. Always happy to help.

  4. Thanks Eden and Julia!! Golden information!! I've been thinking about promotion a lot lately since my first novel is scheduled for release in December.

    1. Definitely feel free to reach out with any questions, Paul. Our door is always open. The best contact email is to use is

  5. Awesome advice from one of the finest publicists there is!


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!