Category: For authors

An interview with independent publicist and social media strategist Celina De Leon

By Midge Raymond,

A book launch can be a daunting process, and many authors wonder how hiring a publicist can help the process. Learn more in this interview with independent publicist and social media strategist Celina De Leon — and see below for more about Celina.


What value can a communications expert, whether a publicist or social media strategist, bring to an author and his/her book?

For new authors, first impressions go a long way. A communications expert can ensure that you put your right foot forward with a professional-looking website, consistent messaging, and a budding digital brand.

For longtime authors, fresh looks go a long way. A digital makeover or promotion boost can help you reconnect with your target audiences.

As many of you probably know, promotion is hard work, and it is time consuming. Just one hour on social media can suck your energy and distract you from the plotline of your current project. A publicist or social media strategist can dedicate their time to promoting you and your new book while you write the next.

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How much can an author expect to spend when working with a publicist or social media strategist?

Rates for communications experts vary based on the scope of the project. Publicists and social media strategists associated with a firm often charge higher rates than small firms or independent communications experts. Some publicists offer a discounted rate for independent authors and artists, as I do.

Ideally, when should an author approach a publicist for help with his/her book?

The earlier the better, but at least six months before your book is set to release. This gives your publicist time to develop a media and blog contact list for possible book reviews and interviews and pitch your book to these media outlets and bloggers. As a social media strategist, I also use this time to set up or update an author’s website and create a social media campaign to announce the book’s release and sustain the excitement after the book publishes.

If an author has no social media presence, it is best to begin as soon as possible to identify and develop the best digital and social media promotion strategy.

How can a communications expert help authors when their books have been out for a year or more?

The proverb, “out of sight, out of mind,” still rings true – especially today with 24/7 information-sharing. A publicist can help ensure an author’s book is not forgotten. Whether it’s through newsworthy articles or timely social media campaigns, a publicist can help maintain the relevancy of your book and its visibility.

Much of our decision making relies on word-of-mouth recommendations from people we trust. Today the people we trust includes family and friends as well as influencers we follow on social media. What this ultimately means is that social media mentions of your book are crucial. A publicist can help ensure that your book is seen by your target audiences and influencers and shared on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and elsewhere.

What is the author’s role when working with a communications expert?

S/he is your professional cheerleader. But s/he is only able to keep cheering you on if s/he knows what you’re up to. Keep your publicist or social media strategist informed of your writing plans, book release dates, and readings. Also tell them about any trips or events you may be attending. The more information the better because it gives us the information we need to promote you in real-time and to take advantage of timely promotional opportunities and campaigns on social media.

What questions should an author ask a communications expert he/she is considering working with?

Ask for a sample client list to see if your interests match any of the clients listed. Ask for the length of their longest-serving client. You ideally want to pick someone who is interested in working with you for the long haul and is invested in your publishing future. Ask about their flexibility in rates and payments. If you don’t have a big budget, ask if you can pay in installments that work for you.

Overall, your relationship with your publicist or social media strategist is a special one. It is a professional relationship as well as a personal one. Not everyone likes to be in the limelight, but a good communications expert will help lessen the stress so you can focus on what you most enjoy: writing. A good publicist or social media strategist will learn what you like and dislike to best promote you as an author and ultimately as a person.

Do you have any success stories you’d like to share?

One of my favorite clients is prolific author and cartoonist Paige Braddock. I was reminded of her work a couple of years ago after seeing a tweet on Twitter of a Q&A she did with Lambda Literary. At that point I had no idea she was still creating her breakthrough comic series Jane’s World, the first gay-themed work to receive online distribution by a U.S. national media syndicate. After reading the Q&A, I immediately Googled her. I found her website and social media presence, but I found it difficult to find information about her and her latest works. I worked with Braddock to make sure her books were easy to find online. We enhanced her website and streamlined her social media profiles to create a cohesive digital brand for her and her books. Consistency goes a long way!

In addition, by aligning her social media channels with best practices, we increased Braddock’s visibility and the reach of her books and freed up time for her to work on creating more books. She has a new Jane’s World book out now, the first novel inspired by the comic series; she launched a lesbian romance series of books under the pen name Missouri Vaun; and she spearheaded a line of graphic novels with an ecological and environmental message called Stinky Cecil. I help promote her new books, sustain their momentum, and keep her in the loop on the latest book news related to her expanding genres and interests.


For the past ten years, independent publicist and social media strategist Celina De Leon has been earning press and social media attention for authors, artists, and public health and higher education experts across the country. She especially loves getting the word out about authors with an important message about our world. Check out her website here, and you can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Cat Editors: AMONG ANIMALS contributors and their feline muses

By Midge Raymond,

Over on my blog, I’ve been writing about authors and their cat editors, and among them are three contributors to the first edition of Among Animals. Learn more about the brilliant felines behind these wonderful writers…

Diane Lefer and Junie (click here to read more about Diane’s many muses…)


Suzanne Kamata and Sumi (learn more about these two here):


Jean Ryan and Tango, whom you can learn more about here.


We would like to officially thank these felines for keeping these terrific authors in their chairs; without them, we may not have received their stories, and we are most grateful. And if you have a feline muse of your own, please feel free to get in touch!


Announcing our 2016 Siskiyou Prize judge!

By Midge Raymond,

We are delighted to announce our 2016 Siskiyou Prize judge: JoeAnn Hart.


JoeAnn Hart is the author of two novels, Addled (Little Brown, 2007) and Float (Ashland Creek Press, 2013). Her essays, articles, and short fiction have appeared in a wide variety of literary journals and national publications, including Orion,, and the Boston Globe Magazine. JoeAnn’s work has won a number of awards, including the PEN New England Discovery Award in Fiction.

JoeAnn’s work has been praised as “witty, profound, and beautifully observed” (Margot Livesey), “joyful and troubling, hilarious and somber, evocative, and introspective” (Necessary Fiction), and “very funny and very moving” (Booklist). Her novel Float, writes the Cape Ann Beacon, is “a stellar model of eco-literature.” JoeAnn is currently working on a play with strong environmental themes, and she is a contributor to EcoLit Books.


The Siskiyou Prize will open on September 1, 2016, and will close on December 31. Please visit the Siskiyou Prize website for complete details.

ACP books available on demand at Shakespeare & Co. and Powell’s

By Midge Raymond,

I’ve had a wonderful time over the last few weeks promoting My Last Continent, including a reading and signing at New York’s fabulous Shakespeare & Co. on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.


One of the fun things about this bookstore is its Writers’ Corner, which offers myriad services for writers via its Espresso Book Machine. The EBM is also great for readers: Many publishers’ backlist titles, including all Ashland Creek Press titles, are available on demand via this technology.


The Espresso Book Machine has come a long way … just a few years ago, it took more than twenty minutes to print out an on-demand title; now, you can have a book printed in just five minutes, says Françoise Brodsky, Director of Community at Shakespeare & Co. Check out the store’s author services for more information.


My travels also took me to Powell’s City of Books, which also has an Espresso Book Machine available to readers and writers.

EBM Powells

Click here to learn about Powell’s EBM services. Not only can you publish your own work, but within minutes you can access print-on-demand titles from small presses, out-of-print titles, and Big Five backlist titles.


We love print-on-demand because as an environmental press, we feel it’s important to save as many resources as we can — which is one of the major reasons we print books only as readers need them. We’re delighted to see that the Espresso Book Machine is offering booksellers the opportunity to save more resources by avoiding shipping and by printing titles directly in the store. We hope you’ll check out Shakespeare & Co. and Powell’s, and help support all that they do!

Call for Submissions: Writing for Animals Nonfiction Anthology

By John Yunker,

Ashland Creek Press is currently accepting nonfiction submissions for a new anthology, Writing for Animals: An anthology for writers and instructors to educate and inspire.

From Franz Kafka’s Report to the Academy to Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are Completely Beside Ourselves, animals have played a central role in literature. Increasingly, writers are playing a central role in advancing awareness of animal issues through the written word.

And yet little has been written about the process of writing about animals—from crafting point of view to voice. Writers who hope to raise awareness face many questions and choices in their work, from how to educate without being didactic to how to develop animals as characters for an audience that still views them as ingredients. We hope to address these issues and more with a new collection of articles, by writers and for writers—but most of all, for the animals.

We seek articles from authors and educators about the process of writing about animals in literature.* Our focus is on including a mix of instructional and inspirational articles to help readers not only improve their work but be inspired to keep at it. Articles may be previously published and should not exceed 10,000 words.

There is no deadline at this time; we will accept submissions on a rolling basis until further notice. Accepted submissions will receive a stipend of $100 plus a copy of the finished book upon publication.

*Please note that this is a collection of instructional articles about the craft of writing. We will NOT be publishing animal stories or personal essays, only articles that deal specifically with the art and craft of writing about animals.

Areas of interest include:

  • Anthropomorphism and writing from the animal’s point of view
  • The rethinking of animal-centric idioms (such as “fish out of water” or “kill two birds with one stone”)
  • How to elevate animals from “set pieces” to “characters” in your writing
  • How to address violence toward animals
  • Animal rescue themes
  • Animals and “personhood”
  • The “animal turn” and what it means for animal-centric literature
  • Animals in children’s literature

For all submissions, please include (in a single document) the entire essay and an author bio listing all publishing credits, awards, and experience. Include a valid e-mail address, mailing address, and phone number.

And, just to be clear, we are not looking for essays about animals. We are looking for articles about writing about animals.

All submissions must be made using Submittable.