It’s been wonderful to see so many fine writers tackling the issues of the environment and animal protection through great stories, novels, memoirs, and essays — and we are pleased to be offering this prize for a third year. This year, we have one exciting change to announce: In addition to unpublished work (all of which will be considered for publication by Ashland Creek Press), we are also accepting published book submissions for the Siskiyou Prize. Please click here for full details.
This year, we’re delighted to have JoeAnn Hart as our final judge. JoeAnn is the author of two novels, Addled (Little Brown, 2007) and Float (Ashland Creek Press, 2013). JoeAnn’s essays, articles, and short fiction have appeared in a wide variety of literary journals and national publications, including Orion, Newfound, Terrain.org, and the Boston Globe Magazine. Her work has won a number of awards, including the PEN New England Discovery Award in Fiction. To learn more about JoeAnn, click here.
The 2016 prize winner will receive $1,000 and a four-week residency at PLAYA. All Siskiyou Prize submissions will be considered for publication from Ashland Creek Press. Visit the Siskiyou Prize website for complete details and to submit.
The deadline for submissions is December 31, 2016. Also, please note that we will be closed to regular book submissions until further notice in order to focus on prize submissions.
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 author, publicist, and media specialist Jen Coburn — and see below for Jen’s contact info.
Q: What value can a publicist bring to an author and his/her book?
A: A good publicist lets authors get back to doing what they love — writing. There are very few authors who enjoy developing media pitches and social media strategies to promote their books, and yet they know it is critical to their success. The equation is very simple: The more people know about a book, the more will read it. A publicist helps get a book in front of as many prospective readers as possible through social media, traditional media, and events.
Q: How much can an author expect to spend when working with a publicist?
A: It really depends on how much of the heavy lifting a writer wants to take on. I’ve had authors do a simple two-hour consultation for $250, where we discuss good traditional media angles and social media strategies that they develop and execute. I also work with authors who have me manage their social media for them on a daily basis, which is a more substantial investment. When I do a prepublication media campaign, it typically runs $2,500 to $3,500.
Q: Ideally, when should an author approach a publicist for help with his/her book?
A: Ideally six months prior, though that rarely happens. I’ve had authors contact me three months prior to publication, which is good. One called me two weeks before her book came out. It was a mad rush, but we made it work and got her on TV and in several newspapers.
Q: How can publicists help authors when their books have been out for a year or more?
A: Great question. There are still many ways an author can promote his or her book after it’s been out on the market for a while. Writing op-eds and essays that include the name of their book in the byline is one way. Another way to boost sales is by offering a special price break then promoting like crazy on social media.
Q: What is the author’s role when working with a publicist?
A: Authors need to be open to new approaches while also remaining true to their own style. I’m very flexible to work with, but my one hard and fast rule is that I never let an author go on TV without my doing a media training with me beforehand. I’ve been working with producers for more than 20 years, and I can blow those relationships in a moment if I put someone on camera who hasn’t been adequately prepped.
Q: What questions should an author ask a publicist he/she is considering working with?
A: What type of coverage they believe they can realistically get for an author. I once had an author ask me if I’ve ever declined to work with anyone, which I thought was an interesting question that led to a great conversation. I have turned down authors because I don’t feel we’d be a good match. If I don’t love their book, or I honestly don’t think there’s a good news angle to be developed, I will pass on a project. Basically, I’d recommend choosing a publicist the same way you’d hire anyone — share your priorities, listen to their approach, and keep your BS radar on. There are lots of great publicists to work with. Choose the one who seems genuinely excited about the success of his or her clients.
Q: Do you have any success stories you’d like to share?
A: Just last week, an author I work with jumped to the #1 spot on the Amazon bestseller list for historical fiction 10 months after initial publication. She called me a few weeks earlier to brainstorm ideas on promotion and we developed a social media campaign around a price reduction. She is a great client — always willing to try new things and good about pushing back when a suggestion doesn’t feel right to her. I adore working with this author and couldn’t be happier for her success.
Jennifer Coburn has been a media relations specialist for more than 20 years and recently started working with authors to help them promote their work on social media and through traditional media. She has partnered with authors who publish with Random House, Simon & Schuster, Sonoma Press, and independently. Jennifer enjoys developing media pitches and crafting strategies to heighten awareness of books and authors. She got her start working with authors after her own books generated press attention that got colleagues asking for advice. Jennifer says she never asks authors to adopt a strategy she has not (or would not) do herself.
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.
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.
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!
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, Newfound, Terrain.org, 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.