Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tête-à-Tête with Jillian of Penguin Group USA

Background: If you haven't already, read Lenore's interview with Courtney, Penguin publicist, on how they choose to contact bloggers and how bloggers can approach them.

This interview is meant as a followup -- now that you've got the contact...what do you do?

Jillian works over at Penguin Young Readers Marketing. She's worked there for about a year (this is what I gather from the emails she's sent me), and she's pretty much made-of-awesome and the nicest marketing or publicity person alive. I'm so psyched to have her come out here on the blog, so I hope you enjoy the interview!

Scenario: Initial contact has been made.

It's time to send out the books. Do you usually place random titles in there, or do you allow the blogger to request the ones they want?

Each season I order in a quantity of ARCs for lead titles. I tend to send the majority of these to bloggers, although sometimes I select titles for mailings based on the genre (romance, fantasy, etc.) of the blog. When contacted by bloggers for titles I don't have I do my best to track down copies from other departments.

How many books do you consider acceptable for the blogger to request at once?

Most bloggers are great in that they provide a list but also mention they are more than happy to receive any titles at all from it that I am able to provide! New bloggers tend to request about five titles in an initial request. I've had bloggers contact me with 30 or so titles from the catalogue. This is difficult to fulfill as there are so many requests coming in from different bloggers and I don't have all ARCs in stock. I wish I could send that many, it's just outside of my resources!

So let's talk time and responsibility. Do you expect a review out of all requests? What about the random ones? Most importantly, do you have a certain time frame expectation?

Most of the books I send are for titles I am very much excited about, that I want to get into the hands of as many readers and bloggers as possible. When I send books at random, of course I would love for them to be reviewed but I don't expect the blogger to cover all of the titles, especially if they hadn't initially requested the books. If a blogger requests books, I anticipate reviews will follow. I typically mail ARCs about one-two months prior to publication to allow time to read and review, however when I send a plethora of ARCs I figure it will take reviewers a bit longer to post for the titles!

How important is it to you that a blogger emails you links to reviews of books you sent?

I follow reviewed titles through my Bloglines and Google feeds, however there are so many
blogs, so many titles and so many reviews that it's difficult to keep track of them all! I very much appreciate when bloggers mail me links. Not only as it ensures I won't overlook a review, but it's a great way to have a running dialogue with bloggers and to find out about themed blog tours, other bloggers, what books receive the greatest response from readers, etc.

Generally speaking, how would you say negative reviews are received by publicity and marketing folks alike? Will they prevent you from sending a blogger followup material?

It is understood my publicity and marketing that not everyone has the same tastes in books. While everyone loves a great review, I have never been discouraged from sending books out to a particular blogger who has reviewed a title negatively. Generally if there is a negative review of a title, there is also an explanation as to why the title didn't click with that particular reviewer, which can be very informative.

Now, about followup books-how do you usually handle these? Do you approach the blogger, or do you expect them to approach you for further review material after they finished the first batch?

There are many bloggers that I stay in touch with regularly, so it's about a 50/50 split for requests from the blogger and the titles that I send out. Most often when we are going into a new season of titles, bloggers will request catalogues and from there request the titles they are interested in for that season.

I've heard of a few cases where the blogger received a few books from a publicist once, reviewed all of them, and then, out of nowhere, they received more random, unwanted books from the same publicist. Is this common practice? If so, is it expected the blogger reviews all of these?

I keep track of which bloggers I have sent copies of titles to so that it's an organized system where bloggers don't receive duplicates of unwanted titles and so that I have enough ARCs to send out to a wide range of bloggers. In that case it could have simply been a mix-up where a publicist had not been aware the titles had already been sent to that blogger. If a blogger hasn't requested ARCs we don't expect them to all be reviewed (although reviews are always great!)


Amee said...

Great interview! Very informative. I love your ongoing discussions about reviewer/author/publicist communications. :D

Carrie Ryan said...

Oooh! What a great interview! I had no idea about that stuff -- thanks for the great information!!

Liviania said...

I love these interviews - they're very practical and informative.

Khy said...

Great interview. I find myself enjoying the publicist interviews about as much as author ones.

Anonymous said...

Great interview! I loved reading it. Jillian ROCKS! And she is so nice and sweet.

I also wondered about duplicate titles coming in because I've been a victim (well, ok, not really victim, lol) of this, and it actually happened quite recently too with the book Cycler, wherein I got the hardcover of it even though I already had the ARC of it (and had just recently reviewed it). It's not a huge problem because I can give it away on the site but it's good to know that some publicists keep track of what they send out.

Leigh Purtill said...

great q&a, steph! penguin published my 2 books and even i didn't know all of this stuff! :) thanks!

Carrie Ryan said...

I think Book Chic that sometimes they follow up an ARC with the actual book just in case you want to quote lines or something? That's just my guess (just from talking to the publicity folks at Delacorte).

Lenore Appelhans said...

I have also gotten hardcovers as a thank you for reviewing an arc of the book. Then I can pass one or the other on to an eager reader. Great interview Steph - I have been awaiting it :)

Anonymous said...

oooh! this is so awesome. I loved it. I recently requested ONE book via Jillian and recieved 14. I was so excited. She's absolutely awesome.

Okay, at the risk of my stupidity becoming known, what is the "catalogue" that the reviewers and publicists are talking about? I've heard people talk about them being online but I've never actually seen one myself...

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Awesome interview. It is really interesting to hear what other people in the book world think and how everything works for various people and publishing houses. :)


Little Willow said...

Thumbs up for Jillian! She's so kind.

Anonymous said...

Carrie- Thanks. Yeah, it does make sense, but it's always just kinda like "Um, I already have this." But whatever, I get to give it out to a reader of my blog in a contest which is always nice.

Harmony- I think there are also print copies of the catalogue and you may have to ask a publicist for it. Here's a link though to an online one: http://www.randomhouse.com/kids/about/download.html

Steph said...

Glad everyone liked the interview! :D

I also like how this turned into a shrine for Ms Jillian! Haha :) She totally deserves it, though -- hands down the nicest, awesomest publicist I've come across.


YA Book Realm said...

Excellent interview, very informative! I never contacted a publicist, because I'm still new in the whole reviewing gig. (and I don't know how to) But this was really helpful! And I like how you did this interview sorta like a Part 2 of Lenore's interview.


Em said...

Ohh, I loved this interview! Great idea! It answered a lot of questions about how publishers work with blogger. Awesome, Reviewer X! :-)

Anonymous said...

Is a publicist for an author the same for their book's publishing group?

Because I know a publicist for a author but I'm not sure if she also the publicist for the publishing company.

Please, please answer. I would love you (already do...but w/e)

Steph said...

All major houses (and most houses in general) have their in-house publicity staff which handles the author's tours (if they have one), press materials, and publicity in general. In this case, it's a publicist provided by the publisher - so yes, she's the publisher's publicist as well as the author, as assigned through the publisher.

Then there are outside publicists, which are hired by the author to get them some extra press and to get the word out more thoroughly. Publisher publicists are very overworked and sometimes can't do everything possible for every book - they do the best they can, but there's only so many hours in the day. (And also you must keep in mind most publishers don't finance an author's press attention, especially debut authors who weren't acquired by a good deal.) So outside publicists, people the author pay for themselves, because they utilize resources the author is paying for, have more options.

What you need to check is the email address - is it for a major house? Publisher publicists all have emails affiliated with their respective publishers, like a Random House one would have an @randomhouse.com address, a Simon and Schuster one would have an @simonandschuster.com, etc. Google whatever name is their domain (name@domainname.com) (google the portion I marked at "domainname") and you should know.

I hope this helps! I really wish I knew who you were :)


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Steph! The publicist was personally for the author. YOU ROCK!!

Steph said...

*blushes* Thanks! And no problem! Hope it all worked out!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this interview! It was very useful!

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Hey! For some reason, this embedded comment form makes most people click twice before the comment is processed and published. It's not you - it's just that it's a new Blogger feature with kinks and all that. (But I adore it and don't wanna get rid of it!) I removed Captcha to make the process easier. You don't have to rewrite the comments twice; just click on SUBMIT twice and it should work. If not, email me. Thanks! -Steph