Andrea Kiliany Thatcher is the Publicity Manager for books and authors in the arts and entertainment field with Smith Publicity, Inc., a full-services publicity firm for authors and publishers. With experience working for publishing houses, magazines, and booksellers, Andrea as a wealth of publishing industry experience to her credit. Passionate about author success, Andrea is known for creating exciting and impactful launches for her clients and their books. Andrea also has first-hand experience as a writer and understands how critical publicity is for book success. Her approachability, kind heart, dedication to her team and clients make her the perfect book advocate and a sought-after guest for the Advice From Pros column.
Have you always wanted to work in the publicity industry? I’ve always wanted to work with books and writing, and I’ve done that in various ways throughout my career. We didn’t have the resources students have today to research all the possible jobs in a field when I was young, so I probably didn’t know what a book publicist was! I wanted to be a journalist, and I was for over 10 years working everywhere from community newspapers to culture and entertainment blogs. That informs my work as a publicist very much. I was also a bookseller for many years, which is the occupation closest to my heart!
What do you like best about your work? I like that I’m always working on something new. I mostly work with fiction books, but also get a variety of nonfiction – especially in the lifestyle spaces I used to write in as a journalist. One week I might have three romance novels I’m working on, but in a month or two I might have one romance, a fantasy, and a children’s book. It’s always something different and the fast pace of media – while challenging – is also exciting.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to succeed in your professional industry? I’d say if you want a job in publishing or in publicity in general start building your portfolio of work – either by writing Goodreads/Amazon reviews in the genre you’d like to work in, creating a social media network devoted to books, try to get some experience doing the work required for the job. There are a lot of ways to get experience before you apply for the job.
What is one (or more) fascinating insight you’ve gleaned from working in the publicity field? One insight I’ve learned is that sometimes our job is just to listen. When a client questions an opportunity we sent them or isn’t pleased with some press that they got – sometimes my job is to listen and make sure they feel heard and understood. Our instinct can sometimes be to rush in with a defense or our opinion but that may not be what the client really needs. And I think this has helped me in my personal life to ask friends and family “do you want advice right now? Or do you just want someone to listen?”
As an expert in your field, what advice would you give to published authors? I’d tell authors that their job isn’t done when the book is done. That’s sort of an antiquated approach. At the London Book Fair I heard a speaker put it like this: Authorship is no longer a career, it’s a business. If you’re still looking at it as a career, your income could suffer. I’d say the job is half done when the book is done, then comes all the promotion and marketing.
What advice would you give to unpublished authors? For unpublished authors, I think doing your research and getting a good handle on the publishing industry and different paths to publishing (traditional, self-published, hybrid) can be really helpful. I recommend some resources like the Agents + Books Newsletter by Kate McKean, the Publisher’s Weekly daily newsletter and especially their announcements section which tells you which agent and publisher acquired which book for how much, and the BookBub Authors Blog which gives great info on marketing and helps set expectations.
I will also sometimes have authors who don’t read widely in their genre and don’t know what their comp titles would be. (Titles that appeal to the same audience and would likely be shelved in the same section.) I think this is a missed opportunity. You need to know what readers are buying in your genre.
What book uplifts you? In terms of books that uplift me, I really love Annie Dillard and Anne Lamott for inspiration and creativity. I think all writers should read them, and William Zinsser and William Strunk’s writing guides. I also always get motivated when I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero.
People can find me on social media at ShinyAndrea and find out more about Smith Publicity at SmithPublicity.com.
Image Courtesy of Andrea Kiliany Thatcher