Ask the Expert: a Publisher’s Publicists

As all the Wickeds have at least one series with Kensington Publishing, we’ve worked closely with their two fabulous publicists, Larissa Ackerman and Michelle Addo. I thought I’d invite them over today to share some tips and background with us and our readers!

Michelle and Larissa with a few cozy mysteries

E: You are book publicists for Kensington Publishing. How did you find the job, how long have you had it, and what qualified you for it?

L: Hi Edith, I just wanted to say thank you so much for having us on The Wickeds blog, you ladies are all such fantastic authors AND a blast to work with! More seriously, though, I was previously at a boutique public relations agency for over five years that focused on book publicity with traditionally published, indie, and self-published authors. One of my first projects at the agency was securing publicity for cozy mystery author Gretchen Archer. Working with her series opened the door into the cozy mystery sub-genre for me. When the position to work exclusively with cozy mysteries opened at Kensington about two years ago, I jumped on it. I hope it’s not too bold to say that the (now) seven plus years of working on publicity and events for cozy mystery authors qualified me for this position!

M: I’ve worked at Kensington since June 2017 and originally found the listing for a Communications Manager on MediaBistro.com, a great resource for people who work in the media industry. Prior to working at Kensington, I worked at various boutique PR agencies in New York (in both Marketing Manager and Publicist roles) and often on books. More specifically, I had a lot of experience coordinating nationwide campaigns, producing events both on and offline, and branding.

E: I know you help the Wickeds with our mysteries. Do you do campaigns for other genres, too? If so, how is that different?

L: I almost exclusively work with our cozy mystery authors at Kensington. However, having campaigned for other genres in the past, I would say that the foundation of a publicity campaign (get media coverage, secure events) is always going to be similar. It’s the people that you are going to approach, and how you are going to approach it (aka the “angles”), that is going to be different.

Larissa in her Kensington Office

M: Yes! Besides cozy mysteries, I also work on true crime books, select romance, and pretty much every genre under Dafina Books – our African American imprint.

E: What’s your favorite part of the job? Your least favorite?

L: I love all the authors and their books that I get to work with. I get to work with such interesting, friendly, warm, lovely people who are part of a warm, lovely community. Least favorite…My commute from New Jersey!

M: My favorite part of the job is definitely creating and implimenting well-rounded campaigns with all of you authors! It’s really great to work on all the different parts of a book’s lifecycle and see them come together.

Sherry and Michelle

My least favorite part of the job is having a no-pets office – our building doesn’t allow them unfortunately so we can’t celebrate Bring Your Pet to Work Day.

E: How does your job differ from, say, Kensington’s digital media publicist, or does it overlap?

L: There is some overlap in that we send our events and publicity we’ve secured to her to post about on social. We also will brainstorm with her for ideas with online promotion. But for the most part, our jobs are very different. Your publicist is pitching media outlets for coverage, mailing books to reviewers/bloggers/influencers, writing press releases, setting up events, etc. Our social media manager is creating totally separate promotions entirely for the online space and building our social media communities like Between the Chapters Facebook Group.

M: Primarily in content. The Social Media/Digital Team plans and produces the online content and advertising for our authors, and Communications Managers cover all the Publicity and Marketing.

E: What are your tips for authors working with a publisher’s publicist? Are there things we can do to make your job easier? 

L: If you have any upcoming events or media that you booked yourself, please tell your publicist! This is more vital than a lot of authors realize—basically, it helps your publicist (and the publisher’s sales department) help you. And if you have any media connections (no matter how big or small the outlet is) don’t be afraid to ask to discuss with your publicist the best way to utilize those contacts. We’re all on the same team and want the best possible outcome for you and your books!

M: My biggest tip would be to talk about your book every chance you get – tell your friends, tell your social media community, tell your partners, TELL EVERYONE! Provide regular updates and immerse yourself in the very active online cozy community, it’s the best way to spread awareness. Also, make sure to tell your publicist whenever you plan on doing an event!

E: Thanks for those tips! What would you like to know from our non-author readers? What can they do to help make an author’s career a success (other than buy the latest book)?

L: Reviewing books online is extremely helpful, but one of the best things that you can do to help an author successful is to spread the word! If you loved a book, tell your friends and family and colleagues. Word of mouth is one of the oldest and most effective ways of creating buzz and success for a book.

M: I would say non-author readers should also tell their friends about their favorite author’s books! Post reviews whenever you get a chance to and don’t be shy to say hello to an author at an event.

E: Finally, the flash quiz: Pizza or chocolate? Mountains or beach? Movies or live theater? Kindle or paper? Cook or order takeout?

L: Milk chocolate, always. Mountains to hike on. Movies. Paper. A year ago, I would have said takeout, but I’m learning to cook and enjoying it!

M: Chocolate (preferably 70% dark), Beach (but not in the middle of summer – only fall/spring), Movies, Both!, and Cook.

E: Thanks, ladies! Readers – here’s your chance to ask Larissa and Michelle questions.

34 Thoughts

  1. Thanks so much for this, Edith. As a fellow Kensington cozy writer, I loved learning more about these wonderful women.who work so enthusiastically to promote all of us!

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  2. Larissa and Michelle are my two favorite people at Kensington. You know I have to ask: Cozy Con in NYC?

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  3. Awww, thanks ya’ll! This was super fun to do 🙂 And of course, the Cozy Cons are always on the move, so we’ve got an eye on all the cities and definitely appreciate suggestions!

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  4. Hi Larissa and Michelle!

    I enjoy getting to work with them as a blogger. and I got to meet Larissa at CozyCon in LA in November. It’s great to get a bit of an idea what your job is like. I think I’d enjoy it. Then again, it is Friday and I don’t want to spend more time looking at numbers.

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  5. You know, this would be a good time to ask if there is something either of you think I should be doing to promote my blog any more than I already do.

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    1. Hi Mark! I think you do a pretty good job already by attending cozy mystery conferences and events and stuff. Do you have bookmarks or some sort of marketing materials that you can pass around when you attend conferences and mystery events? If not you might want to start doing that! And remember to always post reviews in the cozy mystery groups on Facebook.

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      1. I do have some business cards. I order then years ago, and still have most of the original order, so that tells you have many I’ve given out.

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  6. I had to read this because I’m new to Kensington and enjoying each step in the process. Michelle, so far, has been awesome, and I love working with everyone at this press so far, but I will say that I could probably vacation with either one of you.

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  7. Thanks so much ladies for spending time with the Wickeds today! And also for all you do to help readers to discover books they love from authors at Kensington! You make a crack team and we all appreciate you so much!

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  8. Great interview with a lot of good information.
    I Belong to ‘Between the Chapter’s ‘ I enjoy when Authors get the Chance to come on
    And discuss their books or new book – I love that.
    I love the World of BOOKS. Husband read 2 books when we married in our early 20s now he is an
    Voracious reader of books I don’t read. We read to our kid’s right after birth, we have 9 ceiling to floor bookshelves filled with fabulous books. We took the kid’s to meet their Authors at a sweet bookstore in the Midwest. They got their books had a reading, But But signed often a little illustration in the book. I even took them out of school to do this because Reading, writing and drawing is so valuable in our family for generations. (This was way before digital )
    I love the picture of both of you and All the BOOKS. 🙂
    Just shove the BOOKS in a bag and send to my address… Haha haa

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