I'm a book publicist. Ask me anything about how to publicize books!

Susannah Greenberg
Mar 12, 2018

I run my own book publicity firm called Book Buzz by Susannah Greenberg Public Relations. My clients include book publishers, authors and book industry organizations. My job is to get reviews, interviews and features about authors and books placed in tv, radio, print, and internet.  I also advise my clients on how to use social media including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and more.  I've spoken on book industry topics numerous times at Bookexpo America, the largest book fair in North America. I've also spoken to the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Women's National Book Association, and the American Book Producers Association.  I've guest lectured at the City College of New York and written articles for Shelf Awareness and Publishing Perspectives. I'm a past president of the Women's National Book Association and a member of the Women's Media Group. Whether you are looking to ramp up your own DIY book publicity or wondering whether to hire a publicist, whether you are an author or a publisher or in any other book related field or endeavor, I will be happy to answer your questions.

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Conversation (75)

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If you could work anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Mar 19, 7:14PM EDT0
How did you learn about public relations on social media and how do you think is the best way for others to get a foothold in this area?
Mar 19, 5:42PM EDT0
Your Facebook page is filled with political messages, do you feel this is a good way to engage your audience?
Mar 19, 1:54PM EDT0
Is there one book or author you believed that you found hard to get exposure for?
Mar 19, 7:02AM EDT0
How has working with the WNBA helped with your career?
Mar 18, 11:50PM EDT0
What do you hope for with the future of your work?
Mar 18, 12:01PM EDT0
What was the best advice you gathered from the Book Marketing Online 2010 discussion?
Mar 16, 3:38AM EDT1

So long ago,....but I think the thing to remember now is to be open to new technology and new tactics for reaching readers. As traditional media shrinks, and social media grows, clearly media relations must include focus on social media and social media marketing.

Mar 19, 11:57AM EDT0
What else would you like people to know about your job as a publicist?
Mar 15, 6:51PM EDT0

Know that dollar for dollar, when good book pr is successful, it is an excellent value. This is how readers find books whether they are conscious of it or not, not ads, but interviews, reviews, mentions, articles.

Mar 19, 11:59AM EDT0

For those of you working on teen or YA, I should have mentioned teenreads.com as another resource, in addition to #YAlitchat and Book Con and Comic Con. Cheers and thanks for all your questions on this AMA.  I think we've done it!

Mar 15, 6:09PM EDT0
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
Mar 15, 8:38AM EDT0

People often mistake me for a literary agent. A literary agent is someone who works with authors to place their as yet unpublished works with a publisher. My role most commonly begins after a book is under contract or perhaps a year or 4-6 months ahead of publication date. In a nutshell, my job is to get media attention for books and authors. 

Mar 15, 9:03AM EDT0

I have a novel coming out sometime this year, the publisher hasn't nailed down a specific date, but from reading your answers to this point, it seems like I should already be promoting the book in some way or another.  I honestly don't know how much of a publicity budget this publisher has, but I'm assuming I'm doing a lot of it myself.  One thing I'd love to do is get it reviewed, even if only locally (Kirkus would be nice as well), can a publicist help with something like that?  

Mar 13, 5:23PM EDT1

To be honest, reviews are best sought out by the publisher. But there is much more to do than seek reviews. There are feature articles, interviews, blogs, and more.  Also, readings and special events.  I would suggest you consult with your publisher about how you can work with them to supplement their efforts and to find out what their plans are. Then, talk to 2-3 publicists and ask them what they would do to supplement what the publisher is doing.  There is really no end to public relations. There is always more that could be done.  In the interim, start working on interacting on social media and contact your local library and bookstore about a reading.  Also, alert your alumni publication if you have one.  Those are good places to start. When publicizing fiction, in order to get beyond the book page, one has to consider the nonfiction angles including local angle / your hometown, or something about the book, some aspect of it that relates to real life or some aspect of your personal journey to writing the book.

Mar 14, 8:58PM EDT1

Can you help me Publicize my Books for Free or does it really cost a lot to Publicize a Book?

Mar 12, 10:56PM EDT0

If you visit my slideshare.net site, I have created some slideshare presentations which are good tutorials in book pr. That's free to all.  I can't work for free, no. And my fees vary. For a small delimited task, say a podcast interview and blog posts for example, that might be a very small fee.  For a five city book tour, that would be a big fee. It all depends.  Here is a link to my book pr tutorial www.slideshare.net/Bookbuzz1/final-book-pr-123-presentation-by-sgpr-5312013

Mar 14, 12:01PM EDT0

Do you recommend book readings? I'm a comedian & storyteller in L.A. My book (spring 2019) is a comedic memoir, & is very fun as a live read. Are they worth travel expenses, etc.?

Mar 12, 10:15PM EDT0

They can be worthwhile. Local is best to keep expenses down.  The hitch is an audience is not guaranteed. It's important that you determine / ask whether the bookstore will be able to promote the event, do they have a mailing list, do they advertise, and that you have an audience of your own to invite to help build the crowd. But when they work, I think a bookstore is a great. But if you are paying your own way, I would watch this expense.  You might be better off investing in a radio tour perhaps.

Last edited @ Mar 14, 11:51AM EDT.
Mar 14, 11:51AM EDT0

Excellent thoughts. Thank you! 

Mar 14, 6:44PM EDT0
Do you advice authors on the specifics like the cover design etc? What is the full scope of services you offer?
Mar 12, 7:52PM EDT0

Thanks for asking. Cover design is not my specialty. Media relations is my specialty. So, most of my services relate to getting you maximum exposure in media, incl. tv, radio, print, and internet and advising you on how to enhance your online presence on social media as well.  I write press releases, pitch letters, post to social media, research and target media, contact media on your behalf, facilitate media bookings.  Sometimes I help with special events as well.  Because I have been in the book industry a long time, I'm happy to offer advice on all book publishing issues, but my specialty and my services are limited to media relations for the most part.  Other services include an interview on my podcast, web site development.

Last edited @ Mar 14, 11:55AM EDT.
Mar 14, 11:55AM EDT0
What do you do besides publicity for fun and hobbies? Do you read in your spare time or is it enough at work?
Mar 12, 7:32PM EDT0

I wish there were more time to read books. I read for work and I read for pleasure and I read to learn. My hobbies include nature walks, yoga, and cooking.  I have to make sure to get outside and stretch out and air out from the constant staring at screens and books and be careful not to be too sedentary as it is quite easy to get sucked into the vortex of the internet and all the amazing things one learns and reads about and the connections to be made there.

Mar 13, 12:39PM EDT0
What was it like to speak at Bookexpo? What did you speak about specifically? Do you often do speaking events?
Mar 12, 5:27PM EDT0

I've spoken at Bookexpo for the last 6 years at least I think (!) and a few times in years prior. Topics have included presenting the Young Adult Buzz Authors, Trends in Children's Book Publishing, Content Strategy for Self-Published Authors, and How to Think Like a Journalist: Book PR for authors.  About ten years ago, I had a panel on the subject of ebooks and digital marketing, when that was new. I speak perhaps 2-3 times a year. It takes a lot of preparation but I really enjoy the process.  It's a useful exercise and helps me hone my skills to me to practice communicating about what it is I do for a living, to hear people's reactions and questions.  Mostly, I enjoy connecting with people, whether it be the organization's leaders, my co-panelists, or the audience. It's good to get out there and meet face to face. The internet, much as I love it, cannot replace real life social networking.

Mar 13, 12:34PM EDT0
How many authors can you work with at a time?
Mar 12, 4:31PM EDT0

Every book campaign is different, so that really depends. Some projects or campaigns are small, and some are huge, so the tally of the number of authors or books doesn't tell the whole story.  I'm what you might call a "boutique" firm, modest in size, but MIGHTY! My service is very personalized and hands-on, strategy and execution, big picture and details oriented as well.  Therefore, I don't tend to take on a great number of clients at a time.

Mar 13, 12:28PM EDT0
How vital is social media in marketing a book? Can publicity be done without social media? Does anyone still do marketing on the ground?
Mar 12, 3:23PM EDT0

I believe social media is a vital part of book marketing and public relations. Traditional marketing is still necessary as well. Double the work, yes, but double the opportunity, one hopes.  I also believe that every author must play an active role in social media, book marketing and pr, whether they are self-published or working with a publisher or have hired a publicist.  The most successful authors I have worked with all worked intensely and with great attention to detail for every aspect of the publishing process.  I offer social media coaching as part of my services now because I have learned many authors feel nervous about their skills in this area. And I think I am a good teacher and hand holder for this process.

Mar 13, 12:22PM EDT0
Is there a Men’s national book association? Is it harder in the publishing/writers world to be a woman?
Mar 12, 3:22PM EDT0

I don't think there is a Men's National Book Association. And yes, it is harder for women. Though women are the majority of the work force in the book industry, they are hardly the majority of the top echelons or the CEOs. The history of the WNBA dates back to 1917, before women had the right to vote and were refused admission to what was then called the Booksellers League. It was founded by women booksellers in NYC who formed a league of their own, the WNBA. WNBA is now open to men as well as women. When sexism ends, then there will be no need for a WNBA perhaps, but we've got a long way to go! Similary, there are issues of sexism for writers. Check out something called the VIDA count, it's an annual survey which "highlights gender imbalances in publishing by tallying genre, book reviewers, books reviewed, and journalistic bylines to offer an accurate assessment of the publishing world."

Mar 13, 12:17PM EDT0
Is this your first publicity firm? What were you doing before this?
Mar 12, 12:40PM EDT0

Yes. Prior to founding my own book pr firm, I worked for several publishing houses including Simon & Schuster and Cambridge University Press. I started out in editorial at Pantheon Books, then moved to public relations and marketing departments.  I have been running my own firm for many years now.

Mar 12, 12:56PM EDT0
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