Sunday, March 4, 2012

Spotlight on Jobs in Publishing - Alexis Saarela, Publicist at Tor

Today I have another Industry Insider interview. Introducing Alexis Saarela, Publicist at Tor. Alexis graciously took time out of her busy day to answer some questions about her job. Be sure to check out the helpful links at the end for more info. about publicists and self-marketing/book promotion for authors.

Please tell us what led you to this career path.

I have always loved books and was able to get an internship during college at a publisher. I wasn’t sure which department was the right one for me, but I found that I really like talking to people (whether they be authors, booksellers, reviewers, etc) and it’s a great job if you are passionate for books!

Describe a typical work day.

Working in publicity, we are juggling a lot of different balls at once – at the same time that I might be contacting bookstores and booking travel for a book tour that is coming up in a few months, I may also be mailing out galleys for a newer book, writing a press release, fielding review copy requests, pitching authors for reviews and interviews, or gathering clips/reviews to share with our sales department.

Some days we might also be figuring out publicity plans for books up to a year ahead of time! And some nights, I might attend a local author event that I have set up.


Your days are go, go, go! What is your favorite/least favorite/most challenging part of your job?

Sometimes if you really love a book and it either is getting negative reviews, or no one is responding to you at all, that can be really depressing! You have to not take it too personally – media people are busy and may just not have a minute to reply to your pitch email.

Favorite parts of the job are when, thanks to my hard work, authors have successful signings and events, or a great review, or a great interview!


What can authors do to make your job easier/more successful?

We love authors that are active on social media and blogs already and we’re always happy for them to work their connections to reviewers and other media.

Are you able to read most of the books you publicize? If not, how do you familiarize yourself with the books?

I do try to read almost all of the books I work on – it helps when you’re writing press materials, pitching the book to media, and in general it can help you discover some unique things to say about the book!

There are a few that can be difficult to read such as the 4th book in a long epic fantasy series that I don’t have time to go back and read all the early ones. However, we talk to editors to find out the important and interesting points of the book and what we should pull out for our press releases.


That's great - I had assumed you'd only have time to read a portion of the books. Go ahead and shout out about some of your favorite new/upcoming YA releases.

We are really growing our Tor Teen line and have some GREAT stuff coming up this year – including:

ARTICLE 5 by Kristen Simmons (great dystopian YA debut). Kristen is a YA Fusion blog partner and on her book tour now!

GIRL OF NIGHTMARES by Kendare Blake (August) (the sequel to the great ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD)


DARK COMPANION by Maria Acosta (July)


Thanks so much, Alexis! Want to know more about the role of a book publicist? Cynthia Leitich Smith interviewed the Marketing and Publicity Team from Peachtree Publishers on her Cynsations blog here.

***The fabulous YA author Saundra Mitchell has a very helpful self-marketing primer for debut authors on her website. Step by step, she tells you exactly what to do, and when to do it. http://saundramitchell.com/tools-for-writers/marketing-for-writers/your-bossy-self-marketing-timeline/

Did you miss our previous interviews with industry insiders?

Go here for an interview with a sales representative for Random House Children's Books.

And go here for an interview with the cover artist who designed Tracy Bilen's YA debut, What She Left Behind.




On Tuesday, please stop by the Literary Rambles blog to read my Tip Tuesday post. You'll also find a link to a wonderful Academy Award-winning animated short film about the magic of books.

Finally, Ill leave you with a giveaway link. Rebecca Behrens has a spring-break giveaway of 3 YA ARCs here.

Have a great week!
Kristin Lenz

12 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great interview Kristin & Alexis. Alexis, it's so interesting to hear about what you do to promote authors and that you try to read their books.

I really loved Kristen Simmons' ARTICLE 5 and was lucky enough to interview her and give away an ARC of her book at Literary Rambles around her release date.

Ann Finkelstein said...

This is such an interesting interview. Thanks for the information and the links.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Really great insider information! How awesome would it be to have someone like Alexis in your corner? Very cool.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Wow, publicists are very busy. It's amazing what they do. Thanks for this great interview!

Alice said...

It's interesting to know what a book publicist does.

Elana Johnson said...

I would seriously kill to be a publicist at a publisher. It sounds like an amazing job!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

great interview - thanks!! :)

Kurt Hampe said...

Kristin, thanks for this series and for the links to more info. I wish there were more people touting good books as strongly as Alexis. That last step--getting the word out--is often the hardest.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

wow! this was so interesting! THanks for the great interview!

Katie McGarry said...

Great interview! Thanks Kristin and Alexis!

Colette Ballard said...

Great interview! I love getting a behind the scenes look into all the different areas in the publishing world. Thanks Kristen & Alexis!

Kristen Simmons said...

Well I would just like to say from personal experience that Alexis is a rock star! She's amazing! I could not have hoped for a better advocate for Article 5. She made my book tour a complete success! YAY ALEXIS! Thanks for this great interview ladies!