Interview · publishing

Pub Life #6: Publicity

Through our Pub Life posts, Writer’s Block Party will be hosting guests and contributors who talk about their jobs within the publishing industry. There are many more career paths in publishing than a lot of people realize, and we’re so excited to spotlight a few of them for you guys!

Today, we’re super excited to share our interview with Cassie Malmo, a Publicity Manager at Simon & Schuster! Note: opinions are her own. 

1. Thanks for joining us, Cassie! Let’s start with the basics: what exactly does a publicist do?

A publicist’s job has many different facets, but the biggest two are media and events. A publicist will coordinate all coverage (national, regional, and local) of a book, including print, online, blog, radio, podcast, and TV. Everything that does not involve a spend for placement. We also coordinate events, including appearances at trade shows, bookstores, conferences, and conventions, and booking all related travel/creating an itinerary. Publicists also process invoices for travel, do book mailings, and coordinate efforts with other departments. Generally speaking, publicists usually start working with authors anywhere from a month to four or more months before on sale all the way through and after publication. We also get to work events supporting the author and ensuring the event runs as smooth as possible.

2. So what does a typical day on the job look like? Is there even a typical day?

One of my favorite things is that there isn’t a typical day! There is always something new and exciting going on, be it placement on an awesome podcast or morning show to an interview with the perfect blog or media outlet! Publicity really goes in waves. One day things are mellow and orderly, and the next day a wave of opportunities hit and you blink and the day is gone. It is exciting, fun, and the best kind of crazy all at once. My day starts at 7 with coffee and checking emails to make sure nothing is on fire, commuting in (hello, NYC subway delays), then logging in and diving straight into emails, internal meetings, phone calls with bookstores and authors, and more! It’s exciting and fast paced; there really isn’t a boring day on the job. Then reverse commute, check emails again to make sure an author on the road isn’t stranded by delays when you get home, then repeat the next day.

3. What are some common misconceptions or things you wish more people knew about your job?

One big common misconception is how media lineup is secured. The really tricky thing with media is publicists at major publishers start reaching out to them around 3-4 months before on sale be it initial email pitches or advanced copy mailings to ensure that media knows about the book should they have a long lead time (amount of time they need to consider for coverage due to print or editorial placement procedure at their outlet). From there, we check in and once available send finished copies as well, but at the end of the day it comes down to what coverage the books contact at an outlet is looking to secure and how much room they have that month for placement. Publicity is not paid so coverage can’t be guaranteed. Similarly, if there is something big going on in a news cycle like a natural disaster or political news coverage, planned coverage by a media outlet can then change due to that.

4. You’ve worked with a lot of really incredible authors–what has been your favorite experience so far?

Oh man, that is like being asked to chose your favorite book! Impossible! I’ve been so fortunate to get to work on some amazing campaigns, books, authors, and publishing professionals. From picture books like Ryan Higgins’ WE DON’T EAT OUR CLASSMATES to chapter books like Magic Tree House and middle grade such as Shannon Messenger’s Keeper of the Lost Cities, and young adult books like Kiersten White’s AND I DARKEN and CHOSEN, and some amazing swoon-worthy books with Sandhya Menon (don’t miss OF CURSES AND KISSES coming out in February 2020!) and Brittney Morris’ SLAY, I’ve got to say the authors I get to work with are amazing, and so are their books! One of the highlights of my career has got to be launching the Rick Riordan Presents imprint with the lovely Roshani Chokshi’s ARU SHAH AND THE END OF TIME as well as J.C. Cervantes’ THE STORM RUNNER.

5. Wow those are some incredible books! And you’re an amazing writer yourself! What advice can you give to writers who work in publishing?

You do you! Working and writing can be so tricky to balance and it can take some experimenting to find out what works for you. And that might change depending on what’s going on with work or life, which is ok! I think the biggest thing that has helped me is when I finally–kicking and grumbling–figured out not to be too hard on myself and how to take a step back sometimes and refill the creative well. It is good to have some book-free days in my schedule because working in publishing and writing means you get to be around books all the time but a day off books is important, too.

Thanks so much for joining us, Cassie! 

Cassie Malmo was born and raised in Nevada, and has a passion for nature, food, and travel. She moved east to study English and Creative Writing in Virginia. After college she moved to New York City to pursue her dream of working in publishing. Cassie has worked at Random House, Disney, and is currently a Publicity Manager at Simon and Schuster. Visit her on Twitter at @CassieMalmo_ and on Instagram @cassiemalmo. Cassie is represented by Tamara Kawar at ICM Partners.

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