A day in the life of a publicist

Claire Maxwell works at Icon Books as their Publicity Manager. She has previously worked in journalism and bookselling, and she blogs at www.ithinkijustbloggedmyself.com. Claire is also on the newly-formed BookMachine Editorial Board.

I should preface this piece by saying that there is no typical day in the life of a book publicist. As with many roles in publishing, some days you’re out and about meeting authors and journalists and scouting out event venues, and some days you’re trawling through email after carefully-worded email, just trying to keep your head above water. What I will also say, though, is that being a book publicist is the best job in the world. I know I may be biased, but what a privilege it is to work with creative and inspiring people day after day, helping in some small way to share their story with the world.

7.30am – My alarm goes off.

7.39am – My alarm goes off again.

7.48am – My alarm goes off again. I should probably get up.

9.30am – I arrive at the office*, make a cup of tea and start going through emails that I didn’t have a chance to deal with yesterday, or that have come in overnight.

10.30am – Meeting time! Once a month everyone in the company gets together for a few hours to go through the finances, the budget for the year, how the PR effort is going, feedback from sales reps and booksellers, and changes that might need to be made to the upcoming catalogue. Coffee is made, biscuits are bought, and we all gather around the table to start.

11.30am – *mid meeting* It’s my turn to give my colleagues an update on how publicity for the current list I’m working on is going. This is a good opportunity to let editors know if I might need text early, to send to interested journalists, or to highlight any issues that have arisen. Mostly though, it’s good news. Just that weekend we’ve had a great review of one of our front list titles in The Guardian so I’m feeling rather jovial.

12.30pm – Meeting finishes and my lunchbreak commences. There are literally no nice places to get food in the nearby area (a Sainburys and a sad looking Costa that always smells like toilets are just not cutting it), so I trudge to a Waitrose about 15 minutes’ walk away for an okay sandwich. Side note: why are there no good sandwich options for vegetarians?

1.15pm – Emails, emails, emails. Mostly authors who want updates or have just had a terrific feature idea.

2pm – Three boxes of books arrive in the office – it’s our latest release. I print out labels and press releases and (politely) ask the intern if they would help me package them up.

3pm – I have a meeting with a journalist at a swanky little café in Kings Cross, so I hop on the tube (grabbing some time for a little read on the way) and then spend an hour talking about our upcoming releases and gleaning which might be of interest to this particular media outlet.

4pm – I head back to the office.

4.30pm – More emails to respond to. I swear between approximately 2pm and 4pm the most emails in the WORLD are sent.

5pm – I have a Skype call with our publicity manager in the US, who looks after the books we’re publishing out there. We chat all things books and launches. I kind of wish I was in New York…

5.45pm – I print out my work credit card statement, just sent to me by our accounts manager, so I can go through my receipts (mostly tasty lunches) when I’m working from home tomorrow.

5.55pm – I’m out the door and heading home to an evening of The Walking Dead and a big bowl of pasta.

*I don’t actually work in the office every day, I quite often work from home, but for the purposes of this exercise I think a day when I’m in the office and out-and-about would be more interesting than one where I’m squirrelling away at my laptop in my pyjamas.