Angela Guzman : Book Publicist

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Tell us about your work as a publicist with Harper Collins. What’s a typical day like for you?

Each day is different. Some days are research intensive - looking for new outlets to pitch, connecting with great professionals and learning more about the various editorial calendars. Other days are spent sending follow up emails, mailing books, putting together media lists and creating stellar media kits.

How did you get started working at a publishing house? Was it something you’ve always wanted to do?

To be honest, when I was little I always dreamed of working for a big newspaper. Then the internet took over, newspapers began to die off and quickly my aspirations changed. I’ve always loved books and writing is a big passion of mine. With each editorial job, I quickly realized how much the content game was changing and honestly I didn’t like it. I wanted to be involved with content that wouldn’t change so quickly and could exist for generations to come.

As an editor, I was always receiving pitches from publishing houses. Oftentimes, they’d want me to interview an author and other times they pitched me to write a review. I loved impactful books were on my readers and myself. My current supervisor had posted my job, on Linkedin and we had worked together in a editor/publicist capacity - she would pitch me books. The rest is history. I responded to the Linkedin posting, I was interviewed, landed the job and in 28 days I moved from Virginia to Tennessee.

What would you say is the hardest part of promoting books and how can writers assist in overcoming the challenge?

In my opinion, the hardest part of promoting books is finding unique ways for authors to connect with readers. There are thousands and thousands of books published each quarter and trying to identify how a book is different can be challenging. Even though, as a publicist, I can see how a book connects to people sometimes articulating that into words or into a one-sheeter can be a hurdle.

Great writers understand this and are always monitoring trends. They know what trends are peaking and the others not doing well. If authors are not using the keywords applicable to searches then their works will not be found by the average consumer who isn’t already aware of their brand.

Tell us about SEO and how that factors into the success an author and their book has.

I love words and that is all SEO is - words. Sometimes people over complicate things and get too technical when it comes to SEO; however, SEO is simply using the right words. I conduct research, with every book and author I work on, to identify what people are actually searching and how I can help their book rank high within a Google search.

If the right words are not utilized within consumer copy or back book copy, this can drastically decrease the chances of success. I highly recommend to all of the authors, I work with, to run their analytics and identify who is coming to their site and why they are purchasing their books and/or products. Many business owners are amazed by the results because they assume they know what their customers want, but the data often reveals they actually are clueless to what is making them money (or bringing people to their content/works).

Many of our illuminate members would like to write a book and become traditionally published. What advice or encouragement do you have for us?

My advice to those who want to traditionally published is write. Write for yourself. Don’t write for others. Find something you’re deeply passionate about and write. Sometimes your writing is going to suck and sometimes you’ll knock it out of the park. Nevertheless, it’s ever changing and you learn from your writings. However, if you don’t write you’ll never know.

I recommend being published by other media platforms. Personally, I have experienced a lot of abuse and grief throughout my life. I wanted to share my findings with the world and hopefully inspire others who’ve went through similar situations or live with forever grief. I knew I wasn’t ready for a book. In order to build my portfolio and get my name out there, I began writing as a freelance writer. It was a great way to cultivate my voice and better understand what I was willing to share. Since embarking on that journey I’ve written for Real Simple, Sports Illustrated, The Huffington Post, Thrive Global and many other wonderful outlets. I’ve also had the pleasure of interviewing greats such as Reese Witherspoon, Hugh Jackman, Tim Brown, Dwyane Wade, Ernie Johnson, Anne Hathaway and many others. I’ve never taken anything for granted and I’ve made sure to use every opportunity as a way to become a better writer.

Be patient and never shut a door. I cannot count how many times I’ve met someone through a networking opportunity or how many times someone already knew me based on a reference, or article I’ve written. It is a very small world.  

Thanks for sharing, Angela! Connect with Angela on LinkedIn.

Mia Sutton