Moving the Sales Needle
Marketing and Publicity Spotlight: Lorna Garano, Book Publicist
By Julienne Bennett
Lorna Garano started her career as a book publicist at New Harbinger Press in Oakland. Five years ago she struck out on her own, keeping New Harbinger as a client and adding such publishers as Counterpoint Press, John Wiley & Sons, the New Press, and AlterNet.org. I sat down with my former colleague to talk about her work.
Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been a publicist and what kind of books do you specialize in?
I have been a publicist for a little over ten years (so, I was 15 when I started—just kidding). I work in a diverse range of nonfiction categories, including politics, health, self-help, biography, and arts and culture.
How has book publicity changed over the course of your career?
It has changed in much the same way that the culture as a whole has changed. Much more happens online, and gone are the days when only a few reviewers or tastemakers influenced which books were read and which languished. Because of the web, authors have to be much more involved in creating media instead of just waiting to be the subject of it, whether it’s blogging, making a book trailer, working social media, or—ideally—all of the above.
With the shift in the media landscape, some publishers report that traditional media outlets are harder and harder to book and many no longer affect sales. Do you have any advice for publishers trying to garner publicity that will “move the sales needle”?
It really depends on the book. I don’t think we should get stuck in either/or thinking. Traditional media is still important. Online media is so essential that it has become the primary or even sole media source for many people. Also, the two interact in ways that are often hard to predict and very exciting. Know your audience. Where in the media landscape do they live? Find out and go there and don’t be wedded to only scoring A-list media placements if that’s not where your readers are.
In a typical book publicity campaign, what percentage is done online?
Again, it depends on the book. Generally, I would say that half of an average campaign unfolds online.
How important is the role of social media in publicity campaigns? Are there some simple things publishers can do to increase their social media presence?
When used thoughtfully, social media can really pay off, especially in the long run. I like to think of Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms as ways to create exponential buzz. They provide instant access to consumers and allow authors and publishers to communicate directly with readers. I think the crucial point with social media is that you have to be strategic. Don’t get hung up on reaching a certain number of followers, friends, etc., but make it a point to find the right ones. Also, remember that it is an interactive medium. Try to spark discussion and provoke thought. Ask questions. Invite opinions. This is not a static, one-way environment, so don’t use any social media platform like you would an ad space.
Editor’s note: You can reach Lorna by e-mail at lornagarano@
gmail.com or on her website www.lornagarano.com.