In House: Book Promotions at Guernica Editions
With a small, but exceptionally mighty staff, Guernica Editions publishes dozens of books every season for all kinds of book lovers—from fiction to poetry to literary and cultural essays the press is a treasure trove of books. Today, we meet two members of staff to talk book promotions and publicity: Dylan Curran, a sales and marketing associate, keeps the team connected virtually to a multitude of partners and platforms; and Margo LaPierre, freelance editor and Guernica's acting publicist connects readers to their next great read. Below, Dylan and Margo give us a peek behind the sometimes mysterious veil of book promotions and share some publicity tips for writers. (Plus they prove their skills in book promotions because our TBRs are a little bit bigger now.)
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Meet Dylan Curran
Sales and Marketing Assistant at Guernica Editions
Early February, the adrenaline of Christmas promotions has long since dwindled, replaced by Valentine’s Day campaigns and heart-shaped emojis. There’s a cup of too-hot tea sitting on my Post-it-crowded desk. REMINDER: Post Guglielmo D’Izzia award-win. Launch Goodreads Giveaway for Tales from the Bottom of my Sole. Approve NetGalley requests!! I take a sip, burn my tongue (ouch), and prepare for the onslaught of Monday morning emails (double ouch). Clicking away at the keyboard, I receive one from Michael, “Titles from the Printer.” I rush to open it:
Letters from Johnny (Wayne Ng)
Easily Fooled (H. Nigel Thomas)
Why Do You Look at Me and See a Girl? (Anvi Hoang)
Living Dolls and Other Women (Montana Katz)
South China Sea (Ken Norris)
The last of our Spring books have arrived. Let the fun begin! Any day now, I’ll receive my copies in the mail and be able to start my long-awaited #bookstagram campaigns. Margo and I have been pitching together this season, signing our authors up for festivals, workshops, reading events and more. Oh, that reminds me! I grab my pen and quickly jot down a new note — Can’t forget Nina Newington’s All About Books interview today.
A book that inspires me
We can’t pick favourites, but Fuse by Hollay Ghadery inspires me. There’s an art to the kind of truths embedded in each chapter of her memoir. Mental health has felt taboo for too long — I’m glad Michael took a chance on Hollay’s work. I’m proud to represent her voice within the mosaic of Canadian experiences published by our press. These past months, I’ve learned so much from the review quotes, Goodreads comments and — ultimately — Hollay’s own story. There’s something special that comes along with fostering these gentle, quiet admirations for others within the literary community. A career in publishing has its ups and downs, but I certainly find it rewarding on days like today.
Ping! Zoom meeting with Margo in 10 minutes.
Wish me luck!
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Meet Margo LaPierre
Publicist and Editor at Guernica Editions
When associate publisher Anna Van Valkenburg contacted me in April 2020 with an opportunity to become Guernica’s publicist for a year while she was on maternity leave, I thought I would have lots to learn, get to meet talented authors, become familiar with the inner workings of a press, and pick up a few promotional tips and tricks along the way, and holy cow I was not wrong!
Publicity is about connecting with people. Authors. The people writing reviews. The people publishing reviews. Festival organizers. Reading series organizers. Content creators. The folks behind the scenes in publishing and media. The audience for a particular title.
It’s also about connecting people with other people. I know that the resources I have as a publicist are limited, but the impact of introducing an author to other authors and creators is limitless. Especially for debut authors, that’s where the publishing world starts to open up: when you find your people.
Publicity advice for authors who’ve just signed a contract:
1. Promote yourself, the author, starting NOW. Submit new work to journals, connect with reading series organizers, connect with the other authors at your press to ask them about their experience, join social media accounts (especially Twitter) if that’s your thing. After that, 3-4 months before publication, start promoting your book.
2. Consider publicity your part-time job for 3 months prior to your publication and about 9 months after. This age of social media and identity/author-driven literature has made it so that readers crave a personal connection to the author. Publicists’ efforts go furthest on the titles whose authors are working hard to promote their work and their brand. Get over any embarrassment to self-promote. A tough-love piece of editorial advice translates to book promotion: If you (the author) don’t care, why should anybody else?
3. Ask your press for resources and promotional advice, tag them on social media, and email your publicist to share your literary victories. We love to hear even the small victories. Do provide an accompanying link.
A book I wish I'd written
Guernica’s Spring 2021 roster of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry is phenomenal, but if I had to pick just one book that made me wish I had written it — in a totally non-jealous and adoring way of course — it would be Pineapple Kisses in Iqaluit by Felicia Mihali. The novel follows a cynical, “unlikeable” teacher in her early 30s named Irina and I adore her. She gives me permission to be my grumpier self. It’s set in contemporary Canada but it has all the good parts of a historical novel in that it delves into the extensively researched dual histories (colonial/settler and Inuit) of Iqaluit and the Northwest Passage. It’s my hope to write a novel as nuanced and complex as this one. But lucky me — I got to edit it!
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Dylan Curran (she/her) is a writer and publishing professional. She has studied at Trent University (BA English Literature and Linguistics), Plymouth University (BA Creative Writing) and Humber College (Creative Book Publishing). She currently works as a Sales and Marketing Assistant for Guernica Editions.
Margo LaPierre (she/her) is a Canadian editor and author of Washing Off the Raccoon Eyes (Guernica Editions, 2017). She is newsletter editor of Arc Poetry Magazine, membership chair of Editors Ottawa-Gatineau, and member of poetry collective VII. She won the 2020 subTerrain Lush Triumphant Award for Fiction. Her work has been published in the /temz/ Review, Room Magazine, Arc Poetry Magazine, filling Station, CAROUSEL, PRISM International, carte blanche and others. Find her on Twitter @margolapierre.
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