“If You Shall Chance, Camillo, to Visit Bohemia…”

“… you shall see… great difference betwixt our Bohemia and your Sicilia.”

“Publicity? Oh.”
This probably wasn’t the response that the nice HR people were expecting when they rang to tell me about the placement they were offering me at Random House. Neither was it the response I intended to give, it was just that I’d never really considered that area of publishing before. But the next minute I was jumping at the opportunity, and I’m so glad that I did!

Many people think that publicity is super glamorous: hanging out with authors all day long, organising signings and tours and attending awards ceremonies. And of course, that is part of it, but what lies behind the glam, back in the office, is a lot of hard work, organising, correspondence, research, filing… No day has been the same these last three weeks. I’ve often begun my mornings by searching through all the various newspapers, hunting for reviews of books published by our various imprints (and becoming very well versed on current affairs at the same time). Then I might send uncorrected proof copies, or the finished article, in mailings to reviewers (trying to read the books as I go!), forward fan mail and general post to the relevant authors, or even design flyers for bookshop events. I was privileged enough to sit in on a marketing meeting and I haven’t looked at books in shops the same since I walked out the room. Discussions centred around books being published next year, the best marketing strategies, predicted sales, the best jacket design/ blurb terminology, and I now judge books by their covers more critically than I ever did before. I even catch myself watching people in bookshops: wondering what they’re picking up and why.

I haven’t met anyone famous (although I was, on separate occasions, rewarded by the site of Jonathan Powell and Sam Willetts across the office – check out their work if you’re unfamiliar), but I have read a fantastic novel that’s not due out until February next year. Beyond saying Half of the Human Race is brilliant I can say no more, but expect to have me bombarding everyone I know with recommendations for it come 2011. Neither have I been to any award ceremonies (although the Galaxy Book Awards were held last week, and Random House did very well – prizes for Terry Pratchett, Martin Amis, Edmund de Waal amongst others), but I have learnt heaps, had my knowledge of the whole publishing process widened, conquered my feeling of being like a country mouse in the big town, AND been surrounded by mountains of books all day long. It’s been something of a three-week dream for me. And I’m sure that if asked again then my answer would be, “Publicity? Yes please!