We are back with another post in our Inside Harlequin series—this time with Lia Ferrone, who is a Publicity Assistant for our Harlequin trade imprints MIRA Books, Park Row Books and Harlequin TEEN.
What does a typical day look like, and what are the overall duties of your job?
I’m the assistant for both the publicity and library marketing teams, so I have my fingers in a couple different pies. For publicity I do a fair share of administrative duties, from tracking down our department’s credit card receipts to taking meeting minutes. I submit books to awards like the National Book Awards and Pulitzer Prize, mail books to the trades for reviews (Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, Library Journal, etc.) and create itineraries for author tours, book travel, and update media contacts. The fun part of my job (besides the reading; I get to work with an incredible trade publishing line-up) is writing galley letters, press releases, and pitches for media about our books on behalf of the publicists. I get to use flowery, overly-dramatic language to attract people to whatever book I’m talking about, which is fabulous because I’m overdramatic in my day-to-day as is. For library marketing I help maintain the Library website and twitter accounts, submit to regional awards, brainstorm promo ideas, and write ad copy. During conference season I do everything I can—from making PowerPoint presentations to buying candy to Googling pictures of umbrellas—to assist our team at library conferences (and sometimes I even get to go!).
Where do you fit into the book publishing process?
Those of us in publicity try to get the book as much sunlight as it can in its pre-, peri-, and post-pub life. We try to get people talking about the book before it pubs through interviews, features, reviews, events and more. If you’re watching Late Night and see Colbert interviewing an author, her publicist got her there by pitching her! We also schedule book tours for authors to visit bookstores and attend events across the country, which are usually the most extensive during pub week. As a publicist in trade fiction, your ultimate goal is to get your book on the New York Times list, and pre-orders and week-of bookstore buys are a huge part of getting there, which is why you’ll see a larger glut of media before the book is out than after. On top of coordinating all that, we’re also an author’s emotional and general support whenever s/he travels or interacts with media. Meanwhile, library marketing is all about getting our books into libraries, whether it’s by putting the title in ads, sending authors to library events, chatting with librarians on Twitter or attending library conferences. Our team is pretty small, but there’s a ton of space to get creative in getting a librarian’s attention… That’s usually when I get to use all of my puns.
Do you have any funny/memorable/challenging moments you could share with our readers about working in publishing?
There was one day when I spent two hours in the rain searching through five stores looking for Sweet Tarts for a American Library Association marketing event. (Why doesn’t this city have Sweet Tarts?! Doesn’t anyone have taste buds?) Another time at the TLA conference in Dallas I dressed all in black and listened to the ‘Secret Agent’ playlist on Pandora while I stealthily hung fliers throughout the conference center advertising a giveaway at our booth. It was the middle of the day, so everyone could see me, but it still made me feel like a ninja surreptitiously promoting the lighthearted romances of Adi Alsaid. We got in trouble for it later, but it was totally worth it.
What upcoming Harlequin books are you excited for?
What’s great about my job is that I get to work on the periphery of all the trade books we put out, so I get to see EVERYTHING. It’s like being in book nerd heaven. That being said, the one we’re putting out that I’m most psyched for is The Lady from the Black Lagoon (out March 5th), a biography on a little-known Disney artist and costume designer named Milicent Patrick. She was amazing and quirky and ultimately ostracized because of her talent in design and her penchant for the creepy. The publicist on that is Laura Gianino, who is always full of great ideas, so it’s been great assisting her when I can—and even just watching from the sidelines—while she’s working with the author, Mallory O’Meara (who, with her blue hair and gorgeous tattoos, is the epitome of cool).
Lia graduated from Fordham University in 2017 and found her home at HarperCollins in 2016 after working way too many internships. She was hired as a publicity assistant at Harlequin in 2018 and must love her job since she puts up with NJtransit every day to get there. If you’d like to see pictures of her dogs, food, and feminist Halloween costumes you can follow her on Instagram @queenlear.