We're back! We survived! First off, before I begin, I have to give a huge thank you shout-out to the amazing people who let us come and crash their office, hang out, and teach us more about the publishing biz. The would not have been possible without them!
Jen and I started our trip at the butt crack of dawn with me picking her up a little before 6. Yes, a.m., people. After a 3 and a half hour bus ride north into NYC (after which I was pretty sure my butt would never regain feeling from), we arrived in the city and quickly disembarked and hailed our first taxi to head to our first pub.
Pub Stop #1: Macmillan
We arrived at the historic Flatiron Building and immediately got to work snapping pictures like a couple of goofy tourists. As we were taking picture I noticed Ksenia Winnicki (publicist extraordinaire heading our way. After some awesome hugs and introductions, she led us over to Argo where we ordered drinks and sat down to chat.
Just hanging out and talking with her was so amazing. She's one of those people I just want to be around - she has a great energy and you can tell she loves her job and books. So many books.
She then took us up to see where she works at Macmillan. The Flatiron is a very cool, but oddly shaped, which makes for an interesting office set up. She showed us her office area and the massive bookshelves she has. We even got a sneak peak at some upcoming Spring 2014 titles and they look AWESOME. From there she took us to Jon Sargent's office. Jon is the CEO of Macmillan and he wasn't in, but we were able to use his office and the balcony on it to take some fabulous shots of NYC.
Shortly after we had to leave to go to our next stop.
|Some of the ARC bookshelves Ksenia has|
|Me with Ksenia|
|Me, Ksenia, and Jen|
Pub Stop #2: Bloomsbury
Well, it should have been Bloomsbury. Jen and I got into a taxi and I rattled off the next address and when we arrived, I walked to the front desk to announce ourselves, only to get blank stares. After some digging we figured out that while I was making the schedule (because I need a schedule in all I do), I mixed up the addresses. We were at Disney, not Bloomsbury.
Thankfully Jen didn't kill me. She laughed it off and we walked the six blocks back to where we were supposed to be. Finally arriving at Bloomsbury, we went inside and waited for Lizzy Mason to come out.
I had previously met Lizzy this past year when she still worked at Disney-Hyperion while at BEA. Unfortunately she had been sick and had to leave early then, so I was very excited to get to see her this time around. Lizzy was also super-helpful in telling me where publishers were located and planning a lunch with herself and a coworker for Jen and I.
Lizzy took us around Bloomsbury, introducing us to her coworkers, who were so nice and welcoming. Then we went into a conference room (which cracked me up because their conference rooms are all named for cities - instead of numbers, you have Sydney, London, Dubai, etc.) where we met with Lizzy and three other members of the Bloomsbury publicity/digital media family: Erica, Emily, and Bridget. We got to snap a picture with Murray (he totally glittered on me, guys!) and chat about books and some upcoming things for Bloomsbury. After this Lizzy and Erica joined us for lunch along with another blogger and good friend of mine, Nicole (Paperback Princess).
We had an amazing lunch at the LT Burger - seriously, best fries I've ever had in my life. It was so good and so much fun, but soon after we ate, Jen and I had to return to Disney for our next stop.
|Some of their amazing bookshelves|
|Nicole and I|
|Jen, Erica, Me, Nicole, and Lizzy at lunch|
Pub Stop #3: Disney
We arrived at Disney, with the guard giving us a grin like, "Back again, huh?" We checked in, got some nifty passes and were instructed to take the elevator to the thirty-fourth
floor. We used our swanky passes to get through the turnstiles and entered the elevator bank and .... blanked. We started at the key pad, a little lost. Why were they numbered? What happened to up and down arrows?
Finally a set of doors opened and we got in with another guy, the doors slid closed and when we turned to punch in our floor number, there was only an emergency stop and a key hole.
The elevator starts going up on it's own and I'm pretty sure at this point Percy Jackson is going to join us on this magical elevator ride to Olympus, because nothing is making sense. I'm turning my pass over, wondering if that paper with a barcode somehow told the elevator where we needed to go. Finally I look at the other guy in the elevator and say, "Not to sound stupid-" -which, let's face it, I probably did seem at this point because it's an elevator, not brain surgery - "-but how do we get to the 34th floor?"
He gives me an odd look and says, "You punch in your number when you get on."
Lightbulb! So that's why the keypad by the elevator was numbered and not just up and down arrows.
We get off at the 24th floor and the guy with us gets out, so Jen and I jump out to. Thank goodness there was another man who worked there to help us because our elevator friend booked it away from us. The nice man trying to help us is all, "Go down to the 25th floor and take the stairs to the 26th floor so you can grab the other elevators that go to the other floors."
And I'm all, "Honey, please just tell me how to get to the lobby so I can start all over."
He gets us on and we get back to the lobby, feeling like fools. We get off the car and as we're rounding the corner, Jen starts laughing and points to the wall where this set of elevators is clearly labeled for floors 1-25. Yeah. Go, us.
We walk around the corner to another set of elevators, this time punching in the correct floor like a champ, and it lets us off at Disney where we meet Cassie McGinty. Cassie is amazing. She walked us through a typical day in her life and then took the time to set up quick meetings for us with the marketing, media, and art departments. We got to see how covers were taken from concept to finish product, different marketing tools that were employed, and how much work goes into planning an author tour.
|Me, Cassie, and Jen|
Pub Stop #4: Harlequin
I had heard only amazing things about visiting the Harlequin offices. I heard they were gorgeous, and I was so glad people weren't exaggerating. The only problem was actually getting there.
We took taxis everywhere to save time, which was awesome, but this particular taxi driver dropped us off at a corner and said the building we wanted was twenty feet up on the left. Only seeing the good in people, Jen and I climbed out and started walking. After a block or two, we realized not only had he lied to us and dropped us several blocks away from where we needed to be, he also told us to start walking in the wrong direction.
Thanks, awesome taxi driver. Thanks.
Finally getting our bearings, we huffed it to where we were supposed to be and arrived at Harlequin where we were greeted by Natashya Wilson, an amazing editor I met while at BEA and heard nothing but incredible things about. She showed us around and then let us hang out in her office and chat. She showed us a new cover that would be revealed later this month, but then she had to run leave, but her co-worker and other editor, Margo Lipshultz let us hang out with her.
I had met Margo (along with Katie McGarry - one of her authors) at BEA this past year, so I was so glad I got to spend more time with her. It was more chatting about books and covers and the launch of Harlequin's new Digital First books.
|Margo and I|
Pub Stop #5: Hachette
Our final stop of the day, which was kind of sad even if we were dragging at this point. We arrived at this building and were greeted with the prettiest interior - all glass and steel and polish. Very nice.
Once we got up to the Hachette floor, we met with Faye Bi who I've known for years. Faye is a total sweetie and I adore working with her. She showed us around the office. The have a conference room where the table breaks down into a pool table where they have company pool tournaments annually, shelves where people will drop off books they're done with and others can grab at will to read, a closet full of upcoming galleys (which I got to touch!), and a ton of cubicles ad offices.
From there we left with Faye and all went to dinner (Nicole joined us again). It was appropriate we ended our night in an Irish Pub having dinner and just hanging out an chatting. But sadly it was over all-too-soon and Jen and I had to leave to catch our bus back home.
But not before our taxi driver took us on the ride of our lives, nearly taking out a crosswalk full of pedestrians. Seriously. These people did that whole, butt-tuck and run thing to skeedaddle outta his way. It was rather intense.
|Faye with the awesome glass doors|
|Hachette has a hall where they display their current catalog titles in finished glory|
|And on the other side is a bunch of posters that changes each season with current titles|
What Every Blogger Should Know
A big part of why we went was learning what would help establish better blogger-publisher relations. Here are some interesting facts I think every blogger could use to help them when dealing with publicists, publishers, and everyone else:
1. Know that what you do matters: Every person I talked to was grateful for the work bloggers put into the publishing industry with reviews, blog tours, promotions ... It doesn't go unnoticed.
2. ARCs: A lot of people want to know how to get an advanced copy for review. When sending an email, keep it succinct and to the point. These publicists get up to 400 emails a day with review requests alone, which is also why you're email may not always be answered that day or that week. Just know that they read every request, every email. If you don't hear back in a month or two, then send a follow up email - but be polite. No one is entitled to an ARC just because they're a blogger.
3. Content Counts: For every ARC request, every publicist confirmed they go to your blog and check it out. They look at your followers, the type of content you have (is it 70-90% memes with an occasional review? 30 posts a year with 20 of them being giveaways?). They look for the serious bloggers. Blogging is a hobby for most of us, but this is a job to them. A career. A way they pay the bills to support themselves and their family. These review copies need to be in the hands of people who will help promote the books. And the reviews needed to have some thought behind them: Not just a line saying, "I LOVED IT!" and then a paragraph summarizing the synopsis. Be detailed. Show enthusiasm.
4. Honesty counts: When requesting anything, above all else be honest. As I said above, these publicists check you out before adding you to their blogger email list, contact list, review copy list, etc. Don't think you can pad yours stats in an email or on Netgalley and they won't find out - they check to see if you really have those 2,000+ twitter followers or 7,000 Facebook likes.
That being said, also provide updated stats for publicists you work with and on Netgalley and Edelweiss. I don't have the same follower count, unique page views (an important number to know), and page loads as when I first started. It expands almost every month. Know your numbers.
5. Negative vs. Snark vs. Cruel: Everyone laughs at the funny, GIF-filled reviews full of snark. But bear in mind there is a fine line between snark and cruel, and publishers aren't so OK with cruel. Negative reviews are fine - publishers and publicists get that no book will be loved by 100% of the readers, and reviews that critique books are a good thing. But you need to back up what you say. If something doesn't work for you, explain why. Don't just say, "This is a sucky books with sucky characters and a sucky plot." It's OK to not like something, but don't get mean and don't fight dirty.
6. Netgalley/Edelweiss: If you're a newer blogger, these two places can be the best way to gain access to upcoming titles. But know that every request you make, there is a real, live person on the other side, checking you out, checking out your blog, twitter, and other social media accounts listed. Netgalley also provides them with a rating of you (how many books you've reviewed versus how many you've requested and downloaded). All of this comes into play and they have to check everyone out. Cassie shared that All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill got over 2,000 review requests and she had to go through them all.
7. Social Media: Most publicists and publishers are using social media more and more. In fact, a lot of publishers have positions now solely to track social media accounts. Don't think they don't see you on Twitter or Pinterest or Goodreads - they do! One publicist said she had found several bloggers she now loves to work with because she said other bloggers she followed interacting with their blogger friends and she started following and tracking those friends. Don't use your twitter account just to enter contests or post about your own blog - engage with other bloggers and even publicists (most have their own twitter account outside of their publisher).
8. Myth of ebooks and eARCs: One of the most beneficial things I learned on this trip is that ebooks don't come cheap and are easily as expensive as a physical book. I also griped and groaned over the fact that ebooks are frequently only $1 or so less than a physical copy, but I never took into account the team of people needed to format a book for each individual type (Kindle, Nook, iBooks, PDFs) and upload it, make sure everything is pretty and presentable ... A lot goes into an ebook.
Interview w/Jen from Jenuine Cupcakes
1. Best part of PubCrawl 2013: Having a chance to put faces with names.
2. Worst part of PubCrawl 2013: Cab driver who dropped us off four blocks away from where we needed to be them told us to walk in the wrong direction.
3. Unexpected part of the day: The incredible generosity of all of the publicists!
4. Interesting tidbit: Some of the elevators don't have number panels on the inside nor do they go to all of the floors.
5. I wish we had more time for... I wish we'd had more time, period.
Thank you again to everyone who made PubCrawl 2013 a huge success! Jen and I had a blast meeting you all and hanging out, and thanks to everyone who followed along with us on Twitter!