2009: The Year In Review

You haven’t heard from me in a while. That’s because business has come back with a vengeance.

I want to take this holiday season to give thanks to the many wonderful authors who sustained me during this difficult recession. I especially want to thank the following:

Christina Sunley, whose mesmerizing and haunting debut novel, The Tricking of Freya, transported me to the ethereal beauty of Iceland. This novel about a young woman obsessed with uncovering a simmering family secret is a classic story in the tradition of Jhumpa Lahiri about the cultural conflicts that arise in immigrant families—in this case, an immigrant family from Iceland. It is a powerful exploration of kinship, loss and redemption that gave me many uplifting moments of reading pleasure. I want to express my gratitude to Christina for not only writing such a remarkable novel, but for giving me the opportunity to promote it.

Michael Stanley, the writing team of Stanley Trollip and Michael Sears, who co-authored The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu, a thriller set in Botswana. This novel, a great read, educated me about the current conflict in Zimbabwe and the repercussions of the war in Rhodesia fought 30 years ago. What makes Michael Stanley’s novels so special is their authenticity. Trollip and Sears both live in Africa and have traveled widely throughout the continent. Their depictions of the environment and peoples of Botswana draw on decades of personal experience, combined with countless hours of research.

Dale Koppel, whose hilarious book about online dating, The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Online Dating, was a publicist’s dream come true. the media loved this book. It was the first-self published book I have handled and I successfully toured Dale in seven cities. With such a timely, trendy subject, my pitch didn’t have to go much further than the title. I successfully booked top TV programs in 7 cities. The media not only loved Dale’s book, they loved Dale and her story as well. After 20 years of what she thought was a happy marriage, her husband left her for a man. Not wasting much time on mourning the end of her marriage, Dale jumped right into online dating, and after three years, met the man of her dreams. Filled with insight, advice and a compelling personal story, Dale’s book is a must-read for anyone who is considering or involved in online dating.

Lisa Weasel, Ph.D. author of FOOD FRAY: Inside the Controversy Over Genetically Modified Food. Dr. Weasel brings readers into the center of the debate over genetically modified food, capturing the real-life experiences of the scientists, farmers, policymakers and grassroots activists on the front line of this controversy. Dr. Weasel weaves solid scientific knowledge into her gripping narrative about the real story behind the headlines and the hype. Seminal and cutting-edge, Food Fray enlightens and informs, allowing readers to make up their own minds about one of the most important health issues facing us today. Lisa H. Weasel, PhD is a renowned scientist who received a grant from the National Science Foundation to study the issue of genetically modified foods. Food Fray won The 2009 GreenBook Festival Award in the science category.

SIMPLY IN SEASON: Recipes that Celebrate Fresh, Local Food in the Spirit of More-with-Less by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman Wert (Herald Press) joins the locavore and slow food movement.

Simply In Season advocates eating food that is fresh and nutritious and using ingredients that are in sync with the seasons. Whether the produce you eat comes from a farmers market or your own garden, fresh local foods are good for the earth we share, and ultimately good for our health.

Does it really matter if we eat mass-produced food or organic, locally grown produce?

It matters a great deal, according to the authors. Each food purchase we make is like a vote for the way we want food to be produced—and for the world in which we want to live. Simply In Season does not offer all the answers, but it does offer a starting point encouraging us to feed both body and spirit with nutritious food. Woven through the recipe pages of each season are writing, tidbits of information to reflect upon while the onions sauté, the soup simmers or the bread bakes.

Kyra Davis, author of Lust, Loathing and a Little Lip Gloss. I never tire of Kyra Davis’ mystery series featuring the sassy Sophie Katz, who, like her creator, is half Jewish and half black.

The inimitable Sophie Katz is back together with her sexy private eye boyfriend she almost knocked off in Sex, Murder and a Double Latte, the debut novel that put Kyra Davis on the map and introduced millions of readers to the bi-racial, sassy Sophie Katz who can’t keep herself out of ghastly—or in the case of her new book—ghostly trouble.

In Lust, Loathing and a Little Lip Gloss, Sophie Katz can’t keep herself out of ghastly—or in the case of her new book—ghostly trouble. Her sexy sleuth of a boyfriend Anatoly plays second fiddle to a beautiful San Francisco Victorian with hard wood floors, crown moldings, and two car-parking for under a mil. In today’s housing market, the house of her dreams for a price that’s too good-to-be true is just too hard to give up, no matter how much the man of her dreams protests—and no matter how many ghosts from Sophie’s past turn up. And plenty do.

Lust, Loathing and a Little Lip Gloss is Kyra Davis’ best book yet. Sophie’s humorous insights on trendy and newsworthy issues such as the housing crisis—“Ghosts don’t have to deal with mortgage payments. Perhaps heaven is free quality housing”—reflects an acerbic wit combined with a perfectly paced mystery.

A blend of Mary Higgins Clark meets Bridget Jones, Lust, Loathing and a Little Lip Gloss is the novel that Sophie Katz fans have been waiting for, and the perfect introduction for new readers as well. It has everything a mystery fan could ask for: sex, murder, romance, a haunted house and suspense spiced up with lots of humor.

Sometimes a client offers a gift in the form of life-lesson. The 86-year- young Eugenia Lovett West is an inspiration to all of us who think it’s too late to pursue our dreams.

At the age of 81, Ms. West launched a mystery series featuring an attractive, feisty, stylish 40-something protagonist sleuth. Overkill, the second book in the Emma Streat series, which arrives in bookstores on the heels of the H1N1 virus, couldn’t be more timely. A mystery about a lethal global network that sells stolen viruses, the ramifications could be catastrophic to the entire planet if the thieves are not stopped.

Ms. West, who began writing murder mysteries after her husband of almost 60 years passed away, found writing an antidote to grief. “This is a great and productive time of life,” says the 86-year-young West.

In 2004, Ms. West entered a self-published mystery in a contest sponsored by St. Martin’s Press. She did not win the contest, but months later, Ms. West opened her e-mail to discover a message from a St. Martin’s editor offering her a two-book deal. Ms. West practically levitated out of her chair. “For a wannabe writer, it doesn’t get much better than that,” says Ms. West.

The first mystery in the series, Without Warning, featuring Emma Streat, was hailed by the late Dominick Dunne as “a fast-paced page-turner.” And Rebecca Sinkler, former editor of The New York Times Book Review, said “This snappy, fast-paced work will you reading late in the night. A delight.”

Emma Streat returns in Overkill due out this December, to discover that her beloved young niece Vanessa has made a rash decision to run off with a Don Juan and quit her opera career just as she is on the brink of international stardom. Determined to stop Vanessa from making a mistake, Emma arrives in Venice to discover Vanessa’s accompanist dead in his hotel room and her niece seriously ill on the brink of death. When Vanessa is diagnosed with the first case of Avian flu in the United States, Emma is soon on the trail of a dangerous international network that sells stolen viruses. She once again solicits the help of the same sexy British Bondish-like spy who seduced her in Without Warning, the first mystery in the series.

“I really like and admire my main character, Emma Streat, as she works through catastrophes, and I plan to keep her in my life with a third book,” says West.

“After a hard day, there is nothing like sitting down with an escape read that takes us out of our surroundings,” adds West. “This is what I try to create in my novels.”

On my birthday, Ms. West sent me a note that read, “The best is yet to come.” I think of her words often. Thank you, Eugenia, for showing me and all who know your story that you can lead a fulfilling life and overcome life’s challenges at any age.

Steven Raichlen, one of the country’s leading grillmeister, hit the ground running this year with the 10th Anniversary Edition of The Barbecue! Bible, which made him a household name. The Barbecue! Bible was followed with Barbecue USA, then How to Grill, and 6 more grilling books, but whose counting? This prolific cookbook author and grilling guru hosted Primal Grill, his own 13-part grilling series on PBS this summer and he hired me to promote it. What a mouth-watering experience it was to watch the master perfecting his art as he grilled mouthwatering Veal Chops Marinated with Catalan Vinaigrette, Smoke-Roasted Leg of Lamb Provencale, Butterflied Korean Short Ribs, Cedar-planked Wild Salmon with a Juniper and Wild Berry Glaze, Beef Brisket with Coffee Rub and Red-Eye Barbecue Sauce, Hellfire T-bone Steaks with Tarragon Butter, Basil-Grilled Tuna Steaks with Arugula Salad, Chicken Grilled Under Bricks, Grilled Zucchini and Yellow Squash with Greek Spices, Coconut-Grilled Pineapple, and so many more delicious dishes. One episode is enough to make you want to fire up your grill.

Lake Isle Press: Less is more applies to this publisher of the most exquisite cookbooks. Lake Isle publishes two or three cookbooks per season, which are exquisitely rendered. All of the cookbooks I have promoted feature beautiful full-color photographs with delicious recipes. This season I am delighted to be promoting SEAFOOD ALLA SICILIANA: Recipes & Stories From A Living Tradition by Toni Lydecker, which gives new meaning to Italian food. The seafood recipes featured in Seafood Alla Siciliana are simple to prepare and delicious to eat. It’s a seafood lovers dream come true.

This past spring I promoted Easy Gluten-Free Baking by Elizabeth Barbone, also published by Lake Isle. If you’ve ever tasted gluten-free baked goods, many have a strange flavor and texture. The good news is that the recipes in Easy Gluten-Free Baking are light, moist and tasty. I sampled the chocolate chip cookies and chocolate cupcakes, and I would have never known these baked good were gluten-free.

Dr. Scott Paton reminds us in his book, HEALTH BEYOND MEDICINE: A Chiropractic Miracle, of a simple truth: That if we make a habit of getting the proper nutrition, proper sleep, maintaining a positive mental attitude, daily exercise and incorporating chiropractic adjustments into our lives, we will live a healthier life, experience less illness, and age well.

In Health Beyond Medicine, Dr. Paton explains how a holistic, integrative approach to health care is essential in preventing illness. “The time for a more health oriented approach to maintain a balanced system is not after illness occurs, but long before your system has reached the point of extreme crises,” says Dr. Paton.

Dr. Paton’s holistic approach to medicine is one that we should all incorporate for the New Year.

To end the year, I launched a campaign for an exciting but disturbing thriller: Rogue Threat by A. J. Tata (Variance Publishers). A. J. Tata is a retired Brigadier General who commanded all of the troops in Afghanistan. New York Times bestselling author Brad Thor hailed A. J. Tata as “THE NEW TOM CLANCY.”

Rogue Threat is a thriller about how terrorists might be able to use high-tech weaponry and nanotechnology to all too easily launch a flurry of violent attacks throughout America’s heartland and bring the nation to the brink of chaos.

New York Times bestselling author James Rollins hails Rogue Threat as “Topical, frightening, possible and riveting.”

Variance Publishing is the new kid on the block. The company was launched in 2008 and already they have acquired several bestselling authors including Steven Savile. Stay tuned for Silver, his riveting thriller coming out in 2010 about a religious cult calling itself The Disciples of Judas who have planned a terrorist plot to bring down the Catholic Church. “Move over Dan Brown,” says Stel Pavlou, International Bestselling author of Decipher.

Bill Diffenderffer, the former CEO of Skybus Airlines and a business expert who is a major player in the global travel industry, wrote A Bank of Last Resort, a cautionary tale about the peril’s of a government takeover of the banking industry.

A Bank of Last Resort could have been written from today’s headlines. As a new President takes office in Washington, the country is reeling from an economy that is approaching depths not seen since the Great Depression. The financial industry is in big trouble and the new administration is insisting that all of the ten largest banks participate in the Federal Bailout program. What unfolds is an epic political and financial battle pitting the protagonist against the President’s Machiavellian adviser, the powers of an intrusive and controlling government against the ideals of free-market capitalism, the Leviathan against the American way of life.

Happy New Year to all of my authors who made 2009 a successful year filled with great reading. Stay tuned for more great books to come in 2010.


Thursday night my husband drove me down to Manhattan in the pouring rain to the apartment on West 79th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenue, my favorite neighborhood in the city. It was a bitter, gloomy night with pounding rain and strong gusts of wind, just the type of weather that induces you to stay indoors. When I first settled in the apartment, I wished I had stayed home. The producer from Fox & Friends had called me at 4:00 that afternoon to order car service which was scheduled to pick me up from the West-Side apartment at 5:30 the next morning. In fact, it was the producer who persuaded me to make the trip into the city even though she offered to have the car service pick me up from my home.

My husband, who had planned to join me for dinner on Sunday evening, had work to do was unable to join me. Friends in the city were all busy. I felt melancholic at the prospect of a lonely night in the city.

In my single days, I would have thought nothing about traipsing up and down Columbus Avenue by myself in search of a trendy restaurant and dining solo. So I switched mental gears, put on my raincoat, and afraid I would be taken for a tourist, hid my Zagats in my bag. As my umbrella blew inside out from the fierce wind, I walked past restaurants I had once dined at with dates from hell, reminiscing about my life as a single woman. Then I chanced upon Kefir, a Greek restaurant my husband had suggested.

I boldly walked into the crowded bar, the restaurant alive with the buzz that only a restaurant in Manhattan could have on such a stormy night. And I instantly felt at home.

I grabbed a chair at the bar, ordered an appetizer and entree that the bartender recommended, struck up a conversation with him and learned that he was writing a novel. I was charged with that energy that is so infectious in Manhattan—and that I hadn’t felt in a long time.

When I returned to the apartment, I was too wired to fall asleep, so I watched the remaining moments of Grey’s Anatomy. As I looked out of the huge bedroom window to the lit-up apartments across the street, I saw Grey’s Anatomy reflected through one window on a huge flat-screen TV and instantly felt connected in this city of a million strangers.

The next morning, at 5:15 AM, I received a call from the car service that a black limo was scheduled to pick me up on time at 5:30 AM.

Already dressed, I took one more look in the mirror, and left.

When I got into the limo, the driver said, “Fox studios?” I felt a sudden inner glow, a charged up sense of satisfaction mingling with pleasure and pride, as I thought to myself that I was the star of my own story. I experienced a swell of joy as we sped down an empty Columbus Avenue. It’s a rare city experience to be the only car traveling on a busy avenue in the pre-dawn hours that would be congested with bumper to bumper traffic in just a few hours.

I alighted from the limo, was escorted to the green room, and met Dr. Pryce, who had his own story to tell. His flight from Ohio had been delayed. He hadn’t arrived at his hotel until 3:00 in the morning. Sleep deprived and nervous, he was understandably anxious about how he would be able to discuss all the points he wanted to make in three-minutes, when another guest asked him about his book. Nothing like a dress rehearsal. Dr. Pryce was animated as he discussed the points he wanted to make, which he had written down and studied during the long delay in the airport, where he had re-read his book—advice I give to all authors. There’s nothing worse than to see all of your hard work go down the drain when an author can’t remember what he or she wrote in his or her own book.

The big moment arrived. Dr. Pryce got his three minutes of fame. The hosts, Steve Ducey and Gretchen Carlson put him at ease before the cameras starting rolling. Once on the air, they were enthusiastic about his book and well-informed, asking great, probing questions that elicited answers to showcase Dr. Pryce’s well-conceived health-care plan (If only Congress would read his book, I thought to myself). An author could not have asked for more. Dr. Pryce was right on the money as he explained his health plan. “Sounds so simple,” Steve Ducey said with a grin.

After the interview, like many people after a particularly great first date, Dr. Pryce replayed his appearance over and over again, wondering how he did. Standing in the wings of the set, where I could see and hear everything close-up, I was very pleased with his interview. But naturally, he still called his friends and family for feedback. He relived the interview during breakfast. And during lunch. And as I said goodbye to him in the hotel lobby.

I could see it would take sometime for the adrenaline rush to wear off.

As I headed back uptown, however, this time on foot, the only thought I had was getting some zzzzz’s.

It was back to the burbs for me. The night before already seemed like a fantasy. Reality would hit all too soon, when I would return to pitching more producers and editors. Trying for additional TV appearances and print placements. Facing rejection, or even worse, turning on my computer only to discover that not one of the hundreds of producers and editors I had e-mailed the day before had even responded.

But all those unanswered e-mails are well worth that moment’s glory when all of your efforts and hard work are met with one single e-mail: “We want to invite your author to be a guest on our show.”

All in a day’s work.


The big moment, or should I say, the big thrill, for any author, is when a national TV show comes a calling. It’s like that first date you’ve been waiting for: butterflies in your stomach every time the phone rings or you hear the click from your computer alerting you to a new e-mail.

And then the adrenaline rush when you first hear the good news from your publicist—a rush that continues before the appearance, creating the ultimate high authors feel during TV interviews on national TV (even on local TV, for that matter). And then moments after—or sometimes hours after—when the comedown replaces the adrenaline rush.

Working behind the scenes, a publicist also experiences similar symptoms. When a national show e-mails you that they want to invite your author for an interview, it’s like scoring a touchdown.. I’ve been known to scream, cheer, and make odd noises at my desk in an apartment with walls so thin I’m surprised my neighbors have never called 911.

Last week I received such an e-mail from a producer at Fox & Friends, who invited Dr. Michael Pryce to be a guest on the morning show this past Monday, October 12th.

Dr. Pryce is the author of a very timely book that is a must-read for anyone who is interested in health-care reform: ANATHEMA! America’s War on Medicine: A Veteran Doctor Offers a Cure for What Ails America’s Health Care System.

Dr. Pryce has been an orthopedic surgeon for more than 25 years. In ANATHEMA! America’s War on Medicine, Dr. Pryce exposes the untold story behind our present health-care crisis, outlines what is wrong with America’s health-care system, and offers a plan that will not only make health care affordable but will also offer universal coverage without raising taxes.

What makes this booking a coup for me is that it is the first time I’ve ever booked a self-published author on national television, which bodes well for future self-published authors whose books are timely and written well.

The day before the author’s appearance, however, I received a call from the producer. It was a Sunday morning, and I was driving to one of my favorite parks along the Hudson to take my morning walk before I headed into the city to stay at an apartment belonging to a friend of the author’s. He had graciously made arrangements for me to stay at the upper West Side so I would be able to accompany him to the Fox studios in the wee hours of the morning.

“Your author has been bumped due to breaking news,” the producer said. “Can he make it tomorrow?”

Dr. Pryce had re-arranged his schedule, which meant cancelling all of his office appointments for Monday.

“Tuesday he performs surgery. Wednesdays and Fridays are the best days.”

The producer hung up abruptly. He didn’t wait for me to tell him that the author was traveling from Ohio, and that he would need at least 48 hours notice before he would be able to appear.

That’s not unusual. I’ve had many national shows call me up, wanting an author to appear in studio the next day. When there is a breaking news story, producers will often call publicists at the last minute if they are representing an expert or related book on the subject of the breaking-news story. An author’s schedule or travel plans are of no concern to a producer who is working on a time-sensitive segment with a tight deadline: if the author wants to get on air, he needs to hit the road pronto and get in studio.

Many interviews are written, produced and scheduled less than 24 hours before that segment airs, and guests are often booked at the last minute. Even though these days cable shows have satellite hook-ups from major cities, a live show may want the guest to appear in studio, as was the case with Dr. Pryce. For an unknown author who wants to get his message out there and sell books, this is a great opportunity, and Dr. Pryce did everything he could to re-arrange his schedule for the second time in a week to make that in-studio appearance happen.

On the following Wednesday, I received a phone call from an excited Dr. Pryce that a producer from Fox & Friends called him directly to pre-interview him for an appearance on Friday morning at 6:15.

I wasn’t holding my breath, but this time it looked as if the interview would actually happen. On late Thursday afternoon, however, I received a call from the producer who had pre-interviewed Dr. Pryce. Oh, no, I thought. The interview is going to be cancelled again…



Your hometown, that is, if you are an author.

Last week, I attended a Farmer’s Market in Irvington, New York, the hometown of Toni Lydecker, whose new cookbook is SEAFOOD ALLA SICILIANA: Recipes & Stories From a Living Tradition.

Toni was selling her beautiful cookbook at the Irvington Farmer’s Market, giving out scrumptious samples of poached mackerel in olive oil served on crostini, prepared from a recipe in her book. She had purchased the mackerel from the fishmonger whose was selling his selection of the freshest fish at the booth next to hers.

People are always drawn to free food, and in this case, the food samples were so delicious that Toni sold two cartons of her $30.00 cookbook. There was a bitter, blustery wind blowing off the Hudson, which resulted in a smaller crowd than usual at this farmer’s market which is usually packed in the summer and early fall. Even so, Toni sold more than most authors do at similar out-of-town events.

I have set up many out-of-town author events only to hear an author complain that only one person showed up. This even happened to a bestselling cookbook author whose publisher had spent a lot of time and money preparing for a cooking demonstration in a highly visible well-trafficked kitchen store for that author. Other authors have told me that while there was a continual flow of traffic from people who wanted to sample free food, not one person bought their book.

The lesson, according to Toni Lydecker, is that one should focus publicity events in one’s hometown.

I not only encourage authors to do hometown events, but also to focus on their hometown media. Last winter, I promoted a haunting debut novel, THE TRICKING OF FREYA by Christina Sunley (St. Martin’s Press), about an immigrant family from Iceland who settles in North America. More Magazine hailed THE TRICKING OF FREYA as “an instant classic” and The Seattle Times compared Ms. Sunley’s work with that of Jhumpa Lahiri and Junot Diaz, two novelists who also write about the immigrant experience.

But it was her hometown newspaper that catapulted her book to the bestseller list. The San Francisco Chronicle ran a rave review of THE TRICKING OF FREYA and, a week later, it hit The Chronicle’s Bestseller List, where it remained for three weeks.

Newspapers often love to shine the spotlight on their local authors. The first question I am asked by a book or feature editor is if the author is local. The Chicago Tribune featured a profile story on Father’s Day about the father-son co-authors of TRUST ME: Helping Our Young Adults Financially, a self-published book. It is usually very difficult, if not impossible, to get print coverage from a top newspaper such as The Chicago Tribune for a self-published book, but the local angle trumped the self-published stigma that many self-published books have to bear.

In today’s media climate where it is more difficult than ever to get TV and print coverage, hometown media is an author’s best friend.

Frank McCourt and Me

I received an e-mail from an international bestselling author based in Spain seeking to hire me for his novel that was about to be published in the States. When I asked him how he had heard about me, he said Frank McCourt recommended me.

“Frank McCourt?” I responded with surprise. “But I don’t know Frank McCourt.”

The author said he and McCourt had met at a book event in Spain and that he asked McCourt to recommend a publicist in the United States. According to the author, Mr. McCourt replied without hesitation that I was the best publicist in Manhattan.

I was stunned, flattered and overwhelmed with emotion.

Frank McCourt won a Pulitzer in 1997 for his poignant and heart-wrenching memoir, Angela’s Ashes, which recounts his difficult childhood in Ireland. I had read Angela’s Ashes when it first came out and was not surprised when it won the Pulitzer in 1997. I thought it was well-deserved.

How had Frank McCourt heard about me? The author didn’t know. I did a web search for Mr. McCourt’s e-mail address to thank him, but it was not listed anywhere. I called his publisher, but the publisher would not give it out. After a futile search, I gave up.

Since then, I’ve received requests from other international bestselling authors whom I represented when their books were published in America.

Nick Stone, whose most recent thriller is The King of Swords (Harper; December 2008; Hardcover), is a household name in Britain, where his debut novel, Mr. Clarinet, received wide acclaim and hit the bestseller lists. Stone’s following in the States is growing. He continues to get rave reviews from the critics.

And bloggers everywhere, both here and abroad, continue to blog about his books, even almost a year after The King of Swords made its debut last December. Just recently, on September 10, I found a google alert for Blog A Book, which posted this comment:

"The King of Swords is a feat of black magic, combining a thrilling plot, unforgettable characters, and the uniquely menacing atmosphere that made Nick Stone's Mr. Clarinet the most celebrated crime debut of 2006."

Nick Stone lives in rain-drenched London but sets his thrillers in sunny Miami. Stone, who was born in Haiti, spends his vacations in the land of the sun which he fantasizes about from his overcast, drizzly London home when he writes his thrillers about the underbelly of Miami.

The King of Swords features a sinister killer who practices black magic and vodoo, and an evil fortune teller who plots the murders from what her Tarot readings reveal.

Mr. Stone told me that a tarot card reader eerily predicted his future, including when, where and how he would meet his wife, and what she would look like, and that he would become an author. He cleverly weaves the Tarot in his spellbinding thriller, which will send a chill up your spine. Autopsies of the murder victims reveal torn Tarot cards – The King of Swords – in the murder victims’ stomach.

Nick Stone’s much anticipated next book is due out in July 2010, and its exotic and forbidden setting will surely draw readers and expand his fan base.

This past Spring, another author, Stanley Trollip, contacted me from South Africa, about his novel, The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu, also published by Harper this past July. Stanley Trollip is the other half of the writing team, Michael Stanley. He and his co-author Michael Sears, received wide acclaim for their debut novel, A Carrion Death, which was nominated for many awards.

Set in Africa, The New York Times Book Review wrote:

“A first novel saturated with local color.
. . . Happily, Kubu is also hugely appealing—big and solid and smart enough to grasp all angles of this mystery. Readers may be lured to Africa by the landscape, but it takes a great character like Kubu to win our loyalty.”

The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu is set in Botswana against the backdrop of the war in Rhodesia 30 years ago and its ramification on Africa today. For those interested in the current turmoil in Zimbabwe, this book is a must-read and an entertaining way of learning about a continent paradoxically steeped in beauty but riddled with ugly violence. And fans of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency will surely love this series wonderful local color and characters by two authors who live in South Africa, and who were involved in the anti-apartheid movement.

For more about both authors, please visit my weblog at http://www.susanschwartzmanpublicity.com/

If anyone predicted twenty years ago, right before I was to embark on a career as an independent publicist, that I would be representing international authors from the comforts of my home office, I would have given them as much credibility to their prediction as I once did to the Tarot. When Nick Stone made a prediction last Spring, I heeded his words with a skeptic’s hope and a believer’s skepticism.

And if a Tarot card reader had predicted 20 years ago that the renowned Frank McCourt would be recommending me to an international bestselling author in Spain, I would have truly dismissed the reader as crazy.

I never did get to thank Frank McCourt. Unfortunately, the talented author passed away on July 19, 2009 at the age of 78.

Perhaps somewhere in cyberspace Frank McCourt’s cyber soul is reading this blog. Wherever you are in the universe, Frank McCourt, a heartfelt thank you.

Welcome To My New Blog

I have been an independent book publicist for almost 20 years, working behind the scenes, yet many don’t really know what goes on in a book publicist’s day. I recently wrote a piece, Send Cookies, for Your Shelf Life, and a producer from a nationally syndicated radio program responded, “Now I’m beginning to understand. Folks never talk about this part of the business.” So I have decided to offer an insider’s look at the book publishing business from the perspective of an independent book publicist.

Look for informative and entertaining stories about the book publicity business…anecdotes about the typical day in the life of a book publicist…the occasional book review or a favorite recipe or two… ruminations on my current reading… news about the books I am promoting…what really happens behind the scenes.

And there are so many stories to tell. Such as the story of an author’s worst nightmare—performing a cooking demonstration on live TV when the host offers a taste of her kid-friendly meal to a child on the set and he gags.

Other stories that shed light on the daily challenges a book publicist faces, especially this year, when publishers have slashed their budgets, making it more challenging for even the best of us to promote our authors as we would like.

Such as the day I received an e-mail from a publisher’s assistant who asked me if she could send half a book to reviewers. Will there be a new book award category, my partner asked, an award for “Best Half Book?”

Or the publisher whose advertising and publicity budget had been slashed, and had a very limited amount of review copies to send me. How do I explain to the author that the publisher will only send out review copies if I get a request from a media contact? And how do you get media placements without sending review copies?

A good publicist has to be able to think out-of-the-box. I am not a magician, however, who can pull books out of a box by waving my magic wand or get media coverage by simply wishing it to be so—even though I did read The Secret.

Still, I doggedly sent 50 e-mail pitches, creating a buzz about said book. And another 50. And another 50. Bingo: At 7:00 PM, when I am about to shut off my computer, there is an e-mail from a producer in Seattle requesting a copy of the book and asking me when the author is available for an interview.

Then, at four in the morning, I received a phone call from a talk show host who can’t sleep because his wife is away. He apologized profusely, and said he wanted to book an interview with the author.

Several months after the campaign was over, the author won a prestigious award. I extended her campaign, and booked her on almost two dozen radio interviews, including several NPR programs.

All in a day’s work. When you are an independent book publicist, your work is never done. There are good days and bad days, and then there are truly spectacular days such as when your French cookbook author invites you to her 17th Century Chateau in France for cooking classes as a reward for my promotion of her cookbook.

And then there was the memorable day I made a phone call to a book reviewer at The Wall Street Journal almost nine years ago that led to a lengthy phone friendship. And then we met. And then he moved in. And seven years later we got married.

And we have lived happily ever after.

So there are good days, and then there are even better days….

For more information about the books I’m promoting, please visit
http://www.susanschwartzmanpublicity.com/ and http://www.susanschwartzman.blogspot.com/

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