The All Things Book Marketing podcast is a popular biweekly show featuring book marketing and publicity tips from the top voices in the publishing industry. Be sure to subscribe so you never miss a new episode! Our Open Book series was established in 2022 and features interviews with Smith Publicity team members.
In this Open Book episode, Lydia Rasmussen from Smith Publicity’s Arts and Entertainment team discusses how she optimizes her time and balances her workload as a publicist. You don’t need to be a publicist to take advantage of the tips on timing, scheduling, and organization that Lydia shares in this can’t-miss episode!
First, a little background about one of our star publicists on the fiction team at Smith Publicity: Lydia got her start as a marketing coordinator at Cordo Publishing Group in 2017. While she was working there she was studying for her master’s degree in publishing and writing at Emerson College in Boston, which was a great help in learning the ins and outs of the publishing industry. After a few years, Lydia decided to make the switch from working in house at a publishing house to working for an agency, which brought her to Smith Publicity.
She acknowledges that working in house versus working at an agency is very different in terms of pace: at the publishing house, a publicist is juggling more books over the course of the year. At Smith Publicity, Lydia works on much longer campaigns that run over the course of several months and concentrates very closely on publicity for that book versus a more diluted focus on various forms of marketing including ad placements, giveaways, etc.
As a publicist, what are Lydia’s main responsibilities? She points out that reporting is one area that takes up much of her time, but is worth it because open, clear, and ongoing communication between a Smith Publicity publicist and their author is paramount; it’s one of several areas that really sets Smith Publicity apart as a book marketing agency. Aside from reporting, Lydia’s main focus each week is spreading the word about her client and getting them in front of journalists, connecting them to experts for upcoming articles, coordinating interviews for podcasts and other broadcast outlets, and more.
Focusing so heavily on getting great publicity for the books she works on has allowed her to really find a rhythm when it comes to her workday. In fact, All Things Book Marketing host Olivia McCoy refers to Lydia as a true “expert” at staying organized. How does she do it?
Lydia shares that her week actually starts on Friday, as Friday is the day she reserves for putting all of her reports together. Weekly reports are crucial for her authors because they communicate what their action items and deliverables are, and outlines upcoming deadlines. These reports help authors to feel consistently “in the know” when it comes to the progression of their book marketing campaign. Her authors a weekly report each Monday, which starts their week off on the right foot. They also receive a more in-depth biweekly report which keeps them abreast of which media outlets are interested in their book, who Lydia has reached out to, what angles she is currently using in her pitching, and much more.
After her reports are sent to her clients, Lydia spends Mondays and Tuesdays working on researching contacts and writing or following up with pitches, which are planned to go out either Tuesday or Wednesday. By midweek, she is typically coordinating incoming opportunities for her authors and taking meetings with her team to brainstorm additional opportunities and make sure all is on track for each client. Throughout the entire week, Lydia keeps on top of the news cycle, as well as newsletters from journalists to be sure she doesn’t miss a chance to connect her author with a media contact who might be a good fit.
When those types of opportunities with journalists do pop up, they are usually on a tight deadline and require both the publicist and author to act quickly. Lydia shares an example of a recent client who could speak on Damp Lifestyle, which was a trend the journalist was seeing on TikTok. Lydia connected her client with the journalist and within just a few hours, they were able to turn around commentary to fit into the journalist’s article. In these types of scenarios, acting quickly is critical – and it’s a lot easier to do so when the rest of the week is highly organized and running smoothly.
One way Lydia makes sure things stay on track is by using her inbox as a to-do list, going from the top to the bottom through items that need the most urgent care. She keeps a notebook of all of her author’s names and she makes sure to go down the line, checking that she’s done all of the research and pitching necessary for each project each week. Her calendar, which houses all of her meetings, report due dates, and deadlines, is also a must-have. Lydia says she “lives and breathes” by this well-oiled system of inbox, notebook, and calendar.
Even with all of these efficiency systems put in place, time can still get away so easily in the publishing industry and book marketing world. How does Lydia implement a work-life balance, which is also an important value for Smith Publicity and its team members?
Lydia shares that she implements these organization tools and work strategies in order to try to keep her workday to 9am-5pm. Not surprisingly, as with many team members at Smith Publicity, one of Lydia’s loves is her animals: each day she makes sure to spend time playing outside with her dog, cat, and chickens – yes, chickens!
Some other ways Lydia enjoys spending her free time are by baking and reading cookbooks. She also enjoys meeting with her Tolkien writing group called Project Northmore the first Sunday of each month to partake in writing exercises and discuss the fantasty genre. As one can imagine, Lydia is especially excited when she gets to work to publicize a cookbook or fantasy book.
Though she can be caught checking back in on her phone, making sure nothing slips through the cracks even after business hours, she maintains that managing her work-life balance is a priority. Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way, but it is Lydia’s goal as she knows when she is well-rested and her personal cup is filled, she is able to pour even more into her clients and do her (often fast-paced, high-stress) job to the best of her ability.
“Those things – getting fresh air, taking care of my animals, and pursuing my creative interests – keep me grounded,” she says.
You can connect with Lydia on LinkedIn and follow her on Instagram at @dot.blueberry.