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I want to be… a publicity manager

Thank you, Charlotte Hutchinson, for your excellent second People of Publishing post! Charlotte is Publicity Manager at John Murray Press, and here she tells us about what her role actually entails.

Before you got into the industry, did you have any preconceptions about what it would be like to work in a publishing house? And is it what you were expecting?

My only preconception was Bridget Jones fannying around with press releases… and it’s quite different to that. I do fanny around with press releases a lot but I do MUCH more.

It’s what I hoped for and much more – it’s hard work but it’s fun and creative and not many people can say that about their job!

Also you won’t be sat at your desk reading, you’re taking the reading home with you!

Can you walk us through a typical working day?

Every day can vary quite a lot, but generally I’ll start the day going through my inbox and responding to anything urgent, getting back to authors and journalists, and flagging any tasks for later. Then I’ll consult my big title-by-title to-do list (which I edit every Friday as my final task) and plan my day from there.

This will likely involve pitching an author for press slots, compiling a proof mailing list, organising author schedules, compiling publicity updates, attending company-wide, cross-departmental and departmental meetings, writing press releases and much, much more.

What is the most satisfying part of your job?

Seeing a feature I’ve organised appear in print is SO GOOD and, of course, if an author is happy, I’m happy.

What is the least satisfying part of your job?

Pitching a book you think is brilliant everywhere and nothing coming back. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen and that can be for any number of reasons.

What are some of the skills that a publicity manager will develop?

  • Communication first and foremost – you’ll learn how to communicate effectively in-house, to authors and agents and to journalists – and each of these requires different tact.

  • Multi-tasking! I can be working on a book due to publish in two weeks’ time, as well as a book publishing in a year’s time and all the months in-between. You have to be extremely organised.

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to work in Publicity?

Consider whether it’s really for you – in normal non-covid times you could be travelling a lot with your author. Are you comfortable pitching to press and advocating for your authors both in-house and externally?

And have an awareness of the press landscape – read the papers and listen to the radio shows. It’s obvious when you don’t. GOOD LUCK!

Charlotte Hutchinson on Twitter.

John Murray Press on Twitter.

John Murray Press website.


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