Cathleen Kenney is an Associate Publicist at Flatiron Books.
What are some of your job responsibilities?
My main responsibility is working on four to six publicity campaigns for our frontlist books each season. Under that umbrella, I’m responsible for writing galley letters, curating media contact lists, writing pitches about the books, working with authors on original pieces to pitch to the media, sending out press releases, submitting our books for awards, and organizing (now virtual) author events. Pre-COVID, I also booked author travel, set their tour schedules, and organized in-person stock signings at stores. Additional responsibilities include liaising with freelance publicists who are working on campaigns for our other books, submitting invoices for processing, and other day-to-day administrative stuff.
How did the classes you took during your time in the program prepare you to work in the industry?
My classes at Pace were invaluable in learning about the book publishing industry! As a publicist, it feels really great to have a well-rounded grasp on how many different things go into making a book a success. It makes working with other departments much easier because I actually know what they’re responsible for and how hard they’re also working to get our books out there!
What were some of the highlights during your graduate experience?
The classes I took were a dream come true because I was finally in a program completely dedicated to the career I had always wanted! Everything excited me, from communications to marketing to learning about how paper is made.
Did you have an internship? If so, what was it and how did it prepare you for your current position?
I worked at two internships during my time at Pace: a six-month internship with Publishers Weekly, and a two-semester internship at Flatiron Books. Publishers Weekly was my first internship and it was so fascinating to see it from the side of a publication covering the publishing industry. I learned a ton about the lead time for book reviews and what editors are looking for, and I was really able to familiarize myself with the types of books different imprints published (I worked in the book room where all review submissions came in, so I got to see it all). I later started at Flatiron Books as a publicity intern for the fall (and stayed for the spring… and until they hired me full time). There, I learned about pitching books to the media and organizing author tours. It was also a really valuable experience working at an actual publishing company for the first time. My favorite thing to do was just sit in on any and all meetings to soak up as much information as possible!
What advice do you have for current students in the program?
If you’re a current student in the Pace program I would say that it’s really essential to try and build relationships with publishing professionals. Whether it’s asking a speaker from one of your classes for an informational interview over coffee or following editors at different imprints on social media, that’s really the best way to keep up with the industry and learn about the day-to day stuff that is so important. So, don’t be afraid to reach out to people.
Where do you hope to see yourself in five to ten years?
In five years, I would hope to be working as a senior publicist or publicity manager, which would mean taking on books with larger publicity campaigns and hopefully overseeing the work of others in some capacity. Following that, I would love to work my way up to a directorial position overseeing my own department and perhaps something that allows me to work in tandem with publicity and marketing.
What are your favorite aspects of the publishing industry?
I love the sense of community that’s built in this industry because it’s centered around one thing: books! Everyone who works in publishing loves books, loves reading, and loves sharing that with the world. It’s really special to be part of something like that.
What are you reading right now? Either for work or for pleasure.
I’m currently reading Severance by Ling Ma (I know, I’m late – but it’s especially chilling to be reading it now!) I’m also always reading one or two books for work at a time.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Support your local bookstore!