Celebrating one more hard-working winner of The Unsung Heroes of Publishing 2018 – Sophie Goodfellow. We asked her to tell us about the world of publicity and what is has to offer, as well as her contribution as a judge on the CWA Short Story Dagger award. For a complete list of #UHoP18 winners please see more here.
Tell us about yourself and your role. How did you get into publicity?
I’ve always wanted to work in publishing, from the moment I realised it was a career option. After university, I was offered a communications internship in a financial PR agency. I enjoyed the communications element – the finance, not so much. When that came to an end, I decided to make a real effort to find a communications role in publishing. I was offered a job in a boutique publishing PR agency called EDPR, and was there for almost five years, working with some incredible writers. Last year, I moved to the arts communications consultancy FMcM Associates, where I continue to work primarily on wonderful books of all genres, as well as larger arts projects, such as prizes and festivals.
Can you tell us a little bit about what your role encompasses on a day to day basis?
A standard day for me can include anything from creating press materials for a book and brainstorming feature ideas for my author, to pitching interviews and embarking on an author tour; or even, just recently, filming a promotional video for a project with a class of 10-year-olds!
What do you regard as the most gratifying, and most challenging aspect of the work you do?
Even after 6 years, I still feel a thrill when I see a piece of hard-earned coverage that I’ve secured in print, or when listening to a radio interview with an author that I’ve organised. I love that I can help create awareness of a new author or bring a new audience to an established writer.
The most challenging aspects can be the flipside of that – you might be working on the most perfect title that you’ve completely fallen in love with, but for whatever reason, it’s not being picked up. Those are the moments where you need to think laterally, go back to the book, work out less obvious publicity angles and persevere.
You’ve worked on a number of exciting projects. Tell us about one of your favourites.
That’s like asking me to choose between my book-children! I’m currently working on an exceptional historical novel called Little, about the life of Mme Tussaud. It’s published in October, and I can’t wait for everyone to read it – it’s like Hilary Mantel meets Mervyn Peake. I’ve also been lucky enough to work on Esther Freud’s debut play Stitchers – a terrific play, and an exciting new challenge.
You have a particular passion for crime titles and have also been a judge on the CWA Short Story Dagger. How was that experience?
It’s great to be able to do something a bit different – and a good excuse to hang out with crime writers, who tend to be the most fun. It involves a lot of reading, and – if you’re me – extensive note taking. There are always some passionate yet pleasant discussions around the shortlist and selecting a winner, which always turns out to be harder than you think it’ll be. This year was particularly tricky – the standard seems to get higher every year.