This week's winner of our "15K" contest is LAUREN CERAND! (Her recent Poets and Writers article, which mentioned She Writes, did the trick.) SW Founder Kamy Wicoff asked her Five Questions: invite writers to join SW, and next week, and we will feature you.
Lauren Cerand is an independent public relations representative specializing in strategic consultation. She has been called one of the “cultural gatekeepers in the literary world” by Time Out New York and the “Best of New York” by The Village Voice. She regularly speaks to audiences, including Book Expo America in New York (watch online) and Penguin Books in London (watch online).
Kamy Wicoff: I think many of us authors don't understand the difference between publicists and marketers. Can you explain, and clarify what you do?
Lauren Cerand: Publicists focus on editorial coverage and critical reception. Marketers buy advertisements, or promote to a specific audience.
Kamy Wicoff: What drew you to working with authors and creatives, like filmmakers?
Lauren Cerand: Every now and then, like when I was just looking at apartments, or when I get tired of flying coach, I think about cashing in, and then I'll go and dip my toe in that pool and dive right back into the deep end. I cannot tolerate unenlightened conversation for more than twenty minutes, much to the detriment of my preferred style.
Kamy Wicoff: Any good war stories? Triumphs or defeats, and lessons learned?
Lauren Cerand: The best triumphs are when a book is utterly down and out and you bring it back to life. You can't rejoice in them too much, because so many of the breaks in my business are the lucky kind, even if it does take a special kind of awareness to spot them first. The best lesson I've ever learned is that things change, constantly, and you have to focus on creating and sustaining positive momentum. And that really, truly, believing in something –– and not wasting your time, or anyone else's –– will get you most of the way there.
Kamy Wicoff: Can good publicity change the fortunes of a not-so-good book? Can a great book go unnoticed because the publicity wasn't good?
Lauren Cerand: Great books fail to escape the obscurity of their origins all the time. And, obviously (Snooki, Dewey the Library Cat, I'm looking at you), other things are rendered much larger in the public consciousness than some of us would perhaps prefer. You can't get caught up in that calculus, though. My core belief is that anyone who loves something enough to write a book around it and go through all the work to get published can at least spend a little time trying to find the others, so to speak. I understand why authors feel lacking in confidence when it comes to marketing their own work, but frankly, if you've written a book on a subject, you're the expert. While I can show someone how to use technology more effectively, or connect with existing networks, the passion a writer feels is the selling point.
Kamy Wicoff: Who are you working with now? Link to anything or anyone you like -- authors, your webinar, your blog -- you earned it!
Lauren Cerand: I have a lot going on, as ever: Barnes & Noble's Upstairs at the Square, the Author's Guild gala, new books from Meg Cabot and Tayari Jones, developing a national platform for landscape designer and urban planner Diana Balmori, and more. My current projects are listed at LaurenCerand.com. I've just written an article for Poets & Writers, and I continue to get very affirmative feedback on the webinar I did for SheWrites, which looks to be turning into a classic. Right now, I'm building up my micro-consulting business, which allows me to work with a broader audience on a scale that is affordable and meaningful.
Anyone who contacts me and specifically mentions She Writes between today and Memorial Day can have a one-time strategic consultation for $250, half-off the usual price.
Editors note: It must be said that almost two years ago now, when She Writes was merely a twinkle in Kamy and Debbie's eyes, Lauren was the one who told them they ought to have a feature called Five Questions. It is super-rad that we now have the opportunity to feature in what has become one of our most popular regular posts.