Behind the Scenes: Meet My Publicist at Penguin, Milena Brown!

Continuing in my series of “behind the scenes” of book publishing (or maybe I should call this, “beyond the pages?”), I’m excited to introduce you all to my lovely publicist at Penguin, Milena Brown. I adore her (and not just because she knows how to rock a great scarf!). Milena handles all the details of publicity for my books, and don’t you just love how my latest novel has a face out spot on her bookshelf!? She’s 100 percent gracious about answering all of my sometimes-annoying and needy-author questions, and she handles the big things (talking to bigtime media professionals) and the little things (booking my hotels and flights for upcoming tours) with perfect amounts of patience, savvy and kindness. (Someone give this gal a raise!) I thought you would enjoy reading my recent Q&A with Milena: Sarah: You are living the dream—working as a book publicist in NYC (a career so many people would die for!). How did you achieve your career goals? Milena: It is a dream job; especially working with a company as prestigious as Penguin. I really encourage people to try and make a living out of a hobby. My hobby has always been reading since I can remember, and being able to turn my love for books into a career is a joy. Knowing that the book publishing industry was predominately based in New York City, I moved here from California a year out of college. I started as an entertainment publicist because I didn’t know a soul in book publishing and entertainment in Los Angeles was so prevalent. After being completely unhappy in entertainment, I decided to finally pursue book publishing any way I can. I networked like crazy, even taking positions that had nothing to do with publicity just to get my foot in the door. I made the necessary contacts with publicity at various publishing companies, proved myself and now I’m in a career that suits me perfectly. Sarah: Tell us about a day in the life of a book publicist! All the glamorous (and non-glamorous details, please!) I am what you would call a cheerleader for my authors. Sarah: Yes you are. Just the other day you cheered me up! Ha! Milena: In a nutshell I promote books and authors, but my typical day always consists of 3 things: reading, writing and communicating. I’m constantly drafting letters and publicity materials for various media representatives whether it is for broadcasting, print or online.  I am in constant contact with producers, editors and writers on a daily basis on behalf of books and authors I represent. I handle publicity campaigns from beginning to end: speaking directly to magazine editors to scheduling author book tours (from booking airlines to hotels, which would count as the un-glamorous part). My job is essentially to get people excited about a book and it makes my work that much more fulfilling when someone matches my enthusiasm. Sarah: What gets you really excited in any given day? I’d love to hear about the things that make you do a happy dance at your desk. Milena: Writers are the most talented people in the world and it’s such an honor to be able to interact with authors on a regular basis in which I’m also a fan.  Every season there are books that I’m really eager to be working on. However, there are two things that literally make me do the happy dance at my desk: overdose of caffeine and when someone from a very important media outlet calls whether it be the New York Times or TODAY Show—you tend to drop everything your doing when those phone calls come in. Sarah: Tell us about a few of the campaigns you’re working on right now! I’m working on a few November/December campaigns that encompasses a wide variety of topics and genres. Of course, I’m working on a beautiful novel for January…The Bungalow. Sarah: I may be partial, but I hear that’s a pretty good novel! OK, really, what else are you excited about? Milena: A wonderful holiday book The Puppy That Came for Christmas, which is sure to be stocking stuffer. The World in 2050, a non-fiction book that predicts what will happen if we continue with demographic, climate and global trends…scary stuff! And You’re (Not) The One – a hilarious novel on a woman who thinks she’s found “The One,” but the romance takes a turn for the worse. Sarah: Ooooh, those sound great! Will be keeping my eyes peeled. OK, so we’ve talked about the fact that we’re both fueled by coffee, so I have to know: What’s your espresso drink of choice and do you have a favorite NYC café where you always start your day? I think coffee literally flows through my veins. Sarah: Me too. You’d be at home here in Seattle. Milena: My favorite coffee is one that isn’t even sold in the states (I know…I go to extremes for good coffee). My mother is from Puerto Rico and lives in California. Her aunt in Puerto Rico ships a box filled with packages of coffee called “Mami” and my mom sends me a good 6 month supply. I make it the “old school” way—in a stove-top espresso pot and warm the milk separately in a saucer.  Despite that, I still have a favorite NYC coffee spot—Café Lalos. Their cappuccino is heaven in a cup. If they had a location near the office, I would be there everyday…until then, Dunkin Donuts it is. Their coffee is on point. I can’t complain. Sarah: Now I’m craving coffee! OK, so when you’re not reading a book, what magazine are you reading cover-to-cover these days? (You know, I’m a magazine junkie, as it’s where my career began!) Milena: I am obsessed with Bon Appétit! I am always in search of new recipes and they also have great ideas for dinner parties and entertaining at home. We subscribe to a good amount of magazines here at the office and … Continue reading Behind the Scenes: Meet My Publicist at Penguin, Milena Brown!