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Meet the Team: Elena Meredith

POSTED BY prbythebook ON March 8, 2017

Elena MeredithI’ve worked in publishing for just over a decade—a predetermined fate, being born into a family of book evangelists. (Anyone in Minnesota who has read James Herriot has probably done so at the urging of my dad.) I’ve worked as an author’s research assistant, in-house in the PR and marketing department of a children’s educational publisher, and on the agency side as a senior publicist for PR by the Book since 2013.

Occasionally people ask me, “How do you work with all those crazy authors?” I’m not sure whom they’ve met, but I think there’s less ego involved in publishing than in other industries. Authors are my favorite people to work with—they’re humble, incredibly hardworking and, most importantly, they’re doers, not talkers. Book people are very mission-driven.

Recent Campaigns

I’ve been working on a book for Patagonia called Tracking Gobi Grizzlies: Surviving Beyond the Back of Beyond by Douglas Chadwick, a frequent National Geographic contributor.

The book is about the world’s rarest bear population in Mongolia, and in my first conversation with Chadwick he told me all he wants is for the book to get enough recognition to catch the eye of the Mongolian government, in the hopes that they’ll throw a little gas money at the rangers working on the Gobi Bear Project. How can you not be motivated by that?

I’ve been targeting conservation and wildlife media, and have booked coverage with a lot of Montana media (North American bear country), PRI’s Living on Earth, Defenders magazine, Shelf Awareness, Foreword Reviews, and am in talks with Outside and Scientific American. Chadwick is on tour with 10+ events, and we’re starting to see donations come into the Gobi Bear Project (www.gobibearproject.org) as a result.

I do believe that books can change the world, and this project has been incredibly gratifying to be a part of.

On a related topic, I’m working with Dr. Jeffrey Bennett on A Global Warming Primer: Answering Your Questions about The Science, The Consequences, and The Solutions.

Jeff has been touring the country giving a series of talks called “Global Warming Demystified” and has sold out several planetariums and other venues. Finding solutions to climate change gets more and more urgent every year, so it’s been heartening to see the public interest in Jeff’s talks on the topic.

 

 

Recent Top Media Hits 

There is a happy dance that occurs every time I book any kind of public media—the producers and hosts at PBS, NPR and PRI do such a thorough and thoughtful job reporting on the issues, and they make your authors feel listened to. I enjoyed working with Steve Curwood’s team at PRI’s Living on Earth (which is broadcast on over 250 stations nationwide) on Douglas Chadwick’s interview.

The folks at Fast Company are incredibly professional to work with (even when you’re emailing back-and-forth at 9:00 pm), and their site is so well designed, I always trust that they’ll make my client look good. I worked with their Leadership editor on running an excerpt from Patagonia’s Family Business last summer, which had a viral impact on our campaign for that book.

Slate.com also ran a related piece on Family Business, and I was so tickled by the headline the editor came up with. 

I worked with Epoch Times for the first time last summer (an English-language paper published by Chinese-Americans, distributed in 35 countries; the paper has a circulation of 1.3 million, their website has 3.5 million UVM), and my pitch resulted in a surprise four-in-one hit for Andrews McMeel’s Salt & Silver: Travel, Surf, Cook. The editor of their Taste section ran a feature on the book, both in the print newspaper and online with two additional links to recipes from the book.

I’ve also placed clients in Esquire, CNN, Entertainment Weekly, Foreword Reviews, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, MindBodyGreen, Nerdist, Parade, Parents, Popular Science radio, Publishers Weekly, Psychology Today, Rolling Stone, Shelf Awareness, Sirius XM, Village Voice, VICE, Washington Post.

What are the genres you love working on?

I primarily enjoy working on issues-based nonfiction, covering topics such as the environment, science, wildlife, education, self-help, parenting, addiction and recovery, health and fitness. I’m also a sucker for coffee table books (I finally bought steel bookcases for my home office due to the number of 5-lb. books I own – on art and photography, architecture, pop culture, the outdoors). Those big, photo-rich books are an easy pitch to print magazines.

I love working with outdoorsy authors and living vicariously through their stories of climbing Cerro Torre or surfing the North Shore. The more averse they are to email and social media, the more useful I feel. Also, surfers and alpinists are very agreeable clients. When you ride 40-ft. waves for a living, you don’t really sweat the small stuff.

In my free time, I read a lot of narrative nonfiction, mostly memoirs, and travel essays. Some of my favorites are Winterdance by Gary Paulsen, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, Where the Dead Pause and the Japanese Say Goodbye by Marie Mutsuki Mockett, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman, and The Calling by Barry Blanchard. My favorite fiction writers are Charles Baxter, Ernest Hemingway, Pam Houston, Sandra Cisneros and Raymond Carver.

What is your #1 tip for Authors + Publishers?

My advice to authors: don’t rush the process.

Books are a marathon effort, not a sprint. To illustrate in numbers, that’s 41,920 meters vs. 100 meters—there is a very different type of prep that happens for each of those. Take the time to do things right. The timing crunch often has the largest impact on your book’s opportunities with media. Reviewer timelines don’t change just because you’re in a hurry.

Another tip for authors: start building your bio.

Learn to write an article for media before you write your book. When you do release your debut book, editors and producers will pay more attention to an author who has, for example, written for The Rumpus, Washington Post, or Orion, or is a regular contributor to Huffington Post.

My advice to publishers: pad your publishing schedules.

Many things have changed with the growth of self-publishing and hybrid publishers, but book trade review schedules remain the same. Sure, there are more short turnaround opportunities with online media, but most book reviewers and print magazines still need to see galleys four months ahead of the pub date, and final copies one month ahead of the pub date.

 

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