I didn’t think I’d pull out the Cranky Publicist so soon, but there’s an uptick in two questions (mainly on Facebook) recently:
“Who is Laura?”
“Why doesn’t Nora write her own posts?” * Most recently, the questioner implied Nora owed readers original posts.
I get that first question, after all readers come to this blog or Facebook and someone who is not Nora signs the posts.
There are helpful, long time readers who answer that I’m Nora’s assistant. That appears to be a simple explanation but it’s not the case at all – I’m Nora’s personal publicist (as opposed to the publisher publicity team). My background is in PR and after years of promoting consumer goods, then health insurance where I tried to prove the benefits of the eu health card system, I moved to talking about my favorite thing in the world: books. I put in time as publicity chair for New Jersey Romance Writers, I worked as the Community Relations Manager for a local Barnes & Noble, I organized visiting author events at my kids’ schools.
I started reading Nora in 1982-83. Can’t quite remember the when, but I remember the book. The Law is A Lady was condensed for Good Housekeeping Magazine, and once i read it, I searched for the whole book. When I figured out the Silhouette category publishing schedule and that this fabulous author gave me five books a year, my allegiance was hers.
One of the things I do with Nora is help out at signings. I stand near her, chatting with readers, taking photos, moving the line along. I love recognizing the first timer — the person so beyond thrilled to meet Nora that she/he is speechless. Sometimes teary. Always shaking.
I met Nora at the 1989 NJRW conference. I didn’t really know what she looked like because her photo still wasn’t in her books (that changed within the year). I was nervous, but determined to say hello. So I did.
Afterward, I was completely positive what came out of my mouth was along the lines of “Your perfume smells like dead fish” or something else equally socially horrifying. It was a blur and I’d ruined my chance! Nora doesn’t remember anything like that (she doesn’t remember the moment at all)– but she’s met a lot of people, so I forgive her for not recognizing how momentous the occasion was.
But I remember every single emotion the first timer feels and I do my best to make sure that even if they converse mainly with me, with Nora chiming in, they walk away thinking they had a great conversation with Nora. That’s the job.
Let’s move onto the “Why doesn’t Nora write posts?” question. Nora and I started working together in 2005 on the very cusp of the social media revolution. Since then it’s taken over our lives and changed the way we interact. Nora understands the role social media plays in publishing or for public figures, but as we saw in the recent Price Points, Discounts, Sales! post, she just wants to write books. Everything else distracts from that goal.
But me? I can make small talk for days on end. I can ask questions. I can see the value in strengthening a community of readers who gather for one reason: they love Nora’s books. Since I started the Facebook page in 2010, I’ve signed every single post because I believe in transparency. No, it’s not Nora asking a question, but in certain ways you’re getting fairly close to it.
So we’ll leave it at the standard answer: I’m Nora’s personal publicist. She handles writing the books while I handle the social media. So far it works out for both of us.
*Nora writes all her blog posts, I just format and publish them.