Helene assists the marketing team in securing events and media coverage for our authors upon release.

Public relations (PR) is arguably the most crucial piece of a book’s launch. PR connects authors to the audiences they care about and helps those audiences discover great new books to read. From media outreach to bookstore signings, Ballast Books works with our authors to leave no stone unturned, and Helene Webb is one of our marketing team members heading up that pitching charge.

Helene joined the team in October 2023 and has been working directly with our authors since. She brings a wealth of experience in journalism to Ballast and quickly grew from a marketing assistant role to specializing in PR. When it comes to day-to-day pitching, Helene is the one interfacing with writers and podcast hosts to land features for Ballast titles.

She’s always happy to talk about her passion for author promotion, so we delved deeper into Helene’s background and how she’s putting her best foot forward at Ballast.

Helene, give us a crash course in who you are.

The most important thing to know is that Helene is pronounced huh-lane-uh. It’s in my email signature; I won’t let you forget it. The second most important thing is that I’m a proud Florida State University alumna—go Noles! I graduated in 2023, so I’m still young, but I am a mom . . . to a sixteen-year-old chihuahua named Tony Stark.

You speak fondly of your time in college. What experiences did you have there that prepared you for a career in publishing?

I saw college as my chance to check out every single thing I was interested in. I was a communications major, which is a wide umbrella, so I did internships in politics, editing, and marketing, and I eventually realized that my skills were somewhere in the middle of all of that. I’m an avid reader and a people person, so of course, publishing is my sweet spot. It’s where I get to help authors achieve their goals through a combination of all types of outreach.

So, you come from an editorial background. Tell us more about that and why you decided you’re more suited to marketing than editing—as we know, both are essential to the publishing process.

I’ve always loved writing, and I wanted an outlet for that in college, even though it wasn’t my main field of study. I joined our campus magazine team as a staff writer and worked my way up through the ranks. As a senior, I was editor in chief, and I also served as an advisor to other campus publications across the country.

It was really unique and cool to be on the forefront of young, local news like that, but I found that the part of the job I loved the most was just getting to know my writers and editors and fostering their own growth, whether that was uncovering a love for journalism or just collecting new skills for their résumé. What’s most satisfying to me is sitting back and being proud of someone else, not working on a project myself.

What does a day in the life of a PR specialist at Ballast Books look like? How do you take the skills you have from your journalism background to make connections for our authors?

It’s all about making contacts and crafting the perfect pitch. Of course, we have access to certain platforms and software for finding those contacts, but we also do a lot of deep, deep research. If an author says, “I want to be on business leadership podcasts,” we find every quality podcast we can. When I’m writing the pitch, I try to home in on why our author is a great fit for that podcast. Maybe something in their background is particularly suited to the podcast’s typical topics of discussion or their book has original advice to share.

My writing skills help with the pitch, of course, but it’s easier for me to put myself in a journalist or media professional’s mind and understand what I’d want from a pitch—what information is essential to include to position our authors the best we can.

If I’m not making new contacts, I’m following up with old ones. You can count on Ballast to never let a lead go dry. We want to get you in front of the media as much as you do.

What would you say to authors who think that their book will “sell itself”? Why is expert PR essential?

No book sells itself. Think about how many are being published every single day! Having a professional team like Ballast on your side is the best way to stand out in the noise. We really get to work with you one-on-one to learn your goals in publishing your book and develop a strategy that will get you there. Bigger publishers and imprints use the same marketing plans over and over for all their books because it’s what they think works. But Ballast knows that no two books are alike. Your book and your goals are individual, so our marketing plans always are too.

No matter who you want to target with your book, there is a platform out there that’s perfect for you. Do you know how many podcasts there are just about the Chicago Cubs? Expert PR puts you in front of the people who are going to love your book. They certainly exist, but odds are you’ll need help finding them.

Contact Ballast Books today to hear more about how we can market and distribute your manuscript.

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