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Interview with Book Publicist Charlie Barrett



Today we’re speaking to book publicist Charlie Barrett who is the owner of his own publicity company, The Barrett Company based in Los Angeles, California.  Charlie has been instrumental in launching the careers of many authors including Ed McMahon of The Tonight Show.  Charlie talks about why he chose book publicity as his chosen field and how authors can market their books.

Thank you for this interview, Charlie.  Can we begin by having you tell us why your chosen field is book publicity?

Charlie: I was always an avid reader from the time I was in grade school and also developed a need to write down short, fictional stories. In high school I got the highest grade in my freshmen class on the “David Copperfield” test. Later  I became a reporter in college and then a professional one in New York, Los Angeles.  I have always read books. It was a natural for me I guess as a writer to become a book publicist too. It was never really a choice I think  to become a book publicist since my decision I think segued from my need to read books. I always keep a book on tap… I love books.

Can you tell us about your publicity company and its focus?

Charlie: The Barrett Company markets and publicizes books, television shows and theatrical motion pictures.  We opened the doors in 1992 and have served a variety of  trade publisher authors like Ed McMahon to self-published authors like Philadelphia sci-fi writer Mike D-Ambrosio and many, many others. Our first book client was Hollywood producer Marty Jurow, who did such movies as “Breakfast at TIffany’s. Marty’s book “See In’ Stars: A Show Biz Odyssey” on SMU Press became a best seller. For 2011 we already have signed on author Warren Adler, who penned “The War of the Roses” and writer Carla Malden, the daughter of actor Karl Malden who has written a new book called “Afterimage” for Globe Pequot.

Can you please explain what a publicist does for authors and their books?

Charlie: We develop  and execute complete marketing and publicity campaigns for authors from helping an author create a professonal, media appealing press release to setting up virtual author tours to pitching radio and TV producers for bookings to setting up book signing venues to speaker engagements to help with book distributors to creating a presence at book festivals and other points of promotion as well. Each campaign is custsomized to an author’s needs and budget. We offer packages as low as $500 for a one time “jump start” plan.

What are some of the most recent books you’ve worked on?

Charlie: One of the most successful holiday books we represented was Kristy Haile’s “I Am Santa.” She did countless radio interviews,  secured some top book reviews and some top TV too, including KTLA News in Los Angeles which was syndicated to other Tribune owned TV stations. We are waiting on a date for a guesting on “Oprah” for client and entrepreneur Gary Fong of “The Accidental Millionaire” too.  USA Today and the New York Times are reviewing Ms Malden’s book

“Afterimage”…we just sent both newspapers advance copies of the book coming from Globe Pequot Press this spring. Ms Winfreys new OWN cable network is looking for author guests and we have submitted several books to her producers.

What advice would you give an author on how to market their books?

Charlie: Study and know the publishing marketplace before setting out to market your book. Understand the basics from the ground up. A good and dedicated web site for a book is a must. Without one an author’s marketing efforts will not succeed. Self-published authors can sometimes have very grandiose expectations when they release their book, selling if off their web site. Marketing a book is a collective effort that can take 3 to 6 months or longer. Marketing a book is a job cut out for a professional marketing expert and authors can learn from these professionals. Some authors who self-publish expect friends “reviews” on Amazon to have a huge impact on book sales. Sadly they rarely if ever do. Media does not take these kind of “reviews” seriously.  Home town press can sometimes be very welcoming to local authors. I urge authors to seek attention with their local newspapers, radio and TV stations to see if they can generate interest in their work. But I often find these efforts come off as “self-promotion” and can turn even local media off.

Do you recommend hiring a publicist rather than taking on promoting your book yourself?

Charlie: I have never once seen an author successfully do their own national or global book PR. Once in a while an author can maybe get a booking on a local radio  show or have their hometown newspaper review their book.  If it’s in the budget, and while I may sound self-serving, I think an author is best served by engaging the services of a professional book marketing expert.

Thank you for this interview, Charlie.  Do you have any final words?

Charlie: To me, I like to see an author coming to us who has taken the time to get a basic idea of how the book publishing business works. I find this is not the case often. There is a lot happening right now in the industry, especially with e-books and electronic publishing with  Kindle, The Nook and others. There are new media opportunities coming too with all the change. It is an exciting time to be an author with a new book and opportunities can be missed if care if not taken to make sure the book is marketed professionally.

Professional national book publicist Charlie Barrett formed The Barrett Company in 1992 as a full service media relations and media marketing / communications agency.  The Los Angeles headquartered firm offers 21st century integrated media outreach and media marketing expertise with an emphasis on the publishing and entertainment industries serving authors/publishers, Hollywood celebrities, motion pictures and television.

Since the firm’s creation TBC has served authors with such companies as Simon & Schuster, Globe Pequot Press, Norton and studios and TV outlets from Warner Brothers and Paramount, to cable TV network American Movie Classics (Mad Men) to ABC, CBS, Fox Television, as well as self-published author publishers such as Xlibris, Author House, i-Universe and numerous celebrities from Johnny Carson to Ed McMahon to Kevin Costner to Oprah Winfrey (Oprah’s Big Give television series on ABC).

The Barrett Company serves major publisher, small press and self-published authors with Harper Collins, Little Brown, Penguin Press, Oxford University Press, CreateSpace, Viking Press, Random House, Holm Press, Ben Bella Books, SMU Press and NYU Press – – creating and performing a range of publicity services and media outreach for both fiction and non-fiction book releases areas, generating media attention/coverage in print, broadcast and the growing on line digital medias. TBC is developing new book marketing strategies for e-books and author activity with Kindle, Nook You Tube, Twitter and Facebook

Mr. Barrett formed The Barrett Company after serving in top PR and media relations positions with the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) for more than ten years, where he was in charge of media relations for The Tonight Show and Johnny Carson and also, Today, among other well-known NBC shows such as Unsolved Mysteries, Fame and numerous highly-rated NBC specials, including The American Film Institute Awards and The American Movie Awards. As a film publicist in Hollywood, Charlie has worked with Dennis Hopper, Robert Stack, Tatum O’Neal, Steve McQueen, and Candice Bergen.

Charlie began his media career as a reporter with The Associated Press in New Haven, CT and later served on the editorial staffs of both The Hollywood Reporter in Los Angeles and Billboard in New York.  He has also authored numerous articles for magazines and newspapers on the performing arts and travel as well as appearing as a regular contributor on major US radio talk shows discussing celebrities, films, television and books. Charlie was voted the Book Publicist of the Year award by the Southern California Book Publicists Society.  TBC is a member of The Publishers Association of Los Angeles, The Academy of TV Arts and Sciences (ATAS gives the Emmy Award) and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (the Oscar).

The Barrett Company is well known and regarded among the world’s media outlets for its credibility and creativity.  Through years of client assignments TBC has developed remarkable and successful PR campaigns for a wide range of authors/publishers, Hollywood creatives, companies and celebrities, which have paved the way for the firm to produce media, consumer and trade events of all descriptions both in the US and overseas, from Book Expo to NATPE (the renowned annual television program executive conference) to  the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, The Frankfurt Book Fair  and The Cannes International Film Festival. The TBC web site is at

1 Comment

  1. chip brett says:

    Book publicity is a clever art as evidenced in this blogger interview with The Barrett Company

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