Interview: Maryglenn McCombs, Book Publicist

MG and MajorMaryglenn McCombs has actively worked in the book publishing industry for over twenty years. After starting her own publishing company in 1995, Maryglenn transitioned into the role of book publicist in the late 90s. As a book publicist, she works to create media exposure for books and authors through various print, online, and broadcast media outlets. Maryglenn focuses primarily on titles in the mystery/suspense/thriller genres. A graduate of Vanderbilt University, Maryglenn serves on the board of the Nashville Humane Association. A South Central Kentucky native, Maryglenn lives in Nashville with her husband, Tim Warnock, and their Old English Sheepdog, Majordomo Billy Bojangles.

What is the role of a publicist? A publicist serves as a liaison between author and/or publisher and the media. As a publicist, it is my job is to create media awareness—reviews, interviews, features, etc.—for books and authors.

What process do you go through when someone hands you a book to promote? For an author who is interested in hiring me, I start by trying to familiarize myself with the project: who the publisher is, when the book is set for release, a synopsis, category, etc. From there, I typically ask for a sample from the manuscript, cover art, and additional details about the author. I don’t have the luxury of time to read every book that comes across my desk, but do read the vast majority of the titles I represent cover-to-cover. At the very least, I need to see a sample of a manuscript before deciding if it’s a title I think I can handle.

What types of genres do you represent? The majority of the books I represent are in the crime fiction genre – mystery/suspense/thriller. I do handle some YA, some romance, some general fiction, and other genre specific fiction. I take non-fiction on a book-by-book basis, and I do have a soft spot in my heart for quirky, offbeat memoirs.

Do you represent self-published authors? Yes—but the book must be professionally edited and packaged, and compelling. I also need to make sure it’s a project I feel I can represent well. Otherwise, it doesn’t make sense for me to take a book on if I don’t think I can be effective with it.

Can a person hire you to work one particular area? All campaigns are customized, so I take into account what an author is looking for before I put together a PR proposal. However, I typically don’t offer very short-term/limited campaigns. Successful promotion takes time, energy, effort, and lots of follow-ups, so I need to have sufficient time to devote to a project.

What changes have you seen in the publishing industry? The biggest change I’ve seen in the 22 plus years I’ve worked in publishing involves the impact of technology. Technology and the internet has impacted bookselling, book production, printing, distribution, and promotion in countless ways. I’ve also noticed that the playing field between large publishers and small presses/self-publishers is much more level than it’s ever been. Granted—it’s not entirely level now, but so much more so than three, five, or even ten years ago. Self-publishing—or “vanity publishing” as it was once called—is now a viable, legitimate way to bring a book to the market. I think the field will become more level as time goes on, but it’s remarkable to see how the world of publishing has changed, and continues to change.

What advice regarding publicity would you give an author who is just starting down the writing road? Know that your job isn’t over when you type “THE END.” PR is crucial.

Contact –             (615) 297-9875


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s