Q&A With Susan I. Weinstein

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Q&A With Susan I. Weinstein 

This afternoon I have the opportunity to do a Q&A with public relations specialist & writer at Susan Weinstein Public Relations, Susan Weinstein herself. Susan is also the author of three books published by Pelekinesis Press & is a playwright & a painter. 

Q: Susan, would you like to tell the readers and I a little bit about you and what you do as a Public Relations Specialist & writer?

A:  My first publishing job was for Warner Publishing Services, writing press releases, Q&A interviews, bios for the department’s books. Interviews were written to be published in local newspapers. Styles had to match. They were in-depth without formulas. They showcased the books.  After I left, I became known for pr writing and was also pitching national media. TV, radio and print, featured books and ideas. Celebrities and entertainment journalism included books. Good Morning America, Today, CBS regularly featured books and authors as part of news.


I developed a specialty, working with many university and small-size presses on books that crossed-over from academic to trade audiences.  I still do that work, though outlets have shrunk as books are no longer covered as “entertainment” and rarely as news. I research appropriate outlets for a book, write the material and collaborate with authors. I work mostly with nonfiction by authors with expertise in a subject and a publisher.


Q: What are your books about and how did you come up with the concept of it? 

A: My books were published by Pelekinesis Press in New Editions in 2017-18. The Anarchist’s Girlfriend, (inspired by Dostoyevsly’s The Idiot) is set in late 70s, early 1980 in NYC. Paradise Gardens is a business dystopia (called Huxley for our time), set in 2250 and 3300. Tales of the Mer Family Onyx: Mermaid stories on Land and the Sea. My publisher, who initially knew my visual art, asked me to illustrate Paradise Gardens and The Mer Family Onyx. 

The Anarchist’s Girlfriend began as stories about my surroundings and the question of a modern “idiot”, here a clairvoyant go-go girl who makes clothes of the future. This was written during the Lower East Side Art & Lit movement in NYC. Sections were performed at Darinka, a club, Dixon Place (Still a performance space) and excerpted in The Portable Lower East Side, part of NYU’s collection from the Era. NYU’s Fales Library also has a Darinka Archive.


Paradise Gardens was also read at Darinka and later Dixon Place. I began writing it, while working at The Wall Street Transcript. The book grew from scribbling about a future world where the corporate business estates were the government, after the demise of the Old Fed. I also began publicity work for Bluejay Books, which published classic Science fiction and met many originators of the genre. 


Tales of the Mer Family Onyx: Mermaid stories on Land and the Sea grew organically from car trips with my son from NYC to LBI, NJ. With little prompting, we told stories of an imaginary mermaid family. My husband suggested I write them down, and the book eventually took shape.


Note: In the 1980s, there was a period where it was thought no one would buy physical books and the future was only ebooks. These books, first published as serials, were not well edited or available in good physical copies. When Pelekinesis expressed interest, I went through the New Edition process and rewrote all the books.  

Q: Are you currently writing another book right now?

A: I spent about ten years writing these books and getting them to market. Though glad I did, I am not writing more.  I have written plays, some performed Off-Broadway.  I have a personal essay coming out in the September issue of Ginosko Literary Journal. I also love to review and my blog is

Q: How long have you worked in publishing? What is your advice for anyone wanting to work in the publishing industry?

A: I began in the 80s and worked independently with major publishers, serious university presses and independent publishers with a vision. I  learned a tremendous amount from reading their books. Whether well-known or obscure, authors were excited to work on publicity and perhaps  break through to mainstream audiences.  And if that failed, they knew we did our thorough best. 

You need to love books to stay in this high-pressure business. Publicists, “media maids,” are essentially sales people without a commission.  We formulate a pitch and send it with the book to possible outlets. On salary at a house, there is a lot of work for the salaries and advancement is not linked to sales, like in other fields. These days, publishers often ask authors to hire their own publicity, since they haven’t staff to execute campaigns for all books.

Amazon has recently made inroads in changing the job, so publicists are expected to be statistical marketeers. Amazon’s SEO priorities—their “algo rhythm,” and cumulative expensive ads, seem to mostly benefit Amazon.  Authors, who already have a large fan base, usually genre authors–romance, SF, thrillers, may also benefit from this approach. 

Jeff Bezos attended BEA (Book Expo America) some years, where he sold books from a booth in the remainder section. Remainders were unsold books. Remainder companies bought up those books and resold them to outlets. Perhaps that work was the origin of Bezos’ concept of mass marketing goods directly to the public, cheaper that a “brick or mortar” store can charge.

Amazon’s emphasis on the bottom line, hasn’t benefited a field where content–original, compelling, even enlightening –is both selling point and purpose. On Amazon the price is always right, though the cost to producers of content has become outsize. As a publicist, I am not thrilled about jumping on the statistical bandwagon, as an essential skill to market books. 

Hand selling to customers is making a come-back with Barnes and Noble. But it’s still up to publishers to make a product ready for market and for  publicists to find the core audience for a book. And, if lucky, extend that.   

Presenting the book as the best it can be, is the publicist’s trade. Knowledge is irreplaceable. May even become wisdom in certain hands. I believe books benefit humanity and need to be more visible in national media. I have talked to English authors wanting to bring their books to the larger American market. In the U.K. you can set up a press conference for a new book with major national media. I have had to explain books in the U.S. are rarely covered by major media as news or entertainment.  

I suggest novices enter publishing eyes wide open. Take any job to learn how best to use your talents. And weigh your expectations for a career with what is on offer. You can always change the job or yourself. 

How did I enter the field? I had left Iowa’s playwrights workshop for New York and applied with Warner’s personnel dept to be a temp.  I was called into an office where a PR Director said I was a writer. She handed me a galley of Jim Morrison’s autobiography and said write a press release. There, that afternoon. That started my career.