Day In the Life: vice president of a literary publicity company

We’ll be launching a new blog series in 2025 where we take a peek at a day in the life from various professionals in the book industry. You can follow along starting in January, but in the meantime, here’s a look at what a typical day looks like for Books Forward vice president Ellen Whitfield (that’s me!).

6:30 a.m.: Hobble out of bed to wash face, grab the baby and start making breakfast/lunches for the day. Also, coffee.

7 a.m.: Leave baby with husband and bring laptop to 7 year old’s swim practice to start catching up on emails by the pool.

8 a.m.: It’s my turn to take the neighborhood kids to the theater camp they’re attending this month!

8:30 a.m.: Back home for more coffee, meds, and a quick breakfast while I jump into the campaign I’ll be working on today, which is a memoir told from the POV of the author’s sassy poodle, Dea. I’ll be putting together some ideas and tips for guest articles the author could write, concentrating on important points of the book I think outlets would be interested in, scheduling out pitching, compiling digital marketing options that would make sense for this campaign, and emailing her updates on all of this for the next few hours. Listening to Noah Kahan!

10:30 a.m.: First meeting of the day with our president, Marissa, and our marketing director, Jenn. Going over the schedule for our upcoming in-person team meeting in a few weeks, some of our current digital marketing clients, and a few promotions we’re thinking about testing out.

11 a.m.: Checking in on our two wonderful interns to make sure they have everything they need for today’s tasks, answering any questions they have, and making sure their workload is balanced.

11:30 a.m.: Brainstorm and go over some specific pitching strategies and outlets we want to try for a new campaign with a few of our publicists.

Noon: Answering a few AMA questions on Instagram stories, then meeting with Simone, one of our publicists – going over her pitching schedule for a new client, and an extension another of her clients wants to set up for continued work on their audiobook!

12:30 p.m.: Quick lunch while I catch up on some emails that have come in.

1 p.m.: Meeting with another publicist, Corrine, who was at Thrillerfest this past weekend – she’s playing catch up, so we’re going over what’s a priority on her schedule and moving some things around. 

1:30 p.m.: Last scheduled meeting of the day with Jackie, our senior publicist, to celebrate an article from one of her clients on the homepage of Writer’s Digest, and talk about options for a client who wants to extend to pitch events.

2 p.m.: Work on compiling some book recommendations for a blog post.

2:30 p.m.: Review the first month of progress for a new client to make sure we’re set up for success when we start pitching their book.

3 p.m.: Design a social media post in Canva.

3:30 p.m.: Add some outlet suggestions to a pro bono client’s target list.

4 p.m. Log off to hang out with kids and start dinner.

8 p.m. Check email and catch up on new BFF (our company’s influencer program) applications, check schedule for the next day and log off!

Ellen brings guidance and warmth to the Books Forward team as vice president, providing daily mentorship to publicists and training incoming staff members. She is an expert at organization and efficiency, and her leadership helps keep the company gears turning smoothly.

With the detail-oriented eye of a former editor and heart of an obsessive book lover, she works diligently to expand services and provide opportunities for our author family and team members alike..

She was part of the journalism community for more than seven years, working at respected print and online media outlets including The Dallas Morning News, The Advocate newspapers across Louisiana, The Waco Tribune Herald and others. Her editorial experience at these publications, along with her social and online media presence as a popular bookstagrammer, benefits authors through her savviness and creativity in media pitching.

An LSU graduate, Ellen lives in Louisiana with her newspaper-executive husband, amazing daughter and charming baby boy (and their odd little dog), and is constantly adding to an ever-growing collection of 600 books. She loves reading about quirky characters on adventures, quoting sitcoms and singing loudly to Hozier.