Katie Schroder

Katie Schroder, publicist, is privileged to represent the talented novelists who’ve found themselves at home in Thomas Nelson’s growing fiction division. Before coming to Nelson, Katie served as a publicist at WaterBrook Press in Colorado Springs, handling corporate communications, events, and book campaigns. She began her career in publicity and marketing at Peachtree Publishers. She holds a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, with emphasis on literary essay, Southern literature, and children’s books. In 2004 she completed the Publishing Institute, a graduate program at the University of Denver. She plays classical flute, but kicks up her boots to listen to the country songwriters at the Bluebird Café any chance she gets. Katie will marry Bryce Bond at a Sunday morning ceremony on a country farm, November 2. A feisty cat named Chapter keeps her company at home in Nashville, Tennessee.

A Day In The Life Of A Publicist

Thomas Nelson

A few years ago, on a hot summer afternoon, I stood in my suit and completely insensible heels, watching one of my authors (I’ll call him ‘John’) signing books for retailers lined up at our convention booth. For old pros like John—he relishes a private moment with each fan—I try to maintain about ten feet between us: close enough to help if needed and to catch pieces of the conversations, but far enough away so that I’m not hovering. Things were going well, with a few dozen people in line, a good forty-five minutes left in the signing, and lots of satisfied retailers walking away with treasured copies and memories to pocket. John’s wife—a high-profile agent representing some of our other high-profile authors—snapped pictures of her husband in his glorious element.

Then I noticed the next fan in line. He was about nine, and from the looks of the overstuffed suitcase he dragged behind him, he’d been making the rounds to book signings that day, probably at the order of his parents, who were calling on other publishers’ booths. His most interesting feature, though, was the most distinctive complexion I’ve ever seen. God help me, I remember actually thinking, That kid’s skin is green. Green! How odd. Soon it was his turn to shake John’s hand. He strode up to the desk and solemnly stood there, blank expression, not saying a word. John leaned forward like a caring grandfather, trying to get the kid to engage with him. The little tyke leaned in, too, mirroring John’s nodding.

And then it happened.

I wish I could report that I scaled the ten feet between us in a split second and pulled some Kevin Costner Bodyguard move. No dice. The young fan’s half-digested lunch was now all over the counter, the chair, the event signage, the carefully arranged display of books, and worst of all, on John’s custom seersucker suit and loafers the hipster wore sans socks. The next five minutes are a blur. John let out a sound I’ve never heard before. A sales rep grabbed a roll of paper towels and ordered the crowd to back off. Someone in line led the tiny assailant to a nearby bench and whipped out a cell phone for him to call his parents. And, afraid that the odor would get to me and I’d be next, I fled the scene. I tore off to Exhibitor Services as quick as my stilettos would carry me, phoning our booth rep on the way.

I mediated a union argument at the Exhibitor Services counter:

“If it’s in the aisle carpet, it’s really Convention Services. If it’s in the booth carpet, it should be Vendor Services . . . And should we charge them ‘special cleaning’ ?” Puke in my booth! Puke in my booth! I barked over and over, a fact that seemed somehow immaterial to the reluctant custodial staff.

Without a whole lot of perspective, several thoughts scrambled through my head then, not the least of which was, I’ll be dishonorably discharged from my post as publicist, having allowed a very important author (who happens to be married to a very important agent) to be assaulted by a nauseous child. Well, it’s been a nice career. It’s been a good run.


I’ll never forget a job interview I had for a position in the publishing industry. After the manager had asked me all the questions on his list, I posed one of my own to him: “What’s the biggest change you’d like to see in our line of work?” The sharp executive didn’t miss a beat: “A complete shift in mentality. Away from what best serves our publishing house, and away from what best serves the author. That’s not the ultimate balance, you know. What we too often forget is that we are all ultimately called by God to serve the reader, to find the best way to use our time and talents to serve the guy who’s looking for answers in one of our books. Ironically enough, it’s the best way to impact our sales, too. But that’s secondary compared to the task of service to which we’re truly called.”


I returned to booth that afternoon, wary to face the firing squad, and ashamed to face the author I’d let down. To my bewilderment, John was not miffed. He did not scold me for professionally failing to serve him in a moment of need. Instead, he’d wiped off his shoes and had already gone back to work signing books. He graciously threw off the trappings of an industry often tainted with a sense of entitlement and blinded by a focus on appearances. He remembered who it is we both serve, and that by working for the reader, we ultimately serve our God.

John smiled. He gripped my forearm and leaned in to whisper, “You know, here’s what’s so disappointing . . . the kid hadn’t even read my book yet. How did he know it was that bad?”