Kima Jones, the Founder of Jack Jones Literary Arts, Is Taking the Publishing Industry by Storm

By Lovia Gyarkye
From: New York Times

merlin_142575327_77a5902c-41c4-460e-a69d-16ed6fa02b95-articleLargeWhen Kima Jones, an independent publicist based in Los Angeles, agreed to help the poet Tyehimba Jess with his publicity campaign for his second collection, “Olio,” she knew it would be a breakout work.

“I was still a baby publicist. I did not have a long list of clients. I didn’t have a long list of contacts,” Jones said. “But I believed in the book from the beginning and what I really believed in was that it was genre-defying poetry.” In 2017, “Olio” won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.

It would be easy to write off the story of “Olio” as a coincidence. In an ideal world there is no causal relationship between publicity and a book’s critical, or even commercial, success. But publicity plays an important and often misunderstood role in how a book and, ultimately, its writer live in the public imagination. And it’s why Jones is determined to use her company, Jack Jones Literary Arts, to change the way writers of color, especially women, and their work are received by the world.

“I think what drew me to publicity and marketing was I really want to see folks win,” Jones said. “At the time so many books that I loved weren’t getting critical attention, and those were always black books.”

Jack Jones is only in its third year of operation and Jones has seen a lot of winners. She worked with Angie Thomas to promote “The Hate U Give,” and with Leesa Cross-Smith on her debut, “Whiskey and Ribbons,” which was longlisted for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize.

Since its founding, Jack Jones has expanded rapidly. In 2017, Jones hired her first employee and moved the company from her home to an office in downtown Los Angeles. She also added a writers retreat exclusively for women of color which, now in its second year, has garnered the support of literary heavyweights such as Roxane Gay, the author of “Bad Feminist,” and the poet Natalie Diaz. At the urging of Angela Flournoy, the author of “The Turner House,” Jones is also starting a speaker’s bureau, which represents R.O. Kwon, the author of “The Incendiaries,” and John Keene, who won a 2018 MacArthur “genius” grant, among others.

“People don’t really think about what goes into making a book successful,” said Flournoy, who is also a friend of Jones’s. “And Kima is really revolutionary with the books that she has helped to amplify.” Read Rest of Article Here

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