If you have the financial resources, it can be a great idea to hire a book publicity or marketing firm to help spread the word about your novel, memoir, or collection. If you’re a self-published writer, hiring a book publicist will help you reach a broader audience. If you are traditionally published, your personal publicist can work with your in-house publicist (like this one) in order to create a really fantastic campaign.
Before you begin searching databases to find a book publicist, it’s important to know exactly what you’re looking for and what you want.
What Will A Book Publicity Firm Or Marketing Company Do?
What your publicist is able to do depends partly on what kind of publicist you hire. Some book publicity firms are strictly focused on the media: They get you speaking gigs at colleges, interviews on TV shows, and spots in magazines. Mostly, these types of publicists work with nonfiction authors who are establishing a national author platform and with fiction writers who are on the top of the lists.
Other book publicity firms are more like personal assistants: They tend to take a more administrative approach. You and your assistant/publicist can put your heads together and come up with a strong grassroots campaign.
The key is knowing what your options are and then asking a lot of questions.
Media connections. Ask your book publicist if he or she regularly works with major media outlets. Ask for the names of clients and where they have appeared.
Media training. Sometimes, if your book becomes a really big hit, your publicist will help you get the proper training for public appearances. It looks a lot easier to be on TV than it actually is!
Blogging. Many book publicists will set up an author blog tour. Ask how many blogs you can expect your publicist to book you on. See if you can get an idea of which blogs might be available to you. Keep in mind that your book publicist probably will not give you a full list of the blogs that you might appear on until you have already agreed to pay for the scheduled blog tour. The lists can be trade secrets!
Writing press releases. As a writer, you might be able to write your own press release. But you’ll save time if your book publicist does it for you. You’ll save even more time if he or she handles the distribution.
Developing your online author platform. Your book publicist will sometimes help you manage your social networks including creating contests, mailing prizes to winners, and suggesting possible posts. Hint: Check out our tool kit for writers about developing your online author platform.
Collaboration. If your book publicist works with other authors in your genre, sometimes he or she will create cross-promotional campaigns.
Mailings and emails. Your book publicist can create postcards or other mailing pieces for you to send to your personal mailing list. He or she can also manage your email list. Some book publicists have created lists of readers on their own, and for a fee, they may be willing to promote your book to their personal list of readers. (They can also investigate other lists for you to purchase for advertising.)
Book signings and other events. Your PR person can contact bookstores or other venues in order to schedule readings and appearances.
Advertising. Some publicists will manage an author’s advertising budget, choosing the best print or online venues for a particular book.
How Do You Hire A Book Publicist?
Begin by going to your existing author networks: Pose questions to other writers. The best way to hire someone is often by word of mouth.
You can also find a publicist by searching online. But if you take this route, be cautious. Some companies masquerade as publicity firms—promising the moon—when all they will do is take your money and offer a minimal amount of automatically generated publicity. Ideally, you want to work with an individual publicist closely so you know that you are getting real attention.
How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Marketing Expert For Your Book?
As with so many things in the industry, how much you pay depends on the type of services you are looking for. Some book publicists, especially those who operate like personal assistants with publicity expertise, are often paid by the hour or on retainers. Some major media publicists won’t talk to you for less than $10,000. Other companies fall in the middle.
Most will start out by asking you about your preexisting budget. If they are reputable publicists, they’re not asking this question to see how much money they can squeeze out of you; they’re asking because they want to be able to tell you how much publicity they can actually provide for the amount that you are willing to spend.
Working with a book publicist can be a lot of fun! But if you are a go-getter with a lot of marketing savvy, you may be able to handle your own book promotions.
Photo by Danacea
QUESTION: Would you hire a book publicist?