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Do Authors Need PR?: Tools for Writers Series

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Now that you've written your book, it's time to go on a multi-city book signing tour to meet and greet throngs of your adoring fans, right?

Not so fast.

While book tours along with morning show interviews and book blogger reviews are great ways to promote your book, they don’t just happen. There’s a good reason for this:

No one knows that you exist yet.

To remedy this problem, you have two options:

Option 1: Become Your Own Publicist

If you’re so inclined, you can turn from author to marketer. Be warned that marketing your book requires full-time dedication and a never-ending to-do list.

For starters, you’ll need to build a website (or at least a page on your existing site) to promote your book. You’ll also need to network with journalists, reach out to book bloggers, deliver advanced copies, mobilize reviewers, plan a book launch, get active on social media, develop a marketing strategy, and network your butt off to get your book in local shops and libraries. Those are just the broad strokes. There are dozens of tiny details that go into successful book promotion.

Option 2: Hire a Publicist

Or…you can work with a publicist who will do all of the above and more. Hiring a publicist will save you time and money because you’ll be free to focus on what you do best instead of learning an entirely new skill set.

Hiring a publicist is a smart move, whether you’re working with a traditional publisher or you’ve self-published.

While traditional publishers will provide you with nominal marketing support, you’re unlikely to get a big boost. Even the Big 5 publishers don’t provide a lot of help. Yes, your publisher wants your book to sell, but in-house publicists are often swamped with work. They’re tasked with coordinating marketing campaigns for multiple clients at one time. Your publisher not only welcomes but also expects you to do some of the marketing yourself.

If you self-publish, it definitely makes sense to hire a publicist. Hiring a publicist will free you up to focus on the creative while your PR team focuses on the business.

The Benefits of Working With an Independent Book Publicist

Publicist to Promote Your Book

Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons why you should hire a publicist to promote your book.

You Need an Edge

There are thousands of books published every single day in the United States. Studies suggest that number is on the rise. In 2018 alone, self-publishing grew by a whopping 40%.

All of this means one thing: It’s hard to stand out when you’re one of many. You need a competitive edge that gets you in front of your target audience. A publicist will know how to promote your book to the right people.

Publicists Have a Lot of Contacts

The job of a publicist is to network. The average publicist has nurtured business relationships with hundreds of high-profile contacts, including journalists, buyers, bloggers, tv show producers, etc. They’ll lean into this network to spread the word about your new book.

Publicists are Marketing Experts

If you want to promote your book, why not hire an expert to do it for you? A publicist is a marketing genius who knows how to hack the system and get you in front of audiences that you wouldn’t be able to do on your own. When the goal is to get as many TV appearances, podcast interviews, online articles, and social media shout-outs as possible, you need to rely on an expert who’s already familiar with how marketing works.

One Less Thing on Your Plate

Does the idea of social media marketing cause you to break out in hives? Are you overwhelmed by the prospect of finding and networking with book bloggers? Do you hate to even ask your friends and family to buy your book?

Congratulations. You’re an author, not a publicist.

Instead of learning how to be your own publicist, just hire one. DIY book marketing is a heavy and unnecessary burden if you already have a lot going on.

Publicists can Help Build Your Brand

You could hire a publicist to help you promote one book, or you could hire a publicist to help you promote your brand. Many authors opt for the latter. If you’re looking to build your reputation as an author, hire a publicist to work as a brand strategist for you.

If you’re looking to build your reputation as an author, hire a publicist to work as a brand strategist for you.

If you want to write multiple books and become a respected name in your genre, it makes sense to hire a publicist to promote you as an author. For example, you can become the go-to sci-fi or young adult author when a local journalist needs a quote or when conference organizers need keynote speakers.

If you’re looking to build your author platform, work with a publicist who specializes in brand strategy.

Publicists Improve Your Chances of Getting Into a Bookstore

Did you know that it’s next to impossible for a self-published book to get into a bookstore? The book distribution system favors traditional publishing houses, especially the Big 5.

While you may be able to get onto a distribution list like Ingram or Baker & Taylor, your book won't stand out amongst the thousands of others in the same category! Buyers won’t take a gamble with an unknown author.

Here’s how a publicist can help: A publicist can make sure that the right people (i.e. buyers and librarians) know about your book.

Publicists are Worth the Money

Okay, now let’s address the elephant in the room.

Yes, hiring a publicist means spending money, and this is what stops a lot of authors from hiring a publicist. However, paying for a publicist is not an expense. It’s an investment because you will receive a benefit in the future.

Best Practices for Working with a Book Publicist

Publicist to Promote Your Book

Now that we’ve discussed the multiple benefits of hiring a book publicist, let’s focus on how to successfully work with one.

Choose a Publicist With Experience in Your Niche

Don’t choose a general publicist. Instead, choose a publicist with literary experience. (We list our favorites at the end of this article.)

Don't Be Afraid to Ask for References

Unless you’re willing to gamble, ask the publicist for a list of references before agreeing to work with them. And then call those references and ask about their experience. This will help you set your expectations for what it’s like to work with a publicist.

Get to Know Your Publicist

Because your publicist will be promoting both you and your book, it’s important that they know you and vice versa. Will you be working with just one person or a team? Do your personalities match or clash? Check for compatibility on your first meeting before you make a long-term arrangement.

Understand the Marketing Plan

This part is important: Know what you’re signing up for when you decide to work with a publicist. Ask them for a detailed list of what they plan to do to promote your book and/or build your brand. For example:

  • Will they create a downloadable press kit for your website?
  • Will they commission a book trailer to promote your book on social media outlets like YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook?
  • Will they get someone to write a forward or introduction for your book?
  • Will they secure reviews for your book on Amazon or GoodReads?
  • Will they set up book signings?
  • Will they follow up with journalists and book bloggers on your behalf?

You should also find out what your publicist expects from you. For example:

  • How available do you need to be?
  • Will you need to write guest blog posts?
  • Will they coach you before media interviews?

Get the answers to these questions to understand the scope of your working arrangement.

Our Picks for Public Relations

There are a lot of great book publicists. Here are a few that we trust:

  1. BookSavvy PR
  2. LEO PR
  3. Broadside PR (While they mostly work with publishers, Broadside PR does make exceptions.)

Final Thoughts

Hiring a publicist can help you stand out from the crowd and sell more books. Use the above tips to maximize the time and money you spend with a publicist.

Before you go, check out these related posts:

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