Effective book publicity is a team effort. You and your publicist need to work well together. But with so many professional PR people out there, how do you know which one will be the right fit for your goals, budget, genre, personality, and more?
Here’s a list of things to consider when you’re looking for a publicist for your next book
1. Budget — Here’s an obvious place to start: can you pay them the fee they’re asking? Even if you only hire a publicist for 3 months or so, it’s probably going to cost you thousands, so think about your finances first; then find the publicist that fits your budget.
2. Track record — Have they had good results doing PR for other authors? What papers, magazines, and blogs have they gotten other writers positively featured in? You want to make sure you’re hiring someone who has already established solid relationships with writers, critics, editors, reviewers, and media producers both inside and outside the publishing industry.
3. Genre expertise — Just because a publicist has a network of contacts doesn’t mean they’re the right contacts for you. A publicist who’s had a lot of results with YA books might not be the person you want to hire to help you get media attention for your newest economics text book. Just because a publicist got one historical fiction client into the Sunday Book Review doesn’t mean they’ll have the same luck with your poetry collection.
4. Referrals — Have you heard good things about a publicist from other authors you know? That’s a pretty good indicator of quality publicity, especially since those writers will have paid this person lots of money; they’ll need to have seen real results in order to walk away feeling like the person’s PR services were worth the cost.
5. Clear communication — Are they forthcoming with info about fees, schedules, etc? If they use industry jargon, are they making their meaning clear? Now’s not the time for any mystery.
6. Love for your writing — You don’t just want to be a publicist’s client. You want them to be a fan of your book, or at the very least, believe that you have the ability to turn thousands or millions of other people into avid readers. That belief and enthusiasm will shine through when your publicist communicates with the press, reviewers, etc.
7. Responsiveness — When you first approach a publicist about working together, is she prompt in her responses? If you write him an email with three questions, does he respond to each of them thoroughly? This attention to detail and directness will be key when you’re both busy in the middle of a PR campaign.
8. Setting expectations — Will your publicist work for you for the 3 months leading up to your book launch? For a year afterwards? Will they handle publicity around your book tour too? Is it a local, regional, national, or international campaign? How quickly will you need to respond to your publicist in order to secure interview opportunities? How many hours a week does your publicist expect you to be available for PR/promotion efforts? What do you have to put in place in terms of your author platform, industry contacts, and readership before this publicist will work with you? Setting expectations goes both ways: you BOTH need to know what you’re getting into and what’s required.
9. The size of the publicist’s current client roster — Hopefully they’re working with a few other authors right now. You want to be sure they’re steadily employed, of course, since that’s another sign of their effectiveness as a publicist. However, you probably don’t want to start working with someone who is in the middle of 25 other campaigns. They’ll be stretched way too thin to give your book the attention it deserves.
10. You’re “on the same page” — You don’t need to love the same sports teams or have read all the same books — but can you relate as individuals on a level outside of your writing/PR partnership? That’s a plus.
Are you looking for a publicist now? Check out these resources:
Have you worked with a publicist before? How did you find them? How did you decide to work with them? What was the process like? Let us know in the comments below.