Hiring a Publicist Part II: After the Contract

In Hiring a Publicist…or Not, I described considerations to make before embarking on a publicity campaign. Things like finances, weather, health, timing, your tolerance for risk, and your personal preferences. JoAnna Senger is a warm, outgoing author who lives in a warm, dry climate. Her book, Reservation Ravaged, went live July 1st. Having contemplated her circumstances, Joanna Senger hired JKS Communications, a literary publicity firm.

JoAnna and JKS were a great match in that JKS places a heavy emphasis on face-to-face contact. The cost wasn’t as steep as what most publicists charge, but still in the four figures range. JKS formulated a beaut of a press kit, including a press release. This kit provided material that I used for a Facebook ad that revolved around JoAnna’s interview tour. JKS set up a concentrated interview tour by phone with about ten top AM/FM stations such as Dave Malarkey’s WISR-AM. They sent out 50 to 75 Advance Reader Copies to garner book reviews and publicity for media events. No one’s reported any book reviews yet, but they’re coming.

JoAnna took a 5-city tour that spanned across several states. Basically this included signings and meet-and-greets at libraries, bookstores, book clubs and meet up groups. I posted three of these events on Facebook.

So…if you bring a publicist like JKS to the party, let your publisher know straight away. Your publisher may have ideas for promotion which ties in with the campaign. Your publicist will need the ordering links for your book when they become available, and your publisher can make that happen. After each interview, the radio hosts and other interviewers deserve a big “thank you.” One caveat: the retainer fees only cover the setting up of interviews, press release, and other things your publicist agrees to do in the contract. This means that JoAnna had to pay her own traveling expenses, the purchase of books for her events, and the cost for mailing the ARCs ($8.00 per package). Any service that fell out of the scope of the contract would cost her, too.

As soon as the contract was finalized, JKS contacted me and JoAnna for a release date (July 1st). Like many publicists, JKS wanted to begin the campaign four months before the release, so they started April 1st, 2014. To their credit, JKS Communications were willing to work around JoAnna’s schedule (day job and a bout with pneumonia). Each month they sent a publicity update to me and JoAnna. Reservation Ravaged came with a great cover, so I’m hoping for the best. This should give you some idea on what to expect from a publicist.

So…have you given any thought to hiring a publicist for a publicity campaign? Why or why not? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Hiring a Publicist…or Not? (Part I)

If you’re hiring a book publicist, you might want to note the following Shakespearian quote, tape the words to your mirror, and memorize them as you contemplate interviews, signings, and other types of publicity.

“There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries.”

Shakespeare was a poet and playwright, so he must have understood the public’s temperament. The average publicist charges $1,000 to $5,000 a month for retainer fees, and that doesn’t include traveling expenses or monies for review copies. What’s more, there’s no guarantee of sales. A publicist can set up interviews with influential radio and TV stations, book signings, and blog tours; put together trailers and revamp your website. So you should realize some sales, but I wouldn’t bet your home mortgage on it. Can you afford to gamble $7,000 to $14,000? If the answer’s yes, most publicists recommend that you start your campaign about four months before the book goes live. If you have a beaut of a cover, superb editing, and a strong platform, you’ve taken the tide of publicity at the flood, and it’s on to fame and fortune. If not all that – you can’t win the lottery every time – the publicity will enhance your brand and provide a decent amount of sales. If you’re going in with an overpriced book, bad cover, and spotty editing, you might run into dismal reviews and other miseries.

Let’s say you’ve got the funds and everything’s squeaky clean with your cover and editing. You’ve consulted several publicists to compare prices versus services, and honed in on a choice. Before you sign the contract – yes, there’s one involved – questions need to be asked before you decide on and schedule services.

  • Is this your first book? What kind of platform will you offer?
  • Are you free to schedule a book tour or will family obligations, health problems, and/or work hours get in the way?
  • Are you media-shy? Could you benefit from coaching?
  • Is the weather where you live compatible with travel, or is your neighborhood prone to frequent snowstorms, hurricanes, etc.? How comfortable are you with traveling in adverse weather conditions?
  • Are you comfortable with guest blogging? I enjoyed my blog tour for Steel Rose as much as I do chasing balloons at the Giant, but I’ve seen people grimace at the prospect of writing a blog.
  • Is the SEO for your website up to par or do you need help in that area?

NTD author JoAnna Senger considered these questions before she hired JKS Communications for Reservation Ravaged. As her publisher, I got to see the process up close and personal. Mind you, everyone’s experience will be different, but in my next blog (Part II), I hope to give you an idea of what to expect when you hire a publicist.


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