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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