Over the years, I have received several calls and emails from independent authors looking to hire a publicist. Some have books releasing from small, traditional publishers who don’t have the resources for publicity while others are self-published and thus responsible for their own publicity.
In my experience, some of those who have contacted me are ready to hire a publicist but, in many cases, they’re not quite there yet.
Ask yourself these four questions before picking up the phone or hitting send:
1. Is my book ready for a publicist? A reputable publicist will only take on a project that she believes can be promoted effectively. Effective promotion begins with a good product. Has the book been professionally edited? Did you invest in a cover created by someone experienced in book cover design or did you try and do it yourself? Is your book type-set correctly or are there huge gaps in text because it’s not laid out right? All of these things matter when presenting the book to media and bloggers. (And they matter to readers, too.)
2. What do I hope to accomplish? You must carefully think through your goals and whether or not hiring a publicist will help you reach them. I once had an author tell me he read in a magazine that he should hire a publicist so that’s why he called. This is probably not the best reason. In some cases, it might make more sense to put your money into pursuing speaking engagements. If you’re a veteran blogger, for example, you could probably arrange your own blog tour versus paying someone for it. In other cases, a series of radio interviews or print placements may be a great way to build name recognition and an experienced publicist could be a real asset.
3. Can I afford it? This is probably one of the biggest issues that I have run into over the years. I have had people contact me who have zero budget. Others ask if I’ll take a percentage of sales, that they’re doing door-to-door. Hiring a publicist is an investment. You are investing in a professional who has the experience, expertise, contacts, and systems to help get your book in front of media decision makers and often, directly in front of potential readers. This comes at a cost. It’s important that you figure out–ahead of time–what you can realistically afford. It’s much wiser to forgo the publicist and do your own promotion then to hire someone and not be able to pay them.
4. Am I willing to work hard to promote my book? One New York Times best-selling author released his latest book with a flurry of media attention, cross-country book signings, speaking engagements, promotions, and more. You may not have the same aspirations but the obvious takeaway is that it takes a lot to effectivly promote a book. Are you willing to do whatever it takes? Will you get up early for interviews or stay up late? Will you spend time answering email interviews for bloggers? Will you learn how to use social media and work at it diligently? No one has as much invested in your book as you do–it takes work.
What other things do you think are important to consider?