TIPS & More
Often, authors would ask me if they should hire a publicist. Most of the time, they are astonished when I tell them what an experienced publicist charges. What would equally surprise them is the role a book publicist plays— and I mean the good ones!
A good book publicist can be the difference between a book sitting on the shelves and doing nothing or connecting to more readers and even flying up retailers’ bestseller lists.
But, not everyone is clear on what they can or can not expect from a publicist. What’s interesting is, publicity is not the same as marketing.
Wait. What?! Is there a difference between marketing and publicity?
It is a simple question that would generate a bazzilion answers. In a recent webinar we organized for authors and book retailers, the same question generated different responses from almost everyone.
So, let’s delve further and look at what separates the two!
In book marketing, you will always need a budget to spend in different ways to get people to read your book.
Your marketing team is responsible for booking paid media, e.g., digital advertising, placing adverts in magazines, email marketing campaigns, working with booksellers on in-store promotions, merchandising, and liaising with retailers.
It typically handles all paid promotions. ( It is worth noting: paid advertising, either paid by the author or the publisher. )
Marketers rely on metadata, sales trends, and consumer insights to meet readers where they are. Marketing teams constantly refine their campaigns by using customer insights from various data sources to find opportunities in real-time as books land in the marketplace — this is the ideal scenario ( and hopefully what your marketing team is doing! )
On the other hand, what publicists do is use their contacts and relationships with media and influencers to get media coverage. The value is in the publicist’s media network and the ability to ‘sell’ your ‘story.’ The publicist’s role is to secure media coverage for your book and depending on your genre, those can be newspapers, magazines, book retailers, online publications, book bloggers, radio, or even T.V. programs.
The goal of the publicist is to gain unpaid media exposure in print, online, or broadcast ( air ), increase word of mouth and build the author’s platform.
The differences between publicity and marketing are fine-drawn; that is why your marketing team and publicity should work closely together. Their actions should complement each other— both focusing on reaching readers.
Hmmm…Need more clarity? Let’s have another example.
When you see a book reviewed in The New York Times Book Review or hear an author talking on CBS This Morning, that was most likely booked by their publicist.
Now, let’s take a look at the behind-the-scenes of the day-to-day life of a publicist.
As a publicist myself, I can definitely promise you that there is never a dull day for a book publicist. Every single day is different.
I am a big fan of publicists— that is, all the good ones ( only the conscientious hardworking ones )!
It is all about sharing your passion, meeting the authors, and getting to spend time with them, being the author’s strategist, organizer, number one supporter, and cheerleader.
A typical day for a publicist consists of reaching out to bloggers, media influencers, YouTubers, fellow authors, formulating press releases, organizing book tours ( in-person and virtual. )
Often, publicists are pitching out to journalists, meeting media influencers, and building relationships with book retailers.
If you’re considering hiring a publicist for your book, here are some things you may want to know.
- Many publicists don’t work with just any self-published titles.
Simply because not all self-published books are created equally, and many self-published titles don’t meet traditional publishing standards.
Yes! There are many high-quality self-published titles, and those are the kind of books a publicist would love to represent. In fact, and most recently, many book discoveries and deals are independently published titles. However, this is the case of how one bad apple spoils the whole bunch! Take heart! Talk to a publicist.
- A well-connected publicist charges from $1,500 to $6,000 a month for a commitment of three to ten months.
On the higher-end, the rate could go up from $3,000 to 6,000 a month. On the lower-end, you could hire competent publicists by the hour, for $50-$70/hour with a minimum commitment of 10 hours/week for 10-16 weeks. The hourly rates depend on the degree of work and services required.
Some publishers and book services companies are kind enough to foot the bill to hire publicists in addition to the standard in-house resources for their authors. At times, they kept their costs a secret. ( More on this next )
- Generally, publicists can work with you in the traditional fee-based model or pay-for-performance.
In the pay-for-performance model, the firm or the publicist charges a set-up fee to organize a campaign, and then you pay on a per-placement basis. High-prestige placements like interviews in magazines or T.V.’s cost more.
In the traditional model, the firm or the publicist charges you a fee based on what it will do and the time involved to accomplish the plan.
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Our Staff Section
Lex Tallis is a bestselling ghostwriter turned acquisition editor and author mentor. He is a publicist at The BookWalker.
The BookWalker, a book aggregator and marketing agency, has been helping emerging authors to New York Times bestsellers secure media coverage with top media outlets since 2010.
Contact The BookWalker at firstname.lastname@example.org
A Thousand Steps is a beguiling thriller, an incisive coming-of-age story, and a vivid portrait of a turbulent time and place by three-time Edgar Award winner and New York Times bestselling author T. Jefferson Parker.
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