On one hand, many agents these days urge their clients to hire an outside publicist no matter who their publisher is, claiming that without robust PR and promotion no book (or author) has a future. On the other hand, many — like WU’s own Donald Maass — stress the greater importance of staying focused on writing, insisting that the real ticket to sales is to craft a killer book. Combined with the fact that the level of efforts publishers make varies wildly and publishers’ in-house teams often shrug indifferently when authors ask if it’s worth hiring help, this makes for a lot of mixed messages, ambivalence and confusion.
Add to that the unclear correlation between promo efforts and sales and the entire issue starts to look like a riddle that’s impossible to solve.
Over the years, though, I’ve noticed one surprising pattern that might offer an answer for many:
When successfully implemented BEFORE a manuscript is even shopped around, book PR can have quite a profound impact, one that will ripple out well into the future.
I know, you’re probably thinking, “Huh? Has she lost her mind?” After all, how can you promote a book while in essence it’s still a work-in-progress?
While it’s true that at such an early phase you can’t promote a book per se, what you can do is promote yourself: your name, your background, your voice and your ideas. As the author, you are the persona behind your work. Thus promoting the book and promoting yourself are one in the same.
Authors who promote themselves in advance of searching for an agent or simply find themselves in the fortuitous position of having an existing media platform enjoy a number of distinct advantages when it comes time to shop that manuscript: [Read more…]