To hire or not to hire an independent publicist. That is the question.
You’ve just had a marketing meeting with your publisher and you’re on cloud nine. The book that you’ve worked so hard on has now become a reality. And your publisher has promised you a national publicity campaign. Three months later, your book received one review in your local newspaper – a review that you were responsible for. And nothing else. No morning show appearances. No Oprah. No New York Times review.
Your first novel with your publisher hit the New York Times bestseller list! It will be smooth sailing from now on. For your next book, your publisher has promised you a 5-city media tour, a radio campaign, a national print and TV campaign. You travel from city to city, but less than five people show up at your booksignings. At one signing, the only attendee is a friend of yours. You are sitting in your hotel all day because your publicist has not set up any media. And the radio campaign you were promised? Your publicist reports to you that because your book is a novel, she was unable to book you a single interview. And this year, instead of the rave, stand-alone review in The New York Times that propelled your book to the bestseller list, your book was included in that paper’s summer book round-up.
The above scenarios are all too common and illustrate why you should hire an independent publicist, even if you are a New York Times bestselling author.
Even if your publisher is pulling out all the stops, a good independent publicist can and will get you more media coverage than your in-house publicist. Here are some examples of what a good independent publicist can do for you:
- Set up television, radio and print interviews in the tour cities your publisher is sending you to; if your publisher is not touring you, a good independent publicist can arrange a great media tour for you that you should consider.
- Follow up, Follow up, Follow up: Follow up is the name of the game in this business. An independent publicist will be persistent and make sure she follows up for as long as it takes to get an answer, without being a nuisance, even if that answer is negative. Yes, sometimes you don’t get an answer, but often, with persistence, an independent publicist will not only get an answer, but a placement.
- Why is following up so crucial? Sometimes a reviewer will respond by asking you to send the book, even though you have already sent it. And it just may lead to a review that an author would not have received if you sent out just one e-mail.
- What in-house publicists do and don’t do: Most publishers will send advance reading copies to hundreds of reviewers. What many don’t do is follow up with these reviewers. Usually they have relationships with the national newspapers and Publicity Directors even meet with the Book Review Editors at several top national newspapers before your book comes out. But in most cases, that is not enough. You need someone who makes sure your book is on reviewer’s radar. If you think that book editors will remember a book that was discussed six months before pub date, think again. Even if you’re Stephen King, book editors need to be reminded about when your book is coming out. And there are the daily book reviewers that you want to reach out to as well, who need to be contacted again and again, not just the Sunday book review sections.
- Internet Media Coverage Placements: This is so crucial in today’s world, where more readers are getting their information online than from newspapers, especially younger readers. A good outside publicist will be able to garner reviews and interviews and place essays on the top book websites that your in-house publicist may neglect, or not have time to pitch
- Positioning Is Everything: when a one-page publisher’s press release that summarizes your book is not getting the coverage you want, your Independent publicist will be writing pitch letters, interview questions, and press releases that will position you for individual markets. One press release doesn’t fit all. An independent publicist will think out-of-the box and tailor your press materials to the market she is pitching.
Here is a specific example of what I did for one client, which resulted in a book review in Cosmopolitan which in turn led to an excerpt for this author’s next book. Only two other books were reviewed in that issue, one by a bestselling author. How did I do it?
I sent e-mail after e-mail. I placed phone calls. I left voice-mail messages. When I finally got the book reviewer’s assistant, she told me that if they were interested I would hear from them.
But I didn’t stop there. The book was a chick-lit mystery, and I put together a one paragraph “teaser excerpt.” In less than a New York minute after I e-mailed the “teaser excerpt,” Cosmo called and asked me to overnight the book. Three months later, the review appeared.
Please catch my post next month when I will tell you what you should look for when hiring an outside publicist, and when you should do so.
In the months to come, I will be discussing in more depth what types of media coverage are most effective for small budgets and why; what types of media coverage are the most cost effective; the pros and cons of each type of media; and why comprehensive campaigns are the most effective for maximizing media coverage. Stay tuned…