Your Publicist Won’t Tell You|
by Fern Reiss, CEO, PublishingGame.com/Expertizing.com
Tired of banging your head against the proverbial
wall in terms of your book publicity? Ready to scrape
together the cash and hire a professional to publicize
Hiring a publicist could be the
best thing you could do for your book. Or it could be a
huge money sink
with no dividends. If you’re considering hiring
a publicist for your book, learn what your publicist
won’t tell you. (And then check out the dozens
of other articles on the http://www.PublishingGame.com web
site, and sign up for the (free) Expertizing email
newsletter on how to do your own publicity at http://www.PublishingGame.com/signup.htm).
So, what six things won’t your publicist tell
I don’t need a license. Like literary agents,
publicists aren’t required to have any sort of
license, which means that no one has ‘vetted’ their
credentials. Though you can go to school to study publicity,
and you can join professional associations (such as
PRSA), many publicists have neither educational nor
professional association credentials. This doesn’t
necessarily make them bad publicists—but it does
mean that you must check their references carefully.
The best way to get a publicist is to hire someone
who comes highly recommended—by someone you know.
PR is a crap shoot. For even the best
practitioners, publicity is hard to guarantee. Sometimes
you hit it,
and sometimes you don’t. So there’s no
such thing as guaranteed publicity—and any publicist
who promises you guaranteed publicity is full of it.
You can probably skip the press kit. The first thing
most publicists will do for you is to prepare a press
kit. They do this for two reasons: It’s an easy
deliverable to produce (all you need is a jazzy folder
and some glossy photographs and press materials). And
it gives the publicist something tangible to point
to that they’ve accomplished for the campaign.
The problem is, there’s almost no reason to do
a press kit these days. (I almost never do them for
my clients.) Sure, you can send them to journalists
and broadcast media. But you’re often better
off sending a (much cheaper) straight press release:
It’s more likely to be read, and harder to lose
in the pile. So if the first thing your potential publicist
promises you is a press kit, think about looking elsewhere.
Radio isn’t a panacea. Publicists tend to book
a lot of radio for their clients because it’s
easier to get broadcast time than print space. But
radio has a few disadvantages: It doesn’t have
the longevity of printed publicity (It won’t
turn up in a doctor’s office reception room three
years later, for example). It doesn’t get passed
from friend to colleague the way printed articles do.
And people listen to it from their cars, making it
harder for them to jot down the name of your book even
if they intend to buy it. So although it’s worth
doing some radio in your publicity mix, be wary of
the publicist who focuses on radio to the exclusion
of all else. It’s easier for the publicist—but
usually not as good for the book. (The few people who
have made their book bestsellers by doing hundreds
of radio shows have really been on the air way more
than most authors would prefer.)
Press releases need *news*. It’s
easy to write a press release that does not get pick-up
by the press.
But if you really want your press release to get exposure,
keep in mind that it needs to have a strong news angle.
(“I have a new book” or “I hired
a new employee” is not considered news.) Your
publicist knows this—but since it’s easier
to write a press release that doesn’t have a
strong news hook, sometimes that’s what you’ll
get. Insist that each of your press releases has a
strong news angle.
Good PR is expensive. Good PR is expensive; top PR
professionals get a minimum of $5000 per month, and
the prices can run much, much higher And PR campaigns
need to be run over a several-month period in order
to be effective, so most PR professionals won’t
take you on for less than six months minimum. So if
you’re thinking about taking the plunge, be sure
you’re prepared to spend at least $30,000.
So march out and hire that publicist. But be sure you
have realistic expectations—and that you know
what you’re buying.
Fern Reiss is CEO of PublishingGame.com (www.PublishingGame.com) and Expertizing.com (www.Expertizing.com) and the author of the books, The Publishing Game: Find an Agent in 30 Days, The Publishing Game: Bestseller in 30 Days, and The Publishing Game: Publish a Book in 30 Days as well as several other award-winning books. She is also the Director of the International Association of Writers (www.AssociationofWriters.com) providing publicity vehicles to writers worldwide. She also runs The Expertizing® Publicity Forum where you can pitch your book or business directly to journalists; more information at www.Expertizing.com/forum.htm. Sign up for her complimentary newsletter at www.PublishingGame.com/signup.htm.
Copyright © 2011 Fern Reiss