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RECOMMENDED!






What Publicists Do

by Wendy J. Woudstra   

 
 


Publicity is, quite possibly, the most important factor contributing to a book's success. A well written book is important, but if no one knows about it, who will buy it? Publicity is all about letting people, outside your immediate family, find out about your book so that they will buy it. (Don't ever lose sight of the fact that selling your books is the point of the whole exercise. An appearance on Oprah that sells only 2 copies of your book might not be the best use of your time.)

So what does a publicist do and why do you need one? Phenix & Phenix define their role like this: "As literary publicists, our primary goal is to provide exceptional media relations, setting up interviews with all forms of media and scheduling book tours." They also answer the second part of the question with their article and case study, 'Why Does Any Author Need a Publicist?' Their answer is not very comforting:

  • Today, there are more than 700,000 books in print.
  • Nearly half of all Americans don't read books at all.
  • Sixty percent of all trade titles lose money for their publishers.
  • Americans are besieged with 2,700 marketing messages every day.
  • To penetrate potential consumers' information-boggled minds, you must get a message in front of him at least 9 times.

Joanna Hurley of Booksavvy.com points out that even (or maybe especially) authors published by large publishing companies need to consider taking charge of their own publicity:

"Each of their many divisions or imprints alone publishes dozens of books per year. While their publicists are generally able and competent, they simply cannot pay attention to every book on their list. When I was director of publicity at Vintage, for example, my department was responsible for the publicity for some 200 books per year and we had a staff of three, including me. There was no way we could read much less promote them all. And at Vintage we were lucky: Many of our titles fell into series so we could promote some of them together. This is not true for most publishers."

How will you know when you've found a winning publicist? First of all, make sure they have the right contacts, and knowledge of the topic and genre of your book. Once you've confirmed that, you might want to have a look at this list of 12 personality traits of a winning publicist from Colorado-based publicity firm MarketAbility. This entertaining and enlightening list includes the following item, which makes me believe that few people on this earth are cut out for the profession:

"Tenacious and inspired by rejection: Publicists hear "no" more than salespeople and two-year-olds combined. Each rejection is ammunition to search for the next opportunity. "

When you've finally decided and hired a publicist, unfortunately, your work isn't over according to Stacey J. Miller of SJ Miller Communications. Her site includes an article about how best to partner with your publicist to bring about best results. Lounging at the beach will have to wait.


by Wendy Woudstra