Kim Weiss Publishing Services

Fly on the wall: Should you be your own publicist? Well, yes and, errr, no!

June 29, 2009 at 6:46 am


What is the best scenario for a book’s publicity campaign? Hiring a professional or reading lots of books, taking lots of seminars, tuning into the latest webcast and doing it yourself?

That depends on a lot of things.

Tell me something. When your car needs an oil change, do you get the how-to manual and commence to sliding under your car to let the dirty oil run out into a pan? (How would I know that? Did it once – accent on once) Or would you read about how to layer your own hair into the perfect shag rather than let your hairdresser do the job. Notice that I’m not choosing tasks that require medical or engineering degrees but even so, give me a capable grease monkey or hair stylist anytime. In both cases, I’m not really that interested in how the car engine works or the steps that go into my haircut.

I just show up.

When it comes to your book, as you noticed from other posts of mine, showing up is no longer all that’s required of you. Taking an active role in your publicity campaign is essential. However, do you have 15 years of relationships with newspaper writers, radio jocks, tv producers and magazine editors? Have you lots of practice and ample skill in creating press materials for your book? Do you know to whom you should direct your information? Is it the features editor, the health reporter, or maybe the local news desk?

Another element that you may not have developed is the publicist’s instinct. There’s another intangible that typically grows from experience. Publicist voodoo – you can’t learn that from a book.

Professional help costs money. We call it an investment. When planning for the future of your book, just as the publisher carves out a budget for the marketing, advertising and publicity, so must you. ¬†Whether it’s self-published or commercially published, it’s a good idea to set aside some bucks for good help.

You have about a six-to-eight week window of time to pull out all the stops and I suggest you do just that. Make sure that whomever you bring on to represent your work is seasoned in the area of books. Not just a generalist, mind you, but someone who has connections and wherewithal in the publishing arena. As I’ve said before, don’t get snowed by the charm, smoke and mirrors that they present to you to win your business. If they used to represent Miley Cyrus, that doesn’t necessarily translate into good book publicity chops. Check them out carefully and by all means, talk to former or existing clients. You might cut them a little slack there as we all know that the imperfect art of book publicity can go awry in the most expert hands. (Call that publicist disclaimer #1)

By all means, read the books and check out those webinars, but allow someone to show you how it’s done ¬†in the big leagues. Be sure to find someone who is seasoned but is also current in all the new publicity language and tools i.e. social networking, online media, and the like.

It can be deleterious to the health of your book campaign if you start going around calling up media and sometimes even bookstores. I’m sure the latter rule is less stringent when it comes to self-published books.

In the interim, bone up on what’s going on in the news that’s related to what your book is about. If you’re dealing in the fiction realm, there’s some wisdom to keeping up with this, but not as imperatively. Stay informed.

I’m speaking in generalities right now and keeping away from my platform rant. Just put the word platform in the search box to the lower left and you’ll find plenty of information on that.

Having a publicist at your publishing house (like this one at HCI), a publicist hired by your publishing house, or a professional employed by you will simply maximize your odds for success with media exposure.

Learn how to work with them.

And, hey, remember, I’m here. I won’t necessarily be your personal publicist as I’m otherwise engaged to slave away at my HCI publishing house job. I don’t have time for full-blown campaigns, but I do have time for some kickass consulting sessions to help you get your book promotion in gear and to help you make sure you’re heading the right way down the publishing AND the publicity road.

Just ask.

Comments (1)

1 Comment »

    Where can we find a good publicist that specializes in books? (And around how much should we expect to pay?)

    Comment by EmilyAugust 2, 2009 @ 11:41 pm

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