Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Another Q & A a la Ann Landers: Publicist Dilemma

On Hiring Your Own Publicist ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Carolyn,

I read your current Newsletter. Thanks. (I took a class of yours at UCLA Extension last year.)

My question might seem to contrast sharply with the spirit of frugality, but my publisher wants me to hire my own book publicist/promotion expert IN ADDITION to the efforts the publisher will be making on my book's behalf before and at publication time, early next year. Do some of your author/reader/bloggers have info about how important it might be to spend money on a publicist? How about this as a subject for a paragraph or two in your next news? I do remember your telling our class that there is MUCH the author can accomplish on her own, vis-a-vis promotion, and I am fully prepared to do that. Still... I want to do all I can for the book, and I can't open many of the doors that the pros can.

Many thanks,
Name withheld


First of all, congratulations to your publisher for caring enough about your book to make suggestions and to handle some marketing and/or publicity on their own. I would be curious as to just what they plan to do!

As you know from my class, I am not much on spending money on any kind of service that an author can do for himself. There are exceptions to the rule.

~The author has plenty of money to spend.
~The author doesn't care if the entire advance goes to publicity services (he or she is in it for the readership and a long-term career and/or he or she is willing to take a chance).
~The author has absolutely no time and a little (or bigger!) budget for this. You get the idea.
~One of the above applies and the author can find a publicist with a track record and lots of the kind of contact required to get exposure in national venues, or at least the kind of exposure the author dreams of.

If you are determined, you will find information on how to assess and hire a publicist in The Frugal Book Promoter (www.budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo). You may already have a copy from the class you took with me. Keep in mind that many times publicists have tons of "contacts" but they are of the sort that anyone can make, including authors, small bloggers, radio programs with few listeners, etc. So a publicist’s Rolodex is very important.

Then ask yourself: Is my book on a topic that a high-powered publicist can interest big radio and TV shows in covering? Or are they just going to subcontract an online launch, blog tour, and other promotions to others and charge you top dollar for doing so.

In that case, you might do better by learning to do it yourself or by hiring experts piecemeal yourself. It would also be less expensive to hire someone to coach you through the process (and refer you) to these services. I can do that, of course. But after your course with me, I think you have the equipment to do it yourself. And honestly, many of the resources I'd give you have been in one of my newsletters in the past.

Having said that, there is another UCLA course (http://uclaextension.edu) coming up this August 7th. It may be just the refresher you need and it is just over $100 for a full day refresher. A real bargain rather than the price of a publicist which can easily run $5,000 to $35,000.

Last point: You didn't say what your advance is but that's an important thing to look at before deciding what you can spend on a publicist that may rocket you to stardom...or put you in the red on your book's earnings.

If any of my readers would like to weigh in with their experiences, that's what my letters-to-the-editor in my newsletter is for. That's what this blog is for I'll ask them! (-:


PS: Watch for scams. If a plublicist promises you a certain number of blogs or radio program appearances, as an example, that may be an indication that they are all blogs and/or radio programs that you could access on your own.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor . If your followers at Twitter would benefit from this blog post, please use the little Green widget to let them know about this blog:

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