Thursday, August 04, 2011

Publicist Partnering: Shooting Your Book to Stardom--Frugally

If your name isn't King or Grisham or Roberts you've probably already figured out that you need to do a lot of publicity on your own because your publisher hasn't assigned a budget ample enough to shoot your book to stardom.

 That publicist can be you or someone else, but somebody's got to do it if you want your book to sell.

 I have a publicist friend who is also an author. Rolf Gompertz, 20 year veteran of NBC marketing,  rightfully claims that he could never find a PR person who would do the same kind of job he does, including the time he spends on his own PR work. How could anyone argue with that? We all are our own best publicists, even if we hire someone else.

But what if we don't have the time or expertise?

We can learn to do it ourselves. After all, we are writers. We should be able to grasp the knack of how to write a release.

But the best way to do it is to learn a lot about the marketing of books and then partner with expert publicists or people who can help you with specific projects like online book tours. And partnering with them in a way that won’t eat up your advance or cost you more than you’re likely to make on your book. Here are some suggestions for preparing yourself to be the best publicity partner around.

1.     Join organizations like SPAN (Small Publishers of North America) ( where you’ll learn to understand the world of publishing from every angle—your, that of your publicist and that of your publisher.

2.     Subscribe to newsletters sent out my experts in the field of publishing. Dan Poynter, John Kremer, Penny C. Sansevieri, and one of my favorite publicity gurus Joan Stewart are all online resources for getting online information that isn’t rooted in myth and gossip. You’ll learn tons from my Sharing with Writers newsletter, too. Subscribe by sending a SUBSCRIBE message to

3.     Take a class in public relations. The only way I know how to avoid drastic mistakes in choosing a class is to patronize your local college or attend writers’ conferences sponsored by universities.

4.     One of the most frugal ways to learn a new skillset is to read. Most of those who publish free newsletters like the ones I mentioned above, also have books that will get you off on the right foot. Find my Frugal Book Promoter at

The next question is how do you find the best help with publicity possible.

1.     Consider what you need and how much time you can put into it. Your budget may not accommodate a full-service publicist. You may not have the time to fully participate with all of the services she offers at once, anyway.

2.     If that’s the case, consider people who will work with you piecemeal like BookinSync. You may need an online book tour. It shouldn’t be too expensive to get help with that and when you do, many of the contacts you get from your service will become contacts for the life of your writing career. Or you may need help writing your first release so you can do it yourself. That kind of help is available, too.

3.     Before you hire anyone consider their Rolodex. I'm talking about is a Rolodex of personal, working relationships with editors, radio hosts, etc. What kind of publicity have they gotten for their other clients? AND those relationships must be—to a great extent—contacts who might have an interest in a project like yours. A book publicist who has had mostly experience with mystery writers, deals mostly with books stores that dedicate themselves to stories about crime, and has a huge file of names of reviewers interested in psycho/thrillers probably won't be able to do you much good if yours is a literary novel.

4.     As you have already guessed, you want someone who has clients similar to you. Check that out, but also check with the clients. Were they satisfied? If not, why not. Their expectations may have been different than yours. Further, if there were some gaps that you consider important, you may be able to negotiate with your newfound partner to include those services in the publicity package you are contracting for.

Am I speaking from experience? You betcha. And lukewarm results were not the fault of my publicist. She did a great job with what she had. She just didn't have what I needed! If you do your homework, you’ll be happier with your publicity campaign and your publicist will be able to help you reach your goals more quickly…and they’ll be happier with you.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, is the author of so-called hard-to-promote genres ( and of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers,

----- 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 . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. 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, 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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