What Is a Publicist?
A publicist is a professional who has both the know-how and the network in place to help bring your name to the public. In the literary world, a publicist is key to the marketing plan, to help create a consumer craving for a book title, or any book written by a specific author.
A literary publicist will promote the book title directly to consumers by identifying and making book information available to the niche-markets with an interest in the storyline or subject matter of the book. The publicist will also network with media by pitching specific interview angles the author can provide—setting up the writer as an expert on certain subjects.
Every publishing house has a publicist or publicity team under the umbrella of their marketing department. Their biggest goal is to make sure the book sells well, so they will invest their biggest promotional dollars and time on the book titles they predict will be big sellers. This means either the subject matter is unique and marketable or the author has some sort of celebrity status. But even first-time unknown writers will garner some sort of attention from their publishing house’s publicity staff. It’s up to the author to find out what the plan and timeline is for their title.
Some publishing houses will print ARCS (Advance Review Copies or Advance Reader Copies) as part of their publicity strategy. Marketing and PR staff will send the ARCS to reviewers who require advance review time (normally 4-5 months prior to release date). These reviewers are heavy-hitters. Garnering the attention of Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal or Romantic Times is a big bolster in the launch of any book.
Sometimes publishing houses hire outside PR firms to manage specific book campaigns, or entire lines of books. Other times, they pay half toward an outside campaign, and the author matches that. The third option is for the author to pay all of the expense from their advance, believing that publicity and marketing is what will make or break the overall sales for the book. Independent publicists also assist with author branding for the career of the author, not just this one book campaign.
Most PR and communications firms offer a wide array of services for authors (and other public figures). They will come alongside of you at any stage in the writing game. They can help expand your platform, branding and name recognition. Need some help making sure your website is selling you in the best possible light? Ask your publicist. Some will even edit your manuscripts and write your book proposals, query letters and marketing plans.
After the book contract, your publicist will customize a plan for promoting you and your titles to create buzz in a way that makes the campaign go viral. This can be through traditional publicity campaigns through media, internet and social networking campaigns, and more.
If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a dozen times, “I’m so glad I didn’t have to navigate this book promotion jungle on my own. Thanks for holding my hand through the process.”
Why Hire a Publicist?
--A publicist has the media contacts and relationships needed to secure interviews/ reviews.
--A publicist knows how to pitch your book to the media and how each journalist prefers to be contacted.
--Most writers do not have the time to devote to a publicity campaign. It is a full-time job.
--When an author is pitching his own book, it is sometimes viewed as being too self-promotional. A publicist is seen as a third party and most journalists are more receptive to discussing a book with a publicist rather than the author.
-When media, retailers and consumers hear an author has a publicist, they seem to see the author as having more “clout.” It legitimizes the expert-status of the author and elevates them to a higher professional standing. An author with a publicity team has “peeps.” It’s that whole “I’ll have my people contact your people” approach.
So, whether you are blessed with a Johnny-on-the-spot in-house publicity team or an independent publicist or publicity firm, rest assured—they’ve got you covered!