It takes a lot of time and commitment to get a book written. But that is the easiest part of the process. Getting it published and into the hands of avid readers or fans of the genre poses a lot of challenges, especially for authors with minimal marketing experience.
The question is: Should you be okay with the promotion efforts of your publisher or is there something else you can do to get the word out about your book? It is all about understanding the difference between a book that sells and one that sinks. Quite often, the difference isn’t so clear.
But one thing is for sure: allowing the publisher to do the marketing for your book won’t get it far. The hype doesn't last long as the publisher quickly moves to the next title or reaches the limit of funds allocated for your book marketing.
You have to believe in your work and believe that it is a worthy investment in order to find ways to promote it. Creating a website for your book and blogging about it is a good start. Authors who are keen on marketing start building their email list months before their book gets published and they create an awareness of their work by frequent engagement with potential readers through blog posts and newsletters that showcase their craft and their writing journey. They start networking with book reviewers months before the publication of their book.
While there is a lot that an author can do to promote their book, investing in the right book publicist can be a good investment for so many reasons, including placements in various media houses, individualized attention of the book, increased reviews, increased placement in brick-n-mortar bookstores, etc.
But how do you make sure you hire the right book publicist?
While there are many ads online from book publicists, it is most advisable to speak with authors who have hired one before and ask for their recommendation. It will be even more suitable if authors recommending publicists write in the same genre. Apart from getting recommendations from other authors, it is important to consider the critical reputation of the publicist. A publicist doesn’t need print ads to get known. No, if they are good, authors will be talking about them.
You want to speak to authors who have used the services of the publicist. How successful are they? Were they able to get media coverage, get more sales, and reviews for their books? If possible, what is it the publicist did that is unique and what part of their book brought in more sales? Can they measure what they do and how? You’re looking for a publicist who is enthusiastic about books and who has successfully pitched similar books to reviewers, the media, and bloggers. So, speak to those who have used their service in the past.
A publicist who falls in love with your book and who develops a great relationship with you will create more success for your book. Your conversation with the publicist gives you insights into their personality and potential, helps you gauge their style of communication, and allows you to make a personal judgement when it comes to their strengths and business mindset. You want to know how they work, determine whether they are up-to-date with social media trends. Ask them about books they are working on or books they have marketed and find out how they are doing. Note that most publicists require contracts of six months to a year and some of them charge by the hour, so you want clarity on these critical areas before moving forward.
If your publisher provides an in-house publicist and you decide to get one, it is important to be upfront and let your in-house publicist know that you’re hiring a backup. You won’t have to worry about this if you are an indie author. Once you know what your in-house publicist does, you can easily get the outside professional publicist to fill in the gaps.
This is about your book and hiring a professional to market it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything to spread the word. While publishers can promote your book, there is a limit to what they can do. They also work on a budget like every one of us. So get to work and blog, tweet, and post on social media about your book. Build your own list of reviewers and reach out to them.
A good publicist can create a buzz about your book and if you are mindful of the points above, you’ll certainly find one.