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hopeful
08-31-2007, 11:44 PM
Hello!

Have any of you done this? Do you have a feeling it made a big difference in your sales?

I know there are some really expensive ones out there as well as some that are a bit more reasonably priced.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts on the subject!

- hopeful

Toothpaste
09-01-2007, 12:46 AM
Not me personally, but you may want to PM ORION, she has!

Good luck!

hopeful
09-01-2007, 01:45 AM
Thanks for the tip, Toothpaste!

I'm nowhere near hiring one, just vaguely entertaining the idea.

- hopeful

Susan Breen
09-01-2007, 01:45 AM
I have and she officially starts on Sept. 1, so I can't say if it's helped yet, but I'm excited. This is my first book being published and I felt it was worth it to have all support possible.

hopeful
09-13-2007, 02:45 AM
Hi Susan,

I'd love to hear your thoughts when things "get going" with your publicist.

Thanks!

-hopeful

EileenParker
09-13-2007, 09:53 PM
Distribution. When I was a book publicist, the first thing I wanted to know when the book was coming out. (You hire the publicist before publication) If the book was not in the bookstores anymore, and someone reads about or hears you in the media, then how could people buy it?

Make sure you have a publisher who can get good distribution. The publicity campaign will be timed with the release and the reviews to get you on the radio (the most-used tool) and in print when you have the prime distribution.

Kadea
09-19-2007, 06:33 AM
I work for a Public Relations company. Securing TV, Newspaper and Magazine interviews as well as speaking engagements, etc. Feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions, inlcuding what to expect price-wise, etc. It's an industry very few people really understand, so I am accustomed to answering lots of questions!

ResearchGuy
09-19-2007, 11:48 PM
. . .I know there are some really expensive ones out there as well as some that are a bit more reasonably priced. . . .
And some are frauds. You would not believe the horror story I heard from an author friend. Check credentials. Any legitimate publicist will, I am confident, provide references you can check.

Allow me to recommend that you read up on book marketing and publicity. There may be much you can do yourself or with the aid of inexpensive resources.

--Ken

Kadea
09-19-2007, 11:50 PM
Yes, but there are also many reporters than won't talk to someone without a Public Relations Firm representing them.

Marketing is very different from Publicity.

ResearchGuy
09-20-2007, 12:39 AM
Yes, but there are also many reporters than won't talk to someone without a Public Relations Firm representing them.
Interesting. And very, very odd, if true. Bizarre, even. Certainly inconsistent with my experience over the years (although in most of those cases, the reporters were calling me, not the other way around).


Marketing is very different from Publicity.
They have synergies--or can--and for practical purposes might be indistinguishable. Publicity can be exploited for marketing.

IMHO.

--Ken

Kadea
09-20-2007, 02:37 AM
Interesting. And very, very odd, if true. Bizarre, even. Certainly inconsistent with my experience over the years (although in most of those cases, the reporters were calling me, not the other way around).


They have synergies--or can--and for practical purposes might be indistinguishable. Publicity can be exploited for marketing.

IMHO.

--Ken

Yes, publicity can be exploited for marketing, but they are very different. Many do not understand exactly what Public Relations is. Since I work in the industry every single day, feel free to PM me and I will be happy to educate you on the differences.

I don't know what your industry is, but maybe your experience is different. Most companies and/or people do not have the luxury of reporters calling them if they are not already well established in their field. Do you put your own press releases on the wire? Do you publish white papers or published case studies? Do you frequently speak in front of large groups? Do you work with analysts? Have you been interviewed on National TV? Have you been quoted in large circulation newspapers or magazines such as the Wall Street Journal? If you have and they called you, I'd love to know more, because those are the things we do for our clients and we are always looking to expand our knowledge of how the system works in different industries.

ResearchGuy
09-20-2007, 08:42 AM
. . . Do you publish white papers or published case studies? . . .
I was writing policy and background papers for a state policy shop. Also, more recently, I approached a columnist (not, I grant you, a reporter) for a regional newspaper about doing an article about an individual and her book. The result was a feature article. I called simply as someone who knew the author and the (forthcoming) book, not as any kind of PR professional. But I knew the sort of thing the columnist was interested in, and the subject was a perfect fit.

Anyway, this is not something I want to beat to death. I am not writing a dissertation here, but just informally commenting. If professionals in the field disagree with my use of the terms, so be it. I still don't see the harm in suggesting that an author learn something about marketing of (in the inclusive sense) and publicity for books, and think it is a good idea.

--Ken

Kadea
09-20-2007, 08:58 AM
Interesting. And very, very odd, if true. Bizarre, even. Certainly inconsistent with my experience over the years (although in most of those cases, the reporters were calling me, not the other way around).


This is the sentence that concerned me. I don't think it is fair to lead someone to believe that reporters will just call them out of the blue. I also find it interesting that you would make such a bold statement about "fact" when in reality you have very little experience in the subject matter.

We take clients each and every day and propel them on to the National stage (sometimes the Global Stage). It takes a tremendous amount of skill and effort to do that. Long standing rapport with reports and other media outlets is what makes us so successful. There is a reason virtually all successful authors, corporations and other successful entities employ a Public Relations company in addition to marketing departments and advertising agencies. Even the almighty Microsoft has a bunch of different Public Relations companies working for them in addition to their VERY large marketing department. You would certainly think that if anyone would have reporters calling them left and right for stories...it would be them, yet they still see the need for help.

But yes, I too would highly recommend "hopeful" do lots of research in to what methods of marketing, PR and advertising have a proven success rate for their type of genre.

ResearchGuy
09-20-2007, 07:15 PM
This is the sentence that concerned me. I don't think it is fair to lead someone to believe that reporters will just call them out of the blue. I also find it interesting that you would make such a bold statement about "fact" when in reality you have very little experience in the subject matter.

We take clients each and every day and propel them on to the National stage (sometimes the Global Stage). It takes a tremendous amount of skill and effort to do that. Long standing rapport with reports and other media outlets is what makes us so successful. There is a reason virtually all successful authors, corporations and other successful entities employ a Public Relations company in addition to marketing departments and advertising agencies. Even the almighty Microsoft has a bunch of different Public Relations companies working for them in addition to their VERY large marketing department. You would certainly think that if anyone would have reporters calling them left and right for stories...it would be them, yet they still see the need for help.

But yes, I too would highly recommend "hopeful" do lots of research in to what methods of marketing, PR and advertising have a proven success rate for their type of genre.
Thank you for your insights. I shall take them under advisement.

--Ken

P.S. For those who might wonder . . . my initial snarky response reflected astonishment that anyone could conceivably find any way to implicitly compare the public relations needs of a widely hated, monopolistic, anti-competitive, multi-multi-billion dollar corporation, always under pressure from the likes of the FTC and the European Union and suffering the outrage of customers for bloated, buggy, planned-obsolescence-focused products, to the needs of an average author with a memoir or a novel that might, with luck and some media exposure, have the potential to sell a few hundred copies, and who might be able to scrape up a couple hundred dollars for such luxuries as help from a publicist in getting publicity for local events. That and what seemed like a misguided, gratuitous, and rather huffy personal shot at my personal observations about personal experience with reporters. But if someone really thinks that a run-of-the mill author has need of someone whose focus is "the Global Stage," well, so be it.

ccarver30
09-20-2007, 11:33 PM
Are you always this dense? Seriously.

--Ken

That sure is rude. http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u117/moontower07/thignorebutton.gif

Angie
09-21-2007, 12:29 AM
Are you always this dense? Seriously.

--Ken
That sure is rude. http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u117/moontower07/thignorebutton.gif

And uncalled-for.

hopeful
09-21-2007, 05:19 AM
Wow, this thread got really active rather suddenly.

Thanks, everyone, for sharing your thoughts.

Take care,

hopeful

amber_grosjean
12-14-2007, 04:38 AM
A fellow author of mine went to a college and talked to someone there. She was able to get a free publicist and use the experience for collage credit. I was thinking about going along those lines because it is a win-win situation and if it doesn't work out, there's no money lost. I live close to Ball State so it just takes me going there and meeting the students, which I wouldn't know where to start lol. Its something to think about.

Amber

fivebyfive
02-09-2008, 01:13 PM
I think it's a question of time vs. money. If you have the money to hire someone else and would rather spend your time writing (or with your family, etc., etc.), then just do that. If you are like many authors and have more time than money, you should definitely learn the publicity tactics yourself. There are numerous books on the subject as well as free resources online. It will take time to sift through and find the good advice, plus some trial and error, though. Just keep at it.

johnrobison
02-09-2008, 05:18 PM
I don't have an outside publicist, but I do have one at my publisher and I have a separate speaker's bureau.

My experience with national media has been like Kadea says. They all flow through my publicist. People Magazine or NBC would call her first, and she'd call me. Local or regional media could go either way. If they call me, I refer them to her for media packages and support but I handle interviews from here.

When my speaker's agent books lectures, it's usually the venue that handles publicity there. For example, I'm speaking at an event at Monarch School in Houston in March. To support that, they called my agent and asked if I'd do a 1-hour talk show on Houston Public Radio. She passed that on to me, and we did it. They (the school) has promoted the event and they'll have media there and they've run ads and marketed in advance.

What that sort of thing does is keep you visible which makes the next event go well. And the collection of appearances is part of the "platform" if you will, that makes you credible or interesting to media

The question of an outside publicist comes up when you don't get much attention from a publisher publicist, or when you are promoting a non-book thing (like workshops, for example) or if you have multiple books across different publishers and want to tie them together.

GhostAuthor
03-03-2008, 06:38 PM
I handled all the publicity details myself for the release of my first novel. It was with a new, small press and I didn't have any outside help. During the year and a half (since the book's release) I've scheduled book signings, attended conventions, had news articles appear in several local papers etc.

As others have said, it's not too difficult, if you have the time. (it can be very time consuming)

However, I recently hired a publicity company as I'm looking to expand my signings to other states and would like more press (larger companies) interest.

Thus far (I've recently hired the company), they've been wonderful - professional, quick to respond AND inexpensive (I did a lot of research into companies). They are working with me to make certain they can handle all my needs.

I can check in as we do more, but I wanted to let you all know.

Here is their link: http://www.bookcandystudios.com/

Susan Breen
03-03-2008, 07:46 PM
I hired a publicist and I've found her incredibly helpful. I should say that Penguin also has a wonderful publicity team and they are doing great work for my book, but, as a debut author with no national platform, I felt I could use every bit of help I could get. So my private publicist is working along with the Penguin team and I've hired her for a particular period of time, which I think is nine months. (You can see that I am not a detail person.) Hopefully it's a win/win situation, except for the money, but even that I think I'll make back with sales.

How2writer
03-04-2008, 07:13 PM
I can speak from the other side of the coin. I was an independent promoter of authors for 30 years and recently gave it up for good. I noticed over the last 10 years authors put limitations on me and made working for them so difficult. Part of it was my fault. Because of a crime I had lost all my past client files and testimonials and had to go into hiding for to protect myself - that's a book in itself - so authors were naturally skeptical of my credentials and abilities. Yet, I offered something that other publicists didn't: in addition to press and media coverage I helped clients actually make money from their promotional activities to pay for their book production and travel expenses and even my fees, for the same fee that other publicists charged. They didn't like that. (Huh?)

Clients would fight me all the way. They would hire additional publicists at the same time and then required me to answer to publicists 30 years my junior, just out of college, or who competed with the same contacts but with a different message without my knowledge. Journalists didn't like that, and it reflected badly on me even though I didn't know. If I tried to negotiate high speaking fees for authors they would undermine me and speak for free or refuse to speak at all.

So if you hire a good publicist, trust them and treat them well. Don't sabotage the work they are doing for you.

hopeful
03-23-2008, 05:06 AM
I hired a publicist and I've found her incredibly helpful. I should say that Penguin also has a wonderful publicity team and they are doing great work for my book, but, as a debut author with no national platform, I felt I could use every bit of help I could get. So my private publicist is working along with the Penguin team and I've hired her for a particular period of time, which I think is nine months. (You can see that I am not a detail person.) Hopefully it's a win/win situation, except for the money, but even that I think I'll make back with sales.

Thanks, Susan, for your informative post! It is much apprecited!

- hopeful

Prevostprincess
03-26-2008, 09:08 PM
I also hired a publicist, but since QUEEN OF THE ROAD isn't coming out until June 3rd, I can't quite give you the full scoop, yet. What I can tell you is this:

My publisher at Random House assigned an inhouse publicist for me. She has wonderful energy and loves my book. When I broached the subject of hiring an outside publicist with my editor (who is a VP at Doubleday, so she should know), she said she didn't think I needed one, but that if I wanted one, of course they would be happy to work with her.

So, why did I hire one? I just wanted to feel that I did everything possible for this book, that if it tanked, I would have no regrets later (ie, "If only I had done... ") I didn't write QUEEN OF THE ROAD for the money; I wrote it because I desperately wanted to write the book. So, spending part of the advance on a publicist was fine with me. I looked at it as an investment in my writing career.

Before I did anything though, I consulted Bella Stander (http://www.bookpromotion101.com). I found her via Miss Snark's blog (sigh). She raved about Bella and I can see why. Once an author has a publishing deal, he or she really should consult with her. She can advise you if you need a publicist and recommend good ones she thinks will fit with your book (as she did me). She also recommended the website designer for my kick ass website. Finally, she even got me a blurb via her connections. Once you become one of "her" authors, she kinda takes you under her wing. I've only formally consulted with her twice on the phone, but then she follows up with emails (no charge for any of that). Particularly, I'll never forget after our first consult, she emailed me a few weeks later with, "NU? What are you doing about blurbs?" Well, I thought my publisher was going to take care of all that. She immediately set me straight, gave me several suggestions and said she knew one of them and would ask him for me (all this no charge, BTW). Really, consulting with Bella has immensely helped QUEEN OF THE ROAD. (And, after seeing my website, I really do believe the sales folks got more excited and again, Bella recommended the company that did it.) Overall, consulting with her has saved me a bunch of money on things I thought I needed and she felt I really didn't. She has a recent blog (http://readingunderthecovers.blogspot.com/2008/03/inside-scoop-not-for-faint-hearted.html)post about the very issue of whether or not to hire a publicist. (I also know of authors who have consulted her and not hired publicists - she can give you ideas and direction about what to do in that case. Bella charges $150/hr, but even with everything she's done for me, I think the total time I've formally consulted with her has been 1.5 hrs.)

Back to my publicist! OK. I interviewed four on the phone. Liked 'em all, but one stood out for me. People of course want to know cost: They all wanted to work for six months. The cheapest was $15,000 for the entire six months, the most expensive $4,000/month for the six months. (With my June 3rd pub date, my publicist started Feb 1st - they all want to start before galleys come.) I'm sure there are less expensive ones that may or may not be as good. Also, be sure to ask if the publicist does web publicity, if she doesn't, you may want to hire someone for that. (Web publicists want to work for two months before pub date. Cost range I've seen is $1500/mo up to $2700/mo.)

Thus far, I'm thrilled with both my inhouse and outside (I almost wrote "outhouse" :)) publicists. They are doing a great job and working well together. Did I really need the outside one? I don't know, but it has given me tremendous peace of mind. You hear a lot of horror stories from writers about inhouse publicists not sending review copies to key places or blurbers the writer has already secured (this did NOT happen to me. I'm just saying...), as they work on many books at one time. And, I know enough about the whole book publishing thing to know I don't know enough to know what the publicist should be doing or when she should be doing it. I also think hiring a publicist my publisher knew and respected also made a difference, ie it sent a message I was serious about promoting my book.

QUEEN OF THE ROAD was recently (two days ago, in fact - still pinching!) chosen as one of Borders four book club picks for June. That means front of store placement with specially printed reading guides for the entire month. How did that happen? I have no clue. However, when I was in LA in February, my outside publicist (who is based there), set up a fabulous bookseller lunch for me with various people, including two from Borders. They had gone on my website, told me how much they loved QUEEN OF THE ROAD and thus were able to ask very specific questions about the book. When galleys came out two weeks later, she sent them to these people, who followed up saying they loved it. I'm sure my publisher had also been pitching the book to Borders, but did the lunch and galleys help Borders decide to chose it? Again, no clue, but as Bella might say, "It couldn't hurt."

I hope this is helpful and sorry for the long post. The boards here have been so wonderful to me with all the sharing of info and support. It's hard to find costs and specifics, so I wanted to post what I could from my experience.

Emily Winslow
03-29-2008, 02:51 PM
Wow, Prevostprincess, thanks for the detail! That's *great* info, and I'm grateful you shared...

Susan B
04-07-2008, 07:08 PM
Very interesting thread, especially to read about the recent experences of John, Susan, and Doreen. Very timely for me.

My first book is coming out in December. I've just gone over the suggested copyedits, sent back my comments, so it's now moving into production. I've got some time to think about what's next.

My publisher is a southern university press, a very good fit for the subject of my memoir (Cajun-Creole music). Everyone has been great to deal with so far. Lots of individual attention, close editing.

Other people (including my agent) have cautioned me that an independent press (especially a nonprofit) has limited resources for publicity and marketing, so much of this will be up to me.

Have to say, though, I've been encouraged so far by my publisher's efforts. They have an in-house publicist as well as a small marketing department. Some months back I filled out an exhaustive author questionnaire, which included names of potential blurbers, every contact I could think of (interest groups, web-related stuff, local bookstores.) I've reviewed their catalog copy. My editor (the editor-in-chief) has told me I'll get a detailed marketing plan in a few months. He's also assured me that he and his assistant will solicit the blurbs and advance reviews.

I think my press is better positioned than I am to reach the regional and academic audience. But the hope of reaching a broader readership--here in the SF Bay Area, nationally--that's where I think my efforts will make a difference.

So I've wondered about hiring a publicist--or something. Funny, my 23-year-old journalist son was giving me a pep talk last night. Think bigger, invest in your writing career. Wouldn't you like to give up your day job? (Well, not sure about that!)

Two things make me hesitate. Cost, obviously. (The first half of my modest advance basically covered the cost of a new laser printer :-)

Also, I am facing major uncertainty in my personal life (which should be resolved in a few weeks): we might be facing a move to NY, in connection with my husband's work situation.

Sounds like an hour of consultation with a good publicist (like Bella S.) might be in order, and I could certainly afford that much.

Any thoughts appreciated!

Susan B (Blair)

Susan B
04-12-2008, 06:40 PM
Just a follow-up to the above exhaustive and obsessive post! I'm now in touch with Bella Stander, the publicity consultant recommended by Doreen. She does seem to be amazing!

Prevostprincess
04-13-2008, 02:02 AM
I'm so glad you're in touch with Bella, Blair. I know you're in great hands. And, FYI for anyone in the NYC area, Bella is doing one of her Book Promotion 101 workshops (http://www.bookpromotion101.com/bp101/) on May 17th.

Cathy C
04-13-2008, 02:28 AM
This is a really informative post for me, since I've been debating for more than a year about hiring a publicist. The question, of course, is always money, along with my rather high expectations. See, I've been doing my own publicity, and I know what I want. I know how much time certain things take, and how easy/difficult a task is. I'm looking for someone MORE skilled than me at marketing, to go to that next step. So far I've only found a few, and they're pricey.

Part of it is the genre, of course. The publicist has to be excited about urban fantasy and paranormal romance and know how to reach those readers. We're not "Oprah" material, after all. I want serious thought about how to reach the next level of sales . . . how to reach NEW readers or get superior placement in the bookstores, or leap on board events I haven't heard about. So the publicist has to be proactive, rather than reactive. I want to be the FIRST to hear about new things through networks I don't already have access to. If something pops up with a short lead time, I want an email that day, rather than hearing about it after it happened from another author friend.

So far, I've learned my expectations are too high for the price I'm willing to pay. I just can't convince myself to pay a flat fee per month without feeling confident that the promotion of our books is a TOP priority with them and that I'll get actual value for my money every single month. "Actual value" means tangible items, rather than more elusive "potential" items. It's not fair, but at least I'm honest with myself. :Shrug:

I know I'd be a difficult client for the wrong firm (probably impossible.) But I'd be a terrific client for the right company, so I'm working at meeting publicists at genre conferences to try to FIND the right one. Once I feel confident of their superior skill, I'll be happy to just sit back, sign the check and enjoy the benefit. :)

Susan B
04-16-2008, 07:25 AM
I'm so glad you're in touch with Bella, Blair. I know you're in great hands. And, FYI for anyone in the NYC area, Bella is doing one of her Book Promotion 101 workshops (http://www.bookpromotion101.com/bp101/) on May 17th.

Thanks again, Doreen, for the referral We've been exchanging e-mails, kind of getting acquainted. I've set up a phone consult for the week after next. I've already gained some things just from the preliminaries :-)

Cathy C--I'd also be very hesitant about hiring a publicist in any kind of ongoing way, whether it's for one month or three. Not because I'm all that competent on my own (I'm not!). Just not able to do that financially. But I've heard that a few one hour consults with the right person can be very helpful--and my experience with Bella already bears that out. What I hope to get are ideas (from an independent expert) about what I can do on my own to enhance the efforts of my publisher.

It's great to hear everyone's thoughts and experiences!

Phrixos
05-04-2008, 05:00 PM
"I work for a Public Relations company..... Feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions,... I am accustomed to answering lots of questions!"

Ok. Here's one that has always puzzled me. (It might sound a bit narky, but I don't mean it that way. It's a serious question.)

Lit agents work for a slice. This says a great deal--about the quality of the writing, but perhaps even more about the agent's confidence in their own abilities. Publicists work for hire--which says nothing about either.

Why do publicists not work for a slice?

IceCreamEmpress
05-05-2008, 02:55 AM
Why do publicists not work for a slice?

Because they're not agents. They don't negotiate deals; they provide a specific set of services for a specific period of time.

Phrixos
05-12-2008, 12:30 PM
"Because they're not agents. They don't negotiate deals; they provide a specific set of services for a specific period of time."

Sorry, IceCream, but that's precisely the tautology I'm trying to bend my mind around.

1. An agent is not, by definition, someone who negotiates deals--only someone who provides a service--assists in bridging--between some current position and an some objective. A catalyst. Indeed, you only have to use the search term, "publicity agents" to see how many "publicists" call themselves that.

2. Different things entirely, your answer equates "a situation" with the reason(s) why the situation exists. Thus, to revamp the original question:

WHY do publicists ONLY provide "a specific set of services for a specific periods of time"?

Being that type of person who doesn't do something unless he knows he can do it right, I also recognize the importance of proper publicity and the damage a poor campaign can do. Accordingly, and for one, I would be quite happy to give an publicist a similar slice of my book, to that of my agent, if I could find one willing to "adopt" me as a client in much the way an agent does. I'd like to know WHY publicists think such a relationship unwise or unworkable.

I know it sounds harsh, but the logic remains: being--only--for hire doesn't say much about a publicist's confidence in their ability to do what they say they can.

I'm too stupid to be crafty, which is why I find it much easier being a straight-up and straight-out kind of guy--which is why and in turn, I can't avoid voicing my observation of how indicative it is, that there has been only the one, tautological, reply to this question.

scope
05-12-2008, 07:47 PM
Phrixos,

Re publicists working for a percentage rather than up front money, does it really matter what you, I, or anyone else may want or would like? The fact is that they and many others in the business (e.g., indexers, freelance editorial) offer services for which they want to be, or need to be, paid up front or on completion for what they do. With rare exception, they are not corporate entities. Although I don't know, I doubt that a publicists confidence when asking to be paid up front has any bearing or relationship. This is how they choose to work. Personally, I find nothing wrong with freedom of choice.

IceCreamEmpress
05-12-2008, 10:51 PM
WHY do publicists ONLY provide "a specific set of services for a specific periods of time"?

Because publicists provide services; they don't broker deals. A real estate agent brokers a deal for the sale of a house, and in return he or she receives a percentage of the sale price. A literary agent brokers a deal for the sale of a book, and in return he or she receives a percentage of the advance and royalties.

Neither publicist nor client have any way of knowing what the sales of a book would be without the publicity effort. Public relations, as an industry, grew out of the advertising industry, which is not a commission-based industry for the same reason--nobody knows how much Coca-Cola would be sold without the specific ads that a given company is supplying.

Where sales trends do come in in both advertising and public relations is in the long view; if the client isn't happy with the sales trends, he or she fires the ad agency/public relations agency and finds another.