Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Authors hire publicists to promote their books, and often pay them well. So why should an author help a book publicist do his job? The simple answer is: Because book marketing and book publicity is a very personal business; one in which emotions matter and meaningful communication can make the difference between a successful book promotion campaign and a mediocre or poor one. The expertise of a book publicist is best utilized when augmented with a balance of patience and input by the author, and much more.

Here are 5 ways an author can increase the likelihood of a successful book marketing and book publicity campaign, one which produces a wide array of media coverage and sets the stage for book sales:

1) Patience -- Book publicity is more marathon than sprint, and authors who are naturally eager to see quick results need to educate themselves on the tradecraft of book marketing to understand this. An impatient author begets a rushed publicist, which in turn typically results in rushed pitching rather than carefully planned and implemented media outreach. In short, impatience can cause mistakes and shoddy publicity work. As difficult as it may be, authors should give a campaign time. Regular, thorough weekly updates from a publicist should demonstrate the book marketing plan is being rolled out in a strategic, carefully designed manner, with a sense of natural urgency every good publicist has.

2) Don't micro-manage -- One of the most destructive things an author can do to a publicist is micro-manage. A publicist who feels an author is looking over her shoulder 24/7 will not be a good publicist. An author hires a publicist for the expertise and media savvy which comes experience. Micro-management will take a publicist off-task. A client who controls the professional they've hired will end up getting unprofessional results.

3) Be available -- Many publicity opportunities come quickly, with short notice. An author should be as available and flexible as possible, making their campaign as much of a priority in their life as possible. A book is only launched once, and missing opportunities can kill a book publicity campaign.

4) Let a publicist push the limits -- In most book marketing campaigns, a publicist isn't doing his job if he doesn't come up with at least a few pitching ideas that make the author uncomfortable. It's a publicist's job to be creative, to push the envelope and think of unique ways to break through the competition. It's ok to say "no" to an idea, but authors shouldn't be offended if what's presented makes them uncomfortable. In many cases, it's a publicist's job to push an author outside their comfort zone. Book publicists -- at least good ones -- expect some of their ideas to be shot down.

5) Reasonable expectations -- Perhaps the hardest part of a publicist's job is to manage the expectations of an author. Having reasonable expectations in a business in which it's impossible to know what will happen is crucial. Book publicity and book marketing is a tough, tough business. The competition is fierce, and success in terms of huge book sales numbers is often elusive. A balanced, reasoned understanding of the challenges and opportunities of a book promotion campaign will inevitably improve the odds of an author being satisfied with the work of a publicist.
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