Frequently Asked Questions:
Book Marketing and Promotion
The Today Show and other morning and daytime talk/news shows are inundated with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of publicist pitches and books every day. However, the fact is we've placed both self-published and traditional authors on shows such as the Today Show numerous times. It's never, ever easy to get an author on a top-rated national TV show, but book marketing is all we do every day, and if your book is a potential good fit for a major show, we will make every effort to interest producers. Big things happen for Smith Publicity authors every day.
The reality is that there is no way we can predict book sales. So many variables are out of our control —such as media reaction to a book and author performance on interviews, etc.—that predicting book or e-book sales is impossible.
However, we will not take on a book if we don't believe it has good potential for media coverage, which is the key to sparking book sales.
With thousands of book marketing and e-book publicity campaigns under our belt, chances are, yes, we have.
Book marketing is exciting because it is unpredictable! Amazing and surprising things can happen in any campaign, and they often do. But we can't know going into a campaign what exactly will happen. It's simply the nature of the business. In our experience, it's important to look very closely at publicists who guarantee things —it is often a warning sign and potential harbinger of author disappointment.
To be fair, there are certainly respectable firms that have guaranteed "packages" of a specific number of major-market radio interviews, etc. We just suggest you clearly understand what is guaranteed. We do offer this guarantee: we will not take your book on if we do not think we have a reasonable chance of securing meaningful media coverage. Smith Publicity lives and thrives on its reputation, and we don't want clients leaving unhappy.
Absolutely not. We have more experience promoting self-published books than any other agency in the publishing industry. Self-published or "indie" books no longer face the challenge of overcoming what used to be a negative media perception.
- Smith Publicity was the first book marketing agency to ever secure a full article about a self-published book in the New York Times.
- We were one of the first book publicity agencies to work with e-book only self-published books and e-book publishers.
- Several years ago we pitched and secured a front page, above-the-fold New York Times article which many credit with dramatically changing how the publishing industry, and the general public, viewed self-published books.
Since 1997, we've conducted thousands of book marketing and e-book promotion campaigns. We are one of the oldest and most experienced agencies that only focus on book publicity.
Our clients approve every press release before we pitch the media. Our publicists create introductory pitches you may not see in a fluid, evolving publicity campaign, but you absolutely approve all press materials.
The amount of media contact during a campaign depends on the type of book. For a very niche book, the media we contact may be limited, but for books with extensive and general potential appeal, we contact many, many contacts and outlets. In a book marketing campaign, it's not necessarily the quantity of media contacted, but the quality.
At Smith Publicity, we have an internal process through which we try to match every client with a publicist who possesses particular skill sets and experience that match the book and author's goals. Usually, we cannot know who your publicist will be until we know you are definitely coming on board as a client. In some circumstances, however, we are able to accommodate such requests.
Generally speaking, aside from taking part in the media opportunities we secure, your book publicity campaign does not require much of your time. In full campaigns, we handle virtually everything - from handling media requests, and sending out books, to creating all your press materials and scheduling interviews. It's also important to keep in mind that we can and will work around your availability when scheduling media opportunities.
When your campaign ends and you choose not to renew your agreement, we provide you with all the contact information for media who expressed interest in you and/or your book. This enables you to conduct your own follow up with these important contacts. Also, if any media representative contacts us about you after your campaign is over, we will forward it on to you. It doesn't matter if it's one week, a month, or years after your campaign is over, we will send any media leads to you. Many other book marketing agencies don't do this for authors who aren't paying them anymore, but Smith Publicity always has and always will!
Yes, we have an international reach and can pitch English language media anywhere in the world.
Yes, all of our publicists have developed and cultivated personal media contacts. Moreover, as a team, all contacts publicists develop are shared with other publicists.
Smith Publicity authors receive weekly written updates outlining exactly what work was conducted during the week, what media responded, and plans for the next week. Also, during the course of the campaign, you'll often be hearing from your publicist regularly as he/she schedules interviews, etc. If you're ever not sure what is going on, call us! It's very important to us that we maintain regular, frequent communication with our authors.
Distributors are the key to getting on the shelves of bookstores. It's not an easy process, especially since the number of major chains has reduced. At Smith Publicity, our job is to get valuable media coverage for authors and books. When you contact a distributor, make sure they know you have a publicity campaign underway (if you do), as this makes your book potentially more appealing for distribution efforts.
Yes. Controversy is typically good for publicity! It sparks debate, makes for interesting interviews, and can help make a book stand out from the crowd.
No, it isn't necessary to personally meet your publicist in person; however, we always welcome clients to visit our main office in Cherry Hill, NJ. Technology and platforms such as Skype often make it possible to "bond" with your publicist without ever leaving your home. We work with authors from around the world.
Yes, we implement e-book only campaigns and have developed specialized techniques for e-book marketing. We also routinely work with authors who have both print and e-book version books.
When you advertise, you are paying to get a message to potential book buyers. You control when ads will run, how often, and where. Book marketing and e-book publicity is different because we do not have control over exactly what will happen. But when you earn publicity — let's say a big article in a major magazine — your book appears more credible because it’s vetted and promoted by an independent party. Anyone can buy an ad in a magazine, but getting an editor to write a story about you is instant credibility.
In most cases, only focusing on national media is not a good idea. We always pursue top media for our authors, but it's very important to take advantage of all opportunities in a book publicity campaign. As we say, you never know who is listening to or watching a program, or who will read an article. We have had many cases over the years in which coverage in a small print outlet or a local TV or radio interview has resulted in additional media opportunities, including national ones. Producers and editors at national outlets are always on the look for good stories and interesting authors, and one of the places they "look" is other media.
Additionally, small market radio or TV interviews and articles in small newspapers and magazines, by themselves, typically spark book sales and make good things happen.
No, there isn't. The number of campaigns a publicist can effectively implement varies because some book marketing programs are more complex and multi-layered, while others focus on specific media segments.
Not usually. The vast majority of radio interviews can be conducted from the comfort of your office or home, and editors of magazines and newspapers will either e-mail you questions or set up a time to speak. The only travel required is for television interviews – nationally, regionally, and locally. National TV interviews can often be completed remotely via satellite from a network or cable affiliate near your location.
If your book is published and available for purchase, you're ready to begin! If we are working with Advance Review Copies (ARCs) or galleys, we can begin several months before a book is available for purchase so we can target long lead time media (i.e. monthly magazines) and trade publications.
When your campaign is ready to kick-off, we will need copies of your book—between 50 and 150 depending on the campaign—a signed agreement, payment, and a completed author questionnaire.
Yes, we partner with an agency that focuses only on Amazon optimization services and establishing relationships with Amazon top reviewers. This service can help readers find your book and make your book stand out from the millions of books listed on Amazon.
The short and honest answer: it varies week by week. One week a publicist may spend many hours researching angles, media lists, personally pitching, and assessing what is working best. The next week may be fielding requests and questions from the media. There's no set number of hours required to effectively implement a book marketing campaign; it is a fluid, evolving, and flexible process that requires unbridled creativity.