What Exactly is Book Publicity and Do Authors Really Need it?

But what is book publicity? How is it performed? Do all authors need it? Book publicity is not an exact science, but it is a crucial promotional art form that every author needs to understand.

What Is Book Publicity?

Unlike sales and marketing, publicity is more nuanced. When you see authors on a talk show, it’s clear they’re not just there for casual conversation. Obviously, they have something they want people to buy … their book. However, before they plug that item they’re selling, they engage with the host and entertain the audience. It’s all about giving something to receive something. It’s the “soft sell” approach. If an author does an interview and incessantly hawks their book and is too promotional, the host or producer will likely cut the interview short. Authors need to master the art of soft-selling – mentioning their book at the right times; promoting without being overbearing. Or, put another way, book publicity is the classic “you scratch their back …” scenario. You give a quality interview or provide good information for a print story, and the media outlet will plug your book. Book publicity can also be defined as the use of the media as a conduit to spread the word about a book to the general public and/or niche audiences.

Why Bother With Book Publicity?

Even if a book is published by a prominent publisher, it can still be hard to promote. The competition for media attention is fierce as more books than ever are being released. Why do even household-name authors “do the media circuit” of interviews on TV and radio? Answer: Because even the biggest names know that they need to engage in a book publicity campaign. They need to get the word out about their new book. There are few guarantees in book publicity, but there is one: You are guaranteed to NOT sell books if you don’t make efforts to market it and employ book publicity tactics. Put simply, if you don’t get the word out about your book, no one will know you’ve written it. Period.

How Should You Publicize Your Book?

To augment traditional book publicity efforts, authors should always have a book-centered website, ideally a blog, and a presence on social media. Authors need to get out in front of people as much as possible in order to compete for attention.

While it’s not imperative to hire a professional publicist for book publicity, if you can afford it, a quality book publicist is typically always worth the investment. Book publicity is HARD work. It is not something anyone can do. Just as it’s not wise for people to defend themselves at trial, depending on your personality, promoting your own book and being your own book publicist may not be a good idea. Just as you hire professionals all the time to provide services at your home, it’s really no different in book publicity. Don’t do something you don’t know how to do. Like a home project gone awry, self-promotion can actually end up costing you more money and could end up in literary disaster.