To some, the term “publicist” brings up an image of a slick talking, promise-the-sky kind of person, someone who is more flash than substance. It’s almost a used care salesperson feeling some people get when they hear about a “publicist.” (not that there’s anything wrong with being a used car salesperson!)
When it comes to book publicists, perhaps the reputation is not quite that bad, but you can still find plenty of articles online deriding book publicists; explaining why they are too expensive, they don't produce anything, they’ll make promises but won't deliver, etc. etc.
Well, most book publicists and book publicity firms aren't like that at all. Like Smith Publicity, most of the people and firms in
this niche industry are hardworking, talented professionals who love authors, and love working with the media.
Here are some tips that can help you make the right decision and guide you on how to find a good book publicist:
- Trust Your Instincts—I can't emphasize enough the importance the intangible aspects of hiring a publicist or firm. How do you feelwhen you speak with a representative of the firm? What does your instinct tell you? Did you instinctively like the person you spoke with? Did you get off the phone with a good feeling or a so-so feeling?Instincts are perhaps our best decision-making influence. Beyond obvious things such as the feeling you’re getting rushed off the phone or that the person really isn't that interested in you and your book, it’s about getting a positive, affirmative feeling.Publicity is a very personal business. It’s all about communications and relationships. If you don't have a good conversation with a publicist or representative of a book publicity firm, chances are you won't end up in a good relationship.
- Track Record -This one is kind of a no-brainer. Every good book marketing firm should have testimonials from happy clients, and if they’ve been around for some time, they should have a lot of them. Testimonials are the pathway for knowing a firm has a good track record.Make sure the firm has experience in your genre. Check out pervious clients they’ve worked with. Reach out to them and ask about their experience - not just results, but the entire experience they had with the firm.
- Cost –Like everything, price – for most people – comes into play when making a decision on buying a product or using a service. Book publicity rates have wide ranges. But going into your search, understand that to acquire the services of any reputable book marketing firm, one that will handle all elements of promotion in a full campaign, you will be spending at least several thousand dollars. Of course, there are lower cost services, and if your budget is limited you can find help for various aspects of book publicity, but expect that you will have to spend a significant amount of time doing the actual promotion.
- Size Matters – At Smith Publicity, we are amazed when someone says we are too big of a company, and that they’ll be a small fish in a big pond. In our case, yes, we are one of the larger book PR firms, but we’re still a very small company.Two key things to keep in mind as it relates to the size of a book publicity firm: Smaller is fine, and there are many quality sole-operators or two or three person shops that do excellent work. But for sole operators and very small firms, the person on the front line – your publicist – likely will have multiple roles. A single person operation means that person is likely doing billing, collections, marketing, financial management, website management etc.A larger firm such as Smith Publicity enables clients to have a full team working for them, brainstorming, sharing ideas, etc. There’s also built-in backup should a publicist become unavailable for personal reasons, illness, etc. Campaigns can carry on seamlessly because at least three people are involved in every campaign. If a sole operator publicist becomes unavailable, a campaign can come to a screeching halt. And our publicists only do publicity – nothing else.
The bottom line: When it comes to how to find a good book publicist, do your due diligence, take your time and if everything else seems right - go with your instinct when deciding. You can rarely go wrong by trusting your instincts.