4 Quick Tips on Finding a Good Book Publicist

The best book publicity companies are the ones that have the best book publicists in the industry working for them.

Some Smith Publicity Staff at Book Expo America, 2010

Effective book publicists, like the experts on our staff at Smith Publicity, are crucial members of any good book marketing team. While there is a cost to publishers or authors for professional book publicity, most experienced industry pros understand its value. There’s also no doubt that some have taken to cyberspace to write critical articles questioning results versus costs. Everyone is entitled to their opinion about what is valuable, but publicists take on many books and authors. It is the media, not publicists that makes final decisions about articles and interviews — so the results cannot always be guaranteed. So there is some amount of gamble when funding a publicity campaign for a book. But the alternative is to do less, and in those cases, it’s a sure bet the book will receive less attention.

How to Decide on a Book Publicity Firm

  • Trust Your Instincts: The intangible aspects of hiring a publicist or firm are crucial. How do you feel when you speak with a representative of the firm? What do your instincts tell you? Did you quickly connect with the person you spoke with? Did you finish the call with a good or so-so feeling impression? Beyond apparent considerations such as whether or not you were rushed off the phone, it’s about sensing a positive, affirmative attitude. Book and author PR is a personal business. Communications and relationships drive it. 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: Every good book marketing agency should have testimonials from satisfied clients whose books have done well. If the firm has been in existence for several years, it should have many glowing reviews. Testimonials are a clearcut way of reading about a firm’s track record. Also, make sure the company has experience in your genre. Check out previous clients and ask about their experience — not just results, but the entire experience past clients had working with the firm.
  • Cost: Price comes into play for most people when deciding on buying a product or using a service. Book publicity rates have wide ranges. To retain a 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 then expect to be spending a significant amount of your own time doing the promotion.
  • Size Matters: There are 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 quality work. But for sole operators and tiny firms, the person on the front line – your publicist – likely will have multiple roles. A single person operation means one person does billing, marketing, financial management, website management, etc. A larger firm like ours offers you a complete team working for you, 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 work on every book. If a sole 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.