Thursday, September 24, 2009

Publicists for Everyone!

Have you done any pieces on published novelists and hiring your own publicist? I have chatted with the one from he publisher, she's doing fine, but only locally, and I am trying to get outside New York to promote. A friend paid $5000 to promote her first novel, but less than a decade later has six novels and two movie options, so she's doing well. But it seems to be the area I have found the least on. And it's a high end vampire novel, so this is the year to promote.
Your publisher can suggest freelance publicists, and then I would suggest talking to the publicist about what publicity opportunities she sees for your book.

You're right that for a vampire novel, now's the time. But speaking in more general terms, I know an author who is still quite grumpy about the money she spent on a publicist because it did not result in the sales she expected it to. Ask the publicists about previous campaigns they've worked on, and how they've affected sales. (Approximately, that is. No publicist can say for certain how many book sales are attributable to their efforts, but if the books are comparable to yours and their sales never went above what your goals are, then you'll know something.)

And you may want to ask this guy-- he'll know more about it than I do.


Anonymous said...

A couple years back I paid a publicist $2400 for a three-month publicity campaign and got a couple of five minute drive-time phone-in radio interviews, some online interviews, and almost nothing else. The publicist was a former marketing person at a major NY publisher (my publisher, in fact), and came recommended by a successful local writer. The up front talk about how the campaign would be waged was very promising, but when the actual marketing began, it had the feel of cold calls, and was about as effective. Nearly all of what she described early on (including Disney Radio and printed promotions in major market newspapers) never happened.

I was disappointed in the lack of results, but I don't place the blame on her. It's a crowded marketplace. It's hard to get your voice heard at all, and a publicist can't make anyone buy anything. I also wasn't hawking a hot property, it was just my own little book. The local writer who had success with her on an earlier book hired her to publicize another one, and the second time was a flop.

So you never know. I'm glad I did it only because of what I learned and because if I had not, I would have forever wondered if it would have made a difference. But I would not do it again.

Jill said...

I am in a similar boat... my first novel is coming out in November. My publisher is supportive and there is a publicity department to give me ideas and suggestions and support.

But - as a first-time, unknown author - I have to do a lot of legwork and they don't exactly have a $1,000,000 publicity budget for me.

I am willing to spend my own money (to a point) for promotion. Like the author mentioned in the posting - she spent $$$ and six books and a couple movie deals later - it's obvious that money was well spent.

Cheers, Jill

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Anonymous said...

You know, it really depends if your publisher is actively promoting the book within their own avenues, too.

I had a hardcover from a major house come out. I didn't hire a publicist and I'm glad, because even the small amount of promo I did for the book fell flat for the most part.

The book was never promoted within house -- it wasn't available at the Expo or ALA, no one sent book bloggers ARCS. No one tried to get quotes. The lack of buzz prompted the big chains to not stock it. SO, the money I spent was a waste, in my opinion. Someone can hear about a book until the cows come home, but not everyone wants to order from Amazon. Many people want to walk in a bookstore, pick it up, read a few pages first. They can't do that if its not there.

If I had it to do over again, I'd have put every cent of my advance money in the bank instead of ordering stupid 4x8 glossy postcards, sending my author copies to organizations in accordance with my book's subject, and running myself ragged trying to convince bookstores to stock it. And hey, I DIDN'T self-publish, but it sure felt like I had.

Brian Anderson said...

I spent my entire advance (after taxes) on publicity, aimed primarily at getting school visits. It has slowly paid off, and three years later I'm back in the black. It's all gravy from here -- woo hoo! Given all the time I've put into it, I think I've been working all this time for about 12¢ an hour. But I'm still at it. (Cub fan.)

Leslie said...

I think it depends on what your goal is. I hired a publicist for my first book, but I didn't expect it to lead to a huge flood of sales. I viewed it as an investment in my long-term career: a way to solidify my platform, get some media experience, demonstrate to my agent and future publishers that I was willing to put some skin into the game, and, yeah, maybe sell a few extra books too.

So, as far as meeting those goals, I do think it helped. I'd definitely do it again.

The one thing I would recommend to anyone considering hiring a publicist is to quiz them very harshly about who and where their contacts are. My guy was really good at getting me on local media, but, with the exception of one or two satellite radio shows, completely flopped on the national level. Also, he didn't have any real relationships with the types of publications that would have been natural targets for my book, so I feel as though we missed out on some opportunities.

Anyone with a good database can send out a press release - it's how they work those contacts after the fact that makes the difference.

HANNAH'S DAD said...

Not that I know anything about publishing, but...

> You're right that for a vampire novel, now's the time.

I think the time to start writing a vampire novel is at least three years ago. Bookshops are so saturated with vampire novels (and psychic detectives and werewolf vigilantes...) that the bubble has got to burst soon.

My guess is that sometime soon a vampire manuscript is going to be harder to shift than an ET doll in 1984.

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