How to Know if You Need a Book Publicist and What to Expect Once You Get One

Suzanne Lieurance
 


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You’ve written your book.

You’ve either sold it to a traditional publisher or you’ve decided to self-publish.

You know the book has the potential to become a bestseller.

Now. . . how do you make that happen?

For the answers to these and other questions, I interviewed Nashville, Tennessee, book publicist Maryglenn McCombs. Here’s what I found out:

Q: What is a book publicist? What should authors expect from a publicist?

A: Book publicists work with the media to generate awareness - both at a consumer and retail level - for a book. Publicists act as a liaison between the author or publisher and the media. My job, as a publicist for a book, is to generate media coverage for a book or author.

As for what a client should expect, I think dependability and responsiveness are key. It is important that the publicist have strong media contacts, good writing skills and verbal skills and a general awareness or interest in the book's subject matter.

Q: Do you work on a project by project basis? I would assume, as a publicist, you like to build a relationship with each client to see results. How do you do this?

A: For the launch of a book, I work on a per project basis. There are special circumstances where I will to take on a project for an agreed-upon number of hours per month, but these are typically for post-publication books that need a jump-start or other instances where an intensive campaign is not necessary.

And it doesn't happen overnight. As a publicist, I think it is extremely important to explain the process and timing of the campaign (i. e. , when will the publicist pitch to print media? Radio? TV? Will they set up a book tour?) to the client on the front end. It is important to address a client's expectations, as well.

I like to keep my clients well aware of everything I am working on, so I send reports detailing what has been done/who has been pitched, the status, and next steps. The client deserves to be completely in-the-know about the services being provided. Effectively promoting a book is a process - and it is one that requires lots of patience - both from the author and the publicist.

Q: Does the publicist write the press materials, or does the author have to do that?

A: I create all of my own press materials. Occasionally, clients will come to me with their own press materials, but I prefer to create releases, biographies, and other materials myself, as this is a great way to familiarize myself with the client, their book and message. I do ask that my clients supply digital photos of their headshots.

Q: How are publicists paid?

A: I work on a per project basis and am usually paid in monthly installments.

Q: How do you create a press kit for each client? What do you do with the press kit to promote your client?

A: I typically keep the press kit as simple as possible - a press release (not longer than one page), a biography, a fact sheet (just the details about the book, such as ISBN, trim size, price, etc. ) and in some cases, a tip sheet (a few succinct bullet points of what is in the book) If there is an interesting backstory to a book, I sometimes include a mock interview with the author.

The press kit is used for a number of things - soliciting reviews, providing background for interviews, etc. One client I currently represent is using the press kit I created for him to solicit speaking engagements.

Q: Do all your clients live in Nashville? How do authors hire you?

A: I work with very few clients in Nashville. Right now, I have clients in London, New York, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Texas, California, Florida, Kentucky, and Ohio.

The first step is just to make contact - email is the easiest way to reach me (maryglenn@maryglenn.com). Initially, it is helpful to know a little about the book, when it is expected to be released, etc. From there, I typically schedule a phone consultation with the author/publisher to discuss further and answer questions about how I work and the services I provide.

Suzanne Lieurance is a fulltime freelance writer, children's author, and The Working Writer's Coach. Visit her website at http://www.workingwriterscoach.com to find out more about her coaching program designed to help people who like to write become “working" freelance writers. Visit her blog at http://www.the-working-writers-coach.blogspot.com for more helpful tips for writers. Join her mailing list at her blog, and every weekday morning you'll receive The Morning Nudge, a few words to motivate and inspire you to get a little writing done. For free weekly networking teleconferences for writers, visit The Lieurance Group blog at http://www.lieurancegroup.blogspot.com

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