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What Your First Conversation with a Publicist Might Look Like

For those who've never spoken with a publicist and wonder what the initial conversation might be like, I've compiled the list below of the items we typically discuss when authors contact me about their books (note: these will vary depending on the type of book and the individual needs of the author). I always ask for a copy of the book to read first, so we usually won’t have this conversation until after I’ve finished reading. ...

1) Editing and Cover Art
I'm a stickler for books that have been professionally edited, and even though I specify that on my website, I'm often sent books that contain typos and grammatical mistakes or suffer from general writing problems. These are often easy fixes in the hands of professional editors, but many authors choose to skip this step in the publishing process. More often than not, authors will swear that their books have been edited (by multiple people, as one author recently claimed). But in most cases, authors assume that having a few beta readers (i.e., friends and relatives) review the book is enough to fix any editing errors the book might contain. Sadly, these are books I usually have to turn down, mainly because I cannot send them to reviewers, booksellers, bloggers, news editors, or reporters - the grammatical or typographical errors would not get past these folks, whose business is correct writing.

Similarly, the cover art is so crucial to selling indie books these days, that I will usually urge the client to consider a re-do if the cover seems overly homespun or inappropriate for its audience. If either the cover or the editing seems lacking, I'll discuss options for getting those issues taken care of before moving forward with publicity for the book.

2) Platform
I like to find out as much as I can about potential clients, so if the client's book is ready for publication, we’ll usually discuss platform first, including education, work experience, publications, awards, teaching experience, celebrity status, or anything else that can help me know how to best position the author and his book to the media, reviewers, booksellers, readers, etc. We’ll also discuss personal branding strategies and any other marketing efforts that an author has made that might be relevant to the selling of the book.

3) Genre/Audience
I also like to discuss genre, if relevant, and possible target audiences for the book, including different types of readers, tangential or secondary audiences, and content or themes that might be newsworthy or resonate with different groups.

4) Outreach/Appearances
We’ll discuss what areas are possible options for promoting the book, including book launches, outreach to bloggers and blog tours, personal appearances (bookstores/libraries/professional venues, etc.), conference appearances, university and corporate speaking engagements, general media, and targeted media, including written articles, social media, web and blog sites, etc.

5) Social Media
I like to go over the various social media outlets out there and discuss which might be best for authors to target so that they have a social media presence to tap into once the book is released. For those who are new to social media, I usually recommend working on building a presence on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads as soon as possible, and also suggest that they consider developing relationships with readers via regular blog posts on their websites and blogs.

6) Beta Readers/Giveaways
It’s important to think about generating reviews both before a book launches and immediately afterward, so I’ll usually recommend reaching out to beta readers and using the giveaway features offered on sites like Goodreads and those who host blog tours.

7) Contests and Reviews
Entering contests and submitting the book to review sites is an important part of publicity, because winning awards and receiving reviews are good reasons to issue press releases once a book is launched. There is also some initial PR to consider, such as creating a general press release to be used for media and blogger queries, and getting that release up on the newswires. I’ll usually discuss how this might affect the book’s release date, along with the timing for certain PR activities (including pre-release activities, such as getting the press release written, getting a Q&A sheet formatted, gathering book cover and author photos, etc.).

8) Publicity Budget
I usually discuss my fees and what the potential client has in mind for a budget, along with items like initial deposits, how invoicing works, the duration of the publicity campaign, and what to expect for the amount of work the client is interested in having me do for his book.

9) Other Items to Include in Budget
I usually suggest that in addition to all the options listed above, authors should also be sure to budget for the following:
- cover design
- professional editing
- formatting (mobi/ebook files and pdf/print files)
- uploading to distribution sites like Amazon, Createspace, Smashwords, Draft to Digital, etc. (for those not familiar with the process or those who prefer to have someone else do it)
- printed copies of the book (for giveaways, contests, reviewers, book signings, appearances, etc.)
- promotional giveaway tools (bookmarks, posters, etc. – Vista Print is an inexpensive way to go for these items)
- postage (for mailing print copies to reviewers, giveaway recipients, contests, etc.)
- travel (if appearances are part of the author’s promotional plans)

11) Schedule
I also recommend deciding on a publicity budget and then prioritizing what the client would like me to do. If he wants a book tour, I’ll suggest making a list of dates, times, cities, etc., so I know where/when to focus those efforts. Also, I’ll ask clients to list any times when they will not be available for interviews, travel, and/or email communication.

12) Photos, Bio, and Book Cover Art
When we’re ready to get started, I’ll ask for jpgs of the author’s headshot (hopefully shot by a professional photographer) and the book front cover art, along with any biographical info the author can provide. Also, if he has any other descriptive text he can share (back cover copy with book description, blurbs, etc.), those are helpful for me to have on file..
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Paula Margulies is a book publicity and promotions expert in San Diego, California. You can reach her at paula@paulamargulies.com, or visit her at www.paulamargulies.com, on Twitter at @PaulaMargulies, or on Facebook at Paula Margulies Communications.

Comments

  1. Informative article, Paula. I'm signed to a small publisher and will, no doubt, have to do most of my PR. Do you find that small publishers, as a whole, work well with publicists or do they feel like you are stepping on their toes?

    ReplyDelete

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