I've hired two publicists in the past year and even the very intensive program the second publicist launched did very little. With this publicist I was coached in making up a press package that included a new photo, a bio, a summary of the four volumes of my book Montfort, a "news angle" story that could be published as is, a shorter "news angle" story, and a packet of reviews -- all in a folder with three book-a propos photos: on front, back and inside pocket.
The publicist sent me an absurd print out of every media outlet in the US. I weeded through it and picked out the best. We then sent an email of all the material I had assembled -- with a very brief top -- but all the details if they were wanted. The publicist's phone person then followed up in a week, calling everyone we had sent emails to, and assembled a list of people asking for the book. I sent the press pack with 1 to 4 volumes of the book -- depending upon what was requested.
Out of all this I've gotten four splendid major reviews so far -- from reviewers I had contacted before I hired the publicist. Now, I might not have gotten those without the extra push. And I might still get more reviews. But the effort took three months of work and cost about $5,000 in all.
I believe one can do much better by oneself on line.
In terms of spending money, the most effective thing I've found is an ad in The New York Review of Books. You get a print ad, but you also get your ad in the on line edition -- scattered in various places from one day to the next amid the publication's stories. There was the cover of my book, Montfort, in the midst of a top news story on Bernard Madoff. The next day it was in the midst of another article. I had my highest book sales during the NYRB ads and the highest number of viewings of my web site. Bronwen Durocher handles indie ads at NYRB.
Thanks you for posting this. I've been thinking about the same issue. Your post helped me decide to just do this myself.
I'm glad you got the attention at any rate! Thanks so much for this suggestion.