When Should I Hire a Publicist?
Contributor
Written by
Tonya Plank
April 2010
Contributor
Written by
Tonya Plank
April 2010
Hi everyone, I was wondering if writers experienced with publicists could give me some advice. I self-published my novel (Swallow) in December 2009. (I have an agent; it's a long story but she ended up being very supportive of my decision to self-publish.) I did everything I could to garner as much publicity on my own. I didn't send my book or press release to any major commercial publications because I knew they wouldn't review self-published books, but I did query many many book bloggers, top Amazon reviewers and small online publications, and I did giveaways on Goodreads and Library Thing. I also sent my book, along with publicity materials (which I made myself) to industry publications that review independently-published books -- like ForeWord, Midwest Book Review and Rain Taxi. I also entered my book in several indie-publisher competitions. Finally, my book deals with an anxiety disorder called Globus Hystericus, so I went to all of the anxiety disorder websites and wrote a little blurb about it there. I have a reasonably well-read blog and between Facebook and Twitter I have thousands of friends and followers, and I write about dance for the Huffington Post and other smaller publications. Thus far (4 months along) I've received several good reviews from the top Amazon reviewers and book bloggers I sent my book to, as well as a few of the Goodreads and LibraryThing readers. A writer I know from Vanity Fair gave my book a shout-out on his VF blog and put the book under his "Book Recommendations" blogroll. I also received good reviews from the industry journals I sent the book to, have been named a finalist in a few of the contests I entered, and I'm thus far a quarter-finalist in Amazon's Breakthrough Novel of the Year. I have yet to see if I placed in most of the contests I entered, including the biggies like Writers Digest, and to see if I'm moving on in the Amazon Breakthrough contest. I don't really know what more to do in terms of publicity than I've done. The book isn't selling very well (though I don't know what the standards are for a self-published book) but it's been getting really good reviews and doing well in the contests. A friend of mine who's a publicist told me I really need to hire a publicist and I shouldn't wait -- the book has already been out for four months and if I don't hurry a publicist won't be able to help me. But I'm very short on money right now and I know publicists are very expensive and I don't know how much one could help me now anyway. Unless a self-published author won a major competition or sold hugely or for some other reason got picked up by a major publishing company, is there any "story" that a publicist could work into a pitch anyway? My novel is literary fiction / women's fiction, so I know novels and especially literary novels are even harder to get publicity for. I don't want to forgo a course of action that could really help my book, but I also don't want to spend loads of money on a publicist who's only going to re-do my press materials and query a few places that are definitely going to reject me. Does anyone have advice on whether (or when) it's worth it to hire a publicist? Anyone have positive / negative experiences with publicists? Can anyone recommend a good, but relatively inexpensive publicist? Sorry this is so long! I would greatly appreciate any advice anyone could give! Thank you! Tonya

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