• Rebecca W Munn
  • [Behind the Book] 3 Steps to Choosing a Publicist for 1st Time Authors
[Behind the Book] 3 Steps to Choosing a Publicist for 1st Time Authors

When I finished editing my book with the help of Annie Tucker, it was time to think about my path to publishing and how I would promote The Gift of Goodbye: A Story of Agape Love. As I considered the best way to publish for me, my path forward emerged fairly easily as I was clear about my primary goal: I wanted my books in bookstores. Choosing a publicist from several strong options was not as easy, and not something I had any experience in. I knew the value and importance of hiring a publicist, mainly from my school as a marketing undergrad, versus thinking I would be able to manage the promotion on my own.

Step 1: Where do you start?

I would start by asking for publicist recommendations from people you trust. This could include friends, family, authors you know, your editor, and your publisher. Gather publicists’ names and do your own research on the kind of books each one promotes, the style of promotion, and the channels that are used. Channels in this sense include websites, social channels, any blogs or newsletters, or press releases, TV and/or radio promotion. Make notes on pros and cons of each publicist, then group your options into three categories: must have, nice to have, and neutral. Then, do your own research on the blogs and other media, such as magazines, websites, and newsletters that are a priority for you for your book promotion. Answer questions like where would you think promoting your book would most likely reach the intended audience?

Step 2: Narrow down your options

Take the publicists from your “must have” group and review each one once more, looking at each compared to the other for style and tactics that most closely align with your book promotion needs and style. Pick the top three. Reach out to each one for a conversation that includes the following:

  • Share a summary of your story, book highlights, genre and your goals
  • Gather an understanding of the publicists approach to your type of book – what would he or she recommend? Anything to avoid?
  • Learn the availability of the publicist for your timing and any deadlines for decisions.
  • Understand the publicist’s level of relationships with your list of priority media outlets; for example, if your book is intended for a Christian audience, does the publicist have solid relationships with outlet’s such as Guideposts?
  • Organize the answers and rank order your list of “must have” publicists, based on the input gathered in your research and conversation.

Step 3: Finalize your choice

I found that this step became very clear to me after following step 1 and 2. I was a novice to this world and didn’t always know what questions to ask. As such, I asked of each of my finalist candidate publicists “what questions should I be asking that I haven’t” and “what advice do you have for me in making my final decision”. Being a novice, one of my top three publicists actually gave me my answer without knowing it. She first read my book, then called to share that while she really wanted to work with me, she did not have the relationships that she felt would most benefit from hearing my story. It was a guiding light for me on how to approach choosing between the final two publicists. I made my selection and am grateful for the value of the efforts of my publicist for The Gift of Goodbye.

One piece of advice as you enter the promotion process: be cognizant of the level of engagement and actions required of you, as your story is the product that is being promoted. And you are the author of your story.

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