I am seriously considering hiring a publicist. Though, it makes me nervous, because I am not fully sure what to watch for. How am I to know a solid efficient firm from a fraud that will take my money and do me little good? I have heard horror stories on this. My book is going to be released next month, and I am concerned that I have not tapped the pre-marketing strategy to its full potential. Does anyone have advice on this subject that could help me find a good firm.
I've never used a publicist myself. I've heard stories from other writers who did and decided afterward that it wasn't a good investment. On the other hand, I'm sure it works for some people.
If I were considering hiring a publicist, I would ask myself (and perhaps the publicist) these questions:
1. What is the publicist going to do for me that I can't do myself?
2. Is it realistic to expect the publicist's efforts to bear fruit? This may depend on who I are and what I wrote. For example, if I'm not a celebrity, I live in Florida, and my first mystery novel is coming out, the publicist may send press releases to newspapers and radio stations throughout the Midwest, but it's unlikely that any of them would care about my project. But if I'm some sort of expert who's written a nonfiction book about a topic that's currently hot, those same newspapers and radio stations might be far more interested in my project.
3. Even if it's reasonable to expect the publicist to achieve some level of success, is this the best use of my marketing dollar? For example, if you've written a mystery novel, the publicist's efforts might generate some sales. But perhaps it would be a better career move for you to spend your money to go to a convention for mystery fans or a meeting of the Mystery Writers of America.
It's all maddeningly tricky, of course, because you can't really know the answers to such questions. You can only make your best guess.
You have some very good points. Would it be more productive to perhaps buy some local advertising at venues that appeal to my particular demographic then? I like that idea.I have been considering buying a slot at the local theater to place my book trailer,while people wait for their movie. It could be a great time especially in November when the last of the twilight saga movies come out as that is the same people that would likely read my book. It bears some careful thought.
Two years ago, I hired a solid, reputable publicist to help me promote my science fiction novel, The Immortality Virus. They had been in business for years, and had helped many authors, including big name authors I knew and read. I got recommendations, and not just from the list they sent. We e-mailed authors who had worked with them. Everyone said they were solid, dependable, and would do what they said they would do.
Six weeks before the release of my novel, they filed for bankruptcy. They took thousands of dollars from me, provided no services, and would not so much as return the 50 ARCs I had sent to them for distribution to reviewers.
From that experience and from a few others, I've learned a lot. Here is what I recommend:
1. Hire a publicist for specific, measurable tasks, and pay for results. For example, next month I have a virtual book tour scheduled with Book Addiction. They did not bill me until they had the 20 sites they promised me scheduled, and the tour listed on their web site.
2. Understand what a publicist can and cannot do. Even had that one nightmare publicist not gone out of business and stolen all my money, I doubt I would have gotten my money's worth. I was hoping that the publicist would have certain connections I lacked, and with those connections could get my book reviewed by big name places. I hoped they would get me live radio interviews and maybe even a local TV appearance. I now realize that all of this was HIGHLY unlikely. The vast majority of what a general-purpose publicist can do, you can do with enough time and effort. You just have to know how best to spend that time, which can be very difficult (I'm still working on this).
3. Even when you put in all that time and effort, a lot of this is luck. You improve your chances tremendously by:
A. Writing a good book.
B. Making sure it is professionally presented. (ie if you're self-publishing, hire an editor)
C. Having eye-popping cover art. (Missed it big time for The Immortality Virus...terrible cover....hoping to do better next time)
D. Having a good title and blurb.
After that, there's only so much you can do, and then it's up to the winds of fate. Some books take off. Some don't. You can analyze it until your head spins off, but the bottom line is there's no magical formula for book promotion. (This is the hardest lesson I have had to learn.)
4. Virtual book tours are awesome. The vast majority of my sales for The Immortality Virus came from book tours.
If it helps, I will tell you about my marketing strategy for my upcoming release, Cassie Scot: Paranormal Detective. (Release Date: February 2013)
1. The book is being published through Twilight Times Books, which takes care of editing and cover art. I do have a say in both of these things, and am currently doing research on what makes for good cover art. I don't want a repeat of the last one! :)
2. With a .pdf ARC in hand, I am sending the book out to a few select reviewers for the purpose of blurbing it. These quotes will become part of my promo package and press release.
3. I have a list of over 100 book reviewers I plan to approach personally. Some of them reviewed my previous books, but since this is a new sub-genre, many of them are new. I have found a lot of them right here on book blogs, especially fantasy and paranormal romance groups. I have checked out each site to make sure it is updated regularly, that the reviewer reads the types of book I am writing, and has at least some following. (I will give ebook ARCs to sites with only a few followers, but if someone wants a print ARC, I'm pickier. Each book costs me $10 + shipping, so I have to be somewhat selective.) About 3-4 months prior to the release, I will begin contacting those sites which accept ecopies.When the print ARCs come in, about 2-3 months out, I will contact the rest.
4. I plan to do a Pump Up Your Book Virtual Book Tour for the release. This is something like hiring a publicist, but for a very specific service, as I said. Pump Up Your Book will get me more reviews, and it will get me featured on dozens of sites (depending upon the package). They will also help me put together a video trailer and a press release.
5. I will enter the book in several contests. (I won two and was a finalist in a third for The Immortality Virus, so hopefully I'll do well again. I'm not sure this was a huge help, but it sure didn't hurt, and now I can say that I'm an "award-winning author." It does get me respect.
6. Print bookmarkts. I've seen people say these are a waste of money, but I disagree. They are cheap, and they just help the conversation. I don't know how many times someone will ask. "What do you do?" "Oh, I'm an author." "What have you written?" "Well..." digs through purse for stash of bookmarks "here's one of my titles." The bookmarks have very short blurbs (even shorter than back of the book blurbs), mostly focus on the title, and include my web site address. For me, they're easier than coming up with that one-sentence reply to "What's your book about?"
7. Aside: I didn't mention having a web site, and getting onto social media, because I've already done it and it's established. Obviously, you need to do these things if you haven't.
8. Do a goodreads book giveaway. This was probably the single best thing I did for The Immortality Virus. Almost overnight, I went from having 25 people list the book to having hundreds. (Note: I did not find Library Thing as useful.)
9. Keep my eye out at all times for promo possibilities. My mind is never closed to new ideas. Like I said, a lot of it is luck, but you can help luck along with persistence.
Things I do not plan to do:
1. Public appearances. I did these for my first book, Touch of Fate, with essentially no results. I must have visited a dozen book stores, and though I sold 3-5 copies at each one, it was just not worth the time, preparation, or gas money.
2. Worry at all about getting my book in brick and mortar stores. Most people buy from the internet, whether they're looking for print or electronic copies. I sold many more copies of The Immortality Virus than Touch of Fate, and I only had the former in one story. Touch of Fate was on the shelf at every store I visited for a book signing, but I sold almost no copies except when I was physically there, making customers nervous.
You have offered me a ton to think about an do. Thanks. I see your point about paying after the service provided is done. I love your bits on the contests. Someone here on goodreads once said, "the best thing to sell your book, is your book." Thanks for all the advice looks like I have more work to do still.
That's brilliant advice, on all counts. There are a lot of people out there who will gladly take your money, but give you very little in return. I actually just did a UK blog tour that was a complete waste of time and money. The bloggers were unprofessional (spelling mistakes, missing words in sentences). They asked for PDF's, but I think only one of them actually read the book. They just copied what I sent them. The tour did not generate any additional sales and the tour organizer didn't even acknowledge my complaints. Live and learn!
Please help me understand.
Weren't the articles your articles? How did you choose the sites for the tour? It's all about strategy. You know your book, so you along with the Tour Organizer needed to identify sites particularly suited to your book, and which have an audience. You would also need to identify blogs which already have a good following and are current.
I suggest that you review the process you undertook and see where there might have been loopholes. Many authors have had successes with book tours and if you review what you did this time, I am sure you will learn from the experience and have greater success the next time.
I feel for you.
That's fantastic advice.
Great advice. Realistic and even hard to read, as it simply reinforces the point there is no real formula for succesfully promoting a self-published book, outside tremendous amounts of hard work and perserverence. I am coming to learn, that even with great advice, there are still many journies to be taken up blind alleys until you find one with real sales opporuntity, and there are no pots of gold.
No-one should be mistaken in thinking the self-publishing route is any less frustrating than the traditional publishing route (with its countless rejections). The electronic revolution in direct publishing is no easier way to see your hard written work read, only a way to experience a different disenchantment and insomnia. But saying that, along the way you do make new friends, and that has to be bonus greater than gold.
I understand your dilemma
I invite you to visit my website at www.savvyvirtuals.co/bookmarketing to experience my site.
Thank you I will check into this.
First, put together a budget. They're very expensive and decide how many books you think they'll be able to help you sell. If you can do all or some of it, do the publicity yourself. This isn't just my opinion, it's the recommendation of my publisher, Morgan James out of New York.
Yes I am kinda getting that vibe from everyone here. I have done a lot of work on my own to date. So far I have planned a lot myself, and I am currently in process of contact bloggers to do reviews. I have built up all of my own social media outlets, and used each one to carefully build the audience. I now have a small following waiting for the release. I am building a new trailer to reflect the new title of the book, which I hope to display as a pre-feature ad at 5 movie theaters close to me the same week of a movie premiere of a movie in my same genre to catch that crowd. Per my request the publisher is releasing the book the day of an autism carnival with a general audience of 5000 people. It is a cause near to my heart as my nephew is autistic. I will have a booth there, and I intend to donate proceeds that day to the autism council of Utah. I have two radio appearances in the works, and a possible local news station that is in consideration as a result of the news worthy event. Because I am donating the Autism council is adding me to their own ad campaign. So I have been working on it, but I still feel like a novice. In all of my Communication and Mass Media courses they say that it takes an average of 7 points of exposure fro a person to decide to buy something. I just want to reach as many points as I can. I hope I am doing enough.