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Time to Find a Publicist for my Memoir! Here are the Questions an Author Should Ask a Book Publicist (I think)

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October 8, 2021: I'm starting to get excited. Next month, I begin working with the development editor at Vine Leaves Press on the final version of the manuscript for my memoir anthology, "Prepare for Departure: A Travel Writer's Notes on Life, Death & Frequent Flyer Miles" (that title may change during our edit process, for all I know).

The fact that the book comes out for pre-publication sales soon (in May 2022) and for hard-copy sales in July 2022 means that I've already started to think about how I'm going to promote and publicize the book. Vine Leaves Press is an innovative, forward-thinking publisher, but it's a small, independent publisher, so they don't have much of a budget for promotion. A lot of it will be on me.

It's time to find a book publicist.

Book publicists do a lot to promote the work of authors and increase their public profile. But every publicist is different. To create a list of candidates that might be suitable for me, I asked for recommendations from friends who are authors and from friends who work in public relations. I also Googled a bit, paying close attention to things like the look of the publicist websites (if their own site is ugly and outdated, how are they going to represent you well?), previous clients and case studies.

I've found several promising publicists and will be speaking with them soon. (I also heard from one who isn't taking on new clients, two who said they don't work with my type of writing and one who seemed decidedly less than enthusiastic about representing me.)

I have a few phone and Zoom calls coming up with four of the best candidates, so I've been working on the questions I'll be asking them. If you're an established author, you may already know the most important questions an author should ask a book publicist. And if you're not an author, you may not care.

But either way, these are some of the questions I have in store:

  1. What kind of experience do you have promoting books and clients similar to me? (In my case, have you worked with titles and clients in the niches of travel, LGBTQ, aging)
  2. Do you have case studies you could share about a couple of these clients? Could you share examples of press releases, media pitch emails, social media campaigns and media kits that you’ve created?
  3. What media contacts do you have that might be interested in my book?
  4. Do you have contacts with travel and LGBTQ media?
  5. What kind of promotions do you think would work well for my book? What time frame do you have in mind?
  6. What kind of a mix of media coverage would you aim for? (blog tours, podcasts, websites, local media/newspapers/TV)
  7. Have you worked with local media in smaller markets, like Ohio and Kentucky, for example?
  8. If pre-publication sales begin in May 2022 and publication is in July 2022, when do you recommend beginning marketing and publicity?
  9. Do you provide services like setting up blog tours, bookstore appearances and book readings and public speaking?
  10. Will your firm find relevant and recognized media outlets who are willing to accept any guest posts I’ve written that link back to my own blog?
  11. How do you report on results, and with what frequency?
  12. What is your preferred communication style?
  13. Would it be OK for me to contact one or two of your similar clients as a reference?
  14. What are your fees and payment structure? Do you have various established options/programs that I could review? (by project or retainer by month and what would that include?)
  15. There are certain challenges associated with working with a small, independent publisher. For example, the publisher will not send out printed galley proofs (only electronic version), and the book will be available in hard copy just 3 months before the publication date , which could limit the outreach a publicist could do. Also, the book cover design likely won’t be available until early 2022. How would you get around these issues to still get good exposure?

So what do you think? Any input from fellow writers and savvy publicists is welcome! 

    PHOTO CREDIT: canonsnapper on Visualhunt.com 


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