Here’s part two of my interview with book publicity expert Sandra Beckwith. Beckwith is a former publicist who shares her award-winning expertise with others as the author of two publicity how-to books and a book publicity workbook, and as a publicity workshop presenter and e-course instructor. She is the author of Publicity for Nonprofits: Generating Media Exposure That Leads to Awareness, Growth, and Contributions and Streetwise Complete Publicity Plans: How to Create Publicity That Will Spark Media Exposure and Excitement. Her two book publicity e-courses and free book publicity e-zine help authors learn how to generate media exposure for their books. Learn more at buildbookbuzz.com, buildbuzz.blogspot.com, nonprofitpublicity.com.
Leslie: When should book publicity begin?
Sandra: While some authors attempt to weave publicity hooks into their manuscript, most don’t. For the majority, it’s smart to start at least six months before your publication date by creating a collaborative publicity plan that takes advantage of the skills and resources of both the publisher and the author. For example, the publisher’s publicist typically writes the book announcement release, even though the author knows the book better than anyone. So why not leverage the author’s thorough knowledge of what makes this book different or better than the competition by moving that assignment into the author’s column and freeing up the publicist to develop a highly targeted media list? (For tips on how to write a book announcement release that gets used by the press, go to buildbookbuzz.com/publicity-tips.htm. Regardless, you want to start planning six months out because you’ll be sending review copies at least three months before your publication date.
I want to point out, though, that even if your book has been out for months, it’s never too late to begin promoting it. The trick is to think past the reviews, which you can only get when your book is “new.”
Leslie: Should an author hire a publicist and if so why?
Sandra: There’s no “should” or “shouldn’t” here because every situation is different. Publicists tend to be options for authors who received substantial advances and for those who have a significant non-writing income – entrepreneurs, executives, physicians, and others – who can afford to pay the fee required regardless of the size of their advance or whether the book is self-published.
If you can afford to spend $5,000 a month for several months and a good publicist tells you she thinks she can get you press, then it’s a reasonable option. Make sure you hire someone who specializes in book publicity, can demonstrate past success with case studies, and has good references from previous author clients.
If you don’t have the money for an outside publicist but can set aside a few hours a week to promote your book yourself, then by all means, do the work yourself. It is not hard. It just requires time and an understanding of the simple strategies, tools, and tactics that will get the media’s attention. You can learn how to do it by reading books or by taking a course that helps you create and execute a targeted campaign with the tools that are the most effective for the types of media outlets you need to reach.
Next time: part three