Public Relations Blog

How to Work with a Publicist

what to ask a publicist

I was scrolling through some searches today, looking for different topics I might cover in this week’s blog.  I decided not to write about digital pr and marketing today.  Instead, I am going to talk about relationships.  Specifically, how to work with a publicist.

Don Hires a Publicist

Don is a first time author whose novel is being published by a small press.  He hires a publicist because he wants to make a name for himself and sell books.  He has a modest following on social media and he has contributed a few pieces to some small blogs.  He has a day job that takes most of his time, and writing the book was challenging.  Now that he knows he has a professional on his side, he is looking forward to making some money and hopefully signing a big publishing contract for the next book.

The Publicist understands that Don wants to get coverage for himself and his new book.  He thinks the book is terrific and has had really good success getting blog reviews and some small publications to cover a first time author.  Don agrees to a short contract for a review and interview campaign and The Publicist starts getting the word out.

Three months later, The Publicist has secured about a dozen hits on moderate level blogs and a review in an independent magazine.  He also got a brief Q&A on Don’s college alma mater’s website.  The Publicist was happy with the job, but Don was not.

Why Is Don Unhappy?

If I look back at the reasons why Don hired a publicist, it is clear why he is unhappy.  He hired a publicist to “make a name for himself and sell books.”  The Publicist heard that, and filed it away under “this is what every author wants, but everyone knows how this works”.  Each entity went into this relationship blind, with notions about the process that were not based in reality.

To ensure that this doesn’t happen to you, here are some questions to ask a publicist that should help make your campaign a good experience.

10 Questions to Ask a Publicist

  1. In an ideal world, what kind of results can I expect?  What are some samples of coverage author like me receive?
  2. What will I need to do to help you succeed at your job?
  3. Will I make my money back?
  4. How many books will I sell, approximately?
  5. What services do you think I need?
  6. What services will you be providing?
  7. How long will it take?
  8. Can we schedule a phone call a month from now to go over how my campaign is going?
  9. Can I get my money back if I am not happy with the way things are going?
  10. Do you complete any tasks that are open at the end of the contract?

10 Answers You Should Hear From a Publicist

These are some answers you might hear to questions you ask a publicist.

  1. This answer is going to be book and author specific.  The kind of coverage you get will vary based on what the book is about, your background and experience, where you live, who you know, etc.
  2. This answer is also a bit specific, but at the very least the publicist will need a picture, a bio, a book jacket, a contact list from you if you have people who can help, and a copy of the manuscript or book for the publicist to read.
  3.  I can’t say for certain, but most authors do not earn back their marketing expenses on their first books.
  4. Publicists do not sell books.  Our job is to raise awareness of you and your book so that there are increasing opportunities for you to sell copies.
  5. This answer is going to be based on the job itself.
  6. This is going to be based on your budget and what the book needs
  7. Whichever contract term you select should be ample time to meet the deliverables outlined by the publicist.
  8. Yes, of course we like to have status meetings with our clients
  9. There is a cancellation clause in the agreement.  We can’t guarantee results, but we do not sell services that we do not feel we can provide effectively.
  10. If there are any leads that require additional follow up, we will make sure to follow through.

For more information on hiring publicists check out our blogs, How Much Does a Publicist Cost? and Do You Know What a Book Publicist Does? (previously printed in Publishers Weekly magazine)

 

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