Publicizing a book? What to expect & when

What happens next? — A question I am asked all the time when it comes to a publicity campaign for a book, especially from new authors and clients. It’s time to lay down an outline of the calendar so you are armed with enough information that you can move on to other things on your list.

Infographic-Publicity timeline

There is No End to This Slope by Richard Fulco

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“Richard Fulco’s THERE IS NO END TO THIS SLOPE is a brave novel. Fulco’s first-person protagonist, John Lenza, born Gianni, is an exposed nerve, a raw reminder of the fears, frustrations, and neuroses from which we all suffer at times when confronting our deepest truths.  Truths, it must be said, that Fulco accesses with brutal honesty. With a deft touch, he explores themes of love, loss, self-recrimination, high theatre, rock & roll, mental exhaustion, and finally, personal détente. Any writer willing to avail his characters to such scrutiny, for all their strengths and weaknesses, is deserving of praise.”
—Peter Melman, author of Landsman

“Groucho Marx is famous for saying he wouldn’t belong to a club that would have him for a member. John Lenza, the hero of Fulco’s exhilarating novel, ups the ante and wouldn’t belong to any club no matter who they accept. With dialogue as crisp as a caramel apple, imagery of an-ever evolving Brooklyn, and terrific references to theatre, literature, and rock ‘n’ roll, THERE IS NO END TO THIS SLOPE craftily whips together elements of romantic comedy with the parts of life that aren’t so easily fixed. THERE IS NO END TO THIS SLOPE goes to show that not all endings bring a new beginning.”
—Richard Melo, author of Happy Talk and Jokerman 8


He writes letters to a dead girl—John Lenza, an aspiring writer from Brooklyn, New York, hasn’t written a novel, a play, or any other potentially publishable project.  His obsession with his part in the death of his best friend Stephanie in high school, is a metaphorical brick wall—blocking him from a fulfilling life.  Lenza’s struggles to reconcile his guilt from the past and to enjoy the present sets the tone for Brooklyn native and playwright Richard Fulco’s emotionally charged debut THERE IS NO END TO THIS SLOPE (Wampus Multimedia; March 18, 2014; $XX).

By day, John Lenza sells textbooks to New York City schools.  Like a 21st century Willy Loman, Lenza drifts, letting things happen to him rather than figuring out what he really wants from his work-life and his relationships.  At Cobble Hill High School he meets his future wife Emma Rue, an impulsive alcoholic.  At a “writerly” coffee shop near his new digs in Park Slope he meets Teeny, an overweight gay man, who mines Lenza’s life for his own material.  Richard, a homeless man becomes a voice of reason and a roommate, while Pete the landlord worries mostly about whether Lenza is truly taking special care of those beautiful wood floors in the apartment and, when Lenza loses his job, if the rent will be paid.

At one point in THERE IS NO END TO THIS SLOPE John Lenza describes himself as intelligent, perhaps too intelligent to do anything.  For him and many of the characters in Fulco’s novel it is hard to find a way to navigate the day-to-day while nurturing a sensitive and creative spirit.  Does John Lenza deserve to be tortured by something that happened so many years ago?  Or is the event really a safety net that he allows to prevent him from finding out what his true creative potential might be?

Through deeply wrought characters and scenes that mirror the angst everyone faces as life happens and years pass, Fulco touches on a fundamental issue that drives great artists to self-destruct.  Ironically when Lenza has wrung all he can out of his pained self, it may be the mundane day-to-day that ultimately saves him.

Richard Fulco received an MFA in Playwriting from Brooklyn College. His plays have either been presented or developed at The New York International Fringe Festival, The Playwrights’ Center, The Flea, Here Arts Center, Chicago Dramatists and the Dramatists Guild. His stories and reviews have appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, Failbetter, Front Porch, Bound Off, The Rusty Toque, Full of Crow, Nth Position, and the Daily Vault. He is the founder of the online music magazine Riffraf. There Is No End to This Slope is his first novel.

When is the right time to hire a book publicist…

I am a fan of the old saying “the early bird gets the worm.”  Corny, yes, but still very true and effective. It isn’t always possible to be out in front of the curve, but when you can plan accordingly it is a simple way to help ensure the success of your book’s publication.  When hiring a book publicist, it is best to secure an expert four to six months ahead of publication–if you are publishing with a traditional publisher. Allow me to break this down.

Your book is in the final editing stages, or it’s about to go to press for bound galleys or ARCs (advanced reading copies)–now is the optimal time to have a publicist ready to start in on your campaign. Why? First of all your publicist needs to read your book, and work with you on a plan and strategy that focuses on the general target audience for the book as well as niche markets. When the galleys come in, you want to be able to send them out right away to the media.

Most publications, especially magazines, require a lead time of four months in order to prepare a review. The review copy has to be received, accepted, sent out for review, the review needs to come in, and space has to be allocated in that publication for the piece. Book review sections in newspapers these days are small and you want to give the editors a chance to take a good look at your book for consideration. If it comes in too close to publication and you aren’t John Irving, you may end up tossed to the side, just because of timing. Bloggers too will get “booked up” and won’t be able to give your book attention for the month of publication if you don’t get them the book with a good solid three to four months lead time.

Ideally you want reviews or articles about you and your book to appear when your book is available in stores and online, especially when there are special marketing programs in place that put your title front and center for consumers to see and buy.

As far as television and radio are concerned, there is a bit more leeway, but keep in mind that a national television show is going to need time to consider your topic and whether or not to have you as a guest.  If you are not a recognized national “name” then it may take quite a while to get a break in a major broadcast venue, if ever, but you still want to have the time to give it a shot.

If you are hoping to set up events with booksellers, your will also need four months to book an event, and this chunk of time may be even longer if you are trying to get into a very competitive store during a busy month of book releases. Book festivals and conferences do their planning six months to a year in advance.

There is so much about marketing a book that is hard to quantify and qualify, but if you give yourself a head start, you will be able to get your book in front of the right people at the right time and if Plan A isn’t working, you will have enough time to shift strategy and still maximize the benefits of a publicity campaign.

Up next news and recommendations for self-published authors looking to hire a publicist…