Book Publicity 101
How to choose, use, and work effectively with a publicist—and determine if hiring one is right for you
Barbara Linn Probst
Live on Jan. 20, 2022, or watch recording
Authors thinking about hiring a publicist
Closed captions by Otter; transcript provided with recording
Writing a book and getting it published are huge accomplishments, but there’s a third and equally important step: making sure that people find out about it. If they don’t know that your book exists, they can’t buy it, read it, or recommend it to others. Without that third step, the first two won’t lead very far.
“Finding out about a book” depends on many things: the author’s personal connections; her reputation and expertise (known as her “platform”); her efforts to generate interest within the circles she can reach directly; and the efforts of professionals who can extend that interest into a wider arena. Those professionals include publicists, marketing consultants, and social media assistants. With more than 2,700 new books launching each day in the U.S., attracting attention to your book—identifying, reaching, and captivating the appropriate audience—can be a daunting task.
Unless you’re lucky enough to get endorsed by a high-profile influencer like Oprah Winfrey or Reese Witherspoon, you’ll have to do the lion’s share of promotion yourself. If you don’t know how to do that, don’t have the time or inclination, or want a level of expertise that only a professional can bring, you may want to hire a publicist. An experienced professional will have knowledge and connections that you, as an author, are unlikely to have.
Publicity is a tricky business, however. As any reputable publicist will tell you: publicity is buzz, not sales. No publicist can guarantee sales because there are too many factors beyond her control, including the originality and timeliness of the book, competing titles issuing at the same time, what’s “trending” and what’s not, and the overall social-cultural-economic climate when your book releases.
Publicists can be expensive, yet many authors use them—even if their publishers offer some level of publicity assistance. For reasons we’ll talk about, these authors have decided that hiring a “publicity specialist” is money well spent. On the other hand, many authors don’t—and may not need to, because they have other ways of reaching their target audience or goals that don’t call for outreach on that scale.
In this 75-minute webinar on Jan. 20, 2022, taught by award-winning author Barbara Linn Probst, you will learn what publicists do (or can do) and acquire tools for helping you make strategic decisions about book publicity that fit your goals, budget, and personal style.
In this class you will learn:
- What a publicist does and doesn’t do. The range of services a publicist might provide. How publicity differs from other forms of book promotion, such as marketing, advertising, and the strategic use of social media.
- Why an author might choose to hire a publicist. Why some authors do and some do not, and what they might do instead (or in addition) to tackle a spectrum of promotional tasks. When and why your decision might change, at different points in your career.
- Variations in how publicists work. How publicists structure their services, including pricing (packages or customized), scope, add-ons, and post-launch services. Large and small firms, pros and cons of each. What a publicist may expect you to do, as part of the campaign.
- Guidelines for vetting a publicist. “Ruling out” those who are unlikely to be a good fit, given your lifestyle, platform, genre, or other considerations.
- How to determine the right fit. “Ruling in” those who are a good fit with your time, budget, goals, experience, and personal style, as well as the kind of book you’ve written. Determining what you need from a publicist—which might include platform-building, social media coaching, public speaking skills, etc.— and what you can realistically do yourself, outsource separately, or do without.
- How to work with your publicist in a productive partnership. Understanding the publicist’s vision for your book and how it supports your vision. Negotiating who does what. How to help, and when to turn a lead over to the professionals. Expectation management. The importance of clear, ongoing communication.
We will look at how publicists describe their services and what they offer, and at mini-case studies of authors who worked with publicists in different ways and for different reasons. Guidelines for choosing a publicist that fits will be provided, as well as a list of resources.
Who should take this class
- Writers who have never hired a publicist but are thinking of making the investment
- Writers of any genre with a book releasing in the year ahead
- Traditionally published authors who plan to hire a publicist to supplement their publisher’s efforts
- Self-published authors and hybrid publishing authors
Who should NOT take this class
Hiring a publicist is expensive. People who are not in a position to spend several thousand dollars on a publicist would do better to target their resources elsewhere.
How do I know if this class is worth the cost?
This is an important question, and it’s a tough one to answer—especially since so much online education is available free of charge. Furthermore, every student is different, and a valuable webinar for one person can end up being a disappointment to another. For this reason, we offer full refunds if you register, attend or watch the class, and fail to get the information you were looking for.
Do I have to attend the live classes?
No. Everyone who registers will get access to the recording. However, if you’d like to attend live, keep reading.
How do I attend the live class?
This class uses Zoom webinar technology. You will join through your Internet-connected computer or mobile device. When you register, you will receive information via email on how to join the class. If you don’t receive it within 1 hour of registering, please contact us.
- When: Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022
- Time: 1–2:15 p.m. Eastern / 10:00 a.m. Pacific
- Fee: $25
The webinar is broadcasted via the internet with live audio delivered through your computer or mobile device speakers. The visual presentation is displayed directly from the presenter’s computer to your computer screen. The Q&A is managed through a chat-style submission system with questions read and answered by the presenter for the entire class to hear.
Closed captions are provided during the live class. We use Zoom’s automated closed caption service (powered by Otter), which is about 80%+ accurate. We also use Otter AI to generate an unedited transcript, provided with the recording.
About the instructor
Barbara Linn Probst is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, living on an historic dirt road in New York’s Hudson Valley. Her debut novel, Queen of the Owls, (April 2020) is the story of a woman’s search for wholeness, framed around the art and life of iconic American painter Georgia O’Keeffe. Queen of the Owls was a medalist for popular fiction from the Independent Publishers Association and the Sarton Award for Women’s Fiction; it also placed first runner-up in general fiction for the Eric Hoffer Award and was short-listed for the $2500 Grand Prize.
Barbara’s second novel The Sound Between the Notes, recipient of starred Kirkus Review given only to work “of remarkable merit,” launched in April 2021. Her third novel will be published in 2022.
Barbara has a PhD in clinical social work and blogs for a number of award-winning sites for writers. To learn more about Barbara and her work, please visit barbaralinnprobst.com.
Praise for Barbara’s previous classes
Barbara’s class was very practical! Some webinars I’ve attended were pleasant get-togethers, but this was really aimed at valuable information we can use.
Love the presenter! One of the best writing/publishing webinars I have ever attended. Very concise, yet thorough presentation.
Barbara is a very warm, very well prepared presenter, with great information to share. There were so many things covered in this webinar that had never even occurred to me. Now I feel so much more sure-footed!
All students receive the following
- Access to the live class. After roughly 60 minutes, Barbara will take questions during class using in-class chat/text. The class will end after roughly 75 minutes.
- A recording of the class—audio and video. This is especially helpful if you have a conflict with the class time or something comes up and you can’t make the session. Each registration comes with access to the archived version of the program and the materials for 30 days. You do not have to attend the live event to access the recordings.
- Presentation slides. All participants receive a copy of the slide presentation in PDF form.
- Rough transcript. We use Otter to create an automated transcript of the entire webinar, which we’ll share with you in addition to the audio and video recording.
Event Attendance & Anti-Harassment Policy
We strive to provide an environment where all present—whether attendee, presenter, or staff—can feel supported. In order to ensure a welcoming event, here is what we expect from all who participate.
- That the presenter and the presenter’s work be treated with respect by attendees and that all attendees treat each other with respect and a generosity of spirit.
- That attendees will refrain from harassment of any sort including (but not limited to) comments or questions of a racist, homophobic, sexist/sexual, or threatening nature. This includes actions that disrupt or interfere with anyone’s ability to participate. Offenders will be disconnected from the live event.
System Requirements to Join the Webinar
We will be using Zoom webinar technology.
- An internet connection: broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE)
- Speakers: built-in, USB plug-in or wireless Bluetooth
- 600kbps (down) for high-quality video and 1.2 Mbps (down) for HD video
- If you connect through audio only: 60-80kbps (down)
Supported operating systems:
- Mac OS X with MacOS 10.9 or later
- Windows 10, Windows 8 or 8.1, Windows 7
- Linux 6.4 or higher
- For a full list of supported systems, click here
Supported tablet and mobile devices:
- Surface PRO 2 running Win 8.1
- iOS and Android devices
- Blackberry devices
- Windows: IE 11+, Edge 12+, Firefox 27+, Chrome 30+
- Mac: Safari 7+, Firefox 27+, Chrome 30+
- Linux: Firefox 27+, Chrome 30+