Should You Pay for a Publicist?

A close-up of the clasp of a coinpurse

by arbyreed | via Flickr

Today’s guest post is from author Dorit Sasson (@VoicetoStory).


You’ve written a great book and—if you’ve self-published—probably shelled out for the services of a good editor and cover designer. The last thing you want is to pay for a publicist. But in a sea of authors, how will potential readers know about your book?

As a traditional-turned-hybrid author publishing with She Writes Press, I foot the bill for all the publishing costs but reap a much higher percentage of royalties for both print and ebook sales for my debut memoir, Accidental Soldier: A Memoir of Service and Sacrifice in the Israel Defense Forces. My book is distributed like a traditional one, in all the retail channels; distribution is a major challenge facing self-pubbed authors, and traditional distribution is an advantage of my particular press.

I invested in a publicist to break into mainstream media, which led me to identify a number of online and print women’s media sites that would be perfect for my coming-of-age memoir and mother-daughter story. Of course I could have tried approaching these editors on my own, but that would have been time-consuming, and I didn’t have the established and nurtured contacts. Accidental Soldier has been featured with The Reading Room, Brit + Co, Writer’s Digest, Reader’s Digest, SheKnows.com, Working Mother magazine, Teen Vogue, and Seventeen—and that’s just a few. I would have never gotten that far on my own.

However, good publicists are not cheap. They command higher payment than a quality editor because they spend more hours over a longer time period working for you and your book.

A standard fee for an experienced publicist in the US is $100 an hour, and you will need their services for about four months prior to publication and for two to three months after. An average campaign ranges between 50 to 100 hours over the required time period. That’s $5,000 to $10,000 for a modest publicity campaign.

Chances are, you won’t recoup this initial investment because you are investing in building your platform. But, if you intend to write more books, the right publicity will build your platform and those loyal readers. You might not see the logic in hiring a publicist if you aren’t going to recoup the initial investment, but with your subsequent books, you may not need so many hours because you’ve already built that initial groundwork.

My PR firm, Booksparks, also branded my new author website, called “Giving Voice to Your Courage.” Additional costs included arranging a bookstore tour, sending book galleys to reviewers and media, and contest fees. This additional investment could run from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars depending on the bells and whistles.

Here’s What My Publicist Has Done So Far

  • Read and fell in love with my book, and felt confident in finding an angle to pitch media (print, blogs, trade reviewers, interviewers, TV, and radio) based on a long list of contacts. My publicist and I collaborated on developing the list.
  • Sent a press kit to the appropriate media.
  • Planned my publicity campaign and kept me on track.
  • Suggested contests suitable for my memoir and entered my book.
  • Put my book on sites like NetGalley and Goodreads to garner reviews.
  • Organized blog tours, in-person book tours, social networking, and websites.
  • Kept me calm and focused; together, we have celebrated small and large achievements all throughout the campaign.

Things to Consider When Hiring a Publicist

  • Seek recommendations from trusted author and publishing friends.
  • Interview a few publicists.
  • Make sure the publicist “gets” your book and can champion it to the finish line.
  • Ask about packages that run for a set time or the ability to spread work out over a longer period, which can reduce your payments.

If you’ve already spent 3,000+ hours writing your book and invested in an editor, a proofreader, and a cover designer, what is better: investing more dollars hoping to sell enough books to make your losses less painful (or even make a profit), or selling 200 copies to friends and family before your book sinks without a trace?

Cover for Accidental SoldierAgain, one might not see the logic in investing so much money to break even, especially when authors can approach editors themselves. The way I see it, it’s incredibly time-consuming to approach and follow up with editors. Of course, one can always go the local route and do a lot of the legwork, but from my experience, going the mainstream media route requires the efforts of a publicist.


For more from Dorit Sasson (@VoicetoStory), check out Accidental Soldier: A Memoir of Service and Sacrifice in the Israel Defense Forces.

Author Dorit Sasson (@VoicetoStory) writes: "You’ve written a great book and—if you’ve self-published—probably shelled out for the services of a good editor and cover designer. The last thing you want is to pay for a publicist. But in a sea of authors, how will potential readers know about your book?"

Posted in Guest Post, Marketing & Promotion and tagged , , , .

Dorit Sasson is the founder of Giving Voice to Your Courage podcast and website. She supports heart-centered business owners and helps authors build visibility and increase engagement as thought leaders. Her groundbreaking memoir, Accidental Soldier: A Memoir of Service and Sacrifice in the Israel Defense Forces, is a finalist for the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and Santa Fe Literary Awards and is also a widely read handbook on how to become more courageous in life.

16
Join the conversation

avatar
10 Comment threads
6 Thread replies
1 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
5 Comment authors
Quick Links – Should You Pay for a Publicist? | PubletariatBook Marketing Resources for Authors: The Best of 2016 | Jane FriedmanWriting Links in the 3s and 5…9/5/16 – Where Worlds CollideDorit SassonDie Woche im Rückblick 26.08. bis 01.09.2016 – Wieken-Verlag Autorenservice Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Stephen W Hiemstra

This post is most helpful. I am in the middle of a book launch (for my third book, Life in Tension) this month and have only begun to understand the challenges.

Ann Anderson Evans

I agree with everything you have said, but would add a few caveats. A novice author does not have a network of published authors to get recommendations from; in my case, I took a local recommendation and overspent in that for my $10,000 she did not do many of the things on your list. Since I didn’t know what the list was, I didn’t know she hadn’t done what is customary; for example, she did not keep me up-to-date on whom she was contacting and what their responses were. She dismissed my queries about bookshop readings by saying “Bookstores won’t… Read more »

trackback

[…] Should You Pay for a Publicist? (Jane Friedman) You’ve written a great book and—if you’ve self-published—probably shelled out for the services of a good editor and cover designer. The last thing you want is to pay for a publicist. But in a sea of authors, how will potential readers know about your book? […]

Kate Raphael

“Make sure the publicist “gets” your book and can champion it to the finish line.” Definitely agree with that. That was the #1 reason I chose my publicist, Lorna Garano, and it was a good fit,

philip mann
philip mann

I shot my bolt paying for editing, appearing before the Jewish Book council, and my MC has gone up quite a bit with that. But I have a few months to learn, and did things at no cost. One, I asked a local kosher restaurant to host a book launch party. They agreed, for no fees. Then, I approached a local radio personality to host the party and be my MC. Now, I had been in contact with him for a few years, so he knew me and what I was like. And he agreed. Again, at no cost. Now,… Read more »

trackback

[…] Dorit Sasson: Should You Pay for a Publicist?  […]

trackback

[…] https://janefriedman.com/should-you-pay-for-a-publicist/ Can a publicist help you go more mainstream? […]

trackback

[…] Should You Pay for a Publicist? […]

trackback

[…] Sasson, posting at Jane Friedman, shares her experiences and costs of hiring a publicist.  As an indie author, you should be […]