What is it About Hiring a Publicist that Makes Authors Cringe?

microphones - publicistIt’s all about the numbers game. As an author we want to reach as wide a market as possible to sell more books to more people – those of us who’ve chosen to attempt to get paid for our writing that is.

So we scrimp and save to hire the right cover designer, the best editor (we can afford), buy a table-sized poster and a book trailer to help sell that hundred print copies we ordered of our book… and then the cash – our budget – runs out.

In a perfect world (or quasi-perfect for an Indie Author anyway) we’d still have a couple hundred left over for publicity – that might entail hiring a company to do a blog tour and enough money to allow us to mail out those giveaway copies of our books done via Goodreads and rafflecopter.

But when it comes to hiring a publicist, most DIYers put their fist down. NO! we say. I can do it myself.

… and then we get caught in the web of the internet spending valuable writing time publicizing ourselves as best we can.

There’s nothing wrong with publicizing by yourself – however, you need to realize where your strengths are. Often, spending $200 on a ‘real live’ book publicist (for each new book) will give you that leg-up you’re looking for. In fact, I would highly suggest that you keep doing what you’re most comfortable with via DIY Marketing and use your publicist to reach those places you can’t.

Then comes the question, “How do I know I’ll see a return for my investment in this person?”

The answer, “You don’t.”

I know. That sucks, but I still think it’s important to hire one for a short time… and that means doing your research. Whenever I attend workshops or conferences or chat in a group on LinkedIn I’m looking for the right people to connect with.

I’ve recently found a local woman who specializes in Speculative Fiction, who’s track record is currently at 85% effectiveness. Her testimonials are top-notch and she works with presses of all sizes (Indie, small, & large). She’s also willing to tailor her services to meet your needs and stay within your budget.

I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot!

So, now it’s time to save.

I know that I’m going to learn a lot by asking questions and watching what she does. Then, the next time I’m interested in hiring her (for my next release), I’ll be able to do some of those more simple tasks myself and I can hire her for strategic marketing purposes… and as long as I’m gaining followers and making enough sales to cover her expense –

I think it’s worth it to have her on my team 🙂

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Categories: Publicity

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11 replies

  1. Hey, MJ, why do you not have a title anymore? [No Title]? Maybe that *is* your title? Just saw that, now back to reading your post.

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    • Hey Matt,
      My site shows as having “no title” because I don’t like the font and presentation of the title by WordPress so my official site title is in the header image. Unless I anti-up and start paying for enhancements to the site this is the way it will be 😉

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      • Ah, the universe of crippleware. We’ll give you the program for free but if you want it to look the way YOU want it to look, you’ll need to pay us some money.

        They use the same idea to monetize the free-to-play FPS games. If you want nice camo, you’ll need to pay money. For a group that is mostly young men, they spend a surprising chunk of gold to get fashionable camos and outfits. That amuses me to no end.

        I will no longer pay attention to the glaring [No Title].

        The possibilities are endless, however. If you could reconcile with the font, you could go with “Grand Poobah,” or “Empress of Editing,” or something equally elevated. Does it pay to be humble in editing? Nossir!

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  2. Okay, I’ll add publicists to the AuthorsSlushPile as part of the connectivity thing.

    I think there’s a pushback on publicists because people say, “sure I can hire them, but are they relevant anymore?” I have seen many negative posts where authors claim to have bad experiences with publicists or they feel there was no return for the money they paid.

    I also have not seen much in the way of praise for publicists. You’d think there’d be more good press and feedback on them, but I hear crickets. Nada. This post, that’s the only one.

    That tells me that either authors aren’t using publicists (pointed out above) or they choose not talk about that part of it.

    There’s also a perception that any joe can call himself a publicist and claim he’ll blast your book to his 250 K twitter followers. Does that equal sales? I dunno.

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    • Those 250K twitter followers are not going to get you ‘sales’ unfortunately. Often big companies that can boast these numbers obtain them by having a mandatory free subscription for anyone wanting to get the interesting tid-bits of info they offer but their subscription base doesn’t actually read the “buy this book” blast that’s sent out every 5 minutes for 5 days.

      And that’s the problem with many modern book publicists – they’re too expensive or they’re passing themselves off for something they’re not. That’s why I advocate doing your research in order to find the right one for you. This is not something that will happen over night but if you can get your claws into a good one that’s willing to honestly work with you on your budget and in your category or genre then I believe it’s well worth the risk of using his/her services to help you reach a wider audience than you could’ve on your own.

      Good luck!

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      • This is an awful system. I reckon there must be some word-of-mouth secret Author Society of Publicists We Really Like. Sort of like masons, only instead of an eyeball, it’s a twitter icon on a pyramid.

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      • LOL! You are very much a “hand it to me” kinda guy 😉 Your idea for an updated database of editors, agents and publishing houses sounds eerily similar to this secret Author Society of Publicists We Really Like… if such databases existed then the person running them would make a fortune!

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      • You got me on that. It’s not so much a hand it to me as a desire to have something that is cooperative and congeals together perfectly.

        So the consensus runs on the fortune-making. I like the idea of something of a one-stop shop, but there’s troubles in them there waters. The problem always lies in getting honest reviews. Maybe someone has a problem with another, and they come to a conflict. Then the author leaves a nasty review for the editor, and it’s undeserved. Stuff like that will wreck the reputation of the site if it’s not dealt with, but how do you deal with such shenanigans? (I am delighted my spellchecker knows how to spell that.) Still… ugh, it’s got to be done, eventually. We can’t limp through the rest of history without it.

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      • Agreed!
        I’m of the mind to give it a go but then my writing would suffer… and I think others out there in the ether feel the same; but I think it can be and should be done 😉

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