Do You Need a Non-Fiction Book Publicist?

Do You Need a Non-Fiction Book Publicist?

book publicistLet’s say you just self-published your first non-fiction book. Congratulations! You might now be wondering whether you should hire a publicist to help you promote it. The answer is, maybe. Or, maybe not.

First, think about what a book publicist does. He or she is going to be one of your top three biggest advocates. You, of course, are among those. And, you hope, your mother is the other one. That means, your publicist should play a big part in promoting your book and getting it the attention that it deserves. However, a publicist worth his promotional salt isn’t going to be cheap. You have to weigh the pros and cons.

What’s a Book Publicist Actually Do?

Consider what a book publicist actually does. Their job is not to sell books. In the end, you hope their efforts lead to more book sales, but the publicist is not a book seller. She is a book promoter. You need to understand the difference.

Book promoters stand on top of a pile of paper and yell, “This book is awesome!” Book sellers stand on a sales floor and say, “You should read this book.”

There’s an oversimplification, but it illustrates perfectly the difference between a person who sells the book, which you and your mother should get good at doing, and a person who promotes the book. The person selling a book will not concern himself with talking to people who are not potential buyers. That includes people like book reviewers, journalists, bloggers who may review the book or interview the author, and other publication professionals. A book publicist, on the other hand, is primarily concerned with those audiences because they serve as conduits to the book buyers. One is concerned with personal one-to-one communication while the other is concerned with mass communication.

If you do hire a book publicist to promote your indie non-fiction book, look for someone who specializes in your genre of writing. You’ll get much better results with someone who is good at promoting memoirs if that’s what you write than someone who is adept at promoting history. The reason is because the publicist has a contact list of people interested in a particular genre. It’s that contact list that makes the publicist a valuable commodity.

How Do Publicists Promote Books?

A book publicist has to be a good writer. On the other hand, many authors prefer to write their own content. In that case, the book publicist is a promoter of the author’s overall reputation. The publicist may seek out new opportunities for the author to write articles on a particular topic and then promote those articles.

Every book publicist is different. They work in different genres, specialize in a particular type of writing, and may offer different services.

In the pre-Internet days, a book publicist wrote a lot of press releases. They didn’t write blog posts. But they might have wrote articles for magazines or trade journals on behalf of the book author they represented. A book publicist has to be a good writer because she may be called to ghostwrite for the author if need be. On the other hand, many authors prefer to write all of their own content. In that case, the book publicist is a promoter of the author’s overall reputation. The publicist may seek out new opportunities for the author to write articles on a particular topic and then promote those articles. So that’s two approaches to book publicity, and you should consider which path is right for your book and your career.

Other services a book publicist might offer include:

  • Schedule media interviews
  • Send out book review requests
  • Ghostwrite blog content
  • Manage social media campaigns
  • Write promotional video scripts
  • Oversee video trailer production
  • Assemble press kits
  • Create multi-media CD-ROMs
  • Put together media fact sheets
  • Compile clippings of media coverage
  • Craft and manage book marketing plans
  • Polish idea proposals and brainstorm with the author on future promotions
  • Manage giveaways, book promotions, contests, and other reader programs for the author
  • Secure radio and TV placements
  • Design websites and write website content

That’s just a few of the things a book publicist might do.

Anything that involves promoting a book, indie or traditional, is something that a book publicist might take on for an author he represents. The goal is to make the book more visible in the marketplace and get more people–readers, reviewers, and others–to know about the book.

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Hire a Book Publicist

should you hire a book publicist?Hiring a book publicist is a big step, especially for an independently published author. Don’t make the decision based solely on book sales ROI. Chances are, you’re not going to earn your investment in a book publicist back in book sales. Not on one book, anyway. What could happen–and what is more likely to happen–is the book publicist is going to help you expand your reputation and authority in your topic. If that happens, then you should count it as a win.

That said, here are five reasons you may decide not to hire a book publicist:

  1. You can’t afford it – For obvious reasons, if you can’t afford to shell out the money for a book publicist, then you may have to do your own book promoting. There’s nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, there’s nothing that says you can’t hire a publicist to handle some parts of the book promotion process while you retain responsibility for other parts of the process.
  2. You want to maintain control – If you want to make sure your book promotion is done a certain way and you don’t trust anyone else to do it the way you think is right, then you might want to do your own promotion.
  3. You have a narrow niche – If the audience for your book is small and you already know everyone, or almost everyone, within your niche, a book publicist probably won’t help you. For the book publicist to be of any real help, she has to be able to reach potential readers, reviewers, and influencers you don’t already have access to.
  4. You are only interested in book sales – A good publicist can create additional book sales by promoting your book, but that’s not the only benefit to having a publicist. At the end of the day, the publicist’s job is to extend the reach of your reputation and authority. That should be your primary goal in hiring a publicist.
  5. You have unrealistic expectations – It’s important to understand what you expect your book publicist to do for you. If you have only one book to promote and it’s in a narrow niche, you shouldn’t expect national TV exposure–especially if you published your book yourself. That’s not to say you can’t work up to that, but your expectations have to match the reality of your book publishing experience.

There are many reasons you may want to hire a book publicist, but you should check your expectations first to see if they are realistic. If you believe your independently published non-fiction book has some great potential in the marketplace and you want to increase your own reputation and authority as an expert in your niche, then a book publicist can be a great asset to your publishing team.

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Allen Taylor
Allen Taylor
Allen Taylor is a freelance writer, content strategist, and award-winning journalist. He is the author of "E-book Publishing: Create Your Own Brand of Digital Books," available in the Kindle, ePub, iBooks, and PDF formats.

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