What you should know about hiring a publicist

*This article originally appeared in the September 2020 issue of Writer’s Life Magazine. 

Five reasons a book publicist may be your secret weapon in an oversaturated market

By Marissa DeCuir

You’ve spent years creating storylines, developing characters and polishing your book. Now you want it to have the best chance of success and the widest possible readership. But with millions of books published in the U.S. alone each year (including more than one million self-published books languishing on Amazon), how do you make your book stand out so that people actually see it, let alone read it? 

That’s where a book publicist comes in: a publicist connects an author to the media who will boost the book’s visibility, the event venues where connections are made, and, ultimately, to the readers you want to reach. That’s why you published a book, right?

Whether you’re a traditionally published author who needs more publicity support, an indie-published author eager to rise above the competition, or a first-time writer wanting to establish a brand presence, having your own publicist can make the difference in whether or not your book gets the buzz it deserves. 

Here are five reasons why hiring a book publicist may be your secret weapon to publishing success:

1. They already know the media gatekeepers, event coordinators and other literary tastemakers you’re trying to reach — and they introduce you in the right way.

Launching a book is kind of like going to a crowded party where you don’t know anyone: It’s exciting to be invited, but it’s so much better when you go with a friend who knows everybody and introduces you to all the right people! That’s what your publicist does. They already have connections with reviewers, media outlets, bookstores, event venues and other tastemakers you need to reach. They cut through the media “vetting” process for you, and introduce you in a professional and effective way that makes the best possible impression. 

2. They are your insider experts within the publishing industry.

Have questions about publishing technicalities, processes or lingo? Need to bounce new ideas off someone who actually understands the complex publishing world? Your publicist is your resource for getting your questions answered. They actually have the industry experience and behind-the-scenes expertise you’ve been seeking, and they want to help you as true bibliophiles! 

3. They free up your time and resources by doing the heavy PR lifting for you, so you can focus on what you do best.

Life is busy whether you’re a full-time writer or not. It’s hard enough to write a book, but having time to pursue and coordinate PR opportunities, juggle interviews and event appearances, and continue writing (on top of other work, family or social commitments) can be even more challenging! A publicist arranges promotion for your book and author brand, so you can spend your time doing the fun stuff (such as interviewing with the media, participating in an event, working on a guest article or writing your next book)! 

4. They can generate new creative ideas and opportunities you never knew existed.

When you think of PR, you might imagine things already mentioned above: media interviews and events. But what about hosting a scavenger hunt in a public library based on your book? Or organizing “the world’s longest book tour?” How about creating a scholarship contest for indie bookstores to get booksellers excited about your title? Or reaching out to #bookstagrammers or YouTube book vloggers? Maybe creating an interactive white box mailing to key influencers? Publicists can guide you in new promotional directions that you might not have considered or be able to access on your own. And they can help implement those creative initiatives to get your book on the map in new, innovative ways. 

5. They’re your biggest cheerleader and publishing support system–really! 

Let’s face it, being an author can be a pretty lonely job, but it doesn’t have to be! A publicist is your book’s champion, and your biggest fan. Some writers are introverts and don’t feel confident “promoting” their own work. When you find a publicist who genuinely enjoys and believes in your book, you finally have someone in your corner who is ready to tell the world how great you are! They give you support, enthusiasm and encouragement so you don’t have to go it alone. 

To recap: Authors should consider hiring a publicist if they want more effort and expertise put into promoting their work than a). their traditional publisher is able to provide, or b). they have time, energy and industry knowledge to handle personally. By teaming up with your own publicist, you’ll give your book it’s best opportunity to succeed, and you’ll give yourself the opportunity to have some fun along the way!

A former award-winning journalist, Marissa DeCuir now helps authors share their stories and messages with the world as president and partner of Books Forward publicity and Books Fluent publishing. Under the 20-year-old JKS Communications brand, the companies are committed to elevating voices, breaking barriers, and promoting books that empower, inspire, and move the world forward.