Dear Miss Snark:

Frequently, my day begins with a user query which sounds suspiciously like a sales pitch. Yet another member of the general public has written an absolutely wonderful book! Unfortunately, since said member of the public is published through a small press (at best) or self published (more typically), they believe that they just need to find the 'proper public relations firm' to promote their book and then it will obviously find its audience -- or at the very least, a firm will be able to convince their local Chain Bookstore(tm) to start selling their masterpiece.

And by the way, the firm should be able to get them on Oprah as well, please. Or reviewed in the New York Times. Preferably both.

Oddly enough, while there are numerous directories of public relations firms online, few list 'promoting independently published books' as a specialty. So I usually forward them to Mediabistro's Freelancers Marketplace or to the Independent Practictioners Alliance Directory which are the only online directories I have found with publicist contact information.

Are there any other directories that I should be pointing these writers to? I have been told that The Writers Market includes such a resource, but we do not have a copy within our resource center.

Many thanks in advance for any guidance you can provide.

Well, I'm looking at the 2007 Guide to Literary Agents from Writers Digest that has a whole section on book publicists. List price is $26.99 but I bet the library has it if you want to just look.

I know the folks at Murder Must Advertise keep a list of pr folks who deal in mysteries. I'm guessing the other genre folks do too.

Good publicists run $2000 a month, six months minimum usually. Any publicist who promises you Oprah and the New York Times is lying. You can quote me.


Anonymous said...
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Talia said...

Crikey! That makes Steve Harrison's National Publicity Summit look cheap - and it ain't

I think there are lots of good tips on self promotion at places like AbsoluteWrite.com, and books available at Amazon yada yada. Plus Bella Stander... (now that I've finally worked out who she is)

There's a crowd prweb.com that will issue press releases for a small fee. another option is to pay a professional to write say 3 press releases and the author can dripfeed them to the media, 1 each mth. Much cheaper. I imagine Marcia Yudkin (see MS blog earlier today) would be happy to whip something up for a fee

I have an arrangement with my publisher to offer short extracts from my non fiction work on a non exclusive basis (he gets 50% if i negotiate a fee but is ok about me giving it away for free). this builds profile and drives traffic to my website which in turn creates sales (not enough to keep MS in gin but it does keep me busy with scissors and sellotape). lots of ways to do things economically

Anonymous said...

A month?!!

That settles it! I'm buyin' the tap shoes and getting the implants.

Anonymous said...

Not to bite the hand that feeds me - and PR/Publicity has been feeding me for over 15 years - BUT trust me, any author can do their own press.

If you can afford to hire a publicist, go for it. Make your life easier.

But know that you can go it alone. It takes time and energy. But then again, so did finishing your book.

Writing a press release is the old Who, What, When, Where, How, Why that you learn back in elemenatry school. If you can find a hook to interest the media - other than the fact that you wrote it, which ain't a hook - they will likely bite.

Apperances on Oprah and such are different animals and are hard for professional publicists to snag!

If a self-pubbed author or someone with a small press puts their nose to the grindstone (start researching what editors and reporters cover what beat for the outlets you're targeting) they can definitely get media attention.

Having been on the PR side (still am) I will say that they media will toss your press release aside if it's only saying "Hey, I wrote a book." We call those kind of releases "Business does business."

Just find a hook and catch 'em.

Anonymous said...

Ack, I do publicity at a small independent publisher, and I cannot help cringing every time an author brings up Vanity Fair or Oprah or the New York Times. I'm happy and more than willing to try to get their work noticed in this kind of media, and I do, wholeheartedly, make the effort. But it's not helpful or productive or...healthy...for authors to demand that the book gets mentioned, and especially not helpful to rage at me if it doesn't.

Point being, I tip my hat to Miss Snark for noting that any publicist who promises this kind of coverage is a filthy-mouthed liar and will disappoint you.