What to expect from your publicist + Links to Get You Thinking & the Seuss Issue

What publicists do; advice for Q&As; bookclubs, backmatter & bookstores; a bit of poetry; big players in publishing; the Truth about Seuss; diversity initiatives, & a fragrant green tea.

Greetings readers & writers,

One of the most frequent questions I get from clients and students is about expectations. What marketing work falls to the writer? What can an author expect from their publicist?

For traditionally published authors, 4 - 6 months before your book’s publication date you will be assigned a publicist (or have hired a freelance publicist, if your considering it — longer lead time is even better!) A publicist’s job is to be an evangelist for your book. They’re your liaison with the media and various marketing partners and help construct the publisher’s overall marketing plan for your book.

Publicists are some of the hardest working people in the publishing business. But how can you distinguish publicity focused on your book versus general marketing for all their titles?

First, make sure you and your publicist are on the same page about your audience and how you plan to reach them. They will expect you to have a solid sense of who you’re writing for and ways in which you might reach them. Keep open lines of communication and let them know of any and all connections you have to media, influencers, retailers, and organizations that might spotlight your book.

Next, know what it’s the publicist’s job to do: they reach out to media and other free/”earned” publicity options to get the word out about your book. This includes national media coverage, book reviews, blog features, and generating buzz through the industry, social media, bookstores, and advanced reader copies (ARC) of your book. They will create a press release and press kit for you. And they will be your main point of contact in setting up book events.

They will not run your social media for you, nor build your platform or brand. They won’t get you coverage in your local paper or redesign your personal website. You will likely have to schedule your own events. These are all things they can often assist with. Using their professional clout and advice may help you engage marketing partners you can’t get on your own, but much of it will fall to you.

You know your audience best — you wrote the book! So be prepared to push for the kind of coverage you want from your publicist. Have a list of booktubers you want to work with? Make sure your publicist knows to send them ARCs. Want to be on a niche (but relevant!) podcast? Your publicist may have contacts or be able to help you pitch.

What about a freelance publicist? A freelance publicist is most helpful if they can tailor your publicity to reach your specific audience in a way you cannot. Just because a publicist promises to pitch your book to their huge list of contacts, doesn’t mean you’ll be any better off. Freelance publicity can be expensive, so be sure to interview any prospective freelance publicists to make sure they’re the right fit for your book, your vision, and the audience you want to reach.

Have you worked with a publicist? Share your experience! What advice do you have for writers entering the publicity process?

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Happy writing!
~Allison

Writer & Marketing Coach
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