The Luxury of a Book Publicist

Publicizing your great insights into the human condition if you’re not already famous, don’t already have a following, a fascinating tale, or a high colonic cleanse is going to be a tough sell. There’s no getting around you or somebody having to do the hard work to spread the word.

In the survival game of a full-time, committed author budgets get tight. You have to prioritize–rent, food, whether to pay for a review in Kirkus, run a promotion and ad in Goodreads. Precious moments of concentrated thought and writing are constantly under attack from those distracting, exhausting, awful part-time jobs, family and friends, and doing your own publicity.

The idea of paying someone else–no matter how professional or accomplished–to maintain an email list, write blogs, seek out reviewers, to tell you what you should be doing to promote your book seems like an extravagant waste of money unless you can afford it.

Having someone else pay for publicity is mostly afforded to those who already have fans to be alerted with a full-page ad in the New York Times of the availability of a new book. For the rest of us grinding away in near-obscurity, you have to pay for your publicity.

Publicizing a book is the major but unavoidable hassle of being an author–both those who self-publish and are published. It’s something you have to do. Unless you like blogging, managing a scant advertising budget, or making costly mistakes, letting people know about your book takes up a lot of time you would rather be writing.

Then, there is the problem of so many charlatans offering to borrow your watch to tell what time it is. Sketchy professional publicists are not just hustlers but the major review magazines, professional bloggers and social networks who have set up pay-for-a-review schemes.

Publicizing your book is probably the biggest waste of money an author can make. The return on investment is depressingly low. And as in most ad campaigns you have to be repetitive. You can easily shoot a $100 wad on a Google ad with 50 hits and no sales. On a tight budget, hiring a book publicists is far down priority lists–below paying bills and visiting relatives.

Unless a publicist can get you reviewed in a major publication or featured at a book fair or writing conferences there is not really much she can do for you that you should do yourself.

Why pay someone to tell you what to do when a little research will tell you to take advantage of all the free publicity–both direct and indirect–you can find or develop. This includes mailing lists, blogs, websites and strategic advertising.

Yeah, I know it’s a bummer but unless you can afford to pay someone to do the things you don’t like to do, it’s the only way your work is ever going to get more read.


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