Friday, March 16, 2018

What Authors Should Ask Publishers About PR Plans For Their Books

When writers have a book accepted for publication by a publisher they feel excitement, relief, and anxiety.  They are happy to know their book will be published, relieved that the search for a home is over, and anxious because now they have to actually write the book.  But what authors really need to do once their book is scheduled for publication is ask to speak to their publisher’s publicity department to ascertain exactly what the publisher plans to do – and not do.

Most authors – yes, the majority – receive little or no promotional support from their publishers.  This is a known, accepted practice that has gone on for decades and has deteriorated further in the last few years.  It’s not that book publishers don’t want their books to succeed, they just don’t want to bare the burden of making it successful.

Publishers expect authors to promote their books.  They will, on occasion, get involved in the publicity for their bigger books or books they feel warrant their resources.  Some publishers release hundreds, if not thousands of books each season.  They are short-staffed and have an under-budgeted public relations department. Even when they land support for books, it’s usually in a limited, short-term way.

Now, some publishers are better than others, and some authors do get help from their publishers, so it’s not like all authors are left blowing in the wind.  But authors should understand that whatever support most publishers give, if any, is not enough to accomplish what most authors need.

Authors need publicity that will:

·         Sell books.
·         Brand them as experts.
·         Get a positive message out to their targeted readership.
·         Position them for awards.
·         Strengthen their author profile to land a new book deal.
·         Help them get more website traffic.
·         Allow them to sell backlist or related products and services.
·         Help them get more speaking gigs, including paid ones.
·         Establish them as writers.

However, most publicity generated by the publisher usually focuses on the publisher’s sole need:  to sell books.  True, authors and publishers share in that common goal, but for the publisher, it’s their only mission, whereas authors have many other needs.

Authors will likely need a book publicist to be hired to represent their needs, someone whom, at the very least, will supplement what the publisher does, or more likely, do what a publisher should be doing.  

So how do you know what a publisher will do for you and what should you ask them to do?

First, inquire early on in the process about what the publisher will do to support your book.  If possible, have your literary agent put it into your contract.  Be specific.  How many review copies will you get for free?  How many will they send to media?  Which media?  Will they have galleys available at least four months prior to publication?  When will they draft a press release and will you have input or approval?

Second, get a marketing plan from the publisher. What will they do and when?  Get a detailed timeline – don’t accept vagueness.  They will miss deadlines at times but at least let them commit to something.

Third, what’s their approach when it comes to road tours, setting up book signings and appearances, providing help with your website, creating promotional materials such as postcards and flyers, and having a budget for ads in trade pubs or digital ads?

Fourth, where do they see the market for your book and how will they reach those in that demographic/region?

Fifth, will they assist in getting testimonials for your book, or to have someone write a foreword, introduction, or preface?

Sixth, will they set you up on things like Goodreads or NetGalley?

Seven, aside from doing some type of book mailing to the media, will they follow up with calls and emails?

Eight, what will they do in regards to social media, specifically Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Instagram?

Nine, do they have information, resources, or advice on what you can do to promote your book?

Ten, will they media coach you?

The sooner you have detailed answers and a specific plan, the better position you’ll be in to determine what else you’ll need to do to ensure your book and brand are getting the attention and support they deserve and need.

You may want to look to hiring your own book publicist to guide you through the maze.  It’s worth utilizing a professional when you have a lot riding on the successful launch of your book.  But before you hire someone, find out what your publisher is really going to do for you.


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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource."

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