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Should You Hire a Book Publicist?
San Francisco Writers Conference San Francisco Writers Conference
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: San Francisco, CA
Wednesday, October 20, 2021


By Joey Garcia

Every author-to-be is an entrepreneur-in-waiting—whether they’re ready to admit that to themselves, or not. To successfully launch a book into the public marketplace requires smart planning. Writers know they must budget for an editor and proofreader, but too often believe they should DIY book publicity. 

Where did they get that idea?

A publicist generates and manages media attention. A successful publicist crafts newsworthy pitches and maintains a roster of media contacts open to receiving pitches. That’s not something most authors-to-be can DIY. It takes months, if not years, to become skilled at pitching the media and to nurture relationships with reporters, producers, and show hosts who are open to receiving a book pitch.

Avoid Disappointment by Asking When

Authors who are prepared to hire a publicist are often so desperate for help they fail to ask important questions or conduct reliable research. One author confided that she hired a publicist whose clients had appeared on top national shows like Good Morning America. Unfortunately, this author didn’t experience that level of publicity. There may be several reasons why—perhaps the pitch to the media wasn’t newsworthy or the author wasn’t yet prepared to handle major media interviews. Here’s another possible reason: The publicist’s big successes had occurred back in the 1990s. The author hadn’t thought to ask when those major media interviews aired or whether the publicist had any recent successes. (She hadn’t).

Keep in mind that no publicist can guarantee media publicity for your book because the publicist is not in charge of what a publication prints or what a radio or TV station airs. An author who builds a platform and expands their network while writing a book is in a better position to support a publicist’s efforts than an author who does nothing except hire a publicist once the book is published.

One potential recipe for success is this: Hire a book coach to help you build your platform while you’re writing a book and hire a publicist to help you promote your book beyond the contacts you made while working with your book coach.

How to Interview a Publicist

There are loads of great online sites with lists of questions to ask a publicist. When you prepare your own list, be sure to add the following questions which you might not find elsewhere:

  1. What publications, radio talk shows, or TV programs have your clients appeared in or on over the last twelve months? 
  2. Is new media (podcast tours, Bookstagram, etc) part of your publicity strategy?
  3. (For publicists who tout books that received major media attention) Were you the only publicist working to promote this book or did the publishing house also have an in-house publicist? 
  4. In which media markets are the majority of your contacts based? (There are 100 Major Media Markets in the U.S.)
  5. Do you do email blasts to the media? (To the media, an email blast is the equivalent of SPAM.)

Timing is Everything

As a book coach, I sometimes hear terrible advice about book publicity or book marketing. Once in a free online class, a participant wondered what to do if the media didn’t respond to his pitch to appear on a particular morning show. The publicist leading the class suggested calling the show’s producer one hour before the show airs. I couldn’t help myself; I shared this advice with producer friends. They were horrified. One hour before a morning show goes on air, the newsroom is busy preparing for the show. If you call during that period to ask whether your book pitch was received, you’re likely to be perceived as annoying—or worse.

Why would the publicist offer advice likely to aggravate the media? He was probably thinking about what he might do. A reporter or producer might be willing to hear from a publicist with whom they have an established relationship that has resulted in legitimate stories in the past. Although, even then, placing a call one hour before a show goes live is dicey. 

So, when is a good time to call? Two hours after the show is complete. By then the staff meeting is over and everyone is ready to work on whatever is coming next. Place the call during an ideal period for the media and your newsworthy book pitch will have a better chance of landing you a coveted interview.

Joey Garcia Getting Local Media Attention as a Subject Matter Expert

Joey Garcia coaches writers on effective platform-building strategies. Her clients have been interviewed by CNN, the Tamron Hall show, and Ms. magazine, among others and their work has appeared in notable places including the Smithsonian magazine, HuffPost, and several anthologies. Joey’s essays, poetry, and short stories have received awards, including a Pushcart nomination. Joey is the author of When Your Heart Breaks, It’s Opening to Love and the on-air Relationship Expert for Fox40-TV. She is also the founder of The Belize Writers Conference and the book publicity track coordinator for the San Francisco Writers Conference. www.joeygarcia.com

The San Francisco Writers Conference and the San Francisco Writing for Change conference are both produced by the San Francisco Writers Conference & San Francisco Writers Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. The SFWC Director is Laurie McLean.  For registration help, contact Richard Santos at registrations@sfwriters.org. For SFWC sponsorship opportunities, contact Carla King at Carla@carlaking.com
The SFWC website is: www.SFWriters.org

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News Media Interview Contact
Name: Elisabeth Kauffman
Title: Director of Marketing
Group: San Francisco Writers Conference
Dateline: Oakley, CA United States
Direct Phone: 13103676215
Cell Phone: 13103676215
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