Novelists: Jake, Holdenscott, et al (re: publicists)



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  • Novelists: Jake, Holdenscott, et al (re: publicists)

    We touched upon the option of using independent publicists in the last thread, and I'd like to discuss it a little more if you guys are willing.

    My novel will be coming out in the fall. My partner and I will be hiring an independent publicist to help the aggressive marketing and promotion campaign we are planning. We are negotiating/researching with several publicists now that might best address our needs, but I'd like to get more info from those with experience.

    Based on your experiences, what is the average length of time you have employed a publicist, what general cost structure did you encounter, and what angles did they take in promoting your work that differed from your publisher's promotion effort?

  • #2
    I've always relied on my publishers' publicists, especially when I was with Penguin Putnam for a few titles. I was assigned one of the more capable publicists, well-known in the business, and I was happy with what he did with me.

    However, I also know writers who have hired independent publicists, and much depends on your doing some background research. I'd suggest you get references, call those writers and find out exactly how happy they were with the publicity generated.

    Publicists, as you know, don't come cheap, and I have a writer friend who hired one for a lot of dough, only to find that the woman did nothing for her. I would recommend, though, that you locate a publicist based in NY, if possible. It's the heart of the publishing industry (I know, I know, "don't say industry"), the center of morning TV (an important venue for you) and pretty much the place where things happen.

    May I ask what house is publishing you? If the one I mentioned above, you should get in touch with the head of marketing there (I'll give you his name) and find out what he has planned. It may save you some money.


    • #3

      I've gone both routes, relying on the publicist my publisher assigns and hiring an outside publicist to help. Currently, i'm happy with the way my publisher publicized my last project, so i'm not shelling out for someone on the outside. But if your book is a small project for your publisher, they won't put much into you, so you might want to go the outside route. A good outside publicist in NY can charge you anywhere from 3000 a month to upwards of 10,000 a month. You need to make sure it is someone who can work well with your publishing house, and who has a proven track record with books such as yours. If you're going to hire your own publicist, aim for a two-three month period beginning a month (or at least a few weeks) before your book launches. Odds are, you'll only get about a month of press before your publicist runs out of options, but if you're lucky, the publicity campaign can go longer. Truthfully, don't expect too much from a publicist; it's very hard to get publicity for authors.


      • #4
        Re: publicists

        I'm definitely with Holden on this one. Consider the publisher. If it's one of the bigger houses, you need to meet (you should have already met) the person in charge of publicity. You need to know how he or she views your book in terms of marketing, and he or she needs to be sounded out on how comfortable you are with personal appearances and readings (you'd be surprised at how many authors really can't do the stand-up-and-read thing), where they'll pay for print ads to be placed, and what radio and TV markets they'll be approaching.

        If you're dealing with a very small imprint with limited resources, you probably should consider relying on yourself as opposed to hiring a publicist. If you live in a community with at least one good bookstore, go there, tell them your title is forthcoming, ask if you can schedule a reading. Tell them to do so. Make it an event. If it's a small town, the town itself may be willing to sponsor something along the lines of a reading at the library. Go to all the bookstores within, say, a fifty-mile radius. Introduce yourself and your writing partner, tell them about the book, get some buzz going.

        You'll enjoy the experience, and your book wil undoubtedly benefit from the experience. And don't forget to call your local paper(s).


        • #5
          Re: publicists

          Our novel is timely and topical, centered around the events of Nov. 22, 1963. Our publisher was chosen because they can produce a quality finished product by 11/1, timed to take advantage of the marketing opportunities surrounding the 40th anniversary of JFK's assassination this November. The publisher, however, is quite weak in promotion, so we are acting on our own behalf. We have already began making lists and contacts to promote ourselves and our work, but as thorough as we may be, we are not publicists by profession and I'm sure there is something of value we would overlook on our own.

          The publicists we are considering are charging around 2,000-2,500 per month for a three to four month campaign, plus office expenses. Of course this is a whopping figure to writers with limited means, but it is a necessary expense. We have not finalized anything yet, but there are two leading candidates: one based in Boston, the other in Dallas. The Boston publicist wants to explore numerous angles about the story and ourselves as writers, the Dallas group is more focused on the subject of the novel itself. Both publicists believe our novel has great commercial appeal and should generate great interest fairly easily. Of course, I'll believe that when (and if) it happens. I am still waiting to hear back from two NY firms, yet I imagine their costs might be out of our league no matter how comprehensive the service provided may be.

          Covering local outlets, be it bookstores or media outlets, will not be hard. We are both comfortable with readings and we figure radio call-ins are easy to do from anywhere. It might become a case where our best interest would be to have our publicist canvass national print and broadcast media, leaving the smaller contacts to ourselves. Since my partner lives in the South and I live in Jersey, we can cover a great deal more territory than a single author could.

          It's going to be a 'learn by doing' process for us, and if things take off, then publicists' costs are merely the cost of doing business.


          • #6
            Re: publicists

            The last novel I read concerning the events of that November day was Don DeLillo's brilliant LIBRA, which, primarily because it was by DeLillo and dealt with Oswald as the main character (as well as positing a new take on the conspiracy theory of the assassination), received a lot of attention and big reviews. If your publisher isn't one of the big guns, it may be worth your while to hire a publicist. Did your publisher send galleys out to other writers for jacket quotes? Anything like that would help in the way you promote your material.


            • #7
              Re: publicists

              Jake, we are pursuing jacket quotes now and I am contacting local sources now to generate interest and plan future events/promos.

              Fortunately, living near Princeton, 'local' sources can prove to be very dynamic.

              Are you familiar with Paul Batchelor & John Alexander's 'Conspiracy Radio' program on WABC radio in NYC? If you are not, they are major political journalists and devout conspiracy theorists. Getting on their program is a major goal and would be a great feat; such is the approach we are taking with this.

              Thanks for the tip on LIBRA. I have not read it, but since I am in the library right now, guess where I'm headed...


              • #8
                Re: publicists

                As a born-and-bred New Yorker (though I'm out of the area now), I know WABC, but not that show. The fact that you've written a novel indicates that you may want to get quotes from other novelists, preferably ones with a name and a reputation. Your publisher and you and your partner should probably sit down fairly soon and put together a list of writers to whom they could send bound galleys. A good quote from someone recognizeable could go a long way to opening a few doors for you. And as you're about to come out with a novel about the Kennedy assassination, I would think LIBRA--which may well be mentioned in interviews--would be required reading.