3 Top Signs You Need an Outside Publicist for Author Publicity

3 Top Signs You Need an Outside Publicist for Author Publicity

Written by Vicky Lynch

First of all, let me say congratulations! If you are thinking of hiring a book publicist then it’s likely you have finished or are nearing the end of your book editorial progress. The hard work is done, right? Well, not exactly. 

Now that you’ve written your book and nurtured it through a lengthy editorial process, it’s time to make sure it gets noticed. You need author publicity. And that takes work. 

If you are being published by a traditional publishing company, it’s likely that you will have some type of marketing and publicity services being provided to you at no cost. However, even if you are one of the lucky ones with a dedicated book publicist, it’s still worth looking into outside help to really level up. 

Here are 3 top signs it’s time to hire a book publicist: 

It’s less than 3 months from your pub date and you haven’t heard from your in-house publicist yet.

I’m sure the publicist that your publisher has assigned to your book has the best intentions. They want to see your book get coverage and succeed as much as you do. However, speaking as a former in-house publicist, I have to warn you, they are swamped. There were seasons when I had 20 titles assigned to me. 

There is only so much that can be done in a workweek. Priorities have to be set. And chances are, if you haven’t heard from your publicist and your book launch is looming, you’re not at the top of their list. 

If you hire an outside publicist, they will have the time to collaborate with you, brainstorm pitch angles and hold your hand through the process.

Your publisher will pitch a limited media list.

In-house publicists are very busy and while they want the best for you and your book, they don’t always have the time to really seek out unique outlets and media contacts that are a perfect fit for your content. What they do have is connections to a lot of the big movers and shakers that handle book coverage specifically including reviews and author interviews. They will likely create a media list prior to the book launch and stick to that list. 

Why not hire a firm that has the time to go deeper? It’s a win-win. You get to capitalize on all the relationships and contacts that your publisher and an outside publicist have nurtured. 

You want to promote your book for longer than the initial launch period.

In-house, a book publicity timeline looks something like this: 

  • 6-9 months out – send book PDF or Netgalley link to long-lead publications (print magazines, national broadcast outlets)
  • 4-6 months out – send review copies to pre-publication reviewers (Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Library Journal, etc.)
  • 1 month out – send finished copies to media list, pitch short lead media (regional radio, local TV markets, etc.)
  • Publication month – follow up on all copies sent, pitch new angles to outlets already pitched
  • 1 month following publication – follow up on all pitches

A book is new news for about 3 months following its release. And this “just released” status is what an in-house publicist is banking on. And once you even get past that initial first month? Pitching starts to slow down at your publishing house. Why? Because there are other books and other authors coming down the pipeline that are demanding attention.

When you hire an outside publicist, you can contract them for whatever length of time you’d like to continue promoting the book for. And likely, they will be able to coordinate with your publisher to pick up where they left off when it’s time to hand over the reins. 

Yes, it’s easier to get publicity for a new book. But, having worked on both sides, I can tell you that there are a lot of opportunities out there past the first 1-3 months of your book’s life. 

Remember, an outside publicist will promote your book, but they will also be promoting you. Their interest is less in only selling your book and more in building your platform and legitimizing your area of expertise. By investing in these services, you aren’t just getting great author publicity for your book, but you are making it more likely that you will be recognized as a thought leader in your space, which can lead to so much more than just one book.

Vicky Lynch
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