The Book Marketing Network

For book/ebook authors, publishers, & self-publishers

Seven Ways to Make Hiring a Book Publicist More Affordable

Hiring a publicist can be an expensive proposition, especially for self-published authors and those whose books are published by presses that offer little or no marketing support. With some publicists asking $1500 - $5000 per month in fees, authors are often surprised by the amount of money they need to spend to get the word out about their books.

But publicity doesn’t have to be a bank-breaker. Here are some tips you can use to help defray costs when working with a publicist to promote your book:

1. Plan ahead
The best time to start planning how you’ll market a book is while you’re in the process of writing it. Think about who might want to read your book, where you’re most likely to find those readers, and how much you’re willing to spend on reaching them. If you plan to self-publish, research PR pricing in your subject area and start setting aside cash early, so that you’re prepared for costs when your book is published. Any amount is fine, as long as you’re willing to live within those monetary limits when your book comes out. If you’re offered an advance on your manuscript, don’t spend it -- save it to create promotional material, advertise, hire a publicist, and/or cover travel costs when your book is released.

Once your book is published, think about what you want in the way of events and media coverage. Decide who your readers are, and consider the different niche categories and venues you might explore to reach your audience. The more clarity you have about who your audience is and what you want in the way of publicity, the more you’ll be able to articulate that to a potential publicist.

2. Shop around
Get the names and numbers of publicists in your price range or area of expertise and spend some time getting to know them. Ask for references and talk to those individuals – they’ll give you a good idea of what it’s like to work with the person you’re considering hiring. Discuss your needs with potential publicists and be certain that they have the experience and contacts to do what you want done. Know how each individual publicist bills, how she provides updates, and when she expects to be paid. If you work on a contractual basis, ask to review the contract first, and don’t be afraid to make changes based on your own expectations.

3. Negotiate
Everything’s negotiable these days, and that includes public relations services. If you can't afford a publicist’s fees, offer to pay what you can afford and see if there is some work the publicist is willing to do for that amount. Consider prepayment options – perhaps a publicist would be willing take a percentage off her rate if you offer to pay in advance for a set amount of work, or if you can guarantee a number of hours per week. Be creative, but be fair – if what you’re offering doesn’t cover what you expect the person you’re hiring to do, the relationship most likely won’t last.

4. Be prepared
The more footwork you do up front, the less you’ll have to pay your publicist to do. Learn how to write a press release and generate one that your publicist can either use as is, or as a source for key information. Once your press release is finalized, post it on free sites on the web. Create a bio, Q & A, and brief synopsis, so your publicist doesn’t have to spend time on these pieces herself. Research venues, media, and blogsites you’re interested in, and provide your publicist with contact info – the more you do up front, the less she will have to do for you.

5. Participate
Once your publicity campaign begins, be a willing participant in the process. Keep your publicist informed of commitments and dates you’ve scheduled on your own, so he doesn’t double book you. Offer information and assistance with locating media in the areas on which you’ve focused – oftentimes a publicist will be trying to book you in a part of the country (or outside it) with which he is unfamiliar. If you have first-hand knowledge of certain city, county, and state areas, libraries, booksellers, and media outlets, share what you know, so that he doesn’t spend extra time on research.

6. Partner up
Even if you haven’t coauthored a work, there are plenty of other authors out there who are published in the same genre and niche market as you. Work with those writers to team-up at book signings, workshops, trade shows, and fairs. Share costs on booths, travel, and even publicity work by doing events jointly rather than alone.

7. Develop a backlist strategy
While it’s true that the window for marketing most books is during the first six-eight months after they’re published, you’ll still want to promote your book once that time period has passed. Even if you choose not to continue appearances and book signings after the first year, you’ll want some kind of promotional effort in place for the months that follow. Work with your publicist and your publisher to develop a marketing strategy for your book once it’s backlisted. Enter your book in contests and issue press releases when it wins awards or garners any other news-worthy attention. If your book first appears in hard cover, consider a re-release in paperback form. Write columns and blog posts, and use social networking and a strong web presence to keep your book in the public eye.
Paula Margulies is a book publicity and promotions expert in San Diego, California. You can reach her at, or visit her website at

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