Saturday, January 13, 2007

Book Promotion Question and Answer

Here's a request that I frequently hear, and -- in the interest of saving time (mine and, potentially, yours) -- I'll share it here, along with my response.

Q. I'm in the process of writing a book. Someone suggested that I look into hiring a book publicist before I bring my manuscript to publishers. Having a publicist lined up and ready to go will make my book more appealing to publishers, or at least that's what I've been told. So ... okay. I'm not sure what book promotion is, but if your proposal might help me sell my book, then please send it to me as soon as possible. I'll need for you to explain what book promotion is and what book publicists charge. Thank you.

A. I do appreciate your interest in my services, and I wish you well with your project. Unfortunately, I can't provide you with a proposal for book promotion until you're a lot closer to needing a book publicist. I simply can't commit to promoting a book that I haven't seen, and you wouldn't want to work with any book publicist who would. Also, since neither you nor I know when your book will be published, I have no way to know whether or not I'll have a slot in my schedule to take on another client when the time comes.

Second of all, my proposals do not serve as primers for those who don't know anything about book promotion but rather to help you compare how my approach, and my fees, compare with those of other book publicists. In order for my book promotion proposal to have any value to you, you'll need a solid understanding of what book promotion is and, of course, what it isn't (book promotion is very specific and does not include book sales, book marketing, or book distribution). You'll have to glean that knowledge the old-fashioned way -- through research.

Finally, I think you've been getting bad advice about the timing of approaching book publicists. It would be a very bad idea to hire a book publicist at this stage of your book project. Let's say that I did create a book promotion plan for you, and that you integrated my plan into your book proposal -- and your book were accepted by a publishing house. That could be an expensive mistake. I understand that you're tempted to think that commiting to a book publicist now might entice a publisher to buy your book. However, that approach could backfire. Few publishers would turn down the opportunity to have their authors pay for their own book promotion -- but book promotion is something that many publishers ordinarily do pay for, to a greater or lesser extent. Some publishers have been known to provide their authors with very generous and effective book promotion campaigns. Other publishers at least contribute something to the cost of promoting the books they publish -- but only if you haven't already promised to pay instead.

In short, I'd truly like to be considered as your book publicist once you have a manuscript, and once you have a publisher (or have a self-publishing plan in place). I'd be happy to hear from you at that time and to provide you with a book promotion plan. Thank you, and again, best of luck.