Questions for Book Publicists

When you’re in the market for a book publicist, it’s critical that you have all of the information you need to make an informed hiring decision. So, talk with several publicists and ask them plenty of questions. What are the questions you should ask? Here are my suggestions:

1. What is your experience publicizing my kind of book? When was the last time that you publicized a book in my same genre?

2. In your opinion, what is my book’s publicity potential? What kinds of media attention do you realistically think it might receive? Obviously, before a publicist can give you an honest and informed answer to this question you will need to provide him or her with a copy of your book.

3. Tell me about some of the media attention you generated for the last couple books like mine that you publicized.

4. What will you do to publicize my book?

5. Will I have an opportunity to review the press materials you prepare for my book and to suggest changes before you share the materials with the media? You should.

6. Can I see some samples of the press materials you’ve prepared for other authors you’ve worked with? Steer clear of publicists who provide you with poorly written press materials and/or materials that contain typos.

7. How much media follow up do you do and how do you do it? Follow up is key to getting attention for a book and most media want to be contacted via email.

8. When should I expect to see results from your efforts?

9. What are your strengths as a book publicist? For example, some book publicists work primarily with print journalists, are great at scheduling radio and TV interviews for authors, focus on bloggers, or are social media specialists, while others do a little bit of everything. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have a general sense of the specific kind/s of help you want before you begin talking with publicists. However, it’s also important for you to stay open to a publicist’s suggestions for the best way/s to generate attention for your book.

10. Do you recommend that I get some media training? If so, will you provide the training or can you recommend someone who does? Media training can be especially important if you will be doing TV or radio interviews for the first time.

11. How do you charge for your services? Options include by the project, by the hour, a monthly retainer, or by the interview or review/article.

12. Will I be responsible for paying any expenses you incur on my behalf? What might those expenses be and can you estimate their amounts?

13. Is there anything I could do myself, in cooperation with you, to reduce the cost of my publicity campaign? For example, if a publicist will be mailing copies of your books to the media, perhaps you could handle the mailing yourself – folding press materials, stuffing envelopes, affixing labels on the outside of envelopes, and so on.

14. Will you actually publicize my book or will someone else with your firm do that? If it will be someone else, ask to meet that individual in person or by phone, and ask him or her most of these same questions.

15. How will you communicate with me? By phone, by email?

16. How often can I expect to receive updates from you regarding who in the media you’ve contacted, what the results have been, and so on?

17. Will you provide me with a written proposal outlining exactly what you will do for me, a time line for your services and how much you will charge? A detailed written proposal is essential.

18. Can I see the contract you will ask me to sign if I decide to hire you?

19. Will you provide me with contact information for some of the authors you have worked with in the past? Be sure to contact those authors to get their opinions about the publicist. For example, what do they think were the publicist’s strengths and weaknesses; did they have any problems working with the publicist; would they hire the publicist for their next book?

When you are talking with a publicist, you should also take into account whether the publicist:

• Asks you lots of questions about you and your book

• Seems excited about the possibility of working with you

• Acts irritated by all of the questions you ask

• Offers some good ideas for publicizing your book

Rubs you the wrong way. When you talk to a publicist, you may feel that your personalities don’t click or you may simply have the sense that he or she is not for you. Trust your instincts because it’s important that you and your publicist work well together.

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