Help Me, Help You

By Marika Flatt

We talk to authors every week who are considering hiring a publicist; many do not know exactly what a book publicist does and doesn’t do. Oftentimes, we spend a decent amount of time educating these authors so that their expectations align with what they’re paying us to do.

Even if you are a self-published author, that does not mean you have to do everything yourself. You need a well-rounded team behind you to get your name out there, and that’s where a publicist can help. How can you help?

Find Your Audience

This is especially important for first-time authors. Your publicist knows the media outlets you can be plugged into. However, it helps tremendously if you come to the table already having a sense of who your readers are and why.

Trust Your Publicist

Your publicist might place you in a small, obscure publication and you might wonder what you will gain from it. Exposure. You need to trust your publicist with this. When you are a first-time, self-published author, you want to get your name and your upcoming title out into the world. You never know who is listening to that radio interview, reading that magazine, or watching that broadcast. That small placement could lead to another, bigger opportunity for you. We’ve seen it happen dozens of times.

On Social Media

While social media has made it easier to create some exposure on your own, there are two important steps to keep in mind. First, you must know how the different platforms work, and second, you must devise a successful social media strategy. You might want to consider a social media crash course to equip you with the right tools and point you in the right direction. We offer these as do other publicity firms. We always tell authors: When it comes to social media, you need to build it BEFORE you have something important to say.

Start Early

You have to create a demand and build up the hype to get people excited for your book. That takes time. One of the keys to successfully promoting yourself and your work is to start early. Acquire “likes” and “followers” month-by-month. Then, when pub date arises, you’ll actually have an audience.

Remember, it is not the publicist’s job to increase sales. Their job is to build and promote your brand — you and your book–and get media exposure to increase your name recognition. However, publicists have nothing to do with distribution and sales channels. Your publicist wants to help set you up for success. Let them help you find and grow your audience.

Marika Flatt is the founder of Austin-based publicity firm PR by the Book. A nationally-known book publicity firm since 2002, PR by the Book assists authors and publishers from coast-to-coast with their book launches, blog tours, social media campaigns and other promotional needs.

For more information, visit Follow @PRbytheBook on Twitter and “like” them on Facebook.