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5 Things To Know About Book Publicists

So, you’re getting published. Your agent has persuaded a publisher to take on your book – job done, right? Wrong (and a good thing too, otherwise this blog post would be woefully short)!  

There are a lot of people involved in turning your manuscript into a book – and to make sure that your book sells. One of the departments that you might not know much about is the publicity department.  

I’m privileged to have a PR director from Penguin Random House as a mentor, and I’d like to share with you 5 things every author needs to know about book publicists.  

1) They help to determine whether your book is brought on-board.  

Before purchasing your book, a publishing house will hold an acquisitions meeting. All attendees will read a chunk of your book to help them decide whether they to take you on.  

A publicist considers your book’s potential readership and its uniqueness. If you’re a nonfiction author, they’ll carefully consider your reputation in your field of expertise. Their job is to figure out: if the publisher takes on your book, how well will they be able to publicise it?  

2) They work with every other department to give your book the best chance to succeed.  

Publicists will attend a lot of meetings about your book: 

  • Cover briefing meetings with editorial – to make sure your book cover fits the tone of your book, and is eye-catching enough to get people talking  

  • Campaign meetings with sales & marketing – to discuss campaign planning at various intervals before launch  

  • Focus meetings with editorial & marketing - to discuss only your book and whether everything is on track

3) They know you better than you know yourself.  

You will spend a lot of time talking to your publicist. When the ‘normal’ world recommences, you’ll be with them on a book tour. In the meantime, they’ll keep in touch with phone and Zoom calls to check in and update you on campaign progress.  

Your publicist cares about your novel’s backstory, but also about your backstory. To get you a slot on the radio to promote your book, they’ll need to know that you have 8 minutes' worth of conversation – and people don’t just want to know about your characters, they want to know about you!  

Did the inspiration for your manuscript come from your own love story – or your own horrifying experience? The more your publicist knows, the more they can help you.  

4) They find the best people to shout about your book.  

Your publicist will ask established authors in your genre to read your book and provide glowing recommendations. The book next to you that has ‘I loved it’ - Stephen King on the cover? That was arranged by the author’s publicist.  

They’ll speak to journalists, book reviewers, and book bloggers/bookstagrammers - to make sure that your book is seen by your dream readers.  

5) They care about your book almost as much as you do.  

While you might be your book’s parent, think of your publicist as your mother-in-law. They might have some opinions that conflict with yours, and sometimes they might have to tell you hard truths, but they’ll be just as head over heels about your baby book as you are.  

They’ll be by your side as you conquer the terrifying world that is publishing – and you’ll be grateful for their support.  

If you’re curious to learn more about book publicity, don’t just listen to me! One of our upcoming events for March’s Getting Published month is Getting ready for publication with Helen Richardson – a freelance publicist here to answer all your burning questions! If you’re a member, you can sign up to Getting Published webinars as normal. If you’re a non-member, why not treat yourself to a month’s membership to help you get you that step closer to a publication deal?  

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Comments (1)
  • I can see now why people prefer to self publish on Amazon or elsewhere. It is not vanity, in fact, it is the opposite. I would not think I would be able to undertake this assault course even if I am sure of my book.

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