Exactly what is a book publicist, and what does a publicist do to market books?

Stephanie Barko at the Texas Book Festival
Stephanie Barko at the Texas Book Festival

We are honored to introduce book publicist Stephanie Barko as our Featured Guest Blogger of the week. She writes about book marketing and promotion, which are critical for the success of any book. Stephanie Barko, Literary Publicist was voted Best Book Promotion Service by Preditors & Editors’ Readers Poll in 2011.  Her most recent award-winning clients include an IndieReader Best Book of 2011, a 2011 IPPY and a 2011 Sarton Memoir Award Winner.  Connect with Stephanie on LinkedIn, and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and her blog.

The internet and the democratization of the publishing industry have made it easier than ever today to publish a book.  With so many people publishing material in so many different formats, the competition to sell one’s writing has never been keener.  The wisest and most savvy authors and indie publishers are investigating what a book publicist can do for them.

The book publicist sits at the back end of the publishing chain and is the team member who pushes the finished book into the marketplace.  Book publicity begins six to 12 months prior to release date when the marketing plan and book platform are written, and typically ends about four months after launch.

Book publicists specialize in specific genres just like literary agents do.  These genre specialties include nonfiction & fiction subgenres like how-to, history, career, business, biography, autobiography, self-help, and historical fiction.  Some book publicists are employed directly by publishing houses and some freelance for publishers and authors.

A critical function of the book publicist is to submit galleys and finished books for book reviews.  The publicist may also attempt to get the title on a prominentmbooks list or nominate it for a book award.  Also within the publicist’s purview is the pitching of features to journalists either written by, about or mentioning the author.

Publicists can both directly and indirectly effect book sales through their book marketing efforts, including promoting a virtual tour, securing author interviews, leveraging the author’s book blog and social networking profiles, and utilizing the author’s media kit.  If funds are available, publicists will also schedule an author’s book talk or ground tour. Publicists will sometimes promote free books and conduct book giveaways to generate interest for a title.

Here is a list of services that some publicists offer.

  • Devise and execute the book platform
  • Acquire endorsements
  • Oversee editing of the book’s back cover text
  • Edit the author’s biography and the book’s synopsis
  • Create a strategy for the author’s book blog
  • Initialize the author’s social networking profiles
  • Request book reviews
  • Assemble a media kit and disseminate its elements
  • Pitch interviews and features
  • Plan the book’s launch event and book talk
  • Schedule, host and promote the book’s virtual tour
  • Encourage nomination of the title for book awards
  • Position the title for addition to a books list
  • Formulate the author’s talking points
  • Syndicate the author’s articles
  • Recommend venues with high traffic author events
  • Leverage the interest of special audiences & book groups

Publicists joke among themselves that no two of them are alike, and in many respects this is true.  Each specializes in a particular type of client or book and each publicist has a track record that illustrates a unique variety of experience.  However, one thing is certain – the book with the extra marketing push will always do better, even if a similar title is as good.

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