Does a new author need a publicist?

If you read the websites of the PR specialists, they say you can’t afford to NOT have one. But, of course, what are they going to say? There are only so many marketing dollars available to all of us, and in these tough economic times, even less than usual. So, do you spend your hard earned dollars on a publicist or do you do try to do your own publicizing?

And if you do hire a publicist, how do you chose one? Of course, referral by someone you trust is probably the best way to go, but when you’re new to the industry you may not know anyone who can make that referral. And then there’s their area of expertise. Do you hire someone who is an expert in internet marketing or brick and mortar? Both would, of course, be ideal if you can find it. But if they do both, do they know both? Or are they spreading themselves too thin and not giving anything?

I have spoken to several authors who have had bad experiences with publicists, mostly the same complaint, “It was a waste of money.” I’m not suggesting this is a fact. I’m sure there are plenty of authors, novice and experienced, who have had success with their publicist. So, what does the new novelist do? Does one do his or her own promoting? I’m sure you’re all familiar with the saying, “An attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client.” That is certainly true in the legal field, but does it apply here? I’m just askin’. www.teresaburrell.com

4 Comments
  1. As a new author, I hope you get some comments to this from established authors. I’d love to know what a publicist can do for me that I can’t do for myself, at least at this level of my career.

    Gayle Carline
    http://www.gaylecarline.com
    http://gaylecarline.blogspot.com

  2. I think a publicist is a great idea on a certain level. 1) You have to have the money. From my research, they can suck you dry if you are not careful. 2)Pick the right one. Do tons of research. Call them, bother them, interview them as well as some of their other clients. You need to pick the right one or you will be “throwing your money away”.

  3. First of all, congratulations on your first novel, and best wishes for its success.

    I am working on a first book as well, and I plan to be my own publicist. Why? One, I’m a member of the media and understand how it works and what it needs. Two, I need a publicist who will care as much about my book as I do, and nobody will as much as I do. And three, I’m a bit of a control freak.

    The idea that a publicist is imbued with some sort of special, inaccessible, esoteric qualities that an author can never have is pure BS, fueled by the publicist industry (surely as a means of self-perpetuation). It just means more hard work and research, which hopefully are characteristics that have been copiously applied to your writing.

    That said, if you don’t want to do all the work yourself (that is, if you want to do things like sleep and have a life), then do what Nick said — interview VERY carefully. You want not only knowledge of the field, a competent demeanor and a strong work ethic … but, above all else, you want someone who is in love with your work, who genuinely believes with near-evangelical zeal that everybody should want to read it, and will go to the mat in finding every reviewer, every media outlet, every speaking engagement possible. The number-one complaint I hear about publicists is that they don’t work hard enough on your book — because they don’t feel personally dedicated to your success. You want more than a professional — you want a fan and a friend. You want someone who cares.

    Jim Thomsen
    thomsen1965@gmail.com

  4. I think the internet has so many opportunities for promotion and would be a vital resource for first time authors who can’t afford a publicist. After all, isn’t mostly word of mouth that sells novels? I think the main thing would be to get the word out to as many people as possible. I wasn’t at all interested in reading Twilight when it first came out but it was recommended by so many people that I had to read it for myself. Thats how it is with alot of novels.

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