Should I Hire a Publicist?


Should I Hire a Publicist?

Another of the popular author questions. In general, no, it’s probably not a good idea. At least for (most) fiction. Publicists can do fabulous things for authors. But now that so few newspapers or major media review books and, instead, digital media has blossomed as the prime engine for publicizing books, it really doesn’t make sense to take a good portion of your advance and hire a publicist who will come in five months before pub date and do all the things that an in-house team — who will be meeting and planning your book’s strategy together — will do.

If you’ve written several books, it might make sense to hire an assistant rather than a publicist. That assistant can work out a promotion plan for you that rolls out year-round. She (or he) can help you with social media, with Twitter, and with getting out an e-mail newsletter to fans and bookstores. An in-house publicist can invest about six weeks getting out the word on your book. After that, it’s time for her to move on to other projects.

Authors of nonfiction (and historical fiction) should discuss the value of a publicist with their agents and editors. Certainly there are a lot of practical ways that a dedicated publicist may make a significant difference for nonfiction titles. But unless there are good reasons to conclude that your publisher doesn’t have sufficient manpower and/or enthusiasm to promote your book, it’s probably best to stick with your publisher’s team.

Whatever you decide to do, decide early! Don’t hire a publicist two months out from publication. Start looking for someone seven or eight months earlier.