How Much Does a Publicist Cost? [Understanding Book Publicists]

How Much Does A Publicist Cost

Are you into book writing and questioning, “how much does a publicist cost”? Then you’ve come to the right place.

In this post, we hope to answer all your queries about book publicists, why you need them and what can you expect when working with them.

What Does a Book Publicist Do?

Book publicists do everything that can directly and indirectly effect book sales. This includes things like marketing efforts, promoting virtual tours, organizing pre and post release social media campaigns, securing writer interviews and much more.

Book publicity usually begins at least 6-12 months prior to the official release date and can take about another 4-6 months after launch.

Here’s a whole list of services that a book publicist can provide.

  • Creating and executing the book platform
  • Acquiring media endorsements
  • Monitoring the editing of the book’s front and back cover, author’s biography and book’s synopsis
  • Formulating a strategy for the author’s blog and social networking profiles
  • Requesting for book reviews
  • Gathering a media kit for publicity and advertisements
  • Pitching interviews and features
  • Organizing the book’s launch event and book talk
  • Scheduling the book’s virtual tour
  • Promoting nomination for book awards
  • Promoting title for addition to a books list
  • Formulating the author’s talking points for events
  • Suggesting venues with high traffic author events

Why Do You Need a Book Publicist?

Every budding author dreams for best sellers, grand book tours and media interviews. A book publicist can help writers get there. The competition to release a book that grosses big numbers has never been greater.

A skilled public relations expert can craft a book pitch to hundreds of media contacts and online platforms that, in turn, translates into high sales. This takes the marketing burden from the author and all publicity work is being taken care of by someone who is skilled in devising and implementing a successful book campaign.

The resulting sales are then worth it.

Things You Should Keep in Mind When Hiring a Book Publicist

Here are a few things you should know before you decide to hire a book publicist.

1. In-House Publicists vs. Independent Publicists

Most publishing houses have their own in-house publicity departments that are supposed to devise and implement book publicity campaigns. They can often get the job done; however, you should not forget that in any given month your publisher may be promoting at least 20-30 other titles. 

Therefore, you will be expected to help them or even take some responsibility on yourself as in-house publicists often juggle with a number of clients and simply don’t have a lot of time and resources. Moreover, they don’t have the capability to conduct in-depth research and follow up with publicity avenues that are off their regular paths.

Independent publicists, on the other hand, work closely with individual clients. They’re either employed at publicity firms or work freelance.

2. You Will Have to Plan Ahead

In order to get the most bang for the money you’re going to spend on marketing and publicity, you’ll have to start working on it long before the official book launch.

It’s wise to start brainstorming and seek publicity support long in advance. Most book publicists require at least 4-6 months prior to release date for them to effectively execute a marketing and PR campaign for the book.

3. How Much Does a Publicist Cost?

Experienced book publicists can charge anywhere from $3000 to $6000 a month for a commitment that’s likely to run about 4-9 months.

You may also be able to hire a competent publicist who works on hourly basis for a fee of about $50-$80 an hour. They don’t necessarily have to complete 40 hours a week.

The rates will also depend on the degree of work and services required. The main considerations for cost could include the kind of services needed, how much work you can do on your own, customized package for which you can negotiate etc.

4. Hiring a Publicist Doesn’t Mean You Will Not Be Required to Do Any Work

A book publicist truly partners with an author to market and promote the book. They cannot work in isolation so don’t expect to just take the back seat as soon as you have a publicist on board.

The most successful book campaigns involve mutual effort with an author who strives to remain engaged in the entire process and gives time to the publicity team. In fact a lot of publicity activities such as interviews, book signings, and social media sessions all require the presence and support of the author.

5. Book Publicists Do Not Work on Commission

No good publicists will work for a percentage of the book sales. It doesn’t work that way. There are typically two business models that exist. There’s a traditional fee based approach where the firm or a freelance publicist tells you what they will do and a fee is charged according to the service provided and time involved in executing it.

The second model makes use of the pay-for-performance system. It includes an initial set up fee to get things started and then a whole plan is mapped out. Every time a milestone is achieved within the set timeline, you make a payment. The payments vary according to the type of work done.

High prestige placements like an interview on a popular TV show will cost more than one with a local newspaper.

Collaborating with the publicist to share load and save money

6. You Can Save Some Money by Collaborating with the Publicist and Sharing the Load

Cost cutting is possible if you are willing to take charge of some publicity work yourself. For example, both of you can devise a social media strategy that you execute while they focus on arranging virtual tours and getting national media attention. Whatever work you do by yourself would obviously mean that you won’t have to pay for it.

7. You’ll Have to Be Upfront with Your Publicist and Evaluate Your Options Carefully

Before you hire an independent publicist make sure you have assessed all your options. Interview at least 3-4 and share details such as your specific publicity goals, your budget and what your in-house publicist will be doing.

There shouldn’t be any duplication of work that will cost your both time and money. Ask in detail about the services and fees and request the publicist to formulate a proposal for you.

Research and review the publicist’s website to see how they’ve worked previously for books in the same genre as yours and what their areas of expertise are. When you’ve short listed potential candidates, speak with their other clients and learn about their experience with them.

8. There Are Never Any Guarantees

Don’t fall prey to publicists who make guarantees. Media interviews can get canceled or postponed at the last minute. Moreover, there is no set success formula when it comes to publicity.

A good publicist, however, knows which strategy to use when, how to pitch and what to do to get the best results.

What to Expect When Working with a Publicist?

  • An experienced and competent publicist knows that they are part of a three pronged team which also includes you and your publisher. So, they will not try to hinder anyone’s work or effort. In fact they will come up with a strategy that complements your publisher’s campaign and fits your needs and budget.
  • You should always ask your publicist for a comprehensive timeline to their campaign so you know the overall plan and can monitor its progress.
  • You must be great with your follow-up skills and so should be your publicist.
  • Your publicist should be able to use pitches that are the right match for each audience. A one-size-fits-all approach cannot work.
Self publicity of your book is a difficult but doable option

Can You Do It On Your Own?

Book publicity is a craft. It comes with tactics, strategies and professionalism. However, the no-guarantees nature of publicity can make a lot authors wonder if they even need to hire a publicist.

The truth is that publicity is no rocket science. If you’re committed to the process, you can get things rolling for you. This is especially important for authors who are too tight on budget or those who are expecting tangible results because hiring a book publicist doesn’t automatically mean that your book’s going to be a success.

So if you have more time than money, you can take the ‘do it yourself’ route. Here are a few ways you can launch a book publicity campaign for yourself.

Focus More on Online Opportunities and Social Media

Going on traditional media like TV, radio, magazines may require a great deal of time and good contacts which is not easy especially if you’re new. So, online publicity is your safest bet.

You should create a website, blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account and LinkedIn profile as the very basic set of marketing tools.

Work On Your Elevator Pitch

From networking events to community gatherings and everything in between, a powerful elevator pitch can get people excited about your book.

Fine tune your elevator speech to 2-3 sentences maximum. You can also use a one sentence tagline which will be visible on all your social media handles, your website, flyers, business cards etc.

Get Reviews

Getting as many reviews as possible is essential for increasing your book’s visibility and reach. Look for reviewers and bloggers who read work from your genre.

If you’re a first time author you could look for Amazon’s top reviewers and pick out the ones who have reviewed books from your genre. Send polite requests, send free copies, offer giveaways and do just about anything to convince them to write a review for your book.

Join the Goodreads Author Program

Goodreads has a network of over 85 million book lovers, making it an excellent book promotion platform for you. You can use its Author Program to create your own profile where you can share about your book, seek reviews, organize discussions on your book and so much more.

Book publicity is all about using media as a channel to spread the word regarding your book to get in the eyes of your target audience. Hiring a skilled publicist surely means you can benefit from their expertise and media outreach. If you’re ready for the investment, you should definitely go for one.

The information above will help you take the best decision and also guide you through the entire process when working with a book publicist.