There’s a myth among nonfiction authors that the only path to publicity is with a publicist. Back in the day, that was true. But things have changed. Just like the publishing industry has been disrupted by different paths to publication, authors have more options now.
So should a nonfiction author like you hire a publicist? Generally speaking, I don’t recommend it.
Why? Well first of all, let me make it clear that I’m not disparaging publicists. I had great experiences with two wonderful publicists back when my book came out in 2010. But the media landscape has changed so much. So here are 7 reasons why I don’t think nonfiction authors need to hire a publicist today:
- With more than a million self-published books coming out every year now, in addition to the hybrid and traditionally published books, there are simply not enough publicists to go around.
- A publicist’s job is to secure media interviews for you, NOT to prepare you for what to say, or how you can – and should – maximize that opportunity. (Do you really want to do a media interview you’re not prepared for?)
- Most authors don’t know how to work with a publicist. So they often hand over the reins to the PR company, thinking the “done for you” model means they stay out of it after the initial meeting. But that’s like hiring a designer to create your website and only giving them a copy of your book and nothing else. Of course, some publicists prefer it this way, but that can leave authors out of the mix for much of the process.
- Media interviews – if done well, with intention and strategy – can be incredibly valuable marketing assets for your book and business. That’s why publicists typically charge in the $10,000 – $30,000 range for a 3 month contract. Now that’s a serious investment. And keep in mind, you pay each month for the term of the contract even if you have not gotten any publicity. (By the way, 3 months is not a lot of time for a publicist to get traction if you’re not clear on you you are as an expert, what audience you serve with your expertise, and what your precise and concise message is for Media.)
- No publicist can really guarantee media interviews. Publicity is “earned media” meaning you provide valuable content and the media outlet provides the audience. If you don’t have valuable content – or you do, but the publicist doesn’t convey that well or to the right outlets – you may not get any media interviews in spite of paying ten thousand dollars or more.
- Once your contract with a publicist is over, the pitching stops. So if you have been getting media interviews, now you’re on your own. Most authors are not prepared for that so this is the point when publicity often dries up. (In my experience, a publicist does not share contacts with you. The only way you get contact information for a producer for example, is if you are booked and need to follow up with that producer directly.)
- There’s a popular misconception that you should hire a publicist because they have “relationships” with people in the Media. That may mean they know the right person to reach out to for a particular topic and that’s great, but it does not mean their relationship will get you a booking. Media interviews are not favors. They are strategic on the part of the media outlet based on the audience they serve and a host of other metrics. So hiring a publicist who has previously gotten an author publicity on a particular media outlet does not mean they can get the same for you.
Okay, so what do you do if you need help marketing your nonfiction book? Well, first of all don’t start with trying to get publicity. That’s a mistake most authors make, but I urge you to prepare for publicity before doing media interviews. (A media interview is usually permanent so if you’re not happy with your appearance, there is nothing you can do. The Media owns that interview.)
That’s when a media interview can actually be a marketing liability that someone else controls. Not being prepared for publicity can hurt your book, brand and business. Ask yourself the following questions to determine how prepared you are:
- Do you know your intentions for each media interview?
- Does your Media Bio act as a brand ambassador for your book and expertise?
- Do you have a media marketing strategy?
- Do you know how to get readers to buy your book as a result of your appearance?
- Do you understand how to make publicity profitable?
Because publicity can be profitable IF you do it right. To get results, you need to take specific strategic steps BEFORE you even think about reaching out to the media
A media interview is a marketing asset that somebody else pays to create. If you’re prepared, that is. That’s why I created an efficient, affordable, self-directed course designed specifically for nonfiction authors like you, and you can check it out here: Profitable Publicity.