What You Pay For When You Hire a PR Firm

Imagine that your book is coming out in several months, and you fall into the camp of those who want to put some time and resources into promoting it. Knowing that that your publisher can’t commit to much more on the publicity side than mailing out galleys to a standard media list, you’ve decided to give it your all, to go ahead and hire an outside publicist.

But as you research firms and see the 5-figure price tags for most campaigns, a lump forms in your throat. Your advance was modest. You know you can’t begin to estimate how much, if anything, your book will generate in sales. At the same time, you’re learning that the gist of what a publicist does is build press lists, write elevator pitches, send emails, make phone calls, mail galleys and coordinate interviews when opportunities arise. All of which seems pretty straightforward. You figure that if you had the time and the nerves, you could probably handle much of this yourself.

To Promote or Not to Promote: An Existential Question

It’s no secret that publishers do little these days to promote most books but that there’s an infinite number of steps authors can take to fill the void, from DIY to hiring an outside publicist. Nor is it a secret that even the most exhaustive efforts can potentially get you….almost nowhere in terms of sales.

This may be why many authors opt not to do much promotion if any aside from what their publishers have planned (typically mailing out galleys and ARCs to reviewers) and to focus their energies instead on what they really love: writing.

That’s a perfectly understandable and admirable choice. As agent Donald Maass wisely noted in a comment to one of my recent posts on Writer Unboxed, “The better bet [rather than spending too much time or money on promotion] is to write a killer Book #2.”

In an ideal world that’s what we’d all do. That world would be delightfully zen, free of the complications that come with drive, ambition and a desire for recognition. Free, too, from any need or desire to try to make a living from our craft. Our next book might be that killer or it might not; in the end its destiny is something we don’t control. But it wouldn’t matter and we’d be content to keep on writing.

In reality, though, most of us need or yearn for more. We certainly need to

The False Divide Between Book Promo and Author Promo

After years of drafting, critiquing, revising, submitting and watching rejections pile up, you’ve finally landed a publishing deal and your book is coming out in several months.

Over those years you’ve worked hard, too, to build a platform — giving webinars on craft, writing articles that have run in places like the Huffington Post and contributing regularly to a popular blog (maybe WU?) drawing thousands of readers from around the country.

Yet, when you sit down for the long-anticipated meeting with your publisher’s marketing team, you’re told that despite your strong online connections with readers in cities from Portland, OR to Portland ME, your publisher won’t sponsor a book tour.

You’ve just come up against the false divide between ‘author promotion,’ which spotlights you as an author and an individual, and ‘book promotion,’ which focuses specifically on a given book.

In promoting yourself as an author a book tour can be an important part of leverageing all the connections you’ve built as a voice in the literary world, and doing so makes perfect sense. People who’ve enjoyed your blog posts and articles, whom you’ve exchanged comments and tweets with, may well want to meet you in person when you’re in town. They’ll come to your talk in the local indie bookstore and possibly invite a couple of friends. Some might host book club events for you or feature you on their own blogs. If well-organized,

Guest Articles: The New “It” Media Opportunity

Around the time blogs first started catching on, writer Julie Powell decided – just for the heck of it – to cook every recipe in Julia Child’sMastering the Art of French Cooking and chronicle the experience on her blog.

We all know her story’s happy ending.

Soon every writer was launching or joining a blog. So was every mom, every foodie, every fitness buff, bibliophile and investment guru. For fun and fulfillment, but also, quite often, in the hopes of increasing discoverability. And we also know this story’s ending: a blogosphere that wound up as bloated and oversaturated as any literary agent’s slush pile.

Luckily the one constant in today’s media, which includes the online world, is change. And as media outlets have gone increasingly digital, a whole new category of outlets has emerged: the highly visible, online-only publication. Think, The Millions or The Huffington Post. These outlets have all but replaced personal blogs as a means for getting your name out there. Most offer superb opportunities for writers to submit and publish articles, opinion pieces and blog posts. And publishing one guest piece in an outlet like The Huffington Post can be equal to years of blogging in terms of the number of readers who stop by, comment and tweet.

In fact, as the media landscape continues to change, contributing pieces to

How Publicity Helps Writing Careers: A Case Study

At some point, almost every writer asks: How will publicity help my career?

The truth is, like with so many other writer’s life issues, there is no single answer. But there are some general scenarios that can help guide our thinking, and this past month I had the privilege of seeing an author I’ve helped live out one of the success stories we all can hope for.

In early January Joe Burgo, whose self-published book Why Do I Do That? Psychological Defense Mechanisms and the Hidden Ways the Shape Our Lives I publicized, landed an impressive publishing deal from Touchstone for his next book, The Narcissist You Know.

Before getting to the story of the role publicity played, I have to gush about how superbly top-notch Joe’s writing and expertise are. Why Do I Do That is a page turner that sheds light into something we should all be aware of: the little lies we tell ourselves to hide from pain. Joe – who’s a practicing, Ph.D. psychotherapist – works round the clock, not only writing books and helping clients, but also blogging at his personal site, AfterPsychotherapy.com, writing articles for The Atlantic and blog posts for Psychology Today.

(The last two are are gigs that came from our work together.)

Joe’s story of catapulting from self-published to “featured deal” on Publisher’s Lunch Deluxe – at auction no less — is exactly the type of scenario

Newsflash: BookSavvy Author Lands Big Publishing Deal

Big news for BookSavvy – and for author Joe Burgo, who worked with us for 5 months in late 2012 and early 2013:

In early January, Joe was offered an impressive publishing deal from Touchstone for his next book, The Narcissist You Know.

This deal is all the more thrilling since Joe self-published his first book, Why Do I Do That? Psychological Defense Mechanisms and the Hidden Ways the Shape Our Lives, and working with us to promote it was just one of his tireless, round-the-clock efforts geared toward realizing his decades-long ambition of finding a traditional publisher.

Not to mention that the deal stirred up enough excitement among publishing pros to be featured “deal of the week” in Publisher’s Lunch Deluxe:

Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Deal News

Among yesterday’s 33 new deals: Former Saturday Night Live star Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, co-creators of IFC’s hit show Portlandia, and the show’s co-creator and director Jonathan Krisel’s THE PORTLANDIA COOKBOOK, to Clarkson Potter, for publication in fall 2014; Journalists Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff’s untitled book on the rise and fall of RIM/Blackberry, expanding on their 2013 Long Form Best Reads piece published in the Toronto Globe & Mail, to Flatiron Books, at auction; and Atlantic Monthly writer and psychotherapist, Dr. Joseph Burgo’s THE NARCISSIST YOU KNOW, described as doing for narcissism what Martha Stout’s THE SOCIOPATH NEXT DOOR did for sociopathy, to Touchstone, at auction.

Congratulations, Joe!