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Getting the word out about your new book can be a daunting, but necessary, task. If you don’t talk to your audience about your book, then they won’t know to buy it. And you need to make sure that the message you ARE putting out there is compelling enough to grab attention. In terms of the media, traditional media has changed so significantly that there are fewer opportunities available and a lot more books competing for those coverage opportunities. You have to be strategic and creative when putting together your outreach plan.

You can either choose to do your own public relations (PR) or you can hire a professional – sometimes called a publicist in this case – to generate buzz about your book.

If you are ready to hire a publicist, here are six things to look for:

  1. Chemistry: If you have a book launch coming up, it can be hard to “date before getting married” when it comes to choosing your publicist. You need to make sure the person is a good fit with you in terms of belief in your book, ease of communication, and being on the same page when it comes to your goals for the launch campaign. After all, they are representing you to the public. You also need to be able to work together to get the best results possible.
  2. Do they understand your audience: A publicist who doesn’t understand your audience will likely target the wrong types of media outlets. While getting your name in the media seems like it would be great in any situation, what is the point if the coverage doesn’t reach people who would read your book?
  3. Do they have an understanding of your geographical market: You want to find a publicist who has connections and has a familiarity with outlets in your target market. If they have worked in the market before, they will understand the nuances of reaching out to the media.
  4. Nothing is guaranteed: Be wary of any publicist that will “guarantee” you specific results such as “We’ll get you TV coverage” or “We’ll guarantee you xx number of media hits.” I have worked with many clients who have been attracted by these guarantees only to find that they are empty. The key is finding a publicist who is as invested in your success as they are their own.
  5. Budget transparency: It can be easy to take a “budget” at face value, but make sure you clarify all that is included in the budget. One of the biggest issues to cover is whether you are working on an hourly basis or with a set fee. If you are working hourly, you may be surprised when you get your bill at the end of the month as it might be higher than what was quoted. Negotiating a set project fee or monthly retainer will ensure you don’t pay for any overages in hours worked. Also remember that cheaper is not always better!
  6. Are they honest about their track record: A great publicist should be able to provide you with case studies of clients who have similar goals to your own. Don’t be afraid to fact check as well!

Using a publicist can be a great option for someone looking to step up their book outreach. If you pick the right publicist, you will be able to work with them to get the best results possible.


Candace Huntly is the founder and Principal of SongBird Marketing Communications, a Toronto-based boutique firm that works with clients to take their strategy and brand to the next level. She is an expert at telling brand stories and getting them shared through the right channels. She is conducting one of the workshops at Author Summit 2015, PR for Authors.