There are a lot of demands on the author’s time these days. Not only do we have to write our books, we have to build our online platform as well. Sometimes authors are surprised by the amount of time they need to spend on their online marketing. Some authors have notions that publishers (or being published) alone can ensure the success of their book. Yet successful marketing strategies are often long-term and comprehensive, and involve many players, including the publisher, author and a publicity firm. As authors learn the scope of what it takes to make a book successful and achieve the outcomes they desire, many become interested in hiring a publicity firm to augment what publishers are doing for them. Here are the six steps you should consider when selecting the right publicity firm for you.
This guest post is by Fauzia Burke. Burke is the founder and president of FSB Associates, an online publicity and marketing firm specializing in creating awareness for books and authors. She’s the author of Online Marketing for Busy Authors (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, April 2016). Fauzia has promoted the books of authors such as Alan Alda, Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra, Melissa Francis, S. C. Gwynne, Mika Brzezinski, Charles Spencer and many more. A nationally recognized speaker and online branding expert, Fauzia writes regularly for the Huffington Post. For online marketing, book publishing and social media advice, follow Fauzia on Twitter (@FauziaBurke) and Facebook (Fauzia S. Burke). For more information on the book, please visit: www.FauziaBurke.com.
Step 1: Needs and Goals
Before you begin your search, think about your public relations (PR) goals. What is it that you want? Do you want to be on TV? Do you want reviews in newspapers? Or, do you want to build exposure online? Whom do you want to reach? Do you know your target demographic? How long do you want to work with a PR agency? Do you want to work with a PR agency for a one-time book or project or for multiple projects longer term? Once you identify your goals, you’ll be better equipped to find an agency that can help you achieve them.
Step 2: Referrals
Your search should always start by asking your agent, publisher or fellow authors for referrals of people they have worked with so you can have some names to begin the process. You can compare and contrast the agencies you have, and find the right fit for you.
Step 3: Web Research
Look up the agency online. Check out their website and social networks as well as their current and past projects and testimonials. Find out how long they have been in business and the types of authors and clients they represent. Everyone has a digital footprint, so it’s easy to do your homework ahead of time and be able to narrow down your list based on your research. Make sure the agency you select is connected in the social media world — Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. If they are connected digitally, they will be able to help promote and advice you in the social media space.
Step 4: First Contact
Begin contacting several firms to pick the one that is right for you. Collect information on prices, timeline and availability. Find out more about their area of specialty and expertise. Make sure your book is the type of book the PR agency tends to work with and promote so you can be assured that a particular publicity firm has experience with your type of book. Now you can narrow your list further.
Step 5: Interview
Once you’ve narrowed down your list based on your budget, goals and timing, you should set up an interview with each PR firm by phone or in-person. A good firm will want to talk with you as well to make sure the fit is perfect. They should also encourage you to talk with other PR firms. Before you schedule the interview, give the firm the opportunity to learn about your book so you can hear their ideas and decide if you like what you are hearing. Ask questions just as if you are interviewing someone for a job. Find out the publications and media outlets where they have built relationships. Remember a good PR agency should have an established network of media contacts. Make sure the agency you are talking to understands your brand. You can even request a preliminary proposal of how they would go about publicizing your book. Good PR agencies have strong track records.
Step 6: The Final Decision
The most important part of your decision process should really be your instincts. It’s all about knowing and liking the PR agency you are going to work with, because if you don’t like the person initially, you will most likely be dissatisfied in the long run. Did you establish rapport upon initial contact? During the interview phase, which firm stood out? What agency do you like, respect and trust the most? In the end, go with your gut, and you will make the best decision for you and your book.
Along with media hits and results, a good PR agency should give you valuable information for building your brand and to amplify the exposure you are getting. [Like this quote? Click here to Tweet and share it!] Choose your team carefully.
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Brian A. Klems is the editor of this blog, online editor of Writer’s Digest and author of the popular gift book Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.