Hiring a Public Relations Specialist

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Q: I’ve finished my book, landed a contract and have a publication date. Should I hire a public relations specialist to spread the word? –Ozzie G.

A: While most of us don’t have loads of extra cash to drop on hiring a PR specialist, most of us don’t have a bestseller on our resume either. But if your book is purchased by a publisher and you want to see better sales results, it may be worth at least entertaining the idea.

Publishers tend to put few (if any) resources into marketing books, particularly books from first-time authors. Hell, you’re lucky if you get your own page on the publisher’s website. A good PR representative can open marketing avenues that you either don’t have access to or hadn’t crossed your mind. And a great PR rep will help increase your visibility in places where it counts.

Searching for a PR rep is kind of like searching for a babysitter—you need someone you can trust, someone who will do a good job and someone who will give your “baby” the attention it deserves. After all, you don’t want to waste your money on someone who will send out a few faxes and call it a day. It’s important to check references. Ask what results she has had with similar books and seek proof of those results. Also, check out the Public Relations Society of America’s local chapter or the communications program at your local university. Here you can find a list of publicists to choose from.

The cost of some PR reps can be high—from $500 to $4,000 per month or higher—but you have to think of this as an investment. Always expect a return on this investment. And even if you decide that a PR rep isn’t for you, just by doing some research you may be able to pick up on a few of their best practices.

Brian A. Klems is the online managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine.

Have a question for me? Feel free to post it in the comments section below or e-mail me at WritersDig@fwpubs.com with “Q&Q” in the subject line. Come back each Friday as I try to give you more insight into the writing life.