Do Independent Publicists and Marketing Agencies Really Help Sell Books?

The decision to hire an independent publicist or marketing agency is a tricky one for most authors. What does an independent publicist do? How much will this cost? Can a publicist actually help you increase your book sales? Shouldn’t my publisher be promoting my book? These are really valid questions, so how about we take them one at a time.

What Does an Independent Publicist Do?

First and foremost, an independent publicists’ job is to help you get the word out about whatever is most important to you.  In this case, you want the world to know about your new book.  How does a publicist do this? Ideally, a publicist will begin promoting your book at least three months prior to its release date. That means you CAN NOT sit on your hands and wait until your book is going to print. A proper rollout strategy happens in a sequence that requires time to execute. For example, taking the time to gather reviews of your book will help to build momentum towards the launch. Media engagements are also great for building momentum, and in today’s market, are necessary if you hope to get readers to pre-order your book.

Some independent marketing agencies will help you create consistent and enticing branding throughout all of your platforms. This means a marketing agency will be using carefully chosen and consistent color schemes and fonts on your website, social media and in your packaging to the media. You will be creating an expectation of quality that many authors sadly lack and therefore will be appreciated by media and potential readers alike.

How Much Will This Cost?

Everybody wants to know, what will it cost to hire a professional independent publicist? Well, most independent publicists and marketing agencies work on either a monthly retainer or on a per service basis and will offer tiered options. It really depends what you want to do, so locking a specific number down is difficult without knowing specifics. If they offer a la carte options here’s what a campaign may include:

  • Radio tours with interviews scheduled.
  • Blog tours reviews that will be posted.
  • Sending your book out to a specific list of reviewers.
  • Sending a press release out to select radio, TV, print, and online producers/editors.
  • Individual market campaigns, such as a firm that specializes in booking Los Angeles media and events.

Choosing a few items from a menu like this may or may not save you money over a monthly retainer so weigh your options carefully. You may want to ask these questions:

  • What kind of relationship do you want to have with the company you are working with?
  • What kinds of services do you need?
  • How much work can you do on your own? What financial resources are reasonably at your disposal?
  • Can you purchase specific services from the same company that will give you the best of both worlds: a more personalized campaign and lower costs?
  • Can the company you want to work with negotiate with you to give you the best array of services at a price that is mutually agreeable?

Can a publicist actually help you increase your book sales?

A really good independent publicist can tailor a book pitch to hundreds of media contacts with a high rate of success. Most authors find it well worth thousands of dollars to hire a professional to craft and implement a book campaign. After all, it’s a lot of work. But does it translate to book sales?

Well, simply put, yes! First of all, the resulting television and magazine appearances alone will translate into sales, which mitigate the costs of publicity. If that’s not enough, let’s take a deeper dive.  How about the efficacy of building your mailing list and social media accounts?  Think you can sell some books there?  Also, podcasts have a fantastic ROI.  The listeners of podcasts are extremely loyal and will spend 30 to 60 minutes to get to know you.  This translates into book sales.

Now let’s look at the long-term effect.  You’re not just selling a book each time you reach a reader.  If he or she loves what you wrote, you can expect a second and third purchase of your older catalogue. If they really love your book you can create the best of all things an author can hope for, a raving fan. A raving fan will take up the charge and sell your book to their friends and family for you.  So ultimately, what is the book sale really worth?

Shouldn’t my publisher be promoting my book?

If you’re an independent author it should be obvious by now how valuable a good independent publicist can be. OK, let’s assume for a moment that you have a publisher.  Why aren’t they out hustling for you and doing the work? 

Unfortunately, the publishing industry is not what it once was. In-house publicists typically juggle dozens of clients with books released in the same season. They simply don’t have time to pitch and re-pitch your work. This is why you’ve probably heard stories from fellow authors that they were expected to do virtually all of the book promotions themselves.  This is not to imply that being a published author is not worth the percentage you give away.  Strong publishers have great distribution networks and relationships that an independent publicist can trade on to get you better bookings. It can be a very lucrative symbiotic relationship if all parties play nicely together.

Black Chateau Enterprises is a great resource if you need help promoting your book or manuscript. Contact them today for more information.