For every indie author, the time comes when the question must be asked: Should I hire a publicist?
There are good reasons for both sides, and each author is different. If you’re considering whether or not to take this step, take a look below at some pros and cons to hiring a publicist.
Publicists have connections (and know how to make new ones). Publicists aren’t necessarily the end-all-be-all solution for getting your book media coverage, but they do have ready-made connections, they know who/where to go to make new ones.
There are NO guarantees. Publicists know and rely this fact. Obviously, it is in the publicist’s best interest to do good work for you and get you placed in high-traffic media outlets–it not only gives them necessary portfolio pieces, but also provides a good reference in you. However, this also provides publicists with an out when they DON’T get the coverage you hoped for. This is why you should, before hiring, make sure that a publicist a) has a great portfolio and b) has some great references. The publicist should always keep you in the know with what they’re doing and who they’re reaching out to, so even if the publicist doesn’t manage to secure everything they tried for, you know they’re working on it.
There are some media outlets that still won’t work directly with authors, primarily in national media. Having a publicist lends an air of legitimacy to those publications that require a more formalized system.
Many media outlets are just as likely to respond to a well-placed, short, direct, and spin-worthy email from an author as they would from a publicist. If you know how to “think” in that way (and being an indie author, you should) and are willing to do the digging to target those outlets, there’s no reason you can’t do this–especially with the rise of the self-made experts and media outlets in the social-media world. Likewise, there’s no reason you can’t do your own event and book signing bookings on your own. I always tell my authors to use publicists on an a la carte basis if they want to work with one, and to use the publicist to do the things that they (the authors) truly can’t do (not everyone is actually capable of writing that perfect, snappy news release) or don’t want to do.
Good publicists know how to spin things to the media. Your publicist should be able to take topics and themes in your book and spin them into a newsworthy, timely event. Many authors know how to do this too, being writers and all, but if you’re not savvy when it comes the the whole journalism thing, a publicist can help you there.
Using a publicist is expensive. If you’re really shooting for national media coverage, it’s not out of the question to expect to pay $3,000 – $5,000 per month for a good publicist. If you’re just paying to get local/regional media coverage (which is much easier to accomplish), you should expect to pay $1,000 – $2,000 per month. After paying $10,000+ to get a book self-published, most authors aren’t in a position to shell out more money–especially on something without a definite ROI. However, if the author isn’t willing to shell it out, they better find a way to do it themselves or their book risks not having any ROI, either.
Indie authors: Did you use a publicist? What was your experience? Did you try a hybrid relationship with a publicist (where you and the publicist work together to tackle different types of outlets), or did you rely on the publicist’s ideas and execution for all media coverage?