need to work with a firm where you
feel a connection with the people you
will be working with. But there also
need to be realistic expectations of
what can and cannot be done.
There are no magic wands in book
publicity (though I do keep a bag of
them in my office and send them out on
a regular basis). And there are no guarantees. Just because a publicist has
known a reporter or an editor or a producer for 20 years, does not mean that a
media placement will definitely be forthcoming. That’s not reasonable or ethical.
But it might mean the pitch has a
good chance of being heard or read.
There are no guarantees, but you can
always place an ad. An ad will run no
matter what. A story or an interview
There’s a lot of talk about the criteria for hiring a public relations agency,
but agencies often have criteria for taking on clients. For me, the best client is
one that has a full-time job or career,
excellent credentials, and has written a
non-fiction book in his or her field of
I could go on and on, but I have a
press release to edit, a proposal to write,
and a couple of interviews to set up, and
that’s on a Sunday! I look forward to
speaking at the Mega Million Publishing
Lab in New York and sharing more
valuable information on book publicity.
Lori Ames is founder of
ThePRFreelancer, Inc., a pub-
lic relations firm that special-
izes in book publicity. Ames
serves on the Dean’s Advi-
sory Board for the Hofstra College of Liberal
Arts & Sciences at Hofstra University, and
does pro-bono publicity for the Children’s
Brain Tumor Foundation (CBTF) and the
Michael Magro Foundation. In September
2013, she deferred nearly 50 percent of her
fees to CBTF in honor of Pediatric Cancer
Awareness Month. Contact her at
Book publishing these days is comprised of many moving parts, as is book
publicity. There are still plenty of books
coming from the traditional publishing
houses, and there are many more books
being self-published. Both types of
books can be promoted the same way,
as long as the self-published book has
been professionally edited, has a professional jacket design, and doesn’t look
like it was printed for distribution
among family and friends. The only
real difference is that there are still a
few print outlets that won’t review self-published titles, and many bookstores
won’t carry self-published books without some type of special agreement
with the author.
Authors write for lots of reasons, but
when you get right down to the nitty-gritty, no matter what an author says—
whether it’s because they just want to
be read or all they really want is to
make a difference. In the end, all authors want to sell books—lots of them!
I have worked with best-selling authors throughout my career, including
John Irving, Gail Godwin, David Hal-berstam, Marcus Buckingham, the late
Stephen Covey, and many more. But
more frequently, I work with mid-list
authors, trying to help them break
through the noise, sell books, and leverage media coverage to attract clients
and speaking opportunities.
Book publicity has many different
facets, including press materials, print
interviews, book reviews, guest articles,
radio interviews, television interviews,
online interviews, guest blog posts, and
social media, to name a few. Some au-
thors handle publicity themselves or via
an internal staff member. Some are lucky
enough to have a publisher with a top-
notch publicity department. Others hire
a publicist or public relations agency
that specializes in book publicity.
The type of publicity an author is
willing to do is a personal decision.
I worked with one author who only
wanted print and online coverage, but
excluded doing any podcasts from the
mix. Another author wanted radio interviews as part of the mix, but only
terrestrial stations; no satellite and no
Internet radio. Others are willing to do
anything and everything to promote
their books, no matter how small the
outlet. Some authors want to promote
a book for three or four months, and
others want to do publicity for a year
or two. Where do you fit in to the mix?
Here are some key considerations:
•Have you decided what you will and
won’t do to promote your book?
•Do you have the time to write
•Should you have your own blog?
• What about Facebook and Twitter?
• Who is advising you on these
Making Hiring Decisions
Hiring a book publicist is fairly typical
these days, to either implement an entire campaign or to supplement what
is being done by the book publisher.
Do you need to hire a book publicist,
and how do you decide which firm
to go with?
Working with a public relations firm
should be a partnership—a constant exchange of ideas and suggestions. You
“Do you need to hire a book
publicist, and how do you
decide which firm to go with?”