Questions to Ask Your Publicist

Whether you are publishing with a traditional house, an independent publisher, or self-publishing, the bulk of book marketing responsibility is on you as the author. This may include everything from building an author website to crafting new original content, and it will almost certainly include building a strong social media presence. There are many aspects of book marketing that authors can and should take on themselves.

When it comes to publicity, however, it's often a good idea to call in reinforcements. 

Many authors choose to hire a publicist to help connect with readers and potential audience members. Oftentimes, good book publicity depends highly on the publicist's industry connections and experience. It can also be a time-consuming undertaking for a novice, and hiring a publicist can allow authors to devote their time to other areas of book marketing. 

Before you hire a book publicist, it is important to ask a few basic questions to help you determine if he or she is legitimate, effective, and has the background and strengths that you are looking for. You will build a close relationship with your publicist, so it's important to ensure early on that your goals for the book align with theirs. 

Payment & Fees

  • Do you charge a monthly retainer or is payment based on bookings?
  • How much is the retainer?

Campaign Details

  • How long do most of your campaigns last?
  • What type of publicity do you book most: radio, TV, online (blogs, etc) or print?
  • Can you describe the involvement required from me?
  • Can you describe the extent of online initiatives? The balance between online and traditional media?
  • Who will be involved in my campaign?
  • How far in advance of publication do you start working?

Campaign Results

  • What kind of results are reasonable to expect?
  • What results do you consider particularly successful?

Former Clients and Books

  • How many national bookings have you gotten in the past 6 months? Which ones? For what book?
  • Will you send me a sample schedule for a client with a book similar to mine?
  • May I speak with some authors you've represented?

Every author may not need to ask every question, and some authors may want to go into more detail about what they are specifically seeking. Feel free to tailor the list of questions to your individual needs.

Also, don’t be afraid to speak with more than one publicist. Keep a spreadsheet or document so that you can compare and contrast responses. If you haven’t worked with a publicist before, you may not know what your specific goals are on the front-end. But once you’ve spoken to a few publicists and have captured their responses to these questions, you will quickly be able to determine the best fit for you.

Hiring a book publicist can be a big investment. Take your time and use these questions to your advantage to make sure that it is money well spent.