Do You Need a Publicity Assistant?
By Donna Huber
Traditional publishers offer editors, designers, marketing and sales teams, and publicists. As an indie or self-published, you are in control of who you have on your team. Yet you are also responsible for the financial investment of having team members. A careful consideration of what you are capable of doing yourself and the expertise you need to surround yourself with will give you the best possibility of succeeding on your own without breaking the bank.
Just as many authors think they can self-edit, many think they can market on their own. Good news is that many authors can actually market themselves.
5 Things You Can Do On Your Own
- Social media. Getting involved on Facebook, Twitter, and blogging is easy to set up. It will take effort and time to build your network and learn the ropes of using social media to publicize yourself and your book. There are a number of author groups on Facebook that will help you learn. I like the Indie Author Group. The key to using social media effectively is to be SOCIAL—interact with those who follow you, have conversations, make friends.
- Contact bloggers. There are online directories that will help you locate bloggers in your genre. I really like the directory at The Book Blogger List. Before contacting a blogger be sure to read their review policy. In addition to reviews, many bloggers will also do spotlights and guest posts. Inquire about those options when pitching your book for review.
- Start a mailing list. I love using Mailchimp for newsletters. It’s the easiest way to start a mailing list. You can collect all kinds of information to better understand your audience. Remember to send out information regularly, but not so often that it becomes noise.
- Create a street team. A street team is kind of like a fan club but is for the purpose of promoting you and your books. You can create a Facebook or Google+ group for fans to join. Provide them with a task each week—something to post on their Facebook page or to tweet. Remember all work and no play can cost you fans—do fun games and exclusive giveaways for your street team.
- Plan a blog tour. Now this can be a challenge, but I totally believe an author can do this one their own. I wrote Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour to help authors over the learning curve and give them a step-by-step guide to follow. The biggest challenge is making sure you give yourself enough time to execute your plan.
Although you can do it on your own, you may find that it’s easier to hire someone to help you.
3 Reasons to Hire Someone
- Your network isn’t big enough. If you are just starting out, you may not have a very large network of supporters, particularly bloggers. Having someone else make introductions into that circle can be extremely helpful.
- You don’t have the time. Unlike the design and editing process, marketing and publicity never cease. You must continually put yourself out there. If you have other life commitments—family, a job—then you may find your writing time is taken over by marketing. I recommend authors make an appearance on blogs (interviews, guest posts, reviews) two to three times a month. Having someone else manage your street team or contacting reviewers can free up your time for writing. I’m offering a new service for authors who want continual blog exposure but don’t have the time to pitch bloggers or write a ton of guest posts.
- You don’t have the knowledge/experience. With my own marketing services, one of my main goals is helping authors know what to do and how to do it. I know they are often struggling with making their writing profitable, so I don’t want to be a drain on their resources when it is something they can truly do on their own. I often do media kits for authors. It can be a time-consuming task, but most authors find they are lacking the experience to put together the press release.
Pretty much every indie or self-published author, and even some traditionally published authors, find themselves hiring marketing and publicity assistance from time to time. There are a lot of freelance marketers and publicists who can assist you without having to hire a full-fledged publicity firm. When it comes time for you to add this member to your team, be sure to get the assistance that you most need with these steps.
3 Steps to Getting the Assistance You Need
- Determine your needs. Do you need help planning a tour? Do you need a community manager who will help with your social media and street team? Do you need someone to get you in with traditional media? Do you need someone to research bloggers, festivals, and awards?
- Ask for recommendations. You are not the first author to travel this path. Remember those Facebook authors groups I mentioned earlier? Ask who they have used; some even keep a file of reputable service providers.
- Communicate your goals. Telling a potential publicist or marketer that you want your book to be a best seller isn’t really helpful to either of you. To find a good match, you need to communicate specific actions you want them to take to get the most for your money. Stating that you want your book pitched to fifty romance bloggers, or you want a tour with fifteen stops, is much more helpful. Also, be willing to listen to their suggestions. They should have ideas of their own about how to best meet your goal. Open and honest communication will lead to a more productive, amicable, and successful relationship with your publicist.
About the author
Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the blogger behind Girl Who Reads where, in addition to book reviews and author appearances, she writes the popular blogging advice series Tips on Thursday. She has worked as a freelance publicist since 2010, assisting publishers and authors with their marketing and publicity needs. Most notably, she was the publicist for The Writers Coffee Shop Publishing House edition of Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker by E. L. James.
When she is not doling out blogging advice or promoting the next best seller, she can be found spending time with family (particularly the four legged, furry members), rewatching Downton Abbey and Harry Potter, or trying to make a dent in her never ending to-be-read pile.