The Book Publicity Blog

News, Tips, Trends and Miscellany for Book Publicists

In-house vs. freelance book publicists

A self-published author recently wrote in asking about how to pitch a certain radio show and I thought this would be a good time to make it clear that while I offer general book publicity tips, I wouldn’t be able to offer suggestions for how to pitch specific shows / writers for the same reason that a doctor might suggest that you eat well and exercise but wouldn’t walk you through how to remove your appendix.  In other words, publicity is something that is learned, over time, and I can’t dash off in one email (or blog post) how to promote a book.

There are, however, freelance book publicists and publicity firms that can be hired to promote books.  Which brings me to another, related question an author recently asked about, which is how do book publicists at publishing houses feel about freelance publicists?  Several of my authors have asked this question over the years (as do many others, I’m sure) so I’ve put together a few considerations that authors might find helpful (and which publicists can forward to inquiring authors).

Basic Tips For Hiring Freelance Book Publicists

— This may vary depending on the size of the publishing house, but most publishing houses have at least one person on staff dedicated to marketing and promoting their titles (so yes, we will do everything we can to promote your book), but if you are thinking of hiring a freelance publicist any way (perhaps to continue promoting a book a year after it goes on sale and we’ve moved on to other titles), it goes without saying you should inform the in-house publicist (preferably before doing so).

— In-house book publicists don’t dislike freelance book publicists — after all, it does mean someone else is helping out — but we do need to know what everyone is doing so we don’t end up wasting time by doing the same thing (and annoying journalists in the process).

— There are a few common strategies for dividing up work between in-house / freelance book publicists.  Please keep in mind that the following are examples and ultimately, whatever combination works for the individual publicists should take precedence over any suggestions here.

1) By medium: one person handles print and broadcast media, the other online.  (Or whatever other combination works.)

2) By market: one person handles national media, one local.  Or one person handles certain markets, the other person all others, etc. 

3) By project: one person handles tour media publicity (or press materials or whatever other project might be in the works), one handles all other publicity.

4) By timing: one person handles all publicity before and for the month or two after the book’s publication, the other all publicity after that point.

— Specific terms (and prices) will vary from one freelancer to another.  All reputable firms will post terms on their websites / provide details if you ask.  A small — and admittedly incomplete — list of some freelance book publicity firms can be found on The Book Publicity Blog’s blog roll.  (On the right side of the page, scroll down to Marketing / PR Blogs.)  The firms listed have their own blogs (hence their appearance on a blog roll); there are many excellent book PR firms that do not maintain their own blogs.

— If you are seriously considering a particular freelance publicist, make sure they have read your book so they have a sense of how (and to whom) to pitch it as well as how to best work with the in-house publicist.  Before signing a contract, make sure they have provided a publicity plan / proposal that works for you and the in-house publicist.  (And if you have asked a freelancer to read your book, make sure to get back to them regardless of whether or not you end up hiring them.)

***

Authors and in-house publicists — let me know if I’ve missed any basic and important details.  (I will update the post.)

Freelance book publicists — if you would like to submit your contact information, you can either email me at bookpublicityblog[at]gmail[dot]com or you can simply submit a comment.  If anyone asks for a freelancer, I will provide your name (although not a recommendation unless I’ve worked with you).  I am planning to post a list of freelance book publicists (hopefully, at any rate — I’ve been meaning to post about publishing house blogs for about five months now), so please submit the following information by Wednesday, February 11:

1. Name (first and last) or company name — mandatory

2. Website (or blog / LinkedIn profile / etc.) — mandatory so I have something to which to link

3. Specialty(s) if any — can be by genre, medium (broadcast / online / etc.), location or anything else that makes sense for you

4. Up to three books / authors with whom you have worked

(I’m not asking you for an email address lest spammers take the information from this site.  I’m assuming anyone with a half-way decent website will have contact information prominently posted.)

February 4, 2009 - Posted by | Author-Publicist Relationship, Freelance publicists | ,

9 Comments »

  1. Great blog topic!

    Our team has worked extensively with in-house publicity people and I find that most are very receptive to working with an outside firm. But there needs to be good communication as you pointed out. Generally we’ll have a call with the in-house team (even before the author signs with us) to get a sense of what they’re doing and how we can help enhance that. All updates are sent to the in-house team as well (even the sales team in some cases). It’s important that you hire someone who is willing and has experience working on a team, many freelancers tend to work a bit in isolation which isn’t a bad thing (working from home as many do tends to feed that isolation a bit) but the team component of this is significant to your success. If you’re not comfortable with their level of team work but *still* really want to work with them get them to put that in the contract, updates, communication, even update calls as warranted.

    And a *big* thing is to do your research. I’m not a fan of asking for references. I mean honestly, why would anyone give you a bad reference? Instead, Google the firm or freelancer and see what you can find online. Authors are pretty vocal so if there is a problem with the particular firm you’re thinking of hiring, you’ll soon find out. If you’re a self-pub’d author (and even if you’re not) try joining some quality self-publishing discussion groups and pose the question of finding a good freelancer to the group.

    Love your blog by the way, keep up the great posts!

    Comment by Penny C. Sansevieri | February 4, 2009 | Reply

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  6. A very useful article, thanks.

    Comment by Ben Tyers | April 16, 2009 | Reply

  7. I don’t know–I probably could have used a freelance publicist. Mine was awesome, but after your very short window is up they move on…

    Comment by How to Party with an Infant | April 29, 2009 | Reply

  8. hi! great article! my book is coming out jan 2010, and need a good hardworking freelance book publicist to hire asap. i would appreciate a recommendation. i feel i am so last minute in doing this, and am missing long-lead media!! please advice.. thx M XX

    Comment by marianna | October 11, 2009 | Reply

  9. Hi Yen and Happy 2011! I was browsing your very valuable blog again, and wanted to compliment you on this useful article. As one of your “listed freelance publicists”, I get asked this same question a lot! I’ve address it on my web site FAQ as well: Why should I hire one, what a freelancer may do that a publisher may not, when to hire one, etc. I hope you and your readers will find some additional helpful information here: http://www.biggspublicity.com/pages/faq.html
    Best regards, Adrienne

    Comment by Adrienne Biggs | January 5, 2011 | Reply


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