Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Wordcraft -- What is a Book Publicist?

Stephanie Barko
An already-published friend said that if I had a chance to talk to literary publicist Stephanie Barko, I should grab it. And since Stephanie lives and works near Austin, Texas, she agreed to meet me during the recent ArmadilloCon convention in Austin. She was brimming with information about what a publicist actually does, and she agreed to serve as guest blogger today. For more specifics about the services her firm offers, see: www.stephaniebarko.com.

What is a Book Publicist?

With writers publishing their material in multiple formats these days, the competition to sell stories has never been keener. After your craft is honed and book design is done, how does an author stand out in the marketplace? The wisest and savviest authors and indie publishers are investigating what a book publicist can do for them.

The book publicist sits at the back end of the publishing chain and is the team member who pushes the finished book into the marketplace. Although a publicist may be the last professional you engage, book publicity begins six to 12 months prior to release date and ends about three months after launch.

Book publicists specialize in genres just like literary agents do.  These genre specialties include nonfiction & fiction subgenres like how-to, history, career, business, biography, autobiography, self-help, and historical fiction.  Some book publicists are employed directly by publishing houses and some freelance for publishers and authors.

A critical function of the book publicist is to submit galleys and finished books for standard and reader reviews.  The publicist may also attempt to get the title on a prominent books list or nominate it for a book award.  Also within the publicist’s purview is the pitching of features to journalists either written by, about or mentioning the author. 

Publicists can both directly and indirectly influence book sales through their book marketing efforts, including promoting a virtual tour, securing author interviews, leveraging the author’s book blog and social networking profiles, and utilizing the author’s media kit.  If funds are available, publicists will also schedule an author’s book talk or ground tour. Publicists will sometimes promote free books and conduct book giveaways to generate interest for a title.

Here is a list of services that some publicists offer.
  • Devise and execute the book platform
  • Acquire endorsements
  • Oversee editing of the book’s back cover text
  • Edit the author’s biography and the book’s synopsis
  • Create a strategy for the author’s book blog
  • Initialize the author’s social networking profiles
  • Request book reviews
  • Assemble a media kit and disseminate its elements
  • Pitch interviews and features
  • Plan the book’s launch event and book talk
  • Schedule, host and promote the book’s virtual tour
  • Encourage nomination of the title for book awards
  • Position the title for addition to a books list
  • Formulate the author’s talking points
  • Syndicate the author’s articles
  • Recommend venues with high traffic author events
  • Leverage the interest of special audiences & book groups
Publicists joke among themselves that no two of us are alike, and this is quite true.  Each of us specializes in a particular type of client or subject and each publicist has a track record that illustrates a unique variety of experience.  However, one thing is certain--the book with the extra marketing push will always do better, even if a similar title is as good.

Stephanie Barko, Literary Publicist was voted a Top Ten Promotional Resource in
Preditors & Editors 2015 Readers Poll.  Learn from Stephanie’s free book marketing videos at www.youtube.com/stephaniebarko and check out her app at www.DIYBookPlatform.com.

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