Special Guest Post: 7 Critical Questions to Ask When Hiring a Book Publicist

Jan 27, 2016


Choosing a publicist to promote your book is an important decision. A book publicist who fits your working method – and book’s subject matter – can significantly increase your book’s chances of receiving media coverage, and also ensure you have a positive experience. We can recommend skilled book publicists for you, but you should also have a conversation with them to ensure you feel they are the right fit.

These are some of the questions you may wish to ask when searching for – or chatting with – a potential book publicist:

  1. Have you received this person or company’s information via a recommendation? Book publishing is a “small world” – often recommendations are the most useful way of securing names of who to work with.
  1. Has the publicist or company promoted books similar to yours? For example, if you are publishing a business title, look for a book publicist who has promoted business books previously. If your book is a particular genre, ask of the PR’s portfolio includes books about similar topics.

  1. Can the publicist or company speak to their media contacts and influences? All successful book publicists will have strong relationships with media outlets, and be on first-name terms with producers and editors across the country. By asking about their relationship with key outlets of importance to your book, you can gauge their level of experience and ability to truly promote your title to key names and decision makers.
  1. How does a publicist or company run their campaigns? How long do they work with you, and how do they connect with media? Some firms will work with you for a set number of weeks, and end the campaign after that that. Others will work within a set number of hours.
  1. Do you trust this publicist or company? Do you believe in their work ethic and abilities? This is a key question when embarking on a PR campaign. Media relations require a close, trusting relationship between an author and book publicist. Because there is no guarantee of media coverage, working with someone you trust is an important part of enjoying the campaign and – more importantly – knowing your publicist is doing all they can to support you.
  1. Are you able to deliver what is required for this publicist or company to succeed? Any successful media campaign relies not only on a publicist’s ability, but resources and work from the author, too. Should you embark on a PR campaign, ensure you can provide essential tools for your book publicist, including a range of photos of yourself, availability for interviews, key talking points and ongoing ideas for promotional ideas. If you are concerned about how much time you will have to commit to a PR campaign, make this clear to your book publicist ahead of time. Lack of author involvement can considerably hinder a campaign.
  1. What do they charge? Most book publicists charge by the hour, and estimate the total number of hours required to run a successful book marketing campaign. The costs for a campaign vary, depending on how many media are being contacted. PR campaigns usually start at $1,200 CAD, for a local or highly targeted campaign. Larger, national campaigns range from $2,400 to $5,000 CAD. US PR firms are, by and large, more expensive than their Canadian counterparts, charging from $5,000 to $7,000 USD per campaign, on average. Please note that a publicist’s fee does not include mailing costs. We recommend you budget between $300 to $600 CAD for postage costs for a national campaign.

Zoe Grams is the Page Two marketing associate. She is principal at ZG Communications, a passionate marketing consultancy working with publishers, authors, and socially conscious ventures. Zoe began her career at a trend-marketing agency in London, U.K., before emigrating to Canada to work with two of Vancouver’s top PR firms prior to launching ZGC. When she isn’t working with her team to promote client authors and not-for-profits, Zoe chairs the board of directors of The KidSafe Project and writes articles for publications throughout Canada.