Book Publicity News

Sunday, August 28, 2005

I recently read on a popular author’s blog an author’s comments on feeling helpless about getting media attention for her book. After being turned down by a major national radio program that she thought would be a perfect forum for her book, and not expecting major newspaper coverage, she asked what a midlist author should do in order to get media coverage?

I e-mailed her and suggested that she should consider hiring an outside publicist. She asked me what I would do for her. I outlined a detailed and very effective campaign strategy that I conducted for debut novelist, Kyra Davis. The campaign consisted of a mix of print, television and radio coverage over a course of six months.

The author replied that she had already been reviewed in several newspapers, including The San Francisco Chronicle and Boston Globe. She didn’t understand why she should hire me after getting several reviews in those two major newspapers.

Unfortunately, a handful of reviews usually isn’t enough to really get the word out about your book.

I am frequently asked by first-time authors why they should hire an outside publicist. In June, I participated on a panel sponsored by Backspace (, a website devoted to help writers learn about the publishing industry and how to get published, and was asked the same question. (I held a detailed on-line chat about publicity that you can read on that website as well.)

The answer is simple: Good publicity is often the difference between getting your name out there to readers and remaining an unknown author, leaving it to chance to sell your book. It’s the difference between getting the media’s attention, which translates into better book sales, and your book becoming lost on the shelves, only to be returned to the oblivion of the publishers’ warehouse three months later.

What’s more, many bookstores may only order a single copy or none at all if the book doesn’t receive extensive media coverage.

Even established authors’ books don’t necessarily sell if they don’t receive media coverage which alerts the public that they have a new book out.

Let’s take a closer look at Kyra’s campaign…

The publicity campaign I handled for her debut novel, SEX, MURDER AND A DOUBLE LATTE, got her wide media coverage, including not just several newspaper and magazine reviews, but more than a dozen reviews, profiles and trend stories, including The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Houston Chronicle, The Denver Post, The Detroit Free Press, The Oregonian, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Boston Herald, Santa Cruz Sentinel, Cosmopolitan, and Ebony (for a complete listing of media coverage, please visit my website at

In addition, Kyra was also a guest on top television programs in Philadelphia, Seattle, Portland and San Francisco, and was interviewed by top radio programs throughout the country as well.

The result?

Kyra’s book hit #8 on the B&N Hardcover Mystery Bestseller List as a result of the media coverage her book received. And her Amazon rankings experienced tremendous spikes after every review, television appearance and radio interview that Kyra did. Her book not only sold well during the campaign, but the media coverage she received laid the ground-work for her next book. Kyra Davis and SEX, MURDER AND A DOUBLE LATTE now has name recognition with readers, the media, and booksellers.

And it is all because she hired an outside publicist.

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  • At 9:23 PM, Blogger Martha O'Connor said…

    I enjoyed Kyra's novel and was impressed by all the coverage she received. Congrats to you both! And welcome to the world of blogging.

  • At 7:10 AM, Blogger Angela Henry said…

    Congrats on the new blog, Susan! Keep the good advice coming and congrats on all your successful campaigns!

  • At 6:45 AM, Blogger Devon Ellington said…

    I agree with you about the importance of publicity. But hiring a publicist costs money -- and many, many, many authors who are starting out barely can afford rent and food, much less hiring a publicist.

    Although you have to "spend money to make money" -- if it doesn't exist to spend in the first place, you have to find creative ways of getting your foot in the door and making progress so that in the future you can consider hiring someone.

    But few people can afford it right out of the starting gate.

  • At 6:17 AM, Blogger Susan Schwartzman said…


    Your comment is a good one and an issue I want to address in a future blog.

  • At 7:51 AM, Blogger Angela Henry said…

    One thing I've learned is that authors really need to start thinking about book promotion and their budget long before the book is even out. I sat down and thought about what I wanted to accomplish and what I could afford. I also took into account my comfort level and level of expertise. I don't have a problem approaching online book sources/websites. I did a lot of that on my own. But, I knew I wasn't going to be comfortable or even know how to pitch my book to print media. Since I already have a another source of income, I decided to use part of my advance money to hire a publicist to just target print media. I asked around and found someone who was highly recommended(Susan) AND fit into my budget. I've also heard that some publicists offer ala carte services that authors can purchase such as press releases or press kits that can make it more affordable. Though this wasn't my experience, sometimes publishers will contribute money towards the hiring of an freelance publicist.

  • At 8:17 PM, Blogger Bill Thompson said…

    First, congratulations, Susan, on a very promising new blog. I've happily added you to my "Favorites" folder.

    For what it's worth: as a radio & web author interviewer, I've recently been booking more and more interviews as a result of direct contact by authors. It is possible to get media attention on your own, but hiring a professional like Susan is worth every penny.

    Bill Thompson

  • At 8:25 AM, Blogger blkgirlwriting said…

    Susan, I'm an aspiring book publicist and so far I'm really enjoying your blog. Thanks so much for sharing such valuable insights. Keep it up!


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