A frequent question that comes up over and over again in the publishing LinkedIn groups I’m a member of is how can authors find a book publicist. The most obvious answer is in the groups themselves, since they are often frequented by people like me, looking to establish and cement their credibility via the professional social networking site. (A warning though, many LinkedIn groups aren’t actively moderated, and are full of self-promotional spam. Join lots of groups, and then ditch the ones that are spammy).
Outside of LinkedIn, the first thing to consider is your subject area. It’s rare (read: impossible) to find a publicist with a specialty in “everything.” Even the larger PR agencies outsource to freelancers when a project comes in that requires a specialization current staff don’t have. You don’t just want to find a good “book” publicist, you want to find a good book publicist with experience in your subject area. The reason being that a phenomenal publicist with loads of experience in cookbooks and paranormal teen romance isn’t necessarily the best publicist for a book on Jewish studies, feminism, or business topics. (Or maybe he is, if you’re on a budget and are willing to accept a learning curve in exchange for a discounted rate. After all, what makes someone good in media relations in one area will make them good in another area, if they have the necessary knowledge.)
I think the key to finding the publicist that’s right for you is talking to people who work in publishing. An agent, editor, copy editor, in-house publicist, authors in a writer’s group, etc. Get recommendations. Ask anyone with any experience in publishing – traditional or self – if they know anyone or if they know anyone who knows anyone. Talk to the publicists. Sometimes a publicist can’t consider taking on another client or just doesn’t have the experience in an book’s category to offer a proper campaign, but will suggest other publicists that will fit the prospect’s needs.
“Book publicist” may be the worst possible keyword phrase for SEO (with 7 million sites returned on a Google search), but you’ll find good agencies and publicists in the top results (it probably just depends how many pages you’re willing to search through). “Freelance book publicist” only results in 258,000 pages, and the top result is a list compiled by The Book Publicity Blog in 2009. It’s not comprehensive, and there are many talented independent publicists available since publishing shed so many jobs in the last couple of years that aren’t represented on the list, but it’s a good start.
What publicists have you worked with and loved? What resources did you find helpful when looking for a publicist?