I wish all authors would refer to the chart above, a complete timeline for book publicity campaign, a full year before they start writing their books.
It’s courtesy of book publicist Kate Bandos. When she showed this to me a few years ago at an authors conference, my jaw dropped because it’s such a handy cheat sheet for authors.
It’s the very best document I’ve seen that lays out in precise accuracy exactly what to do, and when, to market your book. Here’s the PDF document, perfect for printing and hanging in your office so you are well aware of all the work you have to do.
Launch date is that red line down the middle. All items to the left of it are tasks you must do starting 28 weeks before.
You Can’t Start Too Early
When it comes to planning your book publicity campaign, you can’t err by starting too early. But most authors who call me, sometimes in a panic, leave themselves too little time. I’ve spoken with authors who give themselves only three weeks to do a publicity campaign. They don’t have a media kit or other marketing materials, and they don’t know where to start.
I’m sharing Kate’s chart here, along with answers to frequently asked questions about book publicity and publicists. They will give you a good idea of why you must leave yourself enough time to do the job right.
FAQs About Book Publicity and Publicists
Q. I’ve been thinking about hiring a publicist for about 10 hours to try and get articles in the U.S. Is this realistic?
A. If you can afford a publicist, you should hire one primarily to get you top-tier media attention: in major magazines and newspapers, major news websites, big bloggers, etc. bloggers, etc. You can work alongside her and pitch smaller media outlets, do outreach for guest blog posts at smaller blogs, etc. Ten hours won’t get you very far, however. Your publicist will need to spend significant time learning about you and your book before she starts pitching.
Q. How much does a publicist cost?
A. You should expect to spend several thousand dollars minimum. Kate Bandos and other publicists have a la carte services for authors on a budget. Other book publicists charge about $2,500 a month, and some want a six-month commitment.
Q. Does my publicist pitch all the book reviewers?
A. It depends on much you can spend. I recommend your publicist only target the major reviewers and other top-tier media. You can pitch the other 90 percent of the reviewers. I hosted a webinar several months ago on exactly how to do that. It even includes templates for emails you can send to reviewers asking for reviews. See How to Ask for Book and Product Reviews from Bloggers, Journalists and Consumers.
Q. What if I’m not very well known? Can I still start book publicity six months before launch?
A. Ideally, if you aren’t well known, you should start building platform a full two years before you publish. It takes that long to build profiles on social media, learn the lay of the land, and build traction. In some cases, you need two or three years to position yourself as a recognized expert in your field.
Q. What is author platform?
A. I like digital publishing expert Jane Friedman’s definition of author platform: “Someone with visibility and authority who has proven reach to a target audience.” She explains what platform is and what it isn’t. Many authors miss this critical step of building platform, and then wonder why they can’t sell books.
Q. How to I find the best publicist for me?
A. Ask other authors for recommendations. LinkedIn has several excellent Groups for authors and publishers. I like Author U, moderated by Judith Briles. Never hire a publicist unless you have spoken with at least three authors who have worked with your candidates.
Q. Who builds my media kit—me or my publicist?
A. Use a publicist for targeting top-tier media. Use my Quick & Easy Media Kit Templates for Indie Authors. Your publicist can make suggestions for other items you need to include in your kit, depending on what she has planned for your publicity campaign. But building the kit yourself according to my instructions will save you a lot of time and money.
What burning questions do you have about book publicity that I’ve missed?