Publicity: What It Is and When You Need It

With upwards of a million books published every year in North America, standing out from the crowd is crucial. That’s why FriesenPress offers world class publicity services through our partner, Smith Publicity. With services tailored to help FriesenPress authors succeed in a noisy marketplace, Smith Publicity can make the difference between a book that languishes on a shelf and one that climbs the charts.

This article comes courtesy of Dan Smith, founder and CEO of Smith Publicity, who's here to help us get clear about what publicity is and what it can do for authors.

'Do I Need a Book Publicist?' If You’re Asking the Question, You Probably Do

To many authors, especially new ones, “publicist” may be a nebulous term. It can conjure up images of a slick-talking, super-connected pro who can pick up a phone, make a few calls, land some huge media gigs, and make a book a bestseller.

Well, the truth is a bit different, and beyond the stereotypes and sometimes skeptical view of them, most authors ask themselves, “Do I actually need a publicist?” Like so many things in life, if you have to ask yourself about needing help, chances are … you do.

Here’s why.

You have a book out or set to be published. You’ve put so much time and effort into your book, you might think the hard work is done. But a stark reality becomes clear: You book is great, it has so much potential, but how is anyone going to know it even exists?

One element of marketing a book, and making sure as many people as possible know about it, is publicity. What book publicists do is actually straightforward: We use the media as a conduit to spread the word about a book to the public and/or specific market audiences. How we do it is also straightforward. Publicists are actually salespeople, except we’re not asking media to buy anything; we’re trying to persuade, entice, and guide them toward taking interest in a book and/or author.

Here’s the proposition we make to producers, editors, reviewers, etc.: “We’re going to give you great material for your newspaper, magazine or print outlet that’s based on, or comes from a great book, or, give you a terrific author-guest for your radio or TV show or podcast. The payback you’re going to give us is exposure and coverage for the book and author." Put another way: we scratch your back, you scratch ours.

Most of the time, we’re quite effective. People start to hear about your book. They start to hear you. From out of the very crowded field of hundreds of thousands of books being promoted at any given moment, yours gets noticed, and you get noticed.

The result: book sales, and various potential opportunities–from speaking and new business opportunities to special author events and regular media appearance offers.

A case study

We worked with a business owner and author of a book that focused on how businesses can be more profitable by shortening employees’ workday, yet paying them the same.

By developing timely pitches, creative angles and presenting media with the right information in the manner they like to receive it, the result of our 3-month comprehensive effort was:

  • 51 radio interviews
  • 119 article runs
  • Profiles in numerous national business magazines
  • TV interviews on multiple national shows
  • The book exploded nationally and internationally.
  • Documentary crews did films on the author and his company
  • The Huffington Post created a Facebook Video on the book that went viral, getting over four million views.
  • A national newspaper, named the author the “World’s Best Boss”
  • Talks with major networks are in progress to potentially start a reality TV show based around the author and the book’s concept

It’s important to keep in mind that publicity is one part of a book marketing campaign. Authors should ramp up their social media, engage their personal and professional networks, ensure their Amazon descriptions are complete and include all the right information, and the list goes on.

There is a lot to do, and it can be overwhelming. Knowing you need professional help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of wisdom.

Budget is always a concern, and excellent help is rarely found in the bargain rack.

But regardless of your budget, there is help available. Prioritize your needs, maximize your marketing dollars; do your research, and treat your book like a business. Some things you may be able to do on your own; the key is to identify the ones you know you can't.

Far too often, authors who’ve invested significant time and money to get their book published don't think they need to invest time or money in making people aware of it. Doesn't make much sense, does it?

The truth is, most authors do need help marketing their book. And most do need the services of a veteran, proven book publicist.

So: do you need a book publicist?

Asking the question is your answer.

What FriesenPress authors are saying

Anna Schlegel, author of Truly Global, shares her experience of working with the FriesenPress and Smith Publicity teams.

As the author of Truly Global, I knew I had to engage the experts. I first learned about FriesenPress through a published author work colleague. He inspired me to not just write the book but to get the real experts to see me through the process. I worked with FriesenPress for about 8 months and saw my book come to life with great success. It was such a rush!

The book was doing better than expected so I thought, why not keep it going? The FriesenPress team worked with Smith Publicity who took the book by storm and put it on global display. Never in a million years could I have imagined working with such an incredible team. The book has been featured on dozens of sites, been discussed on a dozen radio shows, sold across the US and has even reached Indonesia, China, Holland, Canada, Germany, Spain, the UK, and Brazil. And all thanks to these two incredible teams.