Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Publicity Plans

I'd love to hear about your publicity efforts for TDLF. Did you hire an outside publicist? What made you decide to/not to? What is the timeline of pre-publication efforts? Will you do a launch party? A tour? A dance routine like Andrea Seigel? (Okay, just kidding on that last's been a long afternoon of editing and I'm a bit punchy.)

Well, one thing is for sure: there will be no dancing. Unless, of course, it will help sell books, in which case, I'll dance my ass off.

Great questions, and I'd love to hear others weigh in on what they did or didn't do to gear up for their own book launches.

As of now, I've opted not to hire an outside publicist. For a few reasons. I'm in a pretty unique position of having excellent magazine contacts - I know a lot of editors personally - and I really don't think an outside publicist could bring that much more to the table, at least in that realm, than I can. I've made a point to send galleys to all of my editors, and have asked them, with the understanding that they are under no obligation, to consider featuring the book in some capacity. A publicist might find a cute way to package this to these same editors, but still, at the end of the day, we're more or less doing the same thing. In addition, outside publicists are pricey - from what I understand, you're not going to get much real help for less than 10k. Now, certainly, I could shell that out - my advance would allow for it - but would I really sell THAT many more copies to justify dropping ten thousand dollars?? I really can't imagine it. Really can't imagine it. The thing about publicists is that there's no guarantee that they'll have success. They might - and often times they do - but geez, what if you paid that sort of money and they didn't end up landing many hits for you? Can you imagine how furious you'd be? (This isn't to point a shady finger at publicists: their job is to try to generate press, and really, there are simply no 100%s when doing that.)

Case in point: there has actually been a lot of mag interest in TDLF. I've been lucky. Through both my efforts and the efforts of my fabulous in-house publicist, we've gotten some really positive feedback. But none of these mentions are slam dunks until the magazines close and are printed. An outside publicist wouldn't have any more luck securing these plugs than we have.

I guess what I'm trying to say, and from what I understand from other authors, is that you really have to weigh how much impact you think an outside publicist will have on your sales vs. how much they're going to cost you. You also need to assess how involved your in-house person will be. As I've mentioned before, I've been very fortunate to have a great team at Harper. If, however, I wasn't getting internal support - and that might be something that you just have to gauge when the time comes - maybe I'd be more likely to look elsewhere for help. I've heard in the past though, for what it's worth - and I really don't know if this is correct or not - but that your publisher probably won't put a whole lot of effort into promotion if your advance is less thank 50k. Again, I have no idea if this is a publishing urban myth or not: I'm just passing it on.

One possibility I *have* entertained is hiring someone to generate some radio and TV coverage. I have no contacts in that arena, so maybe that would be a smart move, but again, nothing is guaranteed, and who knows if a debut fiction author would really generate much interest.

In terms of a time line, we started really making an effort about a month ago. The monthly mags usually have about a 4-6 month lead time, so galleys were sent, and follow-up calls were (and still are) being made. I've also placed an essay in one of the mags, set to correspond with the book's release, about the experience of losing a friend to cancer. So I'm working on that right now. I think things will be relatively quiet for a month or so, and then we go back out (with the actual book, not the galley) to weekly mags, newspapers and websites. Once the book comes out, things can really get nuts: I'll be driving around to local bookstores to introduce myself, trying to drum up interviews with papers/websites, and will probably head out to a few cities for readings. Oh, and I'll most definitely will be throwing a launch party, though I haven't given any thought to the details. (Other than copious amounts of alcohol.)

So that's my general plan.

Folks who have gone through this already - what was your game plan? Did you hire a publicist? How was your in-house support? Thoughts to add?


Larramie said...

Wonder who asked the question I was about to write to ask Allison today? Still have one request, though. Please keep us posted on where we can see/read your publicity so that we can share it and generate MORE publicity!

Trish Ryan said...

Great info - and yes, keep us posted :)
Can I put in a bid for Boston as one of the cities you visit???

Thanks for the inside scoop!

Jess Riley said...

I vote for including Milwaukee in the book tour!!! :)

Allison Winn Scotch said...

Thanks, guys! Here's another interesting fact: debut authors have very little say over where they go - most houses really have no interest in sending them on tour b/c they assume that no one will show up to see a new author. (Which makes sense.) So I'm probably only going to cities where either I've been requested (turns out that book stores request author appearance) or where I can guarantee a good showing. Interesting, right? I had no idea.

Anonymous said...

I think one of the other factors on deciding to fork out for a publicist is your own time. Are you willing/able to put in the time to making your own outreach? If not it might be worth the cash. I haven't hired a publicist- but ask me later if I am happy with the decision or not.

Susan Johnston Taylor said...

I second the bid for Boston!!

And while we're on the topic of publicity, I just added a Q & A feature to my own blog (the first one is posted here:, and I'd love to plug writers with books or other projects in 2007. That goes for Allison and the rest of you fabulous authors!