Here’s what I love about mystery novels. There’s a beginning, middle and a logical end. Here’s what I hate about publicity. There’s a splashy beginning, a fuzzy middle and no one is certain how it ends.
And yet, I just wrote a check to publicist to help promote the first book in my Sketch in Crime series, Drawing Conclusions. What was I thinking?
Since this is all new to me, I’ll give you some backstory – but not too much as my publisher has indicated that readers don’t like excessive backstory.
I was at a book conference recently, and I spoke with a few authors who had invested a decent sum of money in a publicist. I was curious as our publisher already provides publicity services for the launch of each book. I wondered if more PR investment was worthwhile.
In general, a publisher’s in-house publicity will cover the following tasks. They craft and circulate a public relations release to industry insiders. The publicity team promotes the advanced review copy (arc) in hopes of getting reviews. Finally, they submit books for award consideration and arrange blog tours. I was pretty happy with my publisher’s effort, but I continued to hear from authors who were still spending money on supplemental publicity.
I decided to consult my best friend – math. First, I contacted five book publicists. Fees ranged from $5,000 to $15,000. The publicists made no promises, but offered to try for more reviews, radio spots and book signings. So in addition to the upfront fee, I’d have to spend more of my own money traveling to signings and radio stations.
Then I used math to consider the investment from my publisher’s perspective. If a $15,000 publicity investment in a book makes a significant sales difference, why wouldn’t the publisher spend the money? When I looked at our publisher/author royalty split, it wasn’t economically feasible for me to make a $15,000 investment. It would take years at my royalty rate to break even and that’s if the ‘no promises’ publicity worked. The publisher, of course, takes a higher split of the sales and could recoup their money much faster.
It occurred to me that publishers also use math to make decisions. And since my publisher chose not to invest more than currently budgeted, I have to conclude that even at the publisher’s royalty rate, the extra investment doesn’t make sense for most books in their catalog. After the initial push, additional publicity expenditures may have diminishing returns. Maybe a publisher will take a risk on few books in their catalog, but not all. It’s a gamble.
Then I had another thought. What if I hired a non-traditional publicist — a publicist that didn’t hit up the same contacts as the rest of the book world? Would it make sense to spend money attracting a new market? A market that hadn’t already been tapped by the standard publicity efforts. I liked that strategy so I started to think out of the proverbial box.
I went back to my publisher’s initial publicity push. I really enjoyed the blog tours, specifically:
Dru Book Musings http://drusbookmusing.com/
A blog tour is inexpensive and a good blogger is well connected to his or her readers. There’s also the potential for social media sharing.
To reach a new audience, I’d need to spin my book to match an avid blogging market. My main character, CeCe Prentice, is green. She’s an eco-friendly, Dumpster diver with a keen interest in environmental causes. I decided I needed a way into the green market, which is heavily populated by bloggers. After a few Google searches, I found green publicist, Paige Wolfe, Media & Public Relations. Paige Wolf
I pitched my concept and Paige got it right away. That’s always a good sign and she’s an author. Double brownie points! For a reasonable fee (as in not $15k), she created a blog tour and book giveaway using her targeted green contact list. So far, I like what I’m seeing ,and I’m happy I spent the money. Here are two examples of reviews. There are more to come, but I think I’m off to a good start.
Green Review 1
Green Review 2
I’d love to hear from other authors on this topic. I’d also love to hear from readers. How do you discover new books?
Deirdre Verne is the author of Drawing Conclusions. The second book in the series, Drawing Blood, is available in Feb 2106. www.deirdreverne.com