Two women working together in front of a laptop

Navigating the Publicist-Author Relationship

Book publishing is one big group project. Learning how to navigate relationships with authors is an essential part of being in the industry. There is bound to be some disagreement with the way the book is being edited, designed, marketed, and publicized. As the publicity manager for Ooligan Press, I have been in delicate situations with authors where everyone’s feelings must be taken into account. And the most important thing I’ve learned from going through these slightly awkward situations is that communication is king. Below, I will give some advice on how to coach your authors and clearly lay out what is needed and what they can expect when their book is ready for publicity.
Preparation
The first thing a publicist should do when preparing an author for their book launch is to get with the author and listen to their elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a thirty-to-sixty-second spiel on what the book is about and why someone should read it. It is called an elevator pitch because it should take the amount of time it takes to ride an elevator. Now, some authors may have already come up with a pitch like this when they were looking for publishing houses to publish their manuscripts. The difference between that pitch and this one is that this one should be slightly different to better sell the book to readers instead of publishing houses. It is also important you and the author are on the same page with how you want to sell the book. Working with marketing is a great way to do this because they have already come up with selling points and buyer personas for the book. Similar to the elevator pitch, it is also helpful for publicists to help authors come up with key talking points for interviews. This way, the interview stays on track and the author doesn’t feel lost or nervous.
Communication
Throughout the process of publishing an author’s book, there are bound to be disagreements between the press and the author. The most important thing to remember is that both you and the author want the same thing—to get their book read by people who will enjoy it. Always listen to and respect the author’s point of view. But remember that the author does not always know what will best sell and publicize their book. Clearly explain why you and the press are doing what you are doing so the author can understand where you are coming from. Sometimes you will want to compromise, and other times you will need to put your foot down.
Professionalism
Above all else, you are helping to run a business, so being professional is important. Clear communication, active listening, and compassion are important in professionalism. A publicist’s job is to make sure an author is knowledgeable about the publicity process. This may mean anything from making sure they are comfortable with interviews or author meet-ups to explaining to them how everything works. Again, remember you and the author have the same goal: to get their book to the right audience. Hopefully these tips will help you to have a successful relationship with your author.
For more tips from book publicists to authors check out: 33 Tips From Book Publicists For Self Published Authors or What to Look for in a Book Publicist.

Person holding tablet with the pages of a document on the screen

The Anatomy of a Press Kit

Not just a pretty document, a press kit provides the media with information about an upcoming book release that could potentially lead to earned publicity for the book and the author. A good press kit makes it easier for journalists to learn quickly about an upcoming book release. There are six vital components to creating a press kit that will catch the media’s eye and get your author the attention they deserve. Below, the anatomy of a press kit will be dissected so your book can launch successfully.

Contents of a Press Kit

COMPONENT ONE

The first part of a press kit provides all of the details about the book’s outward appearance. It also shows important information like when the book will be published and whether it is paperback or hardcover. These details include:

  • Title, subtitle, and author
  • Metadata
  • Image of the book cover

COMPONENT TWO

The second part of the press kit contains all the information about the book. This includes information about author appearances and reviews. It explains why a reader would want to pick the book up. This is usually done with a press release. Another option instead of the press release is to do a one-page book description and another page on author appearances and events.

  • Press release
    • Should include a hook, summary, reviews and praise, information about launch events and other author appearances, author bio, subject matter of the book (why they want to buy it, how it pertains to the reader), when the book will be published, and where it can be preordered. Remember to keep each of these sections short and to the point.
    • The bottom of the press release should say something like, “For more information, to receive a copy of [title], or to interview [author], contact: [contact information of publicist or publishing house].”
  • Or, a one-page book description and one page about author appearances with dates and locations.

COMPONENT THREE

The third part of the press release is the author bio and photo. While the author bio is also included in the press release, feel free to go into more detail here.

  • Author bio with a photo of author

COMPONENT FOUR

The fourth component of the press kit keeps the book breathing: praise and reviews. Make sure to include key reviews from important people or organizations for your book. Praise is there to show the media that your book is worth taking a look into.

  • Praise and reviews

COMPONENT FIVE

The next part of the press kit allows the media to get a running start on articles and interviews for the author and book. Adding talking points to your press kit will make it that much easier for a busy journalist to write a great piece on your upcoming book release.

  • Talking points
    • These can be talking points about the book for interviews, or a filled-out Q&A with the author (needs to include questions and answers).

COMPONENT SIX

The last component of the press kit is a section on the publisher and who they are. This does not have to be long and can just be a normal publisher bio.

  • Publisher bio

Contents of a One-Pager:

The one-pager is basically a one-page press kit. It also resembles a tip sheet, but it is sent to media outlets instead of salespeople or publishers. The one-pager includes the following:

  1. Title, subtitle, author
  2. Hook, book description
  3. Book cover
  4. One to two blurbs (keep it short)
  5. Author bio
  6. Metadata

What is publicity?

Think of a publicist as an author’s strategist, promoter, organizer, and cheerleader. Publicists are evangelists for the books they are working on. Publicity is often referred to as earned media because it is not paid for. Some examples of publicity for books are articles, author interviews, author appearances, reviews, and blog posts. Publicity depends on a third party to spread the word about an upcoming book release. Because it depends on someone other than the publisher to talk about the book, consumers tend to think it is more trustworthy.

And that’s all there is to it. So go forth and get that earned media for your book.