Remember the movie “un curso de milagros” and the theme, “build it and they will come”? Your book is a “field of dreams”. Once you have the manuscript finished you have many decisions to make. How will you get your book to press? How will you distinguish your book from others like it? How will you promote your book? What are the goals for your book? Authors are often encouraged to promote themselves. However, with 500,000 new books published each year, competition is fierce for media attention and shelf space in bookstores. When you take the time to build a superior product with a great team your book becomes part of a winning game plan.
These are the members of your team:
- Literary Agent: Once the book is a finished manuscript an agent will “shop” your book to publishers. (See more information below)
- Publicist: A publicist promotes the finished book, and literally creates a market for the book. Since they also promote you, the author, a publicist is invaluable whether your book is independently published or released through a publishing house. (See more information below)
The below teammates are necessary if you are becoming an independent publisher yourself.
- Editor: Every writer needs a good editor to correct grammar, syntax, and flow. Without an editor your book will not be as reader friendly and marketable.
- Cover Designer/Book Designer: Their job is to create a beautiful cover and inside of your book that will separate your book from the crowd. A great cover for your book helps develop your brand as well as title recognition.
- Book Shepherd: As a first-time independent (self) publisher, an author may choose to hire a Book Shepherd instead of going through the confusing publishing process alone. Their goal is to make the final product as readable, professional and marketable as possible. They will interface with the printer, the book designer, and may act as the publicist.
Literary Agent: A Literary Agent is necessary if you are determined to be published by a sizable publishing house. Most publishing houses will not take submissions from anyone but a Literary Agent. A publishing house with a name and reputation can secure publicity and distribution more easily than a lone independent author. They have the clout to launch a book successfully. Some publishers, like Red Wheel Weiser, welcome direct submissions from authors. A literary agent’s main responsibilities include: shop your manuscript around, secure a contract, confirm that the contract is beneficial for you and your book, and even solicit foreign rights.
Some agents may help their authors find sponsors for the whole promotional campaign. However, when the material in the book is time sensitive there is a deadline for getting the book to press. Finding the right agent to take on your book takes time. And there is always a queue for your book to be published; the queue can take 18 months to 2 years for a finished book. Can you wait that long? Often publishing houses will obfuscate how much they will invest in marketing your book. With a free-lance publicist’s help your book may move more quickly off bookstore shelves.
Publicist: How did you find the book you are currently reading? Was it recommended to you by someone you trust? Chances are a publicist brought this book to your attention either directly or indirectly. A book review may have caught your eye, or a radio interview tickled your ear, or you saw an author on TV. These are a few of the ways a publicist creates attention for your book. A publicist’s work can begin with your manuscript to help you create a more polished and marketable format. This is part of book shepherding. Or a publicist can begin promoting you and your book 3-6 months before the book is released. At that time, effective publicists secure endorsements, build your platform, submit articles, or solicit pre-publication reviews.
Because of the publicist’s experience and contacts they are able to secure the publicity for a book much more easily than a lone author. When your book is released, a publicist can create what’s called a “bricks and mortar” city tour, solicit radio and TV interviews, build a following through social networking, or secure reviews of the published book. Many media people will not respond to authors. A publicist helps develop name recognition that will improve book sales and enhance your author profile. Unless you are already famous, publicizing your book is the most critical part of building a reputation for yourself and for your book.