What would you like to ask a publicist?

Imagine walking into an enormous shoe store with all kinds of shoes, then telling the salesman you’re not sure what kind you’re looking for, or what size you wear, or how much you want to spend. Just show me something….


At the very least, a good publicist should understand that you’re fairly new at the process and be able to ask questions that help determine what you’re looking for. Of course, that’s hard to do on a website or an email so usually a phone call is best. He or she should also be honest about whether or not what you’re looking for is going to help you achieve the desired results.


Many approach me seeming to think that hiring me will be a shortcut to success. I wish it was, but it might not be.  I can often help an author get things done faster, but if you’re totally new at the process, your first interview isn’t going to be on Good Morning America. On occasion I might help you skip a small market and move to a larger one, but you won’t do well without the experience the smaller markets give you. If you have experience, we can move forward more quickly, but generally overnight success is fiction.


My job isn’t to promote your books for you, it’s to help you promote your books more effectively. I set the stage but you still show up to perform. What I aim to help you do is to make sure you’re making a great first impression, on the web, in person, on the radio, in print – whatever you choose to do.


It would be nice if there was a one-size-fits-all promotion plan that could be duplicated again and again, but there isn’t. At least I haven’t found it. A great campaign can be small or large and focused on one area of promotion or several. What’s important is that it works for you and that you feel comfortable doing what it entails.


Three things a publicist can and should do no matter what your campaign involves:


  1. Handle rejection – it happens, but it’s not personal and nobody likes to hear it. If it might be personal, I would talk to you about making some changes to take care of it, but usually it’s just business.


  1. Free up your time for writing – Many of the tasks involved in promotion are hugely time consuming. Unending follow up calls are inevitable. Since this is what we do, we’ve streamlined the process and can free up large amounts of your time.


  1. Lastly, we should be able to offer you direction when things get overwhelming and you’re not sure what to do next. Any promotional campaign should be very flexible. The market is highly unpredictable and whatever is in the news that day makes a difference whether you’ll get print space or broadcast time. If you’ve tried something and results are lackluster, your publicist can help you decide if it’s worth trying again, or time to move on to something different.


Above all, your publicist should be a team player, ready and willing to help you and your publisher get the right kind of attention for your book and help increase your sales base.

 What would you like to ask a publicist?

6 thoughts on “What would you like to ask a publicist?

  1. Thanks for this, PJ! Your thoughts and perspective are very interesting.

  2. Karen says:

    I live in a very small market in a plains state that’s not very populous. I’ve hesitated to hire a publicist because my budget is small and distances are great out here. i self-publish, but my books are very well received by those who have bought them and are very well reviewed–though not by a great number of readers. As a publicist, what kind of solutions might you suggest for me?

    • pjnunn says:

      Karen, since so many people shop online these days, you don’t have to travel as much to get the word out. You can do radio interviews all over the country without leaving your living room. The same is true with blog posts and various niche market activities. The idea is to use whatever reasonable means are available to get info about your book in front of potential readers.

  3. carlbrookins says:

    Useful post, PJ. I come at this with some experience, having lived a long time with an editor and successful publisher, and being a writer and reviewer, meself.
    I would ask about flexibility, as in what kinds of packages are available? What are your (publicists) strengths? What kinds of writing do you regularly handle? are you actively looking for new clients? What do you routinely expect from clients? Please provide me with a list of the kinds of publicity, as in media outlets and other activities you have had success in connecting clients with.

    • pjnunn says:

      Good questions Carl! They’ll help clarify things and assure that you and the publicist you’re talking with are on the same page. Expectations are so important!

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