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What Does a Book Publicist Do?

Book publicists promote new releases to the media and public.
A book publicist will likely be assigned a book, or set of books, months in advance.
An aspiring literary publicist should work as an editor or editorial assistant.
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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2014
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A book publicist is typically employed by a publishing house, and it is his or her responsibility to generate media interest in a new book. he or she ultimately wants journalists to write pieces about the author and his or her book, in order to increase public interest and sales. The job is a combination of the marketing and publishing fields.

Typically, there are no formal educational requirements to become a book publicist. The job involves a lot of communication and writing, so some publicists may choose to pursue degrees in English, journalism, marketing, or communications. It is necessary for a publicist to be assertive, outgoing, knowledgeable in his or her field, and of course someone who enjoys reading.

A book publicist will likely be assigned a book, or set of books, months in advance, and he or she will then be responsible for creating a publicity campaign surrounding the book. A large part of a publicist's job is creating press releases for new books. These press releases are then sent to various media outlets in the hopes that they will write about it. For this reason, it is important for a book publicist to develop contacts in various media outlets, as well as to fully understand the way the media works. For instance, a magazine needs much longer lead time before publishing a story than a newspaper, which can publish a story within a day.

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In addition to generating media buzz about the book, a book publicist may also be responsible for setting up book tours and book signings for authors. The publicist will need to work with the author and his or her schedule, as well as determine the schedules in various locations or bookstores where the author will be traveling. In addition, the publicist may need to set up travel arrangements, such as hotel stays, airline tickets, or rented cars, to name a few.

Once the tour has been set up, the publicist may then begin creating promotional materials, such as fliers and advertisements. The publicist will probably need to work with other departments fairly frequently, such as the art and design department. He or she will also likely have a budget, and need to stay within that budget while creating publicity for the book. For outgoing people who enjoy working with others, and who want to work in the publishing field, a career as a book publicist can be an excellent choice.

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Discuss this Article

everetra
Post 4

@NathanG - A newspaper recently put out a press release that a well known politician would be signing copies of his memoir at a local book store. I never went, but there were long lines.

Politicians like to sign books and hug babies. It is part of what they do. The publicist sets these unique photo ops up.

It’s important to realize that if you are a writer and really want to become a bestselling author, you should be ready for these public appearances. If you’re the shy, docile type that likes to hide in the corner, perhaps being a bestselling author would not be your cup of tea.

NathanG
Post 3

@David09 - You could still get a publicist to help you even if self publish. What you need to do is pitch your manuscript to a literary publicist.

If they like it, they will take it on, and then do the work of working with publicists and so forth. It’s still a long shot, I would agree, but it is possible.

David09
Post 2

@miriam98 - Well, your book has to get published first. For it to get published the publisher must see marketing potential. So books don’t become bestsellers on their own, I would agree, but it’s the act of publication that gets the ball rolling.

Self publication is a problem in this regard. It would be nearly impossible to get a book publicist to push a self published book. Part of self publications means that as an author, you assume the role for marketing your book.

Many authors don’t realize this, and as a result, those who do self publish sell very few copies of their books, only to wind up giving them away.

miriam98
Post 1

Years ago, when I was a young, naive aspiring writer, I used to think that books became bestsellers because they were just so good. Later I discovered that there was, in fact, another angle. It was called book publicity.

It’s impossible to underestimate the importance of this role. I often see authors on television shows giving interviews about their books. Those interviews are set up by the book publicist and can translate into millions of dollars in sales.

So the book publicist plays a strategic role. I wouldn’t say that a book can’t succeed without his help but it sure helps.

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