“The sport of book promotion is more of a relay race than a sprint.”
An author and a publicist
provide four tips about
by Bianca Turetsky &
of bestsellers. Even if you are working
with just one in-house publicist, make
sure you are assigned someone whose
writing and interpersonal skills you
trust, because your publicist could posi-
tion your book in a way that you didn’t
envision. Look for someone who is
strong in areas where you may be lack-
ing. What Bianca and I did most effec-
tively was pass the baton: while I fol-
lowed up weekly with the producer of
a television show, Bianca nurtured a relationship with her on
Twitter. We landed the TV appearance. Divide responsibilities
and hold each other accountable, but keep things light. Avoid
toxicity and instead ask each other, “What can I be doing for
3) Your book’s promotional horizon is limitless.
When your book finally publishes, the unfortunate truth is that
your publisher will need to focus on launching other titles. If
you have an outside publicist, her job is to keep pitching to the
media. Print features won’t be as likely after publication, but
excerpts, interviews, and social media can keep your book in the
public dialogue. In addition to continuing to stay in touch with
the media, Bianca established personal relationships with “big
mouths”—high-profile fellow authors and celebrity bloggers.
Unlike magazine editors, these influencers aren’t tied to an
editorial calendar: your book could be many months out of the
gate before the right person learns about it and shares it on his
or her blog or in a tweet.
Experiment with creating extensions of your book. In Bianca’s
case, we created online games for children, as well as a “kit”
complete with Time-Traveling Fashionista activities, which is
available on Etsy. The most gratifying part was to see the buzz
about the book translate into word-of-mouth publicity. By the
release of Bianca’s latest book, most people we pitched it to were
already familiar with the series.
4) Design book events that don’t feel like book events.
The truth about book events is that they can feel uneventful,
and, worse, you’re competing with all kinds of other exciting
happenings on any given night. We focused on nontraditional
book events in venues that ranged from schools and libraries to
nonprofit appearances and even clothing boutiques. Bianca
turned her book into a Fashionista craft activity that children
could touch, design, and take home. Almost immediately, we
saw these events take off: Bianca was selling books, and we were
able to get honorariums for her. Sometimes you just have to
ask—and, fortunately, your publicist can do that for you. ■
It’s almost a cliché to hear an author complain about his or her publicity team. But the fact of the matter is that celeb- rity has become as important as literary merit, with more
titles competing for consumers’ attention than ever before, so
authors need to work just as hard as their publicists to promote
their work. That can be frustrating, unless you’re able to “rewire”
the way you approach publicity. It begins with remembering
that you and your publicist are on the same team, and that the
sport of book promotion is more of a relay race than a sprint.
There’s no recipe for guaranteed attention, but with the right
partner, you can at least have a hand in orchestrating your book’s
destiny. As an author and a publicist, here are a few things we’ve
1) Rewire the way you think about publicity.
What does publicity “success” mean to you? If it’s getting an
interview on NPR or a book review in the New York Times, you
should be plugged into those outlets, knowing the kinds of
authors and subjects they cover. While it’s always difficult to
attract national media attention, if you can convince your publicist that your book should make the cut—e.g., based on the
success of comparable titles, or news trends—you’re giving her
the artillery she needs to make the case for you.
If national media isn’t available to you, it’s time to rewire.
Coverage by a wide network of bloggers, a Facebook post by a
celebrity author, or a viral op-ed in Huffington Post gives you a
lot of exposure and often translates to sales. Website analytics
yield more data than offline media. We can’t recommend enough
that authors follow their traffic, experiment with posting online,
and actively engage with reader communities to exploit the
loudspeakers of social media.
For Bianca’s book launch, a series about a vintage-obsessed
12-year-old girl who’s carried away to different historical eras,
we found immense support from YA and style bloggers, who
hosted Bianca on a blog tour and posted images of her book on
Instagram. When drumming up book reviews proved difficult,
we placed larger profiles about Bianca in adult fashion outlets.
2) Find the right chemistry and pass the baton.
Finding a publicist whom you “click” with is more important
than finding someone who claims to have produced a multitude
Bianca Turetsky is the author of the Time-Traveling Fashionista series, and
Lucinda Blumenfeld is the owner of Lucinda Literary, a literary and publicity agency.
Bianca Turetsky Lucinda Blumenfeld