THE BLOG

The Evolving World of Book Publicity

07/05/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Every author should be like Glenn Plaskin. Over a year before his book Katie: Up and Down The Hall would hit stores, Plaskin created an award-worthy book trailer, started working his celebrity contacts for endorsements, and hired a freelance book publicist. More than six months before his book would see the light of day, he started blogging almost every day, created a fan page for his book on Facebook, and debuted his active Twitter stream. And today, with his pub date still far on the horizon, he's taking meetings with major corporations to explore sponsorship opportunities.

Plaskin is a client of Goldberg McDuffie Communications, so we're especially aware of his work. But authors are coming to our freelance book publicity firm ever earlier in the publishing process, recognizing that now more than ever they need expert guidance on building their brand and positioning their book in the best possible light. While the rest of the publishing world is wrestling with difficult decisions like eReader formats and rights issues, we feel we're working in a bright spot. Authors will always need public relations and marketing specialists to help connect them to their audiences. It's just that the way we achieve this is changing rapidly.

Even just a decade ago, a full-page review in the New York Times would have been enough to catapult a book onto the bestseller list and keep it there. While still important, few traditional media outlets can achieve that sort of bounce for a book today as consumers change who they trust as tastemakers--it might be a "mommy blogger" instead of Ladies Home Journal. Communication is no longer a three-person process with the media playing the role of middleman. Because of this, a mix of coverage through mainstream general media, targeted niche media, online outlets, and the work of the author connecting with consumers one-on-one is necessary to give a book a life of its own and the sales numbers it deserves.

The work publicists and marketers do--whether in-house at a publisher or at an agency like ours--is increasingly important as the number of media outlets multiplies online, and new social networking sites and tools debut on a regular basis. Should one Tweet? Get on Ning? Start a blog? A big part of our role is to help authors assess the vast array of options before them, think strategically about what will get their book the most attention, and prioritize this work so that their efforts (and time) are not wasted.

We have also found it critical to become involved with an author and their work as early in the publishing process as possible. What good is advising someone to start a blog if their first post hits the day the book is on-sale? The point of reaching out to your "tribe" isn't just to sell books, though that will hopefully be a side effect. It's to begin an authentic conversation with people interested in your topic and your thinking. This can help sell books to consumers, and if done right, can help sell one's book to a publisher in the first place.

The publishing world is evolving in myriad ways, as anyone following industry news the last few months well knows. With imprints, editors, and publishing missions changing, authors like the idea of having some constants in their lives. By working with authors over the course of their careers, with the ebb and flow of creativity and publication schedules, we're able to give them perspective, advice, and insight. We're excited about the future of publishing and the many new ways of bringing writers and readers together. And we're looking forward to working with our colleagues in the industry to achieve this together.