When you are ready to start interviewing publicists to help with your book launch make sure you hire a person and not just a firm. Chances are the person who owns the company will be a great sales person but after you hire the firm, your account will be handed over to a more junior staff member and all of your correspondence will be with him/her. If that staffer is not highly enthusiastic about you and your book, you will find the relationship to be less than desirable (and profitable). As early as the first meeting you want that junior person, to which your account will be assigned, in all meetings.
If the initial meeting goes well, you should plan to have a follow up call with the junior staff publicist and get down to the nitty gritty by asking them:
Make sure you get a really good sense of if they are skilled, talented, candid, forthcoming, articulate, organized, and enthusiastic. If your impression of any of these traits is less than favorable, you want to take a serious look before making a final decision. Remember that this person will be representing you so view their professionalism and communication style as a window into how they will be connecting with the media on your behalf.
In addition to getting great answers to your questions, request a detailed proposal of what they are going to do for you with benchmarks and time frames. Mutually agree upon how often you will be communicating and getting detailed and summary reports. Keep in mind that the first 30 days of any publicity campaign is all about "lining the runway." They need to get to know you and your material, create your press kit, and set up key targets for media opportunities. Ask for the publicist's anticipated projections for the first 90 days before you sign on.
It is your job as the author to constantly be scanning the media for opportunities to tie your content to current events. Always be thinking and taking action on how you can contribute to the news of the day. For example if you are an expert on domestic violence you will want to jump at the chance to contribute your expertise in response to seeing police responding to an suspected abuse call at a celebrities house. Be ready to send your publicist your five bullet points about why you have something important to say on the topic and you are ready within an hour to be set up on a live feed to CNN to discuss it.
As you get closer to making your decision, refer back to the list of key strategies in my previous blog post, "How to Hire a Marketing, PR or Internet Consultant."
Arielle Ford has launched the careers of many NY Times bestselling authors including Deepak Chopra, Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Neale Donald Walsch & Debbie Ford. She is a former book publicist, literary agent and the author of seven books. To learn how to get started writing a book please visit: www.HowToWriteMyBook.com