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How to Work with a Publicist: What’s the Relationship Like, Are you Golden?

Every new or potential client has a myriad of questions, and we at ImaginePublicity expect no less!  As we work together towards the common goals of success, there is a process that’s learned along the way.  We like to explain that we are always a “work in progress” heading towards the same end, and willing to change direction in mid stream if a strategy isn’t working.  Mari Selby of Selbyink sums the process up very well in the following article! Although directed towards marketing for authors or books, the principles remain the same no matter if we are working with you on your business, ventures, dreams, or imaginings! 

ImaginePublicity, Publicists, MarketingWhat does a publicist do? Most people who hire a publicist have no idea how to maximize their time with a publicist. They neither know what to expect from the campaign or from the relationship. When a publicist is passionate about your material you have a cheerleader on your side that will go to any length to promote your project. Initially that could be both embarrassing, and encouraging. The intimacy that happens between you and your publicist is based on the sharing of your dreams and goals for your book. As well, when asking questions that make you feel vulnerable you are made aware of your lack of knowledge and savvy in the world of book publishing. You are in a sense showing them your unshaved face, and bed-hair, while asking them to be your expert guide to getting your baby out into the world. Teamwork is essential, and requires both the publicist and the author/publisher to be honest, open-minded, and willing.

The following are tips I have found to be helpful when creating the most professional and efficient team to promote your book.


1. You need to learn and understand the processes involved in securing publicity.

2. Ask any question no matter how dumb it sounds to you.

3. Working with a publicist is like getting an advanced degree. We can learn from mistakes and by asking questions.

4. Be clear about your goals, and what you can actually accomplish. For instance without experience with public speaking, stepping up to speaking engagements may be unrealistic.

5. Admit that talking on the radio scares you, or that standing in front of an audience makes you speechless. The success of your campaign depends on playing to your strengths. When you try to cover your fears up they only become more obvious. A scientist – author we worked with hated talking on the phone, but was brilliant in front of a group. After a few semi-flops on the radio he admitted he would rather not do any more interviews. The reviews of his book led to people soliciting him for speaking engagements over a year after he stopped working with us.

6. Your publicist is the keeper of your calendar. Most people are not used to having someone keep track of the minutiae of their lives. A publicist needs to know where and when you are going, no matter if it’s a day trip. Timing is everything with publicity, and last minute calls of either a rescheduling of an interview, or new opportunities happen frequently.

7. Though the publicist is actually working for the book, you can ask for accountability. Ask for a detailed list of what they will work on for the month. Ask for the kind of update you need to feel like you know what your publicist is doing with their time and your money.


1. Recently we worked with an author who was a psychiatrist and parenting expert, as well as an intuitive. She told us that she was tired of the competition and the little recognition she had received by banking on her credentials. She wanted to offer her book to the intuitive market. We advised her that we could work with both, she insisted, so we were willing to follow her lead. When the responses were not what she expected she was frustrated, and bounced back to just using her credentials.

2.      Do your research and know your competition. The phrase “there is nothing new under the sun” holds true for every book. Find the book that holds a seed of what you offer. Study their success and learn to apply what they did to your book. From Kate’s article: “Every day, I hear stories of authors and publishers who think they spent too much on a publicist who only got them coverage in a few newspapers and interviews on a dozen or so radio shows. I also know authors and publishers who would be thrilled with that much coverage. Understanding the reality of today’s media and having realistic expectations is key to getting the help and coverage you and your book(s) deserve.”

3.     Be guided by the expertise of your publicist. Generally they have years of experience combined with an aggressive spirit to keep on top of new trends. By hiring a publicist you are saying, “I authorize you to represent me and my book to the world.”

4.     Part of doing a publicity campaign is actually doing market research for your book. The reviews you receive, the sales you make are a testament to how well you have tapped into the market you aimed for in writing your book. It is true that there is no such thing as bad publicity. We received a Publisher’s Weekly quote that began, “this is a fantastic book”…and ended with “ the author’s purple prose was more than they could stomach.” We of course used the former phrase. Any publicity is a chance to learn something new about your audience, and your material.


1.     Be willing to follow someone else’s lead. Though you are the expert on the topic of your book, a publicist can take your living material and make it accessible to your market.

2.     Be willing to learn, and learn quickly what works and what doesn’t work for you or your book.

3.     Be willing to write more, articles, blogs, and comments on forums about other books.

4.     Be willing to spend time daily and weekly to market your book.

5.     Be willing to study trends. See how they match your material. Be willing to offer this information to your publicist to discuss its relevance to your campaign.

6.     Be willing to read about your topic. Research more of your competition.

7.     Be willing to always ask, “what else can I do to promote my book?”

Creating and developing a promotional campaign with a publicist is a process. There is a beginning when you first start to develop your relationship, and your campaign. There is a middle where, hopefully, things begin to go viral. Even when you have an older book you can revise the material and come out with a new edition. However, the only true end to promoting your book is when you are ready to stop talking about your book, and your material.

How to Work with a Publicist: What’s the Relationship Like, Are you Golden?

Written by Mari Selby


  1. This topic really hits the mark for all of us trying to better ourselves and attain goals in the furtherance of helping others. And yes… it is about building a relationship with your publicist. You can’t expect things to happen overnight… I have to remind myself every day despite being a “take care of business let’s do it now” kind of person. I do not have a specific book to market at the moment … just me, my talents and writings (by the ream it seems!) However, it’s about team work and thinking out of the box. Do not be lazy and expect others to do your work for you…. Complacency will kill your chances…. Do not rest on your laurels if you’ve had one hit book. ‘Seems to me that will only take you so far…

    Thank God for sending me the good, good people like Delilah at Imagine Publicity and Susan Murphy Milano!
    They mold, nurture and respect your work. So, don’t miss out…and spread the word!

    Donna R. Gore
    Homicide Survivor and Writer

  2. hopeforhealingorg says

    It’s good to know what to expect. Overnight results can’t be expected with anything. I know that your clients are fortunate. Imagine Publicity does a great job!

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