Book PR is not rocket science, but experience and knowledge definitely do wonders. Many authors choose to do their own book publicity and in doing so, they resort to simply sending out mass mailings and emails.
Yes, sending out your book (AKA a galley) is definitely an effective way to get the word out on your book. However, countless authors and publishers are faced with budgetary constraints and cannot afford to send hundreds of galleys blindly in hopes of reviews and mentions in the media.
The challenge is not entirely about how many books to send, but to whom to send the galleys to, how and even when– as media contact knowledge and timing is everything. This is one reason why a caring, quality book publicist is an asset–but not a requirement
How does one decide how many galleys to send to media?
Some larger, established publishing houses send out hundreds of sets of galleys while small publishers and authors send– let’s say, fifty in total. Although sending as many galleys as possible seems like the best option, large budget or not– the money you spend doing so is always a factor. This is when expertise is very beneficial. You see, when a public relations firm comes into play, they usually will know best due to their experience with contacts’ preferences and past habits. They can work within your budget (large or small) to maximize your mailings’ outcome.
Sometimes media contacts don’t even need to receive a galley. It depends. A press release sent via fax with a solid pitch can suffice… at other times, an EPK and an emailed pitch can do the trick. Or if you know the contact well enough, or feel confident that your pitch is all someone needs to hear–go ahead and make the call! My experience has told me however, that book reviewers want something to read.
It all depends on the contact’s needs–and a book publicist can know all about them. Publicists really do have an upper hand. One step further, PR firms know the right contacts who will review your book. Sending a galley, no matter how great it is, will not get your book featured if you’re sending the galley to the wrong editor. PR firms have extensive databases with notes that will help them not only locate the right contact, but pinpoint when and how to contact these specific individuals.
You don’t have to have a publicist, book publicity can be done on your own–it just depends on your needs, goals, time constraints, patience, talent and preferences. If you decide to go at it alone–perhaps consider a book PR consultant for an hour. The advice you get will save you more time and money than the cost of the consultation. Whether you choose to reach out for help or not, do yourself the favor and take the time to do your homework. It is well worth the effort in the end.