(DGIwire) Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins: it used to be that if an author landed a contract with one of these or another of the major publishers, they knew they had “made it.” They’d typically receive an advance that would be enough to live on—for a short while at least—and the publishing company would make sure the book was stocked in stores across the country and the author lauded throughout the media.
Times have changed. Now there are more authors than ever, and while it’s exciting to have so many different literary voices available to read, it can be hard for the publicity department in a publishing house to promote its new authors individually, giving each of them the attention he or she deserves. After all, books need to be sold, and there always seems to be a newer, flashier author coming up the ranks. In a rapidly changing and increasingly competitive market—where many bookstores have closed, people are buying online and frequently opting for downloadable versions of books—publishers have to keep trying for the better-sellers to make up for the ones with mediocre sales. Their small PR staff is often burdened with a large number of new books and can’t keep plugging away at any book that doesn’t take off almost out of the gate. Of course, their authors complain, but that’s the reality of the situation. On average, the publisher’s public relations person will give the book no more than two to three months of media exposure, and even then it’s largely restricted to soliciting reviews. No one can blame the publisher: it’s the nature of the business today.
So what can publishing houses do to make sure all of their published authors’ books are adequately supported and positioned to reach the wide readership they may well deserve? How can they make sure they are selling all of their books, not just the new ones?
“If you find that your publicity team is straining under the weight of so many authors, you might want to consider hiring an independent public relations firm to represent them, or at least form a bond with them—so that if your authors pay, the retainers are affordable and their books are on the PR firm’s front burner,” says public relations specialist Dian Griesel, Ph.D. “An independent firm will have the resources to give your authors specialized attention and reach out to both traditional and social media to get featured interviews and appearances, all of it with the intention of selling a large number of books.”
As President of DGI Comm, an award-winning media relations and news placement agency based in New York City, Griesel has successfully represented a wide range of clients, from large corporations to individual authors. “We have an all-hands-on-deck approach to public relations,” adds Griesel. “No client is too big or too small for us to represent.” Griesel has a special passion for representing authors because she is an author herself. With 10 books to her credit, her most recent title is ENGAGE: Smart Ideas to Get More Media Coverage, Build Your Influence & Grow Your Business.
“The key to helping an author find and maintain a solid readership is to constantly keep their name and their titles circulating in the news and online, featuring them in articles and interviews, and writing content,” says Griesel. As she explains, her company also actively pursues opportunities for authors to write bylined articles, “which can then be ghostwritten by us if they don’t have the time. The name of the game is always the same: we make sure to get our publisher clients’ authors in the news, and we keep them there.”