Friday, November 16, 2012

Working with an Outside Publicist by Kellie Coates Gilbert

You may have discovered that meeting awesome people and making new friends are some of the joys we experience while on the road to publication. I met Kellie Coates Gilbert some years ago at an American Christian Fiction Writers conference. So, of course I was thrilled for Kellie when her debut novel Mother of Pearl was released in September. She’s here today, sharing reasons for hiring a publicist's  assistance as she continues her own publishing journey. ~ Dawn

Working with an Outside Publicist
by Kellie Coates Gilbert

Many of my fellow writers have recently asked about my decision to hire an outside publicist. My answer often incorporates the belief that writing novels is a business, and like any business, outside consultants are often necessary.  Especially when time is limited, or the novelist simply does not have the expertise to complete various tasks. Some writers hire personal assistants, for example. Independent and self-pubbed folks typically pay to have their manuscripts properly edited and covers designed.

My publishing house made the decision not to hire an outside publicist to promote my debut novel, for very good business reasons for their company structure. However, I knew media coverage and lots of exposure were critical to launching my career. After much prayer, I decided to secure the services of someone who could augment the help I was getting from my house.

Publicists wear many hats. Early bids I obtained included pitches for what I call the “kitchen sink” promising major media and television appearances and an extensive social media campaign, among other items.  I entertained visions of working with Daniel Steele’s publicist out of the LA area (and I spoke with her) but at $12,000 per month for a minimum six months, the cost was simply out of reach. So, I adjusted my expectations to meet my budget and talked with publicists I was familiar with and people I thought would have the time to accommodate coming on board quickly. (Consider starting early. I almost waited too late. Most publicists want to get started six months prior to release date.) In my case, I’d already hired a marketing consultant to establish my brand and how to communicate that to my future audience. What I needed was to get my BOOK and ME in front of the public.  I needed to get known.

At the end of my search, I hired Rebeca Seitz of Glassroad Media.  She was one of many capable publicists I would love to have worked with, but we made an early personal connection and she read and loved my book and seemed to share my vision.  Before I agreed to work with Rebeca, I also talked to several people I knew had been clients and got honest assessment of her abilities.

After several extended telephone conversations, Rebeca and I established exactly what she would do and the deadlines for completing each action item. Over the course of our working relationship, we mutually agreed to shift some of these items, but you MUST HAVE A WRITTEN AGREED UPON SCOPE OF WORK.

Communication is also key. Early on, I gave Rebeca a copy of my promotion calendar and provided regular updates.  We held scheduled telephone conferences to assess where we were and to evaluate the effectiveness of our efforts.  I tend to micro-manage, but Rebeca earned my trust quickly.

Rebeca also met with the marketing director at my house and established open and effective communication to eliminate duplication of effort and to make sure we were working in tandem. Because of the care Rebeca took to create a cooperative environment, our efforts were never seen as contradictory to the marketing plan established by my house.  We truly were a team, and worked together in a fashion that was not only productive . . . but fun.

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A former legal investigator and trial paralegal, Kellie Coates Gilbert writes with a sympathetic, intimate knowledge of how people react under pressure.  Her stories are about messy lives, and eternal hope.

Kellie’s upcoming novel, MOTHER OF PEARL, Abingdon Press Sept 2012, tells the emotionally compelling story of a high school counselor who discovers her own teenage daughter had an inappropriate relationship with the football coach . . . and how she risks everything to bring him to justice.

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