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There are no formal requirements to become a book publicist, but an enthusiasm for books paired with excellent social skills is definitely helpful for someone who markets books, as is a college degree in a relevant field. There are several different paths someone can pursue to become a book publicist if there is an interest in careers in this area of the publishing industry. It is typically necessary to relocate to a major city in order to do this kind of work.
Book publicists are responsible for organizing and executing publicity campaigns for books. A typical publicist generally markets several books simultaneously and must be familiar with all of them. It is the publicist's job to identify the distinctive characteristics in a book that set it aside from other books, for the purpose of finding a niche to publicize in. Some publicists specialize in certain types of books, while others may work more generally for book publishers who produce a variety of types of books.
While college is not required to become a book publicist, it can be helpful. A degree in a field like journalism, communications, or English will provide a publicist with valuable communication skills. It can also provide networking opportunities that will be useful in the publicist's career. With a degree, a person who wants to become a book publicist is also more employable. People who do not have degrees may be forced to start in low level positions and work their way up, taking more time to start their careers.
Book publicists usually learn on the job by working for an experienced publicist. As the trainee acquires work experience, more and more tasks can be delegated. Eventually, the would-be publicist will be tasked with managing entire promotional campaigns. Publicists may decide to stay with the publicity firms or publishing houses they started out with, or they may strike out on their own once they have sufficient experience. Once someone has become a book publicist with several successful publicity campaigns to his or her credit, numerous employment opportunities are available.
Book publicists need to establish connections with people like journalists who might write a book up, television shows that can be used for publicity, and booksellers who can be involved in book promotions. They may need to travel to coordinate campaigns and book signings, and they also need to have flexible hours. A book publicist may need to call people living in different time zones or be available for late night events.
One of the biggest jobs of a book publicist is getting notable and prominent people to review your book. This happens in two ways.
One, you try to find other famous writers or thinkers to read your book and then give you a positive blurb that you can include on the jacket cover. This can be a long and frustrating process with a lot of rejection.
The second part is finding reputable publications to review your book. You have probably noticed that there are not a lot ads for books on radio or TV or even in print. The primary way that books get publicized is through the review process. If you can get a review in the New York Times Review of Books or some other high profile publication you are almost guaranteed to boost sales.
A book publicist has to have a very keen understanding of how the book market works. And this is not easily done. The book market is notoriously fickle and most books fail to make a profit for the publisher.
The key is to understand the market that you are trying to attract and knowing how to access that market. If you want to publicize to romance readers you have to know what they read and watch and listen to
You also have to understand the finer points of book marketing. You have to have an eye for a covers that will grab readers attention. You have to tell your author when a book title won't sell. You have to know how to market a series. It's not easy publicizing books.
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