One author emailed me on LinkedIn last week with a question we get all the time, so I took some time to analyze her network to illustrate the answer, which (in my experience) is almost always “Your network is not ready for a publicist.” That was true here, and I’ve included my whole analysis here so you can see my thought process. Hopefully along the way, you can find some similarities with your own network. Of course, I have removed the author’s name and the name of the business; we’re not about picking on people here, but I do just want to save some of you some money if you’re thinking you’re ready to hire a publicist, when in fact your network needs work.
Question: My book is coming out soon. Should I hire a publicist?
Answer: Thanks for getting in touch! It’s a good question, one I think many authors have, and 99% of the time, the answer is “Your network is not ready for a publicist. If you hire a publicist, they will get media coverage for you and your book, which will make people go to your website and social media.”
To see if this answer applied to you, I tried to take a look at your network by going over to your LinkedIn profile (because that’s where your message came from), but I couldn’t find a clear link back to a website. That’s the first thing I would change. Next I took your name and Googled you, where I found your author site, which has not been updated since January, and your Twitter and LinkedIn profiles. I definitely would recommend updating your “firstnamelastname.com” author site so that it pushes traffic over to your intended destination (which is your business site, I later learned). That would count as another “loose end.” Also, you have a FeedBurner email signup on that, whereas it would be better if you had a true mailing list signup that you have on your main site. FeedBurner is only to be used for the purpose of delivering your feed. In email form, it only delivers posts, and since you’re not posting to that site anymore, the people who signed up for that list are just sitting there.
I notice that you mention Twitter in your LinkedIn profile, which is fine, though ultimately, you are trying to build up your email database of users/ fans with whom you can form a relationship as their trusted advisor, and naming a secondary source like Twitter in an already secondary source like LinkedIn is not idea.. I went over to your Twitter, which sent me to your business’ site (not your author site), I noticed that you have several places where you might be losing visitors, including a “Contact Us” form where you don’t give people a chance to sign up for that list.
Next: the list itself. I signed up for it, went through Mailchimp’s double opt-in process, then did not receive a “Welcome” email from you personally. That should be programmed right into the autoresponder for when people sign up. This is why, if you’re building a list for a business, I would use a paid list-building service, like SendReach, Campaign Monitor, or GetResponse. None of these three services require that double opt-in, which means you can connect with the user more quickly and efficiently. Plus, MailChimp needs to be backed up more frequently, and they will absolutely ban you if you let that list go dormant, then decide to email them one day. If enough of them have forgotten about you and report you as spam, MailChimp has no problem banning you.
Next: you give away free stuff on your site, but you don’t require an opt-in. Again, your ultimate goal is to build up your list of people who want to buy things from you, so I would not recommend giving things away for free unless you get someone’s email address in exchange for that.
Bottom line: I think this network needs to be tightened up before you’re ready for a publicist. A good publicist can run you upwards of $5,000/ month, and you don’t want to be putting that kind of money into a machine that is not yet optimized to capture and retain the maximum amount of people. I don’t know when your book comes out, but the success of that book is going to be directly related to the amount of people on your list and the relationship you have built with them. Once you get a surge of people buying the book, as long as it is categorized and tagged properly, it will pop to the top of one or more bestseller lists, and that is when Amazon takes notice and starts doing advertising for you.
Overall, I would say that this network is ALMOST ready for a publicist. You have a good foundation in place, but before you pay someone for publicity, I would just make sure that you are able to capture every lead that comes from that publicity.