Indie Author as Book Publicist

I belong to a group that features indie authors, so I blog about those indie authors and they blog about me.  This is a delightful way for promoting your books and yourself but I’m seeing a trend – indie authors that have no clue about being a book publicist or how to handle their own publicity.  So let me say right here, if you want to sell books, you have to become your own book publicist (unless you want to hire one).  But as a book publicist, what are you doing?  Do you have any idea what being a book publicist entails?  This is another golden opportunity that the indie author is missing.

Book Publicist – What Does This Mean?

A publicist, in its purest definition, is someone who manages the perception of a person.  We tend to think of a celebrity getting caught doing something bad, and the publicist handles the media and so on.  But the other reality is for promotion, and this is where many indie authors are missing the boat.  You have to be your own book publicist.  The typical indie author is doing all of his/her own book promotion, so you are handling what the public thinks about you, as an author.  So let me ask – what are you doing to develop your public persona and perception?  Are you taking advantage of this platform to promote your books and yourself?

Book Publicist – What Do You Know About It?

I’m sure some of you are saying, Right Renee, what do you know about being a book publicist?  Years ago, I went to a writer’s conference where a book publicist was giving a talk about book publicity and she told a story about Jim Caviezel.  Her story had such a great impact on me that I remember it to this day and implement what I learned from her whenever and wherever I can.  I’ll get to her story shortly, but I want to pose a few thoughts for you to think about.

Book Publicist – How You Shape a Reader’s Perception of You AND Your Books

Your blog, website, Facebook fan page, Twitter account and so on are reflections not only of you, but of your writing as well.  Your blog and website should be written well, spell-checked and so on.  I am an author of crime fiction, mystery series, and horror books.  I try very hard to let my readers know this, and I do all I can to make a great impression with my readers everywhere I have the opportunity to do so.  This may seem basic, but let me give you an example of where authors aren’t reflecting the best of themselves and their writing.

When I first started my blog and my own promotion, I looked for others who wanted to interview me.  And I made a rookie mistake.  I assumed that all indie authors were professional.  Now, before you take issue with the word professional or think that I’m trying to insult people, all I mean is that many indie authors don’t treat their writing and their book promotion as a business.  They don’t understand that to sell books, you have to do more than just write a great book.  You have to put your best writing out there, always and everywhere.  This includes your fan pages, website and of course, your blog.

Anyway, back to my example.  Another blog posted an interview of me.  The blog owner had me answer some questions and I typed them up in an email without capitalizing sentences, and I used some incomplete sentences as well.  Again, rookie mistake on my part because I assumed that the blog owner would take my answers, write the blog from there, capitalize things and so on.  Instead, this indie author just copied and pasted my answers.  Some of you may say what’s the big deal?

Here’s the big deal.  The blog post didn’t look that good.  Well, it’s your fault Renee.  That is true, and believe me, I’ve learned my lesson.  But, that author should recognize that the blog is a reflection on him and his writing.  It behooves him to make sure the blog looks nice.  Believe me, something like a poorly written post will turn readers away from him and his books.  I could use the excuse that I was in a hurry, but that’s just another rookie mistake (take the time to do it right or don’t do it at all).  Sure, sometimes things slip through.  You should try not to let them.

Book Publicist – You Have To Hook People In

Remember, we’re in the indie author explosion, where millions of books are published every year, thousands every day.  Very few people are going to just find you, at least not at first.  Promoting your books is hard work, and you as the indie author have very few chances to make a great impression.  You have to hook your readers as fast as you can so they want to know more about you AND your books.  Now back to that story from the book publicist at the writer’s conference.

The actor Jim Caviezel was being interviewed about playing Jesus in The Passion of the Christ.  The interviewer asked Caviezel how old he was.  Now here’s the interesting part.  Caviezel could’ve said, I’m 33 years old.  True answer, but kind of boring.  Instead, he said, Before I answer that, I want to tell you a story.  Caviezel then discussed his audition for the role of Christ with Mel Gibson (the director of The Passion).  Gibson said that Caviezel should be prepared to endure a lot physically in his role as Christ.  Gibson wanted Caviezel to truly embody the role of Christ, and by heaping abuse on Caviezel, it would make the role more realistic.  Caviezel went on to say that the role was indeed demanding and bruising on him physically and emotionally.  He ended by saying that Christ endured all that abuse and more when he was crucified, and that Christ was 33 years old when he was crucified.  Then Caviezel said, And I was 33 years old when I played Christ in The Passion.

That’s knowing how to answer a question!  Do you see how much more impact Caviezel’s answer is with the story behind it?  It sticks with me after all these years.  And that’s what you want to instill in your reader.  When you’re asked about yourself or your books, or you do an interview, you have a choice: you can be bland in your answers, or you can leave your readers with a powerful impression of you, and thus your writing.

Book Publicist – You Can’t Afford To Be Shy

When I’m interviewed, I try to take even the most basic answers and give them some zip.  If there’s a way to put something in about my books, I do.  I try to be creative when answering questions so that the readers will remember me and my books.  Here’s an example.  I’ve been asked about who is my favorite author or what’s my favorite book.  That’s hard to answer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it creative.  Instead of saying, I don’t have one or none, why not say, That’s difficult for me to answer because I have so many favorites, but I’m partial to Rex Stout’s books.  I love the way Archie Goodwin is a smart-ass with Nero Wolfe and I’ve tried to emulate that in my Reed Ferguson mystery series.  See what I did?  I left a positive (I hope) impression and I put in a quick blurb about my own books.

I’m not perfect at this.  I continually find myself thinking, Oh I should’ve said this.  But I’m aware of the opportunities and I try to take advantage of them.

I’ve taken the time to learn about promoting myself, and I work continually to educate myself on how to become a book publicist.  I’m constantly reading about how to shape an impression of me and my books.  I encourage you to do the same and we can all end up on the bestseller lists :)

Speaking of the bestseller lists, Nephilim Genesis of Evil is climbing the Amazon charts.  Click here to see what others are saying.

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Image: pixtawan /

About Renée Pawlish

Award-winning author Renée Pawlish writes the bestselling horror book, Nephilim Genesis of Evil, the Reed Ferguson mystery series, short stories and non-fiction ghost stories.
This entry was posted in Indie Author Handbook, Promoting Your Books. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Indie Author as Book Publicist

  1. J.C. Martin says:

    Another great post! I’m really enjoying your indie author series, Renee! Thank you for sharing! I think I struggle the most with this. Being a far from glib person when it comes to conversations, I can’t imagine being able to dream up such creative answers on the spot during an interview!

    • ReneePawlish says:

      Many thanks! What you struggle with is not uncommon for authors – we like to sit in our niche and write, not be social. What might help is to think of some common questions and prep your answers ahead of time, and even rehearse them. That’s what the publicist thinks that Caviezel did. I have an elevator speech (what you would say to someone in an elevator when you have ten seconds) for each book, and my writing in general…hm…maybe I should do a post on that.

  2. Argh – I can imagine how it must have felt to see your rough answers posted for all the world to see. An author’s worst nightmare is being exposed in public for bad spelling and grammar ;-).

    • ReneePawlish says:

      Yeah, but I own that completely – it was my fault for assuming that it would be cleaned up. I just hope people realize it’s a reflection on their blog as well. Thankfully I didn’t have any spelling errors, it was just incomplete sentences…and I’ve learned my lesson. Thanks for your comment.

  3. This was a great post with some really useful tips. It is so true that as an Indie Author or self-published author that you are going to have to put yourself out there because no one else will. It is also so very true that people will judge you based on everything you write and how you interact.

    Never miss a chance to put yourself in the best light possible is the best advice for anyone seeking to figure out how to market themselves and their work. Thanks for taking the time to post this.

    • ReneePawlish says:

      Thanks, I’m glad you found it helpful. It’s such an easy thing to miss, putting yourself in the best possible light, but it’s something to think about. Thanks for your comment.

  4. It’s always something of a surprise when I see authors posting in public forums with misspelled words and lacking basic grammar like capitalization. I’m not a grammar snob and I’m not so great at it myself, but it drives me kinda nuts when I see this kind of thing from writers! Your twitter feed is going out to thousands in some cases. I had a retweet by someone who had over 6000 followers! I’m used to a couple hundred here, a couple hundred there, but 6000. Holy crow! It matters as Rene so rightly points out. Thanks for the great post!

  5. Julie Jansen says:

    Hi Renee; I really enjoyed this post. Very informative and great information. I’m part of both the Holiday Hop and the 12 Days of Creepfest. I wish you a wonderful holiday season!


  6. Great points made in the article. Still many of the same issues today in the digital world as it was when I worked for 8 years in the book retailing world. How do lessor known authors get publicity.

    Check out our site. We provide some free options for authors to get another link in the digital world.

  7. KCarey says:

    So… Oddly enough, I’ve found that this also works for… Any business. Just the other day I was interviewing another author for my blog, and as we stopped for a bit I chatted up about myself. It wasn’t intentional, just conversation… And the end result seems to have been, not only making a friend, but also made a sale from my other business.

  8. Perhaps it is best if I type on Word, spell check and then paste? hmmm…
    Great post, thank you for the reminder!

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