Public Relations for Authors

There is a difference between your marketing plan and your public relations plan. When you are an author, marketing focuses more on your target audience, what your fans want to read, how to locate and sell to those fans. PR is focused on building relationships, networking, getting you next to agents and publishers. 

I look at it this way. Marketing concentrates on the overall plan. Public Relations concentrates on the details of that plan. 

Also, the goal of marketing is to help build your audience and sell books. In short, marketing helps you make money. Public Relations supports marketing by saving you expenses, along with time/effort, so you can productively sell those books and build that audience.

 There are two great questions you should ask, when thinking about PR:  

  1. How do I want to be perceived by readers, agents, and publishers?
  2. How do I build toward that perception? 

In my four keys to having a career as an author, (Read, write, market, publish) I never mention public relations. Why? Because PR is for authors with experience. If you hire a PR firm before you are ready, then you will throw money down the drain. 

Think of these factors when deciding if you are ready to invest in PR: 

  • You have written more than five books.
  • You have networked with others in the publishing industry, or at least made a few contacts.
  • You have done at least some public speaking.
  • You have started your marketing plan. (Web site, social media, and at least a few media contacts or event planning, promotions, paper marketing, etc…)
  • You are reading everyday, without missing.
  • You have a solid grasp on both storytelling and the mechanics of writing.
  • You understand the publishing industry well enough and will not need to be educated. 

If you are traditionally published and have yet to hire a PR firm, then stop reading this blog and do that immediately. 

What are you looking for in a PR firm? Here are some overall thoughts: 

  • Readers knowing that you are a talented and experienced author. (As opposed to readers knowing of you, but not really sure about you. PR will help build that relationship.)
  • Readers, media, and those in the publishing industry, being loyal to you. In fact, you are credible (and incredible) author. (Again, relationship building.)
  • You are a good investment for publishers. (Is it worth spending $50,000 on you?)
  • You are the next great author in your genre.
  • 120-day, public relations plan that coincides with your marketing plan.
  • Primary target areas for you to concentrate on. (Your marketing plan will develop the primary target audience. The PR firm will reach that audience.)
  • Consulting. (Not teaching, but rather advice on the best plan for you and areas you need to get better.)
  • Media and interview coaching, along with “angles” on how to generate interest. (If you do not listen to others well, or cannot take advice, then your PR firm will lose interest.)
  • Research. (A PR firm will always be looking for the latest trends in publishing, media, and your genre, in order to find ways to “hook” the audience.)
  • Media Kit. (Author bio, head-shot, book images, information for press release, pitch letter, calendar of your events, Q&A, media alerts, and for smaller media outlets, the PR firm will create a “news story” that can be used.)
  • Media Management. (The PR firm will try to get you on radio programs, speaking at the Rotary Club, getting you interviews in the publishing magazines, etc…)
  • And most of all, “Put you in the position to succeed.” (This means that with your effort, along with your talent and your marketing plan, a PR firm will do their best to make sure you are in the right place at the right time. The rest is up to you.)
  • Oh, one more thing. If you are involved in a scandal, then a PR firm will initiate their crisis management plan and save your butt. 

What a PR firm expects from you: 

  • To listen.
  • To improve your talents, not just in writing, but in all aspects of being in the public eye.
  • To listen.
  • Follow through with all plans.
  • To pay the PR firm their fee.
  • To answer all their questions honestly.
  • And most of all, you need to listen.  

None of this matters unless you are able to excel as an author. A Public Relations firm will not teach you the basics of the industry. (Neither will agents, publishers, or marketing firms.) If you excel, a PR firm will get you recognized. If you fail, the PR firm will fail. 

How much should you pay a PR firm? To get you started on all the above, I would pay around $1,500. (Most PR firms will work out a four month payment plan.) Then, every four months your fee will increase. Nevertheless, your popularity is increasing as well. Which means your marketing plan is working to perfection. Which means that you are making more money! 

Being an author is certainly about the love of writing, but at some point, you need to pay the bills. Having a marketing and public relations plan working together, along with your determination and patience, will “Put you in the position to succeed.” 

I recommend Lynelle Mays of Mays PR. Lynelle is one of the nicest people I ever worked with. And she runs the author plan like a political campaign, which I think is a unique and influential method. 

If you are not sure if should hire a PR firm, contact me and I’ll give you my honest opinion. If you are ready…then your world is about to change. 

Ron Knight  

Literary Manager: Melissa Link of Brand Eleven-Eleven


Publicist: Lynnelle Mays of Mays PR



Ron Knight

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  1. Thanks Ron for the recommendation and discussing the heart-and-soul of public relations. I believe in executing a PR plan that’s tailored to the goals and needs of each individual client. That means I am persistent and meticulous in making authors more successful in reaching their target audience and achieving their overall marketing goals. It also means an author understands the products he/she is promoting – books, camps, Web sites, merchandise, speech topics, etc. Those dual dynamics create a great working relationship! I’m looking forward to teaming up with anyone you send my way.