We have put together this basic information sheet to demystify the process of
book publicity for our authors. It is designed to empower authors with some
general knowledge of Chicago Review Press’s approach, to maximize your
opportunities for working productively with our publicists, and to minimize
misunderstandings and disappointment. Please remember that Chicago Review
Press has had more than 20 years of experience in publicizing books
successfully to many different media. You can rely on us to know what general
approaches will work best for your book.
The purpose of publicity is to generate sales, not simply to draw media
attention to authors. We direct all of our publicity efforts to maximize
sales. Publicity is an integral part of our marketing department and our
publicity efforts are always coordinated with other aspects of that
department such as sales and advertising. But do not confuse the job of the
publicist with that of the sales manager. Where sales targets bookstore
buyers and consumers, publicity targets reviewers who can influence their
audiences and thereby generate customers for the book. The publicist makes no
attempt to sell books directly, but instead tries to garner attention and
reviews in three major areas: print media, radio, and television.
The following schedules or time frames are approximate and often vary from
title to title. Our senior publicist, Kathy Mirkin, and her associate, Adam
Miller, know very well that flexibility and creativity are the keys to an
effective publicity plan and that books are not widgets, but are as unique
and diverse as the individuals who write them.
How Will My Book Be Publicized?
A couple of months before your book is due in our warehouse, the publicist
will read the final manuscript, begin researching publicity outlets, and put
together a special mailing list for the new title. It is premature to call
and schedule meetings with the publicist or to expect a detailed plan before
this time. Commonly the publicist will call you a few weeks before the book
is due at our warehouse to introduce herself and to have a preliminary
discussion about the book and the publicity campaign.
Phase 1: Print Media
Anywhere from one to three months before the book is due at our warehouse,
the publicist will have approximately 20 advance publicity copies, or bound
galleys, made up from uncorrected typeset pages of the manuscript. These
galleys are sent to particular editors at the top places in the book industry
for advance reviews: Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, and the
major newspapers. These editors choose to review the book or not, and
generally request that no follow-up be made.
At about the same time that your book is due at our warehouse, the publicist
prepares the basic press kit, which includes a press release, an author bio,
and a copy of the book. These kits are highly individualized and more material
is added as it becomes available. Some press kits headed for more marginal
reviewers will include a coupon for the book rather than an actual copy of
the book, allowing us to send out many more notices than we might otherwise
be able to send. Press kits go out as soon as the book is in our warehouse,
but never before then, in hopes of generating feature articles, magazine
excerpts, and author interviews in print. There is no point in publicizing a
book to the general public before it is available in bookstores. This is
particularly true for radio and television interviews, which generate quick
responses and impulse buying. Adam Miller will be sure to send you a copy of
each review we receive for your book.
The author owns the first serial rights for the book, meaning that you can
send your final manuscript or some portion of it to the magazines of your
choice for the printing of an excerpt. You are entitled to keep all the money
you receive from these early, prepublication excerpts of your book. Please
let us know about any results from your efforts to sell first serial rights.
Once we have published the book and it is in our warehouse, then the book is
available for second serial rights. Any proceeds from second serial rights
are split 50/50 between the author and the publisher. Some books are
excellent candidates for excerpting and the publicist may make an offer to
magazines, newspapers, or journals for those rights.
Phase 2: Radio and Television
Naturally, every author hopes to get on Oprah, but not every book is
appropriate for television or radio. We explore these opportunities for all
of our titles and direct our attention to realistic possibilities. Generally,
this second phase takes place about a month or two after the books are
available in stores and reviews have started coming in. It is important to
have some good reviews in before we approach radio and television. If we get
some favorable reviews early then this phase may take place simultaneously
with the print media approach. It is, however, essential that books be
available in stores before anything is booked for radio or television.
An expanded press kit is put together for this type of media that may include
an author photo, related articles, sample questions for interviewers,
suggestions for a show, a gimmick (like a box of Cracker Jacks for a book on
baseball), and any positive reviews. This expanded press kit is not limited
to radio and television and may be prepared for print media depending upon
the project and what materials we have available.
These are the most publicized and most overrated events in the publishing
industry. Authors and bookstore managers are more often than not disappointed
with the turnout at a book signing. So are publishers, who pay for
invitations, refreshments, and sometimes even bookstore space, and then do
not recoup their expenditures. Unless you are Madonna or Stephen King, you
are not likely to gather a crowd or sell many books. For the first-time
author of a nonfiction book, a signing can be a letdown and result in very
few sales. Consequently, it is not our standard practice to arrange book
signings for authors.
That said, authors who have the desire to set up their own signings at local
bookstores are welcome to do so. There are some instances when this is
especially appropriate, for example, when an author is well-known in the
specialized community their book is written for and there is some sort of
major gathering already scheduled for the group. Or an author may have a
favorite local bookstore and a personal contact there. Or an author of a
children’s activity book might arrange with their local children’s bookstore
or children’s museum a special program to demonstrate activities with kids.
Signings should be scheduled when you have confirmed that books have been in
our warehouse for at least three weeks. This allows time for us to ship the
books, and for stores to inventory, unpack, and shelve them. Please inform
Rob Taylor, our marketing assistant, of any signings that you arrange, so
that he can follow up with the bookstore or shop and make sure that they have
enough books available. We may also want to contact the local press.
Book Release Parties
A book release party for the book industry or the general public is
expensive, doesn’t sell many books, and usually doesn’t garner publicity.
Consequently, Chicago Review Press does not as a standard practice host book
release parties. We encourage authors to host their own book release party
for family and friends. Let us know if we can be of any assistance in
providing you with books to sell. There are some exceptions to this general
rule, so feel free to discuss this matter with the publicist about a month
prior to the book’s release. It may be mutually beneficial to have a book
release party if the author is in town and is well-known within a particular
After the First Year of Publication
An important feature of Chicago Review Press is our emphasis on selling our
backlist titles. (Books go into the backlist of our catalog after they have
been featured for a whole season as new books.) This means that after the
initial publicity campaign is over, we continue to publicize and promote your
book as new opportunities arise. This is especially true if the book is
selling well and our publicity efforts are paying off. For example, we
present our gardening books each spring, our family travel books as each
summer vacation looms ahead, and our sports books as each sports season
begins. A book that is particularly appropriate for a holiday such as
Father’s Day or Valentine’s Day will also be presented again at that time.
The potential for these reviews is determined by our publicists. Note that
not every book will make a perfect Christmas gift. Also, after the initial
publicity campaign is over, be prepared to be patient, as the publicist may
not be as readily available to respond to your publicity ideas at that time
due to other priorities.
What Can I Do to Help Publicize My Book?
1) Provide your editor with a completed author questionnaire (copy enclosed).
It is best to fill this in when you are near to finishing the book because
many ideas will come to you as you do your research. Keep a copy of your
completed author questionnaire so that you can send in a letter with any
updated information at a later date. This questionnaire is the marketing
department’s primary tool for writing catalog copy and any leads that you
give us here will be the first ones we look to in marketing and publicizing
2) Once the book is written and in production, it is time for you to gather
information and materials to help the publicist. Know that the publicist will
have done his or her own research and will be aware of all the major
magazines, newspapers, and other media outlets. You can assist the publicist
by putting together a list of any of the following:
- Newsletters, journals, and magazines that specialize in the topic of your
- Important articles on the subject written within the last year
- Any radio shows or cable shows that specifically feature your topic
- A list with addresses and phone numbers of famous people or people with
credentials you know (or wish you knew) who might be interested in giving us
- blurb for the back of the book or to use on press releases
- Any personal contacts you might have in radio, television, or print media
- Suggested news “hooks” or story angles to grab media interest
- A professional-looking author photo
- Information on your past experience, if any, doing media interviews
Gather this all together in one package to send to the publicist. Do not
phone these in or send them piecemeal, unless it is urgent. To maximize the
time our publicist has to publicize your book, please limit your phone calls
to no more than one per week.
3) If you live outside Chicago, please let the publicist know well in advance
if you are coming to town. Also, let the publicist know of your travel plans
in the first year after publication. Be sure to provide an address and phone
number for where you can be reached in case any publicity opportunities
arise. This is especially important because some radio and TV shows will only
consider having a guest if they happen to be in town and there are no travel
4) Feel free to arrange your own book signings and book release party. Let us
know in advance and we will do what we can to make this a success for you.
5) Let your local library know about you and your book. They may have a
special display for local authors or want to have you come to speak on your
6) Most importantly, enjoy being a published author. Go into bookstores and
turn your book face out. Brag about your book to strangers. Send family and
friends into bookstores to request a copy of your book, rather than give away
one of your precious copies.