Literary Publicity: An Interview with Julie Schoerke, Part 3

Part 3 of my ongoing interview with the amazing Julie Schoerke, the founder of JKS Communications, sharing her thoughts on the ins and outs of book promotion and literary publicity. For the Bloodspell campaign, Julie and her team secured television (CBSLMC-TV) and radio coverage (B96 FM99.5 WYCD), traditional print coverage (The Journal NewsWestchester Magazine), broad online coverage (SeventeenPortland Book Review, and numerous blogs) as well as scheduled tons of in-person appearances at bookstores, conventions (BEART Booklovers), and educational institutions (Poudre High SchoolCSULIC YMCA) during my 10-city national book tour.

INTERVIEW WITH JULIE SCHOERKE – PART 3

AH: What results do you consider particularly successful from a publicity campaign? Or a better yet, what kind of results are reasonable to expect?

JS: This may come as a surprise to first time authors…

By the numbers:

  • - Less than 10% of all books published have ever sold 1,000 copies
  • - There are more than 800,000 titles published each year in the US alone
  • - 2,500 books in some genres such as poetry and short-story are considered successful
  • - 3,500 copies of hardcover will often assure that the book is considered viable to go to soft cover
  • - 5,000 copies and you may well get a second book deal from your publisher
  • - 7,500 copies and you most likely will get a second book deal and your publisher has broken even or made money on your book – assuming that you are a typical first-time author with very little publicity or marketing support from your publisher

The success depends upon the author’s goals. There are lots of ways to look at benchmarks, but some ways to consider if it’s been a successful campaign include:

  • - How many books have been sold (obviously – but the most successful books, of course, take off and sell for years and years)?
  • - Are reviews positive (a publicist can’t control whether they are positive or not, but of course that’s what you want)?
  • - How much time on tv or radio or space in publications did you get and would it cost to have paid for through advertising?
  • - How many hits are you getting to your website after making appearances?
  • - Are you getting additional invitations and follow-up communication after making appearances, etc.?
  • - In the case of some authors, they are wanting the book to build a platform for their message – so their considerations may be, are they getting contracts for paid speaking gigs, etc.

What author doesn’t check their Amazon ratings? No one knows exactly how they are calculated, but that’s a bellwether for whether or not your book is getting traction based on whether your “ranking” is going up or down.

AH: Wow, those are some very interesting numbers! Even though they are constantly shifting, it’s important to have that reality check. I think those benchmarks are pretty spot on as well. Thank you for sharing those with us. So tell me, Julie, who are some of the authors you’ve represented?

JS: We love all of the authors we’ve represented! Obviously we’ve represented the Fabulous Ms. A – you! In the YA genre, we’re representing currently:

  • - Emily Beaver Slipping Reality (2011 – novel written by a 14-year-old)
  • - Margie Gelbwasser Pieces of Us (Spring 2012)
  • - Shannon Greenland The Summer My Life Began (Spring, 2012)
  • - Karyn Henley Eye of the Sword (Spring, 2012)
  • - Cheryl Rainfield Scars and Hunted (December, 2011)
  • - J.R. Wagner Exiled (Spring, 2012)

For a complete list of our authors in all genres with photos of their jacket covers and links to their websites, please visit: http://www.jkscommunications.com/clients/

AH: Great list! So let’s talk finances. If I’m on a tight budget, can I still work with you?

JS: Yes, usually. We try to work with authors to get them what they need to hit their goals within their budgets. Publicity isn’t cheap, though, because it’s very time-consuming. Our firm tries to give back to the literary community and be a good citizen. That includes JKSCommunications doing two complete pro-bono publicity campaigns each year. The two for 2012 have already been selected and are currently underway.

We also believe in being supportive of emerging writers. I spend time talking to authors individually about what they can do to help themselves if they don’t have a budget. I’ve done on-line interviews about this. And I speak throughout the country throughout the year on this topic at various book festivals and industry events.

We work with authors in almost every state in the US and in the past year have represented authors in four foreign countries.

My advice to new authors: take a portion of your advance and put it aside to cover publicity, hiring a firm, travel expenses, some printing costs and possibly some advertising or marketing, and promotional items for contests, etc. You are investing in your future. If you want to have a career as an author, your first book’s sales has a lot to do with getting a second and third-book deal.

AH: When we spoke in person, I immediately knew that you were “the one.” We had that spark, and everyone knows that any PR is based on igniting fire about something. Besides going with my gut, I also know that checking references, evaluating niche expertise, and getting word-of-mouth referrals are key. Are there any other last pieces of advice for authors out there looking for fabulous book publicists?

JS: As usual, Amalie, you’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head. As soon as I spoke with you I knew that I really, really wanted to work with you – after I read your manuscript, I knew that we had to work with you. There was that spark! I encourage everybody to take his/her time to find the right fit based on all of your advice above!

Thank you so much for this opportunity to stop by and chat! I hope that everyone who reads your blog has read Bloodspell and follows you on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Not just because you’re hysterically entertaining and funny, but because you have a keen sense of promoting your novel while being an engaged and valuable part of the literary community and everyone can learn from watching and following you.

Julie, thank you so much for your time, and for your insightful and detailed answers. I’m sure that aspiring writers and published authors alike will find this information incredibly useful, especially when thinking about book promotion. Thanks also for making me feel like a million bucks when this interview was about you. The hallmark of a truly talented publicist–always looking out for the client. Love that! On a personal note, I’d like to add that my experience with JKS is still ongoing. Although I am no longer technically a client, the entire team supports me as if I still am (retweeting my tweets, answering my questions, fielding fan requests), and to me, that says a lot about the kind of firm they are. To them, you’re not just a client … you’re a whole lot more.

For more information on JKS Communications, please visit their website by clicking the link or emailing them at info@jkscommunications.com. You can also find additional information on Publisher’s Marketplace.

Click here for PART 1 of this interview.

Click here for PART 2 of this interview.

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