Solid book promotion is critical in any author’s success, whether you’re getting in-house publicity or sourcing an external company or doing it on your own. In today’s publishing world, authors are expected to do more to get their names out there, grow exposure, and most of all, sell books. I have had my share of publicists over the years—from traditional in-house publicists to an external publicity firm to manage my brand across my different publishers to “buzz” publicists for specific projects. This was definitely something that I budgeted for because hiring a publicist requires an investment and a long-term strategy.
I have invited Samantha Lien, the lovely new owner of ROGER CHARLIE, here today to answer a few questions about publicity and provide some insight into what kind of services her company can provide. Be sure to check out all the information links at the end of this post!
First off, a little about Samantha (Sami):
Samantha Lien is owner of Roger Charlie, a company that specializes in publicity and management for creative professionals – particularly authors, musicians and small businesses. Through her years of experience in marketing and management for a variety of industries, she has curated an abundant network of contacts in the music and literary world, and loves working to support those who value a more personal approach through communications so that they can stay focused on their craft.
She also loves to travel, escape to her neighborhood bookstore, practice yoga at her favorite local studio, and connect with friends – old and new – especially over music. Her love of working with creative minds also extends into her personal endeavors. In 2013, she and her husband established “Songs For Jake,” a music collaboration channel designed with the simple mission of getting great songs to one really big music lover. This year, Samantha is working to expand this into a non-profit in hopes of bringing music to other individuals like her brother Jake who could benefit from accessibility to the project.
And now, on to THE INTERVIEW, where all your burning questions will be answered!
AH: Tell us a little Roger Charlie. I love the name! Is there a story behind it?
SL: Haha – yes! My grandpa’s name is actually Chuck, and it was kind of an homage to his days in the military. “Roger that, Charlie! We’ll get things done!”
AH: Give me the 30-second pitch. Who are you and why should I hire you?
SL: I specialize in publicity and management for creative professionals – particularly musicians, small businesses and authors. I really value a distinctly personal approach in promotion, and love working with those who feel the same way! I love working with those who are passionate about what they do and truly believe that success abounds when everyone involved has a positive attitude and is willing to think outside of the box to promote their book.
AH: I’ve worked with you in the past while you were a publicist elsewhere. What made you want to strike out on your own and what makes Roger Charlie different from other options out there?
SL: I was with my prior firm for almost four years, and they are wonderful! I still recommend them to authors, because they really are cream of the crop and can offer more full-scale campaigns for those looking for a really broad, expansive campaign that covers all the bases.
For me, it really came down to wanting to branch out on my own so I could further expand from working in the literary world to also offering publicity for two really big passions of mine – music and small business. I’ve gained so much experience in a variety of promotions to know what works, what doesn’t, and where time is best spent to really streamline efforts and make the most of publicity dollars. I’m also not afraid to go after something new if I think it will really benefit my client. I want to make sure I can be of best service (and offer an affordable price) to those who need and want to promote their talents.
AH: Roger Charlie manages different avenues of publicity—musicians, small business, and authors. Let’s talk book publicity. What exactly does a book publicist do and why should I hire one? Can’t I do publicity on my own?
SL: Just as an author’s time is spent pouring their creative ideas and stories onto blank pages to deliver a great read for all of us book-lovers, a book publicist makes it their full time job to craft quality pitches and relevant angles to appeal to an audience best-suited for an author’s hard work and creation. This also includes developing and managing relationships with influential media, bloggers, bookstores and other organizations who help share the story, and constantly evolving with the changing industry to make sure you are seen!
While some authors are really a natural at marketing themselves (you included, Amalie!), I’ve spoken with several others who say it’s so easy to promote someone else’s content, but they have an extremely difficult time doing that for themselves. I think the old adage is true that “it takes a village” and I hate to see someone with creative talents get burnt out on doing all of the marketing on their own when they can hire someone like me so they can stay focused on what they really love.
AH: Thanks! I’ve had varying degrees of success with book publicists in the past. What kind of authors should use your services? Do you take on both traditional and self-published clients?
SL: I invite authors in all genres to be in touch! I’ve worked with both types of clients, and have services that would benefit both traditional and self-published authors. To get an idea, please visit my website for endorsements of current and previously clients with whom I’ve worked at my last firm.
AH: What should someone look for in a publicity firm? Does size matter?
SL: I think it’s so important to shop around and find someone that’s a best fit for you and your promotional goals. Publicity is really a team effort, and you’ll want to make sure you’re comfortable with whomever you choose to work. There are a lot of things you should consider when hiring, but I think the four most crucial points would be:
- How quickly does the firm get back to you over email/phone? Chances are, it’s a good indication of the attention they will give to you in your working relationship.
- Are they honest and straight-forward about managing your goals/expectations? This one is important, because if someone is promising impossibly huge things on the front without the credentials to back it up, be wary. I can’t stress enough that publicity is never a guarantee. While we all have great contacts and relationships, it’s never 100% given something will come through, though we will always try our best!
- Does the publicist want to read your book/review your music? Chances are you want to work with someone who actually knows and supports your product.
- Are they flexible? Creative industries are constantly changing, and you want someone that will move and change with them. If you’re not happy with results from a particular project, it may be time to shift in another direction. While it’s important to trust the expert, I’ll also stress again that this is a team effort, and one of the end goals is to make sure both parties are happy with results at the end of the campaign.
AH: So for those who are traditionally published, will your efforts complement the publicity efforts of the publishing houses? How does that work?
SL: Yes, that’s all a conversation to be had at the beginning of your time together. Generally, if an author is traditionally published, it’s as simple as being put in touch with their in-house team so that you can collaborate and communicate regularly to be sure you’re not duplicating efforts and working together efficiently. It’s important to stay organized and make sure you’re not over-harassing contacts that will ultimately be the ones to share your story! 😉
AH: Do you take your author’s ideas on board? How much involvement do you expect from your clients to maximize the partnership?
SL: I definitely do – and love when someone brings direction and fresh ideas to the table! Dream big, right? The worst answer you can get is a ‘no’. That being said, I also think it’s important to manage expectations up front so there aren’t any misguided assumptions about the campaign.
As far as involvement – make sure your publicist has the materials and information they need to effectively promote their book. If they e-mail or call you with a question to help form a pitch, definitely jump in! In the end, you’re going to know your book best, and I always want to make sure I’m incorporating your thoughts into communicating your story.
AH: How far in advance of publication do you recommend starting PR efforts, and when is the best time to start working with a book publicist?
SL: Generally, 3-4 months lead time to launch date is best. It gives a publicist time to do the legwork to create pitch lists, contact those people and follow-up several times so that coverage and events roll-out right around your launch date. Of course, this is different if you already have a book published (within the last year) and you are releasing the title, pushing it out again because of a national story that ties nicely into the story, or you have a business where your book would be a good selling point. In that case, any time to start is just fine!
AH: Who are some of your clients?
SL: I’m just getting started right now, but currently I am working with two bands out of Denver, a booking agency for music, a social media management company that specializes in content creation for authors and three authors in a variety of genres, including mystery, sci-fi / urban fantasy and romance.
AH: If I’m on a tight budget, can I still work with you?
SL: I think it’s always worth the conversation! I have a variety of different promotions that are beneficial on their own or in tandem with other offerings. Just get in touch and we can chat – I believe my pricing is very reasonable in the realm of publicity & management and if Roger Charlie isn’t the best fit for you, I work with other wonderful partners in the industry that I can recommend you to if you’re looking for something more large or small scale.
Thank you for your time! Please check out Roger Charlie’s website and feel free to contact Sami directly if you have any questions at Sam@RogerCharlie.com.