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Become a Book Publicist: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a book publicist. Get an inside look at the education and experience requirements, and find out how to start a career as a public relations specialist in the book industry. View article »

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  • 0:00 Book Publicists
  • 0:46 Career Information
  • 1:54 Step 1: Earn a Degree
  • 2:54 Step 2: Participate in…
  • 3:58 Step 3: Gain Industry…

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Video Transcript

Book Publicists

Book publicists help people develop and maintain public identities. They strive to increase the popularity of clients' work by writing press releases, setting up book signing tours, scheduling interviews, and designing marketing campaigns.

Book publicists often need to work their way up through the ranks before becoming public relations specialists and should have knowledge of both PR and the book industry. Upon becoming book publicists, they can work as independent agents or on staff at larger publishing agencies. The upper-level positions often involve long business hours and overtime.

Career Information

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Public relations, business, communications, journalism, or English
Experience Experience running publicity campaigns for printed media
Key Skills Interpersonal, networking, public speaking, and writing skills; ability to work under pressure; willingness to travel; knowledge of Microsoft Office, Publicity Assistant, and Cision Point ;programs and other public relations tools
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 6% increase (for all public relations specialists); 4% increase for those in media and communications
Median Salary (2015)* $56,770 per year (for all public relations specialists)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, August 2015 job postings from Bookjobs.com, Payscale.com

Let's take a closer look at some of the steps you'll need to follow if you'd like to work as a book publicist:

Step 1: Earn a Degree

To work in the publication relations industry, you'll most likely need a minimum of a bachelor's degree, according to the BLS. An undergraduate program in public relations could include coursework in public relations writing, organizational communications, publication design, campaign management, and event planning. As we said earlier, majors like communications, journalism, and English can also provide preparation for careers in public relations.

Success Tip:

Complete a postgraduate certificate program. Not all public relations degree programs have coursework related directly to the book publishing industry. Therefore, individuals might consider obtaining a certificate in publishing or entertainment publicity. These programs include many of the same courses found in public relations degree programs, but they also feature industry-specific classes in social media marketing, celebrity recruiting, product promotions, crisis management, non-fiction writing, copy editing, and feature writing.

Step 2: Participate in an Internship

Many employers prefer book publicists with experience, usually experience in campaign management and book marketing. Aspiring professionals can gain some publicist experience by completing a public relations internship in college.

Through on-campus internships, students can learn how to organize group events, promote activities, and coordinate with vendors. Off-campus internships with established businesses allow students to build real-world skills and develop relationships with publicity firms. Successfully completing an internship can lead to full-time,entry-level employment in the public relations industry.

Success Tip:

Find related entry-level employment. Individuals who hold a bachelor's degree might qualify for some entry-level positions, such as publicist assistant. Assistants do a lot of the legwork for publicists including making phone calls, confirming tour dates, booking hotels, and traveling with authors. This direct experience can prepare workers to become associate-level publicists.

Step 3: Gain Industry Experience

Building enough experience in the publicity and print media industries can lead to a position as a professional book publicist. Advancement to senior publicist typically requires 3-5 years of experience and a proven track record of securing publicity for literary clients and media connections.

Success Tip:

Learn to use social media. Book publicists should have a thorough understanding of the internet and social media marketing techniques. As noted by the BLS, public relations specialists who can conduct social media marketing campaigns may enjoy better job opportunities.

Let's review. A book publicist is a public relations specialist who usually has a degree in public relations or a closely related field and experience promoting authors, especially through social media. Public relations specialists in general earned a median salary of $56,770 a year according to the BLS in May 2015.

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