More people than ever are self-publishing books, and many are finding success. But if you're a writer going it on your own, many areas like book promotion that a publisher would handle now fall to you. In some ways, it's an opportunity as much as a responsibility because you can steer your publicity toward target readers in the way you feel best. It's also important to remember that implementing successful book PR campaigns is a full-time job. If you can't devote 100-percent of your time to it, hiring a professional publicist to help is the wisest thing. They can work according to your wishes in the media outreach.
It's also crucial to point out that blogs, social media, podcasts, and other online vehicles present many book promotion opportunities. But traditional media coverage remains the gold standard for most books and authors – and anything that appears on TV or a traditional print brand ends up online. Most publicists can help with all of the above but have a unique ability to pitch the media and ern your coverage. A certain cachet comes with being interviewed on TV or written up by a famous print brand (magazine, newspaper) that nothing online replaces. It confers stature in your book.
You'll be working closely with a publicist for four to six weeks after your book launch and for some time before during the planning stages. Therefore, personalities are important, and you need someone you get along with and have an easy rapport. Even communication styles like preferences for emails versus phone calls have importance in your decision. If you like one and the PR person prefers another, it could strain the working relationship. Knowing a PR person has the experience, and past successes with books in your genre is also helpful. Even if you like someone's personality, they need the right expertise.
You'll also be able to choose between established book publicity firms with multiple staff members versus one-person operations. One advantage of a firm is that your campaign continues even if someone is out of the office because others can pick up the slack. It's less so with a one-person shop because when they're out for any reason, the phone goes unanswered. There's also the advantage of brainstorming with ideas and suggestions from more people. Even if someone is a font of ideas, others have unique points of view and suggestions they bring to the table, and some may help your book.