Wow. That's a lot of money. To be frank, I'm a little worried for you. I have never used a publicist or agent, but I also haven't sold $9,000 worth of books (though I'm getting up there). My biggest advice would be to ask for proof that he's done this for other people. Who has he made moderately rich and famous with his services? Ask for some success stories and some references that you can contact. Otherwise, it just feels like this could be a really expensive lesson.
Here are some ways you can ask people to support you and help make this book successful without spending any of their own money.
You have such a big following here that I would hope you could get some big responses along these lines even for people who can't donate cash. People who want to help can:
~ Sign onto Goodreads
and make an account. Once there, either rate the book, better yet review the book, and possibly add the book to lists so people will see it when they're looking for related books (click on lists, and then search for topics like permaculture, etc.). It's also helpful to friend people there, because the more friends you have, the more people will see the books you've rated. That's not nearly as important as just getting the numbers up there and getting good quality reviews up there.
~ Ask your library to carry the book.
~ Post on social media about the book, with a direct link to it.
~ Review the book on Amazon.
~ Recommend the book to groups, websites, etc. with similar values. Always post a link when you do so. People are lazy. :)
~ If you can't buy the book but buy anything else on Amazon, click through one of Paul's links so he gets a commission and support him that way.
~ Share social media posts about the book. If you're on Twitter, Facebook, and especially FB groups about related topics, post about it. Also forward posts/ads about it.
Here's where a good social media post can really help. You can make them for free on Canva
. There are templates and graphics to make it easy. Here's an example of a social media post that I made last week for a children's nature poetry book I just published with one of my children (she did the art).
Then ask people to share it, and share it yourself anywhere like-minded folks hang out. Be sure the post has relevant information and a call to action ("please share!" or "Ask your library to carry it!" and so on), with a link to buy the book (make it an affiliate link and say so, to increase profits). (Here's
the post and what I wrote to accompany it on my author page).
You may also want to look into offering your book for review at NetGalley
, where librarians, bloggers, booksellers and other reviewers access ARCs (advanced reader copies) for free in exchange for reviewing them on the site and on sites like book blogs, Goodreads and Amazon. That's also how many librarians and booksellers find out about new titles to order. NetGalley has become a rather important way of promoting books in today's market. It costs more money than I'm willing to pay ($400 or $500 maybe?) but at the scale you're looking to sell at, it could be a good move. That's probably one of the routes your publicist is planning on going.
I have never paid for advertising, but that could also be helpful for the numbers you want. Sponsored books on Amazon seem to do well and start at a very low cost. The way it works is that it suggests it to people who search for similar books or search words.
I have never used a publicist or agent and have only used word of mouth and this sort of thing but I have sold quite a few books (my elderberry book is by far the best seller, though my acorn foraging book and nature study books also do fairly well). Part of that also is because I do a lot to help people online for free with my free nature magazine, foraging help, blogs, etc. and so people tend to want to support me. You have that going in spades, which can really help. I realize you are looking for much bigger numbers of sales than my little books, but I hope that's some help. I would be happy to create a social media post like mine for you at no charge if you want to email me and give me a basic outline of what you'd want on it. I believe strongly in helping others for free, which is probably why I am not the type to hire a publicist and balk at anybody charging you that much. :) It may be a smart move, but I wouldn't count out word of mouth and karma in helping to bring good sales your way at much less cost.
Good luck either way!