I wish I was magic. If I had one super power it would probably be flying or you know, selling a truckload of books. It’s funny though how often authors think that book promotion companies are magic. Yes, we know a lot of stuff – it’s our business to know. But there are limits to what a good book promotion company can do for a book. Getting reviews, getting traction on Amazon are all good things, but it takes a village and it takes an author willing to dig in and do the work. That’s the real magic.
But is there more to it than that? You bet. Let’s have a look at the 10 things book promotion companies wish authors knew:
Having a Great Book with a Bad Book Cover: Readers judge a book by its cover and so do book promotion companies. And no amount of book marketing can fix a not-so-great book cover. It’s sad when an author sends me their book and it’s fantastic but the cover is all wrong. Because no amount of book promotion in the world can fix that. If the book promotion company you’re speaking with offers insight into your cover – could it be better? I’d listen closely. I will do that if I feel a cover isn’t strong enough and, in almost every case, the author will tell me: “Yeah, I’ve heard that before.” In almost every case, a bad book cover doesn’t come as a surprise to the author. But I mention it here for another reason. Hiring a book promotion company to market your book won’t change the fact that your cover doesn’t work for your market. At the end of the day, we can set the table and drive people to your Amazon page, but we can’t force people to buy your book. Your book cover is one of multiple pieces that has to do that.
Expecting Your Book to Sell Immediately: If it’s your first book, this is especially true. Books take time and most book promotion companies will tell you the same thing. I have a friend in publishing who once called it the long runway of promotion and this statement is really true. Most books don’t take off right away, books take a lot of care and feeding. So it’s important to plan your book promotion budget and your book marketing accordingly. Don’t blow your entire marketing budget right out of the gate, and if you do – make sure you spend it in the right way, doing the right things. I’ll link to some posts about this at the end of this blog if you want to dig into this topic more!
Expecting Debut Author Fame: Even though we inherently know that there’s no such thing as an overnight success, it still feels possible. Book promotion companies know this, too. Every once in a while a unicorn is born, in that there’s a first book that does exceptionally well. But in almost every case the author has been doing stuff on their own – even if they haven’t published. They’ve probably been writing a blog, or writing for a magazine, or fine-tuning their writing skills in some other way. It’s rare that authors pop out of the proverbial womb as a blazing success. Don’t expect it. Expect to work, a lot. Even if you hire a book promotion company, you still need to put in the time and manage your own expectations.
Not Doing Anything on Your Own: Sometimes authors just don’t know what to do, and that’s fair. I mean that’s where book promotion companies can offer a lot of value. Book marketing is a different animal, but if you’re willing to learn, there’s a ton of great content out there and a lot of good people willing to teach you how to market. But expecting to hire a book promotion company to do it all for you isn’t realistic. In fact, if an author says to me that they don’t want to do anything on their own, I generally won’t work with them because that spells trouble. It’s completely acceptable to want to hire a firm to do the things you can’t, like our Amazon Optimization, or pitching the media – but there’s a lot of other things you can be doing. Even if you’re just managing your social media or blogging, that’s something and that counts.
Not Knowing Your Reader or What Your Market Likes: This is a big deal not just for book promotion companies, but for your reader, too. And it’s a sure-fire way to not sell any books. Know your reader, know your market – and know what your market wants. I sometimes talk to authors who dream of writing in a particular genre, not because they’re a fan of it, per se, but because it’s something they think they can do. Any book promotion company worth their salt will tell you: be a fan of your genre, read in your genre and especially read the reviews on Amazon. Getting a sense of what’s selling and what isn’t is so important. For example, we had an author who wrote what she thought was a paranormal romance, but it really wasn’t – not in the sense of what paranormal readers really wanted. The book, while good, wasn’t getting a lot of pickup in that market. The thing is, when she moved it to a different genre on Amazon, changed up the book description and repositioned the book, it started selling. Sometimes the fix is that easy, but other times it’s not. Know your reader, I can’t even tell you what a big deal this is to book promotion companies.
Waiting to See How the First Book Does: Sometimes an author only wants to write one book, and that’s fine. But in most cases, writers aren’t one hit wonders. We have multiple books in us and have ideas for many (many) future titles. One of the biggest challenges that any author faces is when to release their next book. My advice is don’t wait. Most book promotion companies will tell you that books build on each other, even if your books aren’t in a series. My first books about book marketing did better as I added new titles to my library of book offerings. So my advice is don’t wait. This doesn’t mean you have to release books on top of each other – spacing titles out is never a bad idea. But waiting a year or more (especially if you’re a new author) gets tricky and it’s a tough way to build a readership.
Making Assumptions (aka getting everything in writing): This is a big one, and I think applies to a lot of different facets of book marketing. Most book promotion companies (the good ones) are very clear about what their deliverables are. And if you’re hiring a book promotion company to help you out, make sure that you aren’t left to guess what they’ll be doing for you, because that’s bad, too. Get it in writing and then, when you do, don’t assume that they’ll be doing more than what they’ve outlined. Unless it says that specifically and even then, if I was signing up with a book promotion company, I’d still want to get a detailed list of what they’ll do for me.
Book marketing isn’t magic, but sometimes when the chemistry is right, it really is. We often work with authors across multiple books, which tells me we’re doing something right. And as one of many book promotion companies out there, I like to tell authors that yes, we will refuse books that we don’t think stand a chance or aren’t right for some other reason. It’s important to make sure whoever you hire to do your book promotion has a good sense of your genre and is willing to speak with you about your book, specifically. Because even though the items listed below are directed at authors, specifically, it’s also important that if you’re spending money hiring a book promotion company, that they understand your goals and the genre. At the end of the day it’s a partnership, make sure it’s a good one!
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