Maybe your sales are lackluster, perhaps you’re just running out of time to market your book, or let’s face it – we’ve all had to admit at one point that we just don’t know what we’re doing. A book marketing company can definitely help you take your author brand and your platform to the next level; I specifically stress how much I can help authors with their exposure.
But if you want to sell more books and revive your author brand, you need to be prepared to make the most of the investment.
This shouldn’t be too shocking. This is simply smart business. And you are a business. (Read here to learn why you’re now a small business owner.)
You buy a house or a car and you get insurance. When planning a vacation, you schedule activities to make sure you’re not sitting in the hotel all day.
So why would you hire a book marketing company and just sit back and hope they can single-handedly make all your dreams come true?
The average author does not have the capital to hire out their success. It takes work, and no one is born famous, as I often tell people and wrote about here.
A good book marketing company will be very straightforward with you about what they can and can’t guarantee, and what their goals are for every strategy they present to you.
And a book marketing company that really has their head in the game will customize their recommendations based on the bigger picture. This includes your current and long term goals (if you haven’t refined your goals, this article will help you set focused goals and break them down). A good book marketing company will also factor in what you’ve achieved with your platform to date, your genre, who your buyer market is, and your upcoming publishing schedule.
Ask questions, don’t assume anything.
If during your research you come across a book marketing company that presents you with options solely based on your budget – keep looking.
Yes, there are tried and true strategies in author promotion right now that definitely work for a variety of books and markets, but let me let you in on a secret: you don’t need to pay a book marketing company to simply execute those basic strategies.
If that’s all you need, I suggest rolling up your sleeves and doing a little research. Then learn the ropes and save your money for a vacation.
You want to hire a book marketing company to take you to the next level. That means multiple channels, multiple strategies, knowledge in areas you don’t have, access to readers you don’t have, and so on.
And for your investment to really pay off, if you want to sell more books, below are some tips for ways to help things along!
When determining whether or not you’re ready to hire a book marketing company, keep in mind that collaboration is a good thing. With 4,500+ books published every day, you really shouldn’t stress about duplicating efforts.
For example, if you end up hiring a book marketing company to help you with social media for your next book release, you don’t want to completely step away if you can help it.
Few authors can afford to hire a book marketing company to really do everything. Like I said previously, hiring out your success comes with a huge cost, we’re talking thousands of dollars a month. So these tips are definitely not for that less than 1%!
Here is a list of things you can be doing before hiring a book marketing company, during your work with them, and for the long term, to make the investment in their additional support and expertise really shine:
Have a solid author website
A website shows you take your work seriously, and it gives your fans and the media somewhere to connect with you. It also supports your brand. So while it may not be a requirement for your first release, it pretty much is if you plan to be a professional author and sell more books long term. In fact, it can become a 24/7 sales machine if you follow this advice.
Engage with your current fans
Book success isn’t a one-way street. It’s not as simple as just throwing your book up for sale on a few retail sites. You need to respect who buys the books, writes the reviews, and tells their friends. Make yourself available to fans. And then really connect with them. You can go about this just about any way, but make sure you’re meeting your fans where they hang out. Here are a few tips on upgrading engagement with your readers.
Respect the power of social media
I hear it all the time, “I hate social media.” Well, now that you got that out of your system, it’s time to get on social media.
That doesn’t mean you have to sign up for every site out there. Some are better than others depending on who your target market is, their gender, age, interests, etc.
You’re better off focusing on one good one than forcing yourself to just flounder on all of them. If you’re not sure where you should be, then I encourage you to take our quiz!
Keep asking for book reviews
I’ll be honest, it’s very distressing when authors reach out to me and their book has no reviews. Even if it only came out a month ago, someone should have read it and reviewed it in that amount of time.
You know people, so get the word out. Ask friends and colleagues to forward a well-worded email to their friends and colleagues – that’s a great start for word of mouth. And you can often get free reviews from people you don’t know, too. In fact, here’s how to go about it!
No book should have zero reviews if the author actually planned on writing it for people to read.
And while reviews are important, it’s equally important to get them the right way. And Be wary if a book marketing company tells you they can get you 100 reviews for the cost of a Starbucks latte. Amazon is consistently tightening the reigns on reviews and you don’t want to get yourself blacklisted by hiring a book marketing company that doesn’t follow the rules. You can see the latest on what we’re finding with Amazon here.
Pitch your professional network
If you’ve written non-fiction, I hope you have some professional connection to your topic, and an impressive one. Really smart, successful people write books on nearly every topic you can imagine – so you have some serious competition. In fact, here are 5 things you must do to leverage your own expertise.
What makes you different? Your network. Get reviews and blurbs from other people on a professional level, ask them to share your book. Start attending industry-specific events and conferences to expand your network. Leverage anything you have. Need to connect with influencers as you build your network? Read my tips here.
Thank book reviewers
Your work is not over once a review is posted. Use the comment option on Amazon to thank individuals for taking the time to write a review. Doing so can help turn them into a long-term fan that will come back and buy your next book – because you made it personal.
You can also ask readers to forward you their Amazon reviews in exchange for bonus content. Maybe it’s a deleted chapter, or a chapter from an upcoming book. If you write non-fiction this can be a short workbook or additional tips sheet of killer information that didn’t make it into the book. Here are some irresistible ideas you can try on for size!
Run giveaways to boost engagement
Giveaways are fun, they’re easy, and they inspire action. You can also do them whenever you want and on your own terms. So if you’re not doing giveaways at least a few times a year, take the plunge. (And know that lots of successful fiction authors do them monthly!) There are lots of ways you can do giveaways. You can read more here on how to use Goodreads giveaways as a powerful book marketing strategy!
Send a regular newsletter
Regular doesn’t necessarily mean often. Maybe once a month is all you can do. Or even once a quarter. The point is you’re building your mailing list, and a mailing list is like gold. These are people who are most likely to be return buyers, and you want to stay connected to them. Learn more about why newsletters are indie author gold!
Just remember to highlight something special or exciting in each newsletter. Announce an upcoming release, event, free download, cover reveal, giveaway winners, etc. You get the picture.
People get a lot of email, don’t waste their time, make it good, make it worth their attention.
Be open to non-traditional events
Bookstores are becoming fewer and fewer, which means traditional author events are getting more competitive. But, as I’ve written here, in-person author events are one of the best book marketing strategies available to you as an indie author. So consider some non-traditional venues for your event. Not sure where to start? Are you a regular anywhere? Maybe a local coffee shop, brewery, or craft store? Maybe you have a friend that owns a small business. Consider where you might already have an “in” and start there. Here are a few more ideas on getting started!
Once you have one successful event under your belt you can use that to expand your opportunities and sell more books on a local level.
Get involved in your community
Communities are supportive of local businesses and vendors, and most host events that give individuals a chance to meet others in their communities. Spring and summer are prime times to look into your local markets, craft fairs, and library events. Fall and winter breed a lot of holiday inspired events. Depending on what your focus is, you may want to consider getting involved in Rotary, Lions or Kiwanis.
Your local connections can really lead to bigger opportunities, especially since people love a local artist.
These are things a book marketing company can’t do for you – so step up to the plate with these ideas for growing your local book marketing.
Keep writing your next book
After the lack of reviews scare, the second biggest challenge I see as a book marketing company is trying to promote an author who has no plans for a next book.
Let me shatter some dreams right now – one book won’t let you retire. Or make you famous. Hell, it won’t even pay off your car. It may not even pay off your marketing investment.
But authorship is not a get rich quick scheme, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
So plan out a regular publishing schedule that you can follow. You can really capitalize on this and use new books to sell more of your back list, and vice versa. Plus if you’ve got a great schedule planned, you can start marketing your book in advance of publication. Here are some great tips on when to get started. What’s more, if you’re getting into the pre-publication book marketing game for the first time, here’s a great book launch cheat sheet I’ve built for our authors!
Before you hire a book marketing company: the bottom line
A book marketing company cannot turn you into an overnight success. But they can take you to the next level and assist you in hitting on the building blocks required to get to that point where you’re cashing checks and making real money off your books.
And yes, you can hire a book marketing company without ticking off all these strategies, or any of them for that matter. Because the reality is you have to start somewhere. And yes, I really can help almost anyone, somehow.
But let this be a lesson in expectations!
You can’t show up to a party with a half empty bottle of wine, leftovers from last night’s dinner, and expect everyone to welcome you with open arms.
That’s the publishing industry version of soliciting the help of a book marketing company when your book is over a year old, with minimal to no reviews, and no online presence to speak of or author brand established to show you’ve put in the effort.
I can only speak for my book marketing company, but I’ll of course offer you what I can, along with any tips and recommendations for opportunities still available to you, but you may not be wowed initially…
The good news? Each new release is a fresh chance to do things right!
If this piece got you a little discouraged for now, keep it bookmarked and work on anything you can in prep for your next release. It might just be the big break you’ve been waiting for. And I would love to help you on that journey! So if you’re ready to kickstart your book marketing, let’s get started!
If you have questions on this, please be sure to let me know in the comments! I love hearing from you!