Author Topic: Are there any professionals among you who promote books on behalf of writers?  (Read 819 times)  

Offline wearywanderer64

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I often read posts by writers inquiring about marketing in all its forms. But let's be honest. Many writers like me are crap at promotion in all its forms and would prefer somebody else did it on our behalf. Also, a lot of us can't be bothered with it as it uses up too much time, energy and resources, not to mention money. I don't expect promoters to be cheap, but if promotion is done properly, it will be worth it.

I know there's BK Knights on Fiverrr, and also a whole bunch of promoters who claim to have millions of possible readers for us. I was thinking of somebody who knew the business well. The reason I thought about this was that I recently joined Storyorigin and a few other sites and realised I had no clue what I was doing. And to be honest, I can't be bothered working it all out. A bit like owning a car. You know how to drive it (writing) but no idea how to fix it (promotion.)

Any and all advice welcome.




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    Offline Rick Gualtieri

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    Sorry to say, but it's a flawed analogy.  If you're looking to sell your work, you're a business owner now.  This means it behooves you to learn your industry.  If you wish to just write and that's it, then you really should be querying publishers. 

    Yes, there are people our there you can hire to help you market.  There are also plenty of places out there that will take your money and deliver nothing.  You probably need to know at least enough to be able to tell if someone is going their job correctly or simply taking you for a ride.



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    Offline wearywanderer64

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    Thanks, Rick. It's just the promotion thing takes so much effort.


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    Offline EmberKent

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    The issue here, I think, is that marketers who actually do well will be able to market their services to "higher class" clientele. They would work for already successful authors, not those who are having difficulties, because the successful authors are the ones who can pay their rate.

    It's a bit of a trap for the struggling author. If they aren't good at promotion, and are struggling financially as a result, how can they pay a marketer who can actually push the needle for them? It's true that better marketing would likely result in better money, but the investment is immense if you want to outsource. That investment is manageable if you already have the income to support it. If you don't, you need to dip into money earned from elsewhere -- and even then the benefits may not outweigh the costs. A book that earns $50 a month, for example, might see a massive increase to $500 a month if all things go super well and the marketer's tricks land perfectly. Does that matter if the marketer costs $2k/mo?

    A lot of authors go through the effort of learning what works for their books and then hiring a personal assistant. There's a huge initial cost here with time. You still have to learn everything. You have to trial-and-error your way to a system that works. And then you need to develop instructions that can be followed by an outsider. And, of course, there's no guarantee that the system you've devised is the best system you can have. Still, this path costs much less than hiring a professional marketer who handles promotion for you and optimizes your brand. You end up only paying for the assistant's time in doing what you've assigned, and not for the expertise and research.

    Offline Lorri Moulton [Lavender Lass Books]

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    I've found there's a pretty steep learning curve with many things in self-publishing, but it can be worth it.  Even a rudimentary knowledge will allow you to do the basics.  Always helpful to know what needs to be done even if you end up hiring someone else to do it.

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    Offline mojomikey

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    The issue here, I think, is that marketers who actually do well will be able to market their services to "higher class" clientele. They would work for already successful authors, not those who are having difficulties, because the successful authors are the ones who can pay their rate.

    It's a bit of a trap for the struggling author. If they aren't good at promotion, and are struggling financially as a result, how can they pay a marketer who can actually push the needle for them? It's true that better marketing would likely result in better money, but the investment is immense if you want to outsource. That investment is manageable if you already have the income to support it. If you don't, you need to dip into money earned from elsewhere -- and even then the benefits may not outweigh the costs. A book that earns $50 a month, for example, might see a massive increase to $500 a month if all things go super well and the marketer's tricks land perfectly. Does that matter if the marketer costs $2k/mo?


    This.^

    A lot of SEO folks end up running their own niche sites. They can make a lot more long-term that way than by billing out by the hour. The really good ones who still take on client work bill a few grand a month and up. Same with PPC folks - and then you have the ads on top of that with them. It's supply and demand. I'm finishing up my PhD in data science this spring and I have a job offer that's 5 times my best year as a fire lieutenant including overtime (29 years experience). It's unbelievable.

    It sucks, but struggling writers just don't have the bucks to afford outsourcing marketing to good pros.

    OP - what exactly do you want your marketing person to do for you? How much a month do you think is reasonable for them to charge?





    Offline wearywanderer64

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    Thanks for all your replies.

    Mojomikey - I've no idea what to expect. I'm just not good at marketing strategies.


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    Offline Patty Jansen

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    To promote for other people, those other people first need to have a product that makes it worth them taking on as a promoting contract. This is not about the "quality" or whatever that means, but the good promoters won't, in general, take on books by an unknown writer without any serious sales record. Otherwise they know they'll just end up eating your money with nothing to show for it. That will just end up in an ex-client spewing poor reviews all over the internet.

    The good promoters will refuse you if you don't have a decent sales record. The bad promoters will just take your money. You're in a catch-22. There is no answer.

    Offline wearywanderer64

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    Good advice.

    It's a shame there's not a service that takes a percentage of sales like KDP does.


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    Offline Patty Jansen

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    Good advice.

    It's a shame there's not a service that takes a percentage of sales like KDP does.

    There are those services, but they won't take on new writers without a decent sales record. Because there is also a non-proportional aspect to the initial work they have to do.

    Offline boba1823

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    It's a shame there's not a service that takes a percentage of sales like KDP does.

    I've heard of a few services that will do a little bit of marketing for an author in exchange for a (usually quite large) portion of sales. It think they refer to themselves as 'trade publishers'.  ;D I kid, I kid.

    My outlook on marketing is that it is important, but that does not mean it should take up a disproportionate amount of one's time and effort. Not unless you have plenty of both to spare, anyway.

    I've tried to keep the (post-release) marketing relatively quick and easy by mainly sticking to PPC advertising, specifically on FB because of its excellent targeting options. It might take a bit of time to learn how to use it, but once you have a reasonably level of familiarity it's not hard to keep it going without much effort. I spend maybe 15-20 minutes a day on it, on average. (It could take much less time, but I've been trying to move up to some more advanced stuff.) The nice thing about PPC advertising, at least on a platform like FB with a massive audience, is that expanding your potential reach doesn't really take any more time - just more money. If I want to move up from buying 50 clicks a day to 500 clicks a day, I pretty much just need to increase the budget.

    I actually spent more time and effort on pre-release marketing. At this point, I run market tests on the basic book concept, title, and cover before I even start writing. It takes a bit of time (for me) to write a book, and I'd rather find out that no one is interesting in reading about Boring Bob's Uneventful Day before I waste my time writing it. Obviously this is no guarantee of success, but it's still pretty darned helpful if you're able to do it. It does require spending $s with no immediate (and no guaranteed) return, though, and it's probably best to get some decent experience advertising an existing book before trying it.

    Advertising and actually making a profit is much easier with a highly marketable book - relative to the intended audience, as long as you can succeed in targeting that audience. But a PPC advertising campaign doesn't have to be perfect to work. If the book is fairly appealing, you can probably just use common sense to work out decent targeting, try a few combinations of graphics/ad copy, and then at least break even. Looking at other ads for similar books can help if you aren't experienced with ad copy.


    Offline starkllr

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    What I personally could use, rather than someone running my marketing and ads over time, is someone/a service that will read a couple of my books and tell me exactly what genre I ought to pitch them as, what (in general at least) the covers should look like, and which well-known authors are comparable matches to me as a starting point for reaching out to find new readers.  Because I have not ever been able to crack that (I haven't written to market and my books straddle the fence of a couple or more different genres).

    If I had that info, I'd be in a far better position to try and learn how to make Amazon and/or FB ads work with at least some hope of a positive return.

     
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    Online boxer44

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    Starkllr:  I feel your pain :)  My novels don't fit a specific genre well either, suspense maybe, but suspense is a multi-mix genre of writing styles and subjects and character personalities.

    Psyche, Espionage, Financial Fraud, the main themes in three of my novels become difficult to categorize in a genre that fits - and even then, one could almost cross-genre label altho that helps less with PR as it catches folks that expect one thing, get another, and then gone.

    Suspense:  Some readers like romantic suspense, some action suspense, some intrigue suspense, some mystery suspense, and how the PR expresses itself might grab the wrong readers - when clicks cost $$, then >>> PR wallet shrinks.
    « Last Edit: January 09, 2020, 10:45:15 am by boxer44 »

    Offline Flying Pizza Pie

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    My aunt is a professional book promoter. She charges $5,000 upfront, gets the author into radio stations, gets their picture in local newspapers with nice stories, and arranges book-signings and much more. Her work is easily worth the money for the number of hardcover/paperbacks the authors sell and the great publicity she arranges. If I had a Traditional publisher contract and was launching, I'd use her system in a heartbeat. Most of us are indies, so our options are limited, as are our pocketbooks. And, most of us find a way to harness a little social media to get the word out. It's not that hard, it's just time consuming.

    I've done book promotion via gigs on Fiverr, Guru, and word of mouth. I used to charge $199 for the first month, now it's $250 minimum to start. You get a WordPress website designed, Pinterest, Goodreads, Author Den, Author Contact, Twitter, and you setup Facebook and I manage it for you. I also get book blogs to feature your work and do guest blog inserts under your name, and add you to an email newsletter to my own list of book buyers. It's really best for a new author with no links to social media, and it frees you up to write books instead of trying to keep up with twice-a-week blogs, tweets, and interaction on the other sites.

    The upside is that it gets you kicked-off on the right foot. And, it gets some book sales and some reviews.  It produces some dialogue on places like Goodreads with questions and answers, and you look like a real person. Then, in a couple months you take-over the sites and do your own blogs and go on with your life.

    The downside is that after the first six or eight weeks, sales slow down unless you are releasing new books every 3-4 months. If you are, you can afford to keep paying for 10 hours a month afterward ($250) and keep writing novels. Unfortunately, in my experience over the past three years, only two of my authors (out of 14) managed to write more than two books in their first year. And, most were stand-alone works.

    How many of the fourteen clients cleared a profit after two months? Exactly half. Could they have done the work themselves? Absolutely. I'm not much of a salesman, am I?

    I believe the 30-day Amazon cliff exists. You've got at most five weeks from launch to crank the Big Dog's algorithms, get yourself into the "also-bought" lineup, and crack a small-category top ten to see real sales. It's very tough to "catch-up" later with AMS ads, freebies, and other promos. Only a BookBub can turn the screws later in a book's life.

    And still, after all the above, I believe that a really well-written book with a good blurb and a kick-ass cover is going to get noticed with even a small amount of advertising. Do you have that quality in your work?



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    Offline wearywanderer64

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    Thanks everybody for all the advice. It's given me loads to think about as well as an insight into how it all works.


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