I can tell you very honestly that the best book marketing campaigns are created and executed when the author, and the marketing team, are all on the same page about goals and expectations.
Of course, your book has to be amazing, and the readers have to resonate with it – but finding those readers and making those connections is critical, and a good book marketing plan is the first step in getting to the next level with your brand.
So I wanted to compile a list of 5 questions you should be asking any book publicity team you’re considering working with.
1. What are realistic goals for my campaign based on my current platform?
Goals will always be unique to you, but I think it’s safe to say we’re all looking to sell more books – selling more books means more readers, and it means your platform is growing.
But a lot of people forget that marketing isn’t sales. Marketing is awareness. So marketing can bring a lot of potential buyers to the table, but the book makes the final sale. And that’s where your platform comes into play as well.
The reality is if you’re starting from scratch with your first book release, you’re starting from scratch! We’ve all been there! But that also means your goals for your first marketing campaign should be different than an author with a backlist, a strong Instagram account, and a new release on the horizon.
Having appropriate goals for where you are in your authorship career is the best book marketing strategy you can employ – because it keeps you focused on the next right thing. And each right thing will add up to bigger things if you keep at it!
2. What should I expect to be responsible for when we’re working together?
Many authors feel like they’re hiring a book shepherd or a publishing admin assistant, but the reality is these are very different specialties from book marketing and book publicity.
I encourage you to get a good understanding of where your marketing team’s work starts and stops because they probably work with a variety of authors with varying levels of publishing knowledge – and I can tell you from experience even the best book marketing teams can’t prepare for each author’s unique needs entirely.
So be open and ready to take recommendations if your marketing team suggests you hire a virtual assistant to help support you, or offers consulting time above and beyond the original scope of your project so they can continually tailor the collaboration to your needs.
3. What kind of education should I expect to get, or how can I get it?
Many authors are new to publishing and marketing, but similar to the above, most book marketing firms have pretty clear lines about how much education they provide along the way, and you should be prepared to go in.
Because I can tell you our most memorable (and successful) clients are those who are eager and willing to learn, but at the end of the day – you hired us to promote your book, and we’re focused on ensuring we’re doing our very best work in those areas.
So, if you’re looking for a publishing or marketing education along the way or find yourself in that position, it’s fair to assume your team may have to add to the scope of your campaign, which could be an additional investment.
But I assure you it will be worth it, investing in yourself is never a bad thing!
4. Is there anything I can do right away to make the most of our time together?
If your book is a way out from releasing perhaps, you’ll want some coaching on things you can do to prepare. Or maybe a cover update could help. Or a website clean-up. If you’re open to making the most of your investment, please ask and be open to what they might recommend.
And just because you start the conversation doesn’t mean their recommendations are deal-breakers. Still, a good, reputable book marketing company will aim to keep your expectations in check while encouraging you to put the best book out there.
I can honestly say we want our authors to succeed, and if we have ideas and recommendations, we speak up!
5. Do you help with the production phase, or when does that work start?
Knowing the timeline for the work will also help set expectations or give you the opportunity to ask about getting the help you need when you need it.
There are a lot of moving parts to producing, releasing, and promoting a book, so don’t make assumptions that your marketing team (or your publisher) will handle everything for you from the beginning until the end of time.
Think of it like building a home; a lot of different experts and teams come together at different phases to get the project completed correctly. You wouldn’t expect the people pouring your foundation to turn around and do all the electrical work the next day, right? Same with a book!
Knowledge is power, and while assumptions can make the present simpler, they can also really bungle the future!
At the end of the day, the best book marketing collaboration you can find will include an individual or team that’s honest about their recommendations, the work they’ll be doing, and what your expectations should be as well.
Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a bestselling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. She was named one of the top influencers of 2019 by New York Metropolitan Magazine.
Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Amazon visibility campaigns as well offering national media pitching, online book marketing, author events, and other strategies designed to build the author/book visibility.
She is the author of 18 books, including "How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon," "Revise and Re-Release Your Book", "5-Minute Book Marketing for Authors," and the newly-released “From Book to Bestseller.”
AME has had dozens of books on top bestseller lists, including those of the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal.