Not All Book Marketing Services are Created Equal

by | Feb 15, 2022 | Book Marketing Basics

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In as many years as I’ve been in the industry, one thing I know for sure: book marketing services vary widely, and not all of them offer the same strategies, promises, or plans.

And this matters for a variety of reasons. First off, finding a great book marketing services company you can partner with isn’t always easy. Sometimes the jargon is confusing. Other times their recommendations may not seem to be exactly what you’re looking for – or maybe they’re recommending things you hadn’t even considered for your book. It’s really about being a smart shopper. Knowing what’s out there and what will really make a difference to your book. And granted, shopping for a book publicist is a lot of work and, sometimes, confusing.

But regardless of the book marketing options that are presented to you, there are some core things you should look for in a book marketing services company:

The Best Book Marketing Services Must Be Honest About Strengths and Limitations Versus Selling You Dreams

Hope is not a marketing plan; but by the same token, dreams are great things – and I’m a big fan of shooting for the stars, but you really want to partner with a book marketing services company that is realistic about your book, the market, and what’s possible.

I’m not suggesting that a good book marketing services company is all about being buzzkill – not at all. But a realistic approach to your marketing plan is really important, as is understanding the limitations of the market. Not only is this a reliable way to grow your audience, but you’ll save a lot of money, too.

For example, I would rarely or ever pitch a genre fiction book to the Today Show or any other major, national morning show. Why? Because unless you are already somewhat of a household name, it’s going to be hard to get you into big, national media.

And even if you are a national bestseller, have you ever counted how many times the Today Show interviews authors about their latest releases per year? It’s four. Stunning, right? And we sometimes get authors who insist on being on national TV. When possible, I offer them that, but when it’s not, I suggest some alternative ideas, and then I tell them why.

Building a foundation for your book on dreams is a shaky foundation at best. And you’ll wind up spending a lot of money in areas that don’t serve you or your book.

Listen to our episode on how and why readers buy books, it will surprise you and provide a new perspective.

Here’s the secret to pricing a book for success.

Will You Walk Away with New Skills or Insight Versus Starting at Square One Again with Your Next Book?

If you just read that and thought, “I don’t really want to learn how to do this myself!” that’s a very fair statement. Most authors like to outsource things they aren’t good at. As a business owner, I’m always outsourcing stuff I’m not good at. But a good measure of curiosity, willingness to learn some things, is never wasted time.

The reason this matters is that you don’t want to hire a book marketing services company that just does it all in secrecy and then sends you a report, or maybe just does the work and announces ‘we’re done!’ – some measure of learning should always be a part of this. Otherwise, when it comes to book two (or book five), you’re starting from scratch.

If you plan to self-publish be sure to read our tips for pitching your book to local bookstores. 

And check out our list of must-haves for a smart, effective author website.

Do They Openly Talk About Long-term Collaborations, or are They More Structured for One-time Sales?

There isn’t anything bad about a one-time sale, per se, but it’s good to know what you’re getting into before you sign on the dotted line. And it’s entirely up to you in terms of what you want but ideally if you find a company you like, you’ll probably want to work with them (in some capacity) for the long-term.

A company that offers a one-time sale model should still provide you an update about what they’ve done, and it’s good to find out what their reporting system is like. But this is also important for any book marketing services company you hire. Reporting is key – otherwise, you have absolutely no idea what they’ve done.

Read this piece on how to write a stronger book blurb for better sales conversions.

Listen to this episode we did on timing, and when to prep different elements of your author platform.

Do They Have Documented History in the Book Marketing Industry?

This is really important because as you’ll see from the last two points in this blog, you really want someone who has an investment not just in your success but in the industry as well. I love it when authors come to us by referral, and you only get that kind of recommendation if you’ve been doing this for a while. So as you’re investigating book marketing services, check their history. Where do they appear online? How long have they been doing this work?

This matters because you want to partner with a firm that takes their work and your book seriously.

The other way to uncover is to check their social media feeds. Are they using social media in a meaningful way, have a current blog, and host events or webinars? Are they trying to contribute positively to the industry in addition to running a business? This really shows you their commitment to the business and their commitment to the authors they serve.

You can’t miss out on this piece we did on how to be a successful author in today’s competitive marketplace. 

And definitely read through our tips on how to be competitive on social media without wasting your time or losing your mind.

Beware of Scammers and the Re-inventors Disguised As Book Marketing Services

In every industry, there are people who just want to take advantage of the goodwill of authors. If someone is promising you big dreams, massive book sales, a big movie or Netflix deal, and big success right out of the gate – run for the hills. I’m not saying that all of that wondrous success isn’t possible, but it’s impossible to promise that to any authors.

We never promise book sales, ROI, or any kind of bestseller status. Why? Because reputable book marketing services companies don’t do that. A company that does that won’t do that for long.  We’ve had the good fortune to work alongside other publicity and book marketing firms, and I can tell you that none of the good ones do this. And for this reason, and myriad others, you want a firm that has been in the industry and not only has a history, but also knows new trends and can guide you to making the best possible choices for your success.

Speaking of scams, here’s how to avoid the ones related to screenplays, movie deals, and pitching platforms like Netflix.

Check out our piece on decoding publishing jargon because it could save you a lot of money.

Additional Resources and Free Downloads

Navigating the media landscape and how to get your book the attention it deserves.

Navigating the unexpected and how to be prepared for being in business as an author.

The 8 best book marketing strategies every author should master.

The power of author education and how it will help you succeed.

Read about the real pros and cons of self-publishing here.

1 Comment

  1. Chris Phipps

    Can I afford a good book marketing service? My books get good customer reviews and I’m trying to learn how to market effectively. But I’m in final editing on my latest (and I think best) book, and am already behind in my other writing. I have a stagnant e-mail list and website because I don’t give either enough attention. I keep thinking I can work harder and longer and somehow catch up, do it all, but am literally running out of time. Right now, it’s a toss-up which I lose first–my vision or my life. Being a writer, I hope it’s the latter. Either way, it’s going to be only a few years. I need help but am not sure I can afford it.


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