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message 1: by May (new)

May Sage (maysage) | 15 comments I was wondering about your thoughts and experiences on PR and Marketing firms; they’ve bloomed in the last few years and there is quite a few scams running around. Did you hire one, and if yes, what sort of result did they deliver?

As many self-published authors, I have a day job, I’m writing another novel which will be ready soon, and I also work as a freelance proofreader and editor: on that kind of schedule, I don’t really take the time to promote my own book! Not as much as I should, anyway. It’s doing well actually, but I’d like to take it to the next level; only, I really don’t want to go about it the wrong way.

message 2: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments We have never used them, so I cannot speak from experience. But I am deeply suspicious of them. Indie authors now represent a huge potential market for services, and inevitably there are people who have flocked to provide them. New indie authors tend to be hungry for the exposure that will lead to sales and being new, they are inexperienced, which makes it difficult for them to evaluate opportunities. Furthermore, the indie publishing landscape is littered with unsupported opinions, misinformation, and what I consider to be myths.

This is one of my perpetual drumbeats here, but I'll trot it out again and ask for forgiveness later: the common ideas about promotion and marketing (outside of "write another book") fall into one of those 3 categories above. It is quite common to hear one of us say: "I'm not doing as much as I should." It is also usually wrong. Each author's situation is different, but rarely is there a case where a new author can move the needle.

The question here is: can professionals move the needle better? I cannot present an open & shut case, but I very much doubt it. Why?

1) Publishing has become a highly fluid, fast-moving field full of overwhelming and unpredictable factors. At this point, I don't believe anyone understands the dynamics. By the time a dynamic becomes apparent, it has already changed. The marketing "professionals" don't have a much better grip on this chaos than we do, and if they say they do, I would mistrust their motives.

2) The publishing industry has for a long time been distorted by the "blockbuster" marketing model combined with a strict system of gatekeepers that severely limited the choices available to the paying public. The indie publishing movement broke this wide open and this created the chaos I mention above. But the notions of how to market and promote are still firmly rooted in the blockbuster paradigm.

It is this paradigm that creates the pressure to promote, that feeds the avidity with which we pursue reviews, that feeds the incessant drumbeat for visibility, visibility, visibility. Because the blockbuster paradigm is time-based. It depends on flooding the market, seeing what catches fire and then milking that fire (how's that for mixing metaphors!) before it burns out. So the gatekeepers focus on fuel for the fire and books get a year or maybe 6 months to "succeed" before they are ditched.

This is what the marketing and PR professionals know, because it's the way things have been. But they are just about as green in this game as we are. To quote Lincoln: We "are all green alike."

3) There is a huge difference between creating sales success for books, and sustaining success. No one has ever understood the first (or no blockbuster would be rejected as many have been numerous times). The professionals in the industry have no better track record picking "winners" than we do, and I think their success rate is statistically no higher than ours. When an author gains traction, there does come a time to promote, but that time is almost never with a first book.

As a new author, you really do not want your first book to "blow up" in sales. Without a backlog, that will most often lead to a quick flameout. To sustain success and make the promo resources employ pay off, it is much better if your fourth or fifth or sixth book takes off. That is where sustained growth most often becomes possible.

So if your book is doing well, enjoy it! Make yourself available to readers (if you and they desire) and do those small things to maintain a connection and keep interest alive. (These depend on what sort of readers you have.) But (I strongly suggest) worry about writing, not promotion, and be wary of ideas rooted in "Paradigms Lost".

Finally, marketing and PR people do know how to market -- to us. We are (unfortunately) a much easier sell than our reading public. Be hyper-critical, because even if it's not a "scam" doesn't mean they aren't out to eat our lunch.

Standard disclaimer: YMMV. Always do what you think is in your best interest.

message 3: by May (last edited Aug 22, 2015 07:18AM) (new)

May Sage (maysage) | 15 comments Thanks for your answer Owen!
I really do appreciate the time you took to voice your opinion on the subject :)
Well, I agree and disagree: writers write. That's what I do every day for over five hours; I've got a novella coming out at the end of the month and I've almost finished my second novel. When I don't write my own story? I edit and proofread. I also do the whole nine to five job thing to pay the bills because I don't expect to be making a killing with my writing all of the sudden...
But that's why I was considering getting someone to do the marketing thing for me: it's not my passion and I suck at it, to be entirely honest. Those who have read my book like it and I'd love to reach more readers; I don't need millions, but a few thousands rather than hundreds would be good...
At the end of the day I get all the reasons why someone would choose not to go to a marketing firm; but i'd love to hear what people who did think of it, does that make sense?
I'm not sure I actually meant scams as much as rip off in general, as you pinpointed: they are good at making themselves sound like the best in the world and I don't trust a word of it, that's why I reached out to other authors here.
Getting some insight is the best way to make an informed decision.

message 4: by Idav (last edited Aug 22, 2015 07:31AM) (new)

Idav Kelly (alixe_tiir) | 37 comments I would avoid them. Someone I know payed one of them for "active promotion" and an interview, and has not been interviewed by them, nor has he been promoted by them at all.

The spokesperson for their group just doesn't respond to his messages at this point. The price was only like $42 dollars per year, which is less than 12c per day, but it still seems like a rip-off.

message 5: by Sally Ann (new)

Sally Ann Sims | 25 comments Along the same vein, has anyone used the Independent Author Network platform?


I'm wondering if this is something worth investing in to cast a wider net for book promotion. But is it worth it?

message 6: by Owen (new)

Owen O'Neill (owen_r_oneill) | 1509 comments Sally wrote: "Along the same vein, has anyone used the Independent Author Network platform?


I'm wondering if this is something worth investing in to cast..."

I had the same question. I saw they charged for their services and that put me off. You might want to post a question on this here in the Moderators Investigate folder:

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