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ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated

Is a Book Marketing Consultant Really Worth It?


If you're a writer trying to get published, you've probably figured out by now that the book publishing journey can be pretty complicated. There's designing, marketing, publishing, promoting, and social networking involved, and performing these tasks yourself can be intimidating, to say the least. That's where a book marketing consultant can help.

A book marketing consultant is an agent who helps the author navigate the industry and establish all of the elements that should be in place for a successful book campaign. A consultant creates a promotional plan that involves thoughtful timing regarding advertising and publicity, and he or she will certainly have an extensive knowledge of the industry. But is it worth the extra expense to hire a consultant? Some book marketing consultants charge an hourly fee, some charge a flat rate, and others ask for a percentage of your eventual sales. Will the investment pay off in the end? Here are some questions you should ask yourself when deciding whether you should hire a book marketing consultant.

Am I confident with my identified target audience, and does my book truly cater to this group?

Before you start marketing your book, identify who will want to purchase your book. If you cast your net too widely, your personal resources could be spread too thin, and if you target too small of a population, you won't realize your full potential. If this aspect completely overwhelms you, consider consulting with an outside party to identify the best people to target. A book marketing consultant has a great deal of experience identifying which audiences will be receptive to your work and can give you advice about who to reach out to as well as how to reach them.

If you don't want to hire someone, you can take on this project by doing your own research. Identify several (up to five) populations that might be interested in your book. For example, a children's book that deals with anger management issues could appeal primarily to children, and secondary audiences include parents, educators, therapists, and childcare workers. Look at similar book markets and books that represent your competition. Check social media platforms – how do people react to those books? You can also reach out to experienced authors who are happy to help out a fellow writer for free. But if you don't have an extensive network yet, you might stick to the option of hiring a consultant, at least to get your foot in the door.

Can I navigate social media assertively from a marketing standpoint?

A good marketing strategy in the 21st century needs to rely heavily on social media. Writers can struggle with reaching out to others, because the majority of your work is spent away from other people. While some people are certainly more outgoing than others, it can still be difficult to shift completely from internal musings to social time. What's more, the types and number of social media platforms is growing, and each one requires a different set of abilities for you to feel confident using it. Posts on Twitter look different from those on Instagram, for example, so you'll need to get pretty adept at using all of these platforms in order to reach the largest audience effectively.

When thinking about how often you post and what you'll say, create a structured plan for your social media outreach to market your book. Since you've already identified your audience, that gives you a good place to start exploring, like fan pages and community sites within your target population. Set a schedule for posting after figuring out how often your targeted groups should hear from you. To simplify your schedule, dedicate certain days for specific tasks. Monday Facebook Musings and Tweeting Tuesdays come to mind! If you're going it alone, you'll need to simplify your process as much as you can.

This is another area in which a book marketing consultant can help you. He or she can take the posting tasks off your plate, so all you need to do is figure out your content. If you feel overwhelmed by the varied social media landscape, hand the reins over to a consultant.

What else do you need for your online author presence?

Beyond social media, you'll need to figure out what else you need to add to your author persona and get your name and book title out there. What should you include in your author website? Do you want to create YouTube videos? What should those look like? Your own research of other authors' sites and promotional efforts can give you an idea of what you'd like your potential readers to see, but it can be helpful to bounce your ideas off another person, whether an amateur colleague or a paid consultant.

Do you have a strong fundraising strategy?

This aspect of book publishing can make any author shake in their book-writing boots. The task of asking people and corporations to part with their hard-earned money often feels so desperate and off-putting when you're trying to create a strong, admirable persona as an author. Furthermore, where do you start? What are the best avenues to pursue funding for your printing, marketing, and promotional activities?

Some authors have been successful with crowdfunding, organizational author programs, and even cold calling, but these cases are usually rare. If you're feeling good about your prospects, then go get 'em! But if you're like me, the task of raising money makes you want to hide under the bed. A book marketing consultant comes with a wealth (see what I did there?) of knowledge and a ready-made network of investors and publishing programs that have delivered in the past. He or she knows where to start and where to go next if the first few sources don't pay out.

Are you feeling good about your cover and print specs?

Let's face it, readers will be judging your book by its cover. The cover should depict the attitude of the story inside, be readable in small sizes, and entice book shoppers to purchase your book. Getting just the right balance in your cover can be daunting, and it can be very helpful to have another set of eyes to take a look. Also, a consultant can give you some pointers on important details you might not have thought of when designing your cover.

Do you feel like you're forgetting (or don't know about) any crucial steps in your book campaign?

Beyond online resources, the marketing process involves contact with physical book shops, mailers, subscription services, and advertisements. Do you know how to initiate these processes? If you do, great! Go forth to execute your self-made marketing program. One benefit of going without a consultant is that, on a one-person team, you can be the sole decision maker, and no one can overrule your preferences. This can be important if there's an aspect of the book promotion process that is particularly meaningful to you. For example, let's say Tim wrote a vegetarian cookbook that he wants to market to a general cooking audience with the dream of showing people how easy it is to make vegetarian meals. However, his consultant Mike told him to focus on the vegetarian market and that targeting a broad audience is a recipe for disaster. While Mike certainly has experience in the book marketing field, he should still consider the author's preferences and the book marketing aspects that are important to him.

On the other hand, authors aren't born knowing every step of the book promotion process that will ensure their success. A book marketing consultant, whose daily work is focused on ensuring successful sales for authors, has the knowledge and experience book authors need to make sure they are doing what they can for big sales and market exposure.

Book marketing consultants consider themselves an author's secret weapon in a successful book promotion campaign. They know the book market, they know what sells, and they know the places to look when seeking resources that will give your book the maximum buzz. At every step in the book marketing process, your consultant can offer their wisdom and experience and walk you through the process, and they have a strong network when they need a hand from another party. The added expense of hiring a consultant, however, can be painful to consider, so when weighing your options, follow your gut regarding what you know and what you'll need help with. Remember, it never hurts to call a few consultants before you've made your decision and ask them outright why you as an author need them on your team. If they can sell themselves to you, you can be confident that they can sell your book to the world!

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