A poet I know sent me her latest verse. The subject was homelessness. I replied to her with a compliment and a link to one of my blogs on the topic. Days later, she sent me four lines that I thought were lovely. About to send her a second compliment, I paused. A distant memory flickered. The lines were familiar. Had I remarked on them before?
Moments later, I recognized the words were mine. The poet had honored me with a quote from my blog. Happily, my recollection prevented me from committing the hubris of praising my work.
Information is crucial if we are to make wise decisions. Recognizing that old essay of mine kept me from appearing prideful. Yet, the pitfalls of human error are everywhere. For a writer, they are as plentiful as lint. Who to trust for marketing advice is an example. The consensus among my peers is to avoid book promoters altogether. Still, a harried author is tempted to seek help. Certainly, ads from marketers make lavish promises. But can they deliver?
Through word-of-mouth, I’ve garnered a few names of legitimate companies. So far, all the recommendations have come with a disclaimer. “I’ve never used the service, myself.” That being the case, how do I separate the wheat from the chaff?
Baffled, I turned to someone who exposes scams of a literary nature. I was interested in an agency that glittered with promise. Her response arrived within a few days. I share them below in the hope they will benefit others.
I haven’t gotten any complaints about this service. But I’m skeptical of its claims (as I am of most non-personalized marketing services). Most of its promotions are dependent on its following, and without data about that–not just numbers, but whether these are actual subscribers or emails harvested from the internet–you have no way to know what kind of audience it has and whether any of its promos might be effective.
For instance, its Facebook group has 14.7K members, which sounds impressive, but if you look at the posts, it’s mostly authors promoting their own books in posts with low to zero engagement.
Social media advertising is a crap shoot, even for people with large followings of their own. If you do decide to give this a try, start small with a low-cost service and see what happens. It advertises a Twitter ad service and claims over 700,000 followers, but I can’t find that it has a Twitter account. There’s a #[name deleted] hashtag, but that’s not the same thing.
Given her response, I tried sleuthing on m;y own. The company was new, yet I was able to google comments from customers who’d used the service. Results were mixed. The number of thumbs up or down was equal– not enough information for me to risk parting with cash. I decided to scratch them from my list.
Will I try another service? Knowing that scammers abound, I’ve decided to self-market. Currently, I’m producing a timeline for book promotion tasks. So far the work seems doable. Already, I’ve garnered a podcast interview for next September, and a spotlight date in October with an established blogger. Two glowing endorsements have arrived from people who received advanced copies of the book. One of them left kind remarks on my website, as well.
That comment sparked an interest. Soon after, I received an inquiry on where to buy the book. I hated to disappoint the reader as the memoir won’t be in print until November 2023. I’d piqued her curiosity too early. Doubtlessly, that is a marketing error. Even so, it’s comforting to think my first customer is waiting in the wings.