How do you know what promotional or book marketing services are worth the money?
This is a question I get often, both from people with limited funds and from those who would far rather spend money than time when it comes to marketing.
A lot of the calls and emails I receive from lawyers, doctors, and businesspeople who've written and/or published their first novels revolve around this issue. Many of them feel it's better to spend their hours writing or earning money at their non-writing careers/professions and to pay an expert to handle marketing.
The problem is, marketing or promotion “experts” abound, as do services, but many provide little or no value.
That's why this Friday I recommend you check out The Digital Reader article 8 Ways For Authors To Waste Their Money.
Top of the list is hiring a publicist, which can cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. If you or your book are not already well-known, there's not much a publicist can do but charge you high rates for services you could buy yourself at a fraction of the cost.
Another money pit is a service that promises to get your book on bestseller lists.
All the lists frown on, discourage, and expose attempts to game the system by buying your own book, which is what many of these services basically do. Also, nice as it might be to get that bestseller tag, if you are on your first book, the odds that paying to call it a bestseller will ever generate enough sales to make it worth the price tag are, in my opinion, slim to none.
The only point I disagree with the article about, or at least would qualify, is the dismissal of email blast services.
I agree that there is no value to emailing around a press release about your book. I also agree that paying for tweets or other social media posts rarely results in sales or enough name recognition to be worthwhile.
There are email newsletters, though, to which readers subscribe who are looking for free and discount ebooks. (The Holy Grail of these right now is BookBub, but if you can't get in there, I've found others such as Just Kindle and Book Barbarian (for fantasy) worth buying.)
These e-newsletters can be good ways to reach new readers. It's most cost-effective to pay for slots when you have at least 3 books so there's a chance of sales in addition to your discounted (or free) ebook.
Don't forget to check out the comments on the article, as they contain more useful information.