Hot Tea & Promotional Companies

 Hot Tea & Promotional Companies

Since I talked about my failed experience with a company, let’s talk about what a good promotional company will do (and won’t do) for you. Let’s also make sure we’re on the same page about what’s their job and what’s YOUR job.

**Full disclaimer: Nicole London uses a company (Give Me Books) for new release blog tours + promo. I’m a bit too hands-on for that, so I don’t do blog tours and my release day blitz emails and ARCs go straight through me/my own email account since I’ve curated a master blogger list of my own over the years. However, every four months or so, I do hire a digital assistant (Indie Sage) who helps me get organized with my upcoming releases + small random things for a short period of time. Even still, I’m sure I drive her nuts because I’m not kidding when I say I’m super hands on 🙂

1. Your promotional company is not your bitch. (No more bad words here, but I had to say that first :-)) They are not the reason your book fails/succeeds, and they are not to blame for slow signups. Whoever you choose should be a trusted name in the book community, but their main job is to ASSIST you in promoting your book. No one will care more about your book’s sales than you–NO ONE, so you still have to help.

2. When picking a company, get references. Real references outside of the company’s listed testimonials. Look at the people they’ve worked with recently and shoot them an email asking about their experience. (Don’t just assume, like I did, that OMG all these bestselling authors worked with Company Z! Company Z is the reason why they are bestselling authors! No. They were already bestselling authors…)

3. Pick services that you can afford, services that you could pay for on the spot if it came down to it. If you can’t afford something, save up and wait until you can. Do not book a service, have it completed, and then say, “Oh…Well, can I pay you next month?” That’s not fair to the operators, and just like you, they would prefer not to work for free.

4. Only select the services that you really NEED. When you’re new, honestly, you need to go a la carte. A release day blitz, cover reveal, and blog tour as you release newer works are all you need. But, so many times (especially lately), I  hear newbie authors say that they’re paying $250-300+ a month via 3-6 month contracts for part time digital assistant hours, and I’m like wait a minute…What exactly do you need with a digital assistant at this stage in the game? What exactly are you having your part time digital assistant do?


A. I need someone to preschedule my FB page while I’m away in my writing cave.

(My take: Take an hour out of your day and do it yourself. Take three hours and preschedule your page for the next two months if you’d like. Your readers are not toddlers that need to be entertained via your page daily. They’re adults. At least, with the stuff we’re writing in our books, I hope they’re all adults :-))

B. I need someone on call when I like, need stuff.

(My take: Stuff? Like Starbucks? There are assistants out there that deliver Starbucks whenever you need it? WHEREEE? TELL ME WHERE TO SIGN UP RIGHT NOWWW! Okay, no seriously. What “stuff” are you talking about?)

B1. Stuff like you know…Updates on what’s going on Facebook.

(My take: O_o)

C. Someone to help me organize/address my author email account.

(My take: Okay, I’ll give you that one. The inbox can get crazy. What else?)

D. Just…It’s the thing to do when you’re an author, Whitney G! Leave me alone! Gosh!

(My take: 🙂  It’s only the thing to do when it’s absolutely necessary, when you truly have a backlist, and at least 20+ hours of work for someone to complete for you every month. Examples: Organizing your author email account, running blog tour(s) for your backlist books, helping you come up with new and exciting ways to promote your work, running audio tours for your books that may be in audio, curating your super/awesome readers into even more super/awesome readers by increasing your review numbers + increasing your online presence, helping with the upkeep of your website, etc… <–But, all of these things work best over a 3-6 month part time contract. So, if you’re new and only have a couple published books, simply focus on publishing more books and using a la carte services as you need them. When the time comes, you can definitely move into paying for a digital assistant 🙂 )

5. Set realistic goals and expectations. Tell your operator(s) exactly what you’re looking for and discuss how you can accomplish this together.

(Example #1: This past January I was away from the indie-world/all things social media. I emailed Indie Sage and said, “My audiobook for Sincerely, Carter just came out, and I’m not going to be able to personally/publicly promote it for a very long time. I need it to get up to 100-200+ reviews on so it’ll look appealing to more buyers.” Indie Sage said, “Okay. I’ll work on doing an audiobook tour for you. Do you want to Skype with me to discuss other ways we can make this happen? Ways we can maybe incorporate your blogger list/readers?” “Me: Absolutely.”)

(Example #2: Nicole London says, “I would like to see my cover all over Facebook on my cover reveal day.” Give Me Books says, “Well, we can’t promise that it’ll be all over since we can’t control that, but if you help us in promoting the sign up link, we promise to do our best to be sure lots of people see it. We’ll also keep you up to date on the # of signups so we can track it together.”)

(Example #3 (via me and Love Between the Sheets PR during Reasonable Doubt promo time) Me: Hey…I really want to come up with something that harps on lies in my promo for Reasonable Doubt. I want the Cover Reveal + Release to truly reflect the book’s concept. Love Between the Sheets: Send us a couple excerpts from the book that deal with this theme, we’ll create some teasers/flash giveaways, and we’ll be sure to have giveaways that ask for truths and lies when we reveal the cover to readers.)

**I’ve found that the more open and engaging you are with operators, the more open and engaging they are with you 🙂

6. Do not BLAME them for when you secretly have unrealistic goals and expectations. (I know I said I wanted to have a good blogger sign up, but ugh…Only 50-100? That’s it???) <–Don’t be that way.

7. Don’t be afraid to communicate when you’re unhappy with something. A good promo company will listen to your concerns and try to get on the same page as soon as possible. 

7a. If you’re dealing with a questionable company who is dodging you + not completing the work, brace yourself and try to salvage what was ruined in a creative way. But never use them again and don’t rant/bash them publicly. It’s that simple. (Oh, and privately tell me so we can make sure they’re not on our site 🙂 )

8. Remember that tossing your book at a promo company and expecting them to wave a magic wand over it is a recipe for failure. No matter how great your book may be, you’ll still have to work hard to help promote it on your own as well. 

All of that said…

9. A good promo company will host a blog tour that, no matter what, nets you new reviews. They cannot control whether the reviews are good or bad, though. (Remember, a blog tour does not always equate to sales, but it should definitely get you new reviews.)

10. A good promo company will also keep you abreast of the number of signups. You’ll know how many people have signed up for your tour + cover reveal at least a week or two before it’s implemented. (And if they somehow forget to, and you ask, a good company will give you a definite number as soon as they can. A bad company will feed you lies and give you the runaround.)

11. A good promo company will consistently evolve and change over time to suit their clients’ needs. Sometimes a company begins and decides it will offer a la carte services, but as time goes on they realize that they work better when services are combined, or they find other new and innovative ways to help indies.

12. A good promo company will not overbook and is not scared to turn you away if their schedule is full. This is a sign that they take their time and their clients’ time serious. It’s never personal. I promise 🙂

13. A good promo company will be easy to get in contact with and will answer all of your questions with patience and care. If you have to wait an entire week to hear back from a company (and they aren’t on a vacation) or you find yourself receiving curt and unfriendly responses, you may want to consider using another company.

**This week on Facebook, we’ll post a list of promotional companies for you to browse through, and next week we will discuss things you can do on your own to promote your novel 🙂  

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