One way to get a leg up on your book sales is to work with an experienced book marketing consultant. Here’s some advice to help you make the most of that relationship.
Over the past 30 years, I have been an author, publisher, and book marketing consultant. During that time, I have learned a valuable lesson: one mistake can add significant costs — or cost you significant sales. If you work with a knowledgeable, competent book publishing/marketing consultant, you can minimize — or hopefully eliminate — costly errors. Here are some things to consider when choosing and working with an advisor.
Seek out people who are recognized leaders in their specialty. Ask members of your local publishing group or your Facebook friends for their recommendations and/or experiences with the consultants you are evaluating. Take everything with a grain of salt: If you get a negative response, do not automatically eliminate the potential consultant. The client may not have properly implemented the consultant’s good advice and experienced poor results as a result.
When you contact your potential consultants, ask how they work with their clients. Is it on an hourly basis? If so, must all calls last an hour or is there some flexibility of the time for each? Are the fees based on a project basis? How do they keep track of the time? Get all details in writing prior to your first meeting with your ultimate choice. Ask the potential consultants about their personal experience on their topic (writing, publishing, marketing, SEO, social media, etc.). Did they study the topic or did they actually implement the actions they may prescribe?
Ask for referrals – people you may contact. Understand that they will give you the names of their most satisfied clients.
Do not be afraid to pay for quality information. At the same time, do not assume that a higher hourly rate is an indicator of the quality of the information you will receive. Compare the offered services to the price charged and factor in the success ratio of previous clients. Do not discount the “personality factor.” What does your gut tell you? Do you like and respect this person, or do you think there could be a personality conflict?
Do not ask your consultant for free time outside of your agreed-upon commitment. For example, asking your consultant to read your book or review your website is not appropriate. Similarly, do not call between appointments and say, “I just have one quick question…” Quick questions generally require an in-depth answer and your advisor’s time is valuable.
Take control of each meeting. Have an objective for each meeting and prepare a list of questions or topics in advance so you cover what you want in the allotted time. Similarly, do not divulge your opinion while opening a subject because the consultant may reply with what you want to hear. You are the client — make sure your advisor responds to your needs.
Ask a question and then do more listening than talking. Remember, a comment is not necessarily a fact simply because the consultant states it. Ask for clarification if you do not understand an instruction. “Why do you say that?” Or, “What do I do if this happens…?” Or, “How does that apply in my situation?”
Most consultants will give you directions and advice that they believe will work for you. Get specific instructions and then do it. If necessary, arrange additional time with your advisor as you move ahead to discuss how to handle unanticipated obstacles.
Give the relationship time to work. The more you get together, the more relaxed — and perhaps productive — your meetings will become. As your consultant gets a good feel for your ability to carry out instructions, he or she can make more appropriate remarks.
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