I recently asked self-published author Dr. Thomas Caulfield to share his experience working with a professional marketing team. His book, Ephphatha: Growing Up Profoundly Deaf and Not Dumb in a Hearing World, won an award and has received several media mentions, thanks in part to his marketing team.
But was it worth it?
In this post, Tom answers that question and many more about what it means to have an expert marketer in your corner.
Do You Really Need a Marketing Expert on Your Team?
By Dr. Thomas M. Caulfield
Do you need a marketing expert on your publishing team? This was a looming question for me as an author. That is, until I began to better understand the multitude of elements that contribute favorably to the book-publishing process. For me, there was a baseline theme, if you will, continuously swirling in my head, and that was this notion of always working with the most competent professionals you can to get your book published.
Always work with the most competent professionals you can.
It seemed that the workshops, seminars, and publication guidebooks were loaded with examples of why not to go with a novice for all the critical aspects of your book. Rather, authors should isolate those distinct pros or an esoteric group that understands this area most completely.
My experience might be unique in that I toiled away for two decades keeping a secret journal chronicling the journey of our only son, who was born profoundly Deaf. Applying the esoteric group selection theory, I immediately sought out a meeting with a friend, the president of a nationally known and highly respected book-publishing company.
I suppose working with a friend was a violation of the esoteric theory in that there was a chance, given our relationship, that he had no choice but to help me. My question was simple, though. Who was the best independent editor he knew of?
My question was simple: Who was the best independent editor he knew of?
What came back was the name of an editor working in the Washington, DC, area: Katherine Pickett. One call to her and a lunch meeting was arranged. The bottom line for me again was clear. It’s probably not a good idea to go with the neighbor down the block who may have been an English major in college with no other credentials, but instead, get with a seasoned professional for sure.
It only took that one lunch meeting for me to learn that the esoteric theory was valid. Katherine had forgotten more than I would ever know about editing – and I graduated from grade 20.
I made an important decision that day to get a critical, unbiased evaluation of the merit of our book. If it weighed in at the “great” level – and it did – then I would be foolish not to match it with the best ongoing service support.
From there I was fortunate to be able to select a Dream Team in the areas of interior design, video presentation, audiobook narration, and website production.
With all those professionals working like a combine going through the Midwest during harvest season, the question of our need for a marketing expert remained. After a thorough literature review, it became clear that these services were not inexpensive. Further, questions remained regarding whether this service would actually be worth the money.
Questions remained regarding whether this service would actually be worth the money.
Given the costs, I elected to research a half dozen reputable groups and then interviewed three. Candidly, I thought I would be the one doing the interviewing, but in reality they were trying to figure out our potential as well. It all seemed like asking someone to the Homecoming dance, as I hoped our top pick would accept.
To be clear, I believe the good author marketing groups really have this concept of a campaign down, with the main goal being quality targeted exposure. The best ones also have the area of pitching to the media figured out as a science.
Who would have thought there were so many levels to pitching?
- We had the prepublication pitching to reviewers, bloggers, and the media.
- Then there was the local and national media group pitching.
- The marketing team also surfaced numerous opportunities for speaking engagements.
- Finally, I received thorough guidance regarding advertising with Amazon.
I would have to say it was worth it.
In the end, being fortunate to have an award-winning book on my hands, I would have to say hiring a marketing firm was worth it. I would hate to have not selected a marketing expert and then always look back wondering if we could have done better.
Essentially, it takes me back to all the chatter regarding, do you select the friend down the street to do what really is work in an esoteric domain? It seems easy and definitely less expensive to do just that. But you never want to look back and say, “What if?”
Dr. Thomas M. Caulfield is the author of the award-winning book Ephphatha: Growing Up Profoundly Deaf and Not Dumb in the Hearing World: A Basketball Player’s Transformational Journey to the Ivy League. He lives in California with his wife.
Like this blog? Find more insights and advice in the Update and Revised Edition of Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, now available on Amazon!