Or, When to Call for Help
“Your book isn’t just a product,” wrote my fellow Self-Publishing Advisor blogger Kelly back in February. “It is, in every way and shape and form, an investment.” She was in the middle of her Marketing B.A.S.I.C.S. series (which holds up well over time, I have to say) at the time, and put together an eloquent defense for those of us who feel the sting of the stigma wrapped around the whole notion of seeking help and advice within the self-publishing world. We all have felt it, that little itch at the back of our mind, that but you were supposed to be D-I-Ying this! protest sparking our neurons into a frenzy of self-doubt.
There are a lot of myths about seeking help, which Kelly did a pretty good job of dispelling; I want to talk a little about what form that help might take, and specifically I want to talk about a little job title called “Personal Marketing Assistant.” Or at least, that’s what they’re called by my employer, Outskirts Press (which I feel compelled to be transparent about). I don’t know what some other companies like Dog Ear title this position, but they’re fundamental to our self-publishing model: in short, they’re the person you talk to on the phone when you’re trying to figure out which service bundle best fits your needs, and what the next steps are to put together a really kicking marketing campaign. The difference is, perhaps, that at Outskirts we recognize just how vital this voice in your ear can be–so we offer 30-minute to 5-hour conversations with one of our Personal Marketing Assistants as a dedicated service. There are a lot of reasons why this is a good thing, but ultimately they boil down to: it’s good for our PMAs themselves (to receive public recognition as integral parts of our work) and it’s good for our customers (who can be assured of reaching someone as committed to their project’s success as they are).
A Personal Marketing Assistant comes in most handy, you might have guessed, once you already have your book put together and ready to go. They are the sort of person you want by your side when you’re putting together a marketing plan or arranging a book signing, developing your author platform or following up on marketing campaign leads. But a good PMA–no matter which company you elect to self-publish with–will do far more for you than just talk. A good PMA gets his or her hands dirty with your project, and does a lot of the heavy lifting for those of you who need and ask for the intervention. This is because you don’t pay them for inspiring words or even just plain good advice. You pay them to help, and sometimes helping looks like direct involvement. They are your extra arms and legs, fan extension of your vision for your book. For the most part, they’re truly gifted and empathetic individuals who got into this business because they thrive on coming alongside others and helping get the job done–helping others realize their dreams.
Q: So when do you call for this kind of help?
A: Whenever you need to. Whenever you want to. The stigma associated with asking for help makes it difficult for a lot of us to admit we need help, and it more or less silences those of us who simply want help. Maybe we can do the job all by ourselves. But maybe we don’t want to. Maybe we have the skill set to market our book, technically, but we know we could get a lot more done–maybe around the house, maybe starting our next book–if we cede some of the workload to an expert who is paid to be an expert. I don’t just want to kick the stigma of asking for help when we need it; I want to bring us back to that foundational self-publishing ethos that says ‘We’re here and self-publishing because we want the power to do exactly what we want without being policed by an agent or publisher.’ Want is as critical a component of self-publishing as need, and I think we forget that.
So: do a little research. Does your self-publishing company offer the chance to talk to a Personal Marketing Assistant? Good. Now, do you want or need a little advice on what to do next? You go and get it. And I’ll be right here to cheer you on!
You are not alone. ♣︎