Friday, October 7, 2011

Supplementing Your Publisher's Marketing Efforts Part One: Finding A Designer

Note: I was hoping to contribute to this topic for the stay-at-home conference but ran into a shortage of time. So instead I thought I'd post it here for the benefit of our Hoosier Ink readers!

Mary has just published her first novel. She hugs her first copy and cries with delight at how perfectly they captured the feel of her writing with the beautiful cover. She can't wait to see it in readers' hands. Unfortunately, the publisher didn't put much money into marketing her book because she's an unknown author and therefore not likely to sell many copies. But how can Mary become known without more marketing from her publisher?

What seems like a Catch 22 situation may lead to it being necessary for Mary to invest a bit of her own time and money into marketing.

Social networking and guest blogging about your book are virtually free ways of getting the word out. But what if you want to send postcards to local bookstores, create bookmarks for guests of book-signings, web-site ads and other marketing of a quality that you feel matches your book? Then it might be time to seek out a professional designer.

Where do you find a professional designer?
Probably the most expensive approach would be to hire an ad agency. The positives of using an ad agency are that they typically encompass a pool of talented folks and the capability to do many forms of advertising from video to print. The negative, however, is that their prices also reflect a lot of office overhead costs to support this large group of people and all of their capabilities. You can find your local options via the phone book, Google or even by visiting your local Chamber of Commerce.

If your needs are less broad (i.e. you know you don't need ALL the bells and whistles) you might be able to find a professional designer working solo that is experienced in exactly they type of design you need. Local options to find a designer would be to check with area universities and the chamber of commerce. For non-local options you might try sites such as iFreelance, ODesk, eLance and others where artists are asked to bid or compete for your business. I would strongly advise that you not choose the artist by the lowest bid when using this type of site as in many cases you do in fact get what you pay for!  Look closely at their portfolio of past work and choose the artist whose style most closely matches what you are looking for - AND whose rating is above par.

Often, the best method is to ask around. Ask other authors who they are using. Since we are all members of ACFW I suspect that putting the question to the loop would garner you lots of options! (Yes, I would be among those options.)

Next month I plan to tackle what to expect when working with a freelance designer. If any of you have related questions please include them in a comment below and I will be sure to answer them.


  1. Excellent post. Thanks for the great tips. I've been thinking more about the marketing aspect lately. I look forward to your next post.

  2. Thanks, Loree. If there are any specific questions you have that I can answer in my next post please let me know!

  3. outstanding post! Very informative on something I have been looking for.

  4. So glad to hear it was useful, Darren. :)

  5. Suzanne, I'm wondering if you would clarify, please, by what you mean on your website when you say, "No taxes to pay." Thanks!

  6. That list is largely meant for my potential customers who own small to mid-size businesses. Rather than hire an in-house designer, for whom they would have many expenses beyond a salary (including paying taxes on that employees income) they could use my services and then the tax payment, benefits, training costs, software and hardware, utilities etc. are my burden to bear and not theirs. Especially useful to know for folks who have a regular need for design but not year round. A freelancer typically pays 35% in taxes because they are self-employed and they pay their own portion of taxes as an employee, plus that of their employer ... which happens to be them to.

  7. Ugh. I hate when I reread my own comments and see things wrong. 'Employees' should be 'employee's' and the final 'to' should be 'too'. I really do know better. Just need to slow down and reread before posting I guess? If anyone else has any questions please let me know!

  8. Thanks, Suzanne! I think (?) I understand. . . :-)

  9. Wouldn't relate to an author hiring me, Millie. (Only if they were considering hiring a designer as a full-time employee instead of just for a project - which is very unlikely! LOL) Does that help? :)

    My web site is aimed more at small to mid-sized businesses who might be on the fence about whether they should seek out a freelancer or hire someone internally. That list is the positives about hiring a freelancer in order to help them decide. Now that I am working with more individuals I may have to make that more clear! Thanks for pointing it out.