We’ve written extensively about the importance of book marketing. It’s that old adage of hiding your light under a bushel basket - and just having your book ‘available’ on Barnes&Noble or other retail sites in NO WAY implies any level of awareness. Really, some of the most important work you’ll do to make your book sell STARTS long after your writing was finished.
Self published authors frequently lament their lack of book sales. All too often, I’m sure, good planning and a smart strategy could have changed those stories.
A sound and sensible book marketing plan is just as important as the writing, editing, design, and publication of a book. No matter how wonderful your book might be, it won’t sell itself…and it’s highly unlikely for a new author’s (and even many well seasoned ones’) book to jump off bookstore shelves without some help. Readers have MILLIONS of titles to choose from - tens-of-thousands are published every year.
Your book marketing plan should be designed to identify the revenue streams you plan to tap into. This document should be an outline of how you will achieve your income or sales goals, and it should identify in detail the market you’re targeting.
Building a book marketing plan.
Everyone knows a book won’t sell itself, Right? Surprisingly, many authors DON’T fully grasp this fact until it’s too late – and they are disappointed with their sales performance. Every book needs some sort of book marketing plan – something that sets your expectations and creates achievable goals that you can pursue in an orderly fashion.
But, how do you create a marketing plan for your book? There is a ton of great free software, and even more that you can spend lots of money on, that all help you create a marketing plan for selling your book. However, before you spend a lot of time and money downloading software, open up your trusty word processor and follow me…
Chapter One – Who will buy your book?
The secret to sales success is to target your marketing as directly as possible to your potential reader – and have it be someone who is reachable.
“Everyone will want to read my book!” Sorry, but that doesn’t work. Even the absolute best selling books – that sell 2 or 3 million copies in a year - only penetrate about 3% of the reading population. Sales success for your book will be driven by defining a very clear picture of who is interested in your book.
They must be identifiable: Make a list! Which groups would be interested in your book? Why? Who is next? Why should they need or want your book? (remember this – someone is more likely to buy something they NEED before something they WANT)
Now – narrow it down even more. Find a unique angle about your book – and don’t try and be everything to everyone, because you can’t – instead target 100% of a specific part!
Chapter Two – What is your definition of success for your book? What is your GOAL?
Some authors write for themselves and their families only – they don’t dream of their books as bestsellers in the marketplace. Some authors write for a very specific personal need to tell their story. Some have unique insight into very specific topics. Many have dreams of seeing their books in the front of Barnes & Noble. Each author is different, but you MUST decide what your real definition of success happens to be. We don’t want to pursue a goal that may not be what you actually feel is important.
Chapter Three – Objectives, Plans and Actions
Everything needs to start with a GOAL – and that is what you outlined in Chapter Two. Everything you do for your book should be in support of this goal.
Objectives- these are the steps you take to achieve your GOAL – for example, if your goal is to sell 5,000 books, then you need to identify some OBJECTIVES as the “steps” to achieving your goal. Just like your GOAL – make sure your Objectives are reasonable, and something that you can achieve. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to confuse WANTING to do something to achieve a goal with being ABLE to achieve a goal – make sure you possess the necessary skills to do the things on your list. Perhaps my OBJECTIVES list would look like this:
- Set up personal events to promote my book – book signings, seminars, radio interviews, etc.
- Secure reviews from print resources.
- Identify online resources for promotion of my book
- Identify non-retail opportunities for book sales.
- Create outbound awareness campaign of me, the author, as an expert in my field
Plans – your PLANS outline the needed steps to get your OBJECTIVES moving, and they begin to suggest “to do lists” and measurable actions. For example, one of my Objectives is to set up personal events to promote my book. So, my plan section might look like this:
i. Set up one book signing per week at local outlets
ii. Set up two seminars on book marketing in 1st quarter
iii. Conduct one radio interview per month over the coming year
Actions- these are the details of each PLAN- and, as the saying goes, “the devil is in the details”. This is where most marketing plans fail – you must have a coherent and workable set of “actions” to achieve each plan, that then lead to each objective – and, eventually, achieves your ultimate goal. If you can’t produce a reasonable set of “actions” for achieving each plan, then scrap the plan and start over. Here is my “Action” list for the Objective / Plans above:
Objective: Personal Appearances:
Plan: Set up one book signing per week at local bookstores
• Call B&N at Keystone– get Events Coord. name – make appt. to visit and present book signing idea. BRING BOOK!! Mary knows Mgr. – get intro?
• Books-A-Million Mgr. – drop off book – and mention reading / seminar on mktg.
• Contact library for presentations on self-pub. Monthly event?
- Plan: Set up one book signing per week at local bookstores
As you can see, it really is all about breaking your marketing efforts down in to small enough pieces to be A) understandable, B) achievable and C) measurable.
Marketing & publicity is a long-term, consistent and concerted effort. It never ever happens overnight, even though it may seem to for some people.
Chapter Four – Create a reasonable timeline and budget
All of us have finite amounts of time, energy and money. Marketing can eat up all three very quickly, leaving you alone, exhausted and broke. The game is to pace yourself and resources so that you can keep the effort moving along. This is where your planning in Chapter Three works its magic. Without looking at the “big picture,” most of us would never know how much of our precious resources should be devoted to each aspect of the game. Organization and prioritizing are the most important parts of the process – and you may find yourself returning to “Chapter Three” and rewriting sections of your plan.
Here are some monetary expenses you may expect to incur in your marketing plan:
- Sample Books – do you plan on sending them out or dropping them off?
- Marketing materials – posters, flyers, postcards, etc.
- Press release writing and distribution
- Advertising – sponsored search, links, banners, print
- Web site design and shopping cart creation
- Direct mail opportunities
A quick note on samples – I don’t believe in sending out books blindly – it’s too expensive and not effective. If a potential resource is interested in your book, they’ll ask for it (as long as you’ve written a good press release).
Chapter Five – Creating a brand with your book marketing plan
Think about this. In many cases you, not your book, are really the “brand”. Books can occasionally be seen as a commodity. “Experts” who can be interviewed on a topic are often far more valuable. Your book is your calling card, and ultimately the way you will profit from your expertise, but many times it’s YOU, the expert, that is the selling point!
Use your marketing plan to push you as the primary product, building a brand around what you know and your “mystique” as an author. Also, don’t forget to let us know your plans! If you and your book are “tied” as a brand, let us help you use your book to increase your credibility and awareness. At least have us add your web site in several places in the book – even on the cover. Letting us in on your marketing plans can allow us time to help you create the best possible product.
That’s it – the building of a book marketing plan in a nutshell if you will. Let us know if we can answer any questions, and thanks for reading.
As always - if you like this information (and found it helpful) please feel free to post it on your site, put it in a blog, toss it in your newsletter, or in general spread it around.
May you have success in your creative efforts!