Once your book is written and printed, you know that you will be ready to sell it, but who will you sell it to? As a self-published author you need to plan ahead to accomplish your goal and get the most out of the money you spend. A book marketing plan is the specific tool you will use to find your book’s audience and create places to sell your books.
Begin to outline your plan even BEFORE your book is completed. This will give you the opportunity to align your (nonfiction) topics, and (fiction) storylines with national and local holidays, promotions, regional developments, etc. and give you the advantage of FREE publicity tie-ins.
Knowing who you are writing your book for will help you to narrow your marketing focus and target specific groups. Direct your marketing toward networks, instead of working one-on-one. Consider building your marketing plan around your sorority, fraternity, special interest groups, business networks, etc.
Make a budget and stick to it. This will keep your costs from getting out of hand – a lot of what is available, and what other people tell you that they will do for you and your book will sound good until you look at what it will actually cost you. When you are making your budget, look at delivery times for each item that you include. If getting it sooner will cost more, the item may not prove to be a bargain. If you can do something yourself and still manage everything else comfortably, again, the purchase may not actually be a bargain unless it is ABSOLUTELY going to sell more books.
Your book is your product, so you will need to know who your competitors are. Check out the competition – take a look at what other people writing similar books are doing.
- As a self-published author, you have control over the amount you will charge for your book. Take a close look at what other authors writing similar books are charging. Be careful NOT to price yourself out of your market.
- Remember that printing larger quantities on your own, rather than using a POD (Print On Demand) source will allow you to achieve higher profits per book, but will require a larger initial expense on your part.
Advertising will be critical because it will tell the world that your book exists. Unusual contests and imaginative packaging will create buzz and free publicity, but you need to make sure that you combine your unusual promotional techniques with steadfast long-term tactics too. If your budget allows you to place ads, keep them running in books and on sites where your customers will see them. Also, consider the popular trends in promoting books like yours.
- Consider contacting blog owners and doing an online book tour
- Take a close look at options like blogtalk radio and consider contacting the hosts for appearances, or even hosting your own show.
- If you do not already have a website and/or a blog, NOW is the time to build one.
- Visit the websites of other authors and be sure to leave messages in the guestbooks – readers DO look to see who has visited, and will frequently visit the websites of other authors.
- Consider doing a book trailer on your own, or having one done. You can post it everywhere from your own site and/or blog, to YouTube and sites like GoodReads, Shelfari, and LibraryThing.
- EVERYBODY does contests, consider tying your advertising to a cause.
Distribution will be highly important to your plan. Knowing how your readers will find and purchase your book will determine how much money you will ultimately make from your efforts. Many writers depend upon word of mouth and family and friends – this is REALLY inefficient, unless you have thousands of cousins just waiting with money in hand and friends in tow. If not you will need to consider:
- This is yet another place where your website is key. Be sure that your site features you and your book(s), and has a purchase link. You will also be able to post your signings and other locations where the book can be purchased.
- Your handouts and giveaways like business cards and bookmarks (and anything else that you give away, including shirts, cups, caps, mousepads, pens, etc.) should all include a link to your website so that people will not only become aware of your book, but go to the site to see more, and ultimately make a purchase.
- Put a purchase link into your email signature.
- Low cost, high view ads are available from online bookstores and other classifieds.
- While regular “physical” distribution services are available (Search “Book Distributers” online), smaller print runs can also be marketed economically online through online bookstores.