Blogger: Kathleen Y’Barbo, Publicist
Location: The Woodlands, Texas PR Office
Weather: Rainy and warm
Welcome to my all new day for posting Marketing Matters! We’ve decided that Friday is a better day for me to post so the other bloggers’ four-day long discussions won’t be interspersed with my thoughts on marketing your books. I’m exciting to move to Fridays. What better way to begin the weekend?
We all want our books to sell, but the author’s role in selling copies is generally not something an author considers during the writing process. Most of us craft pages of dialogue or narrative rather than publicity plans. But, with a few simple steps, you can participate in the generation of sales for your book.
And that starts with your book proposal, which should include a marketing plan. That part of the book proposal showcases: potential audiences; what you as the author are willing to do to reach them; and any marketing you’ve done in the past.
Why is this emphasis on marketing so important? In today’s economy, competition for limited slots on a publisher’s list is tight. In the past, good writing alone might win a contract; now an editor must look beyond this to assess the book’s potential sales. This is where a well thought out marketing plan is key.
So, how does an author make a marketing plan shine? Here are a few tips:
1. Decide who your target market is and brainstorm ways to reach them. Are you writing for teens? Maybe you will offer to post book trailers on Youtube or create a Facebook site where readers can interact with one another. Robin Jones Gunn does a great job of this with her Christy Miller books. (Check out her Facebook page for details.) Perhaps your book is of interest to women of a more mature age. For these ladies you will likely want to target book clubs, bloggers, and magazines that cater to their crowd. The key in beginning to craft your plan is to know to whom you are speaking.
2. Find ways to use the information in your books to add readers outside your target market who might be interested in your topics. Think about the subject matter covered in your book and consider how you can expand on that to perhaps write magazine articles or speak on the topic. Does your novel deal with human trafficking? Then maybe you want to seek out organizations that combat that problem and offer to partner with them. Maybe you write for pastors, or mothers of toddlers, or maybe your audience is to motorcycle riders or bird watchers. Each of these groups is a separate niche market with media opportunities to reach them. Another part of this segment of the plan is to indicate what sort of platform you have. Are you a professor of psychology writing a psychological thriller or a nurse writing a devotional for medical professionals? Incorporate that into your marketing plan, as those careers and so many others can open doors to potential readers who share the same job or interest.
3. Decide what other clever ways you can use to reach your market. A word of caution here: While you can and should be creative and fresh, please don’t overlook the basics. Let your editor know you will be sending out press releases, doing book signings, and adding to your database in order to send out e-blasts (you do have a database, right?). In addition, you will likely want to offer to speak, to attend conferences, and to network with other writers and readers. You may choose to order postcards, pens, and other items. If so, be sure to note those in your marketing plan. Beyond those things, consider doing at least one “memorable” thing to promote the book. One author I know handed out small notebooks to promote her spy novel. Another had chocolate coins available at her book table to showcase her pirate novel. Yet another provided personalized nail files for her beauty shop-themed series. The sky’s the limit here, though your budget will likely put a damper on some of the more costly options.
4. Take note of what has worked in the past and include information on that in your plan. Think of this as your promotional resume section of the plan–successful experience you’ve gained in the past. If something you did with a previous book could be directly tied to an increase in sales, be sure to let your editor know this.
As you can see, a marketing plan is as different as each book and each writer. I would love to hear about what you’re including in your marketing plan.