“How can I market my book?”
First-time authors are still asking this every day on forums, blogs and on Google. I regularly get emails asking this very question or a variation of it, and I get the feeling that most people are hoping for a one-size-fits all magic answer.
If only there was one :(
It’s overwhelming. Rather than a lack of info, there’s too much info available and some of it is conflicting. So how do you cut through the noise and work out what is going to work for you and your book?
No-one is like you, and there is no other book like yours. (Really :D )This means that you are the best person to create your marketing plan and have a good chance of sticking to it. This post lays out exactly how I recommend you going about creating your plan.
Here are 10 steps I personally used to navigate the world of book marketing and devise my marketing plan in the new and digital era. Following these steps won’t guarantee you’ll be a bestseller overnight, but it will certainly put your book in front of the right people, and with the right positioning. Having a solid plan to follow will put you way ahead of the game!
Step 1. Commit to subscribing to every blog, newsletter and free piece of content you can in order to keep on top of the publishing and marketing industry. The indie publishing community is super generous. Successful authors are sharing what is working for them – and what isn’t – every. single. day. And since this is such a new field, at the end of the day it’s all trial and error, but we can all learn a heckofalot from the results.
–> Find a list of incomplete but valuable industry-professionals to subscribe to here: http://laurapepperwu.wordpress.com/links-for-building-a-book/ (Scroll down)
Step 2. Pinpoint your ideal reader. Too many authors are preaching to a broad crowd, the wrong crowd OR they’re preaching to other indie authors. The irony is that by trying to appeal to everyone, you’ll appeal to no-one.
To sell books you need to understand exactly WHO enjoys your book so that you can focus your efforts on those who are more likely to buy it and the places that they hang out.
Creating a reader profile and getting deep inside that reader’s head, thoughts and lives might feel crazy, but it’s one of the single most useful things you can do for your marketing is .
Step 3. Come up with a budget for marketing expenses/ resources/ re-designing your product (see number 4). Successful self-published authors realize that self-publishing is a business. Most successful businesses succeed because they have a budget and are able to pay upfront costs that will be reaped in multiples later down the line.
–> We can all cut back somewhere or sell something. In order to market your book, you WILL have to spend a little to make a little, so work out and commit to paper exactly how much $ you can find to put into your book.
Step 4. Hire (at a minimum) a professional proofreader, editor and book cover designer. I suggest delaying your marketing efforts until you have these basics up to scratch. According to the Taleist.com self publishing survey results, “respondents who hired help for things like story-editing, copyediting and proofreading earned on average 13% more than those who didn’t. Hiring a professional cover designer earned them on average 18% more”. Also worth noting is that writers who hired an editor for story editing, copyediting and proofreading AND a professional cover designer earned 34% more than those who didn’t hire anyone. (Source: Catherine, Caffeinated).
–> Commit to publishing to professional standards and you’ll be taken more seriously and avoid the stigma that plagues self-published authors. You’ll also get better reviews, which, will in turn help you sell more books. A review that points out typos or bad editing can kill sales for a long time.
Step 5. Buy a few books on marketing. There are so many out there, and several of them are under $5 on the Kindle/ Nook. Check out the Indie Authors Guide to the Universe by Jeff Bennington, The Best of Catherine Caffeinated, 1001 Ways to Market Your Book by John Kremer, The Well-Fed Self-Publisher by Peter Bowerman, We are Not Alone & Are You There Blog, It’s Me Writer, by Kristen Lamb, The Newbie’s Guide to ePublishing by J.A. Konrath, Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success by Mark Coker… there are many, many more.
–> Check the reviews and choose a few to devour wisely.
Step 6. Read, absorb them like a sponge and highlight the areas you want to put into practice. Only you know yourself and your book well enough to know what will work for you and what won’t. Keep a running list on a Google doc or on a notepad you can keep close by.
–>Tip: I highly recommend Google Docs for staying organized. You can use their spreadsheets, docs and calendar to keep track of everything, set up alerts to your email, share them with others, and access them from anywhere you have Internet. Super useful!
Step 7. With your budget and your target reader in mind, prioritize the marketing efforts you listed in number 6 that fall in line with these factors. Be realistic: are you sure you can blog at least once a week or would you prefer to send out a newsletter monthly instead? How much is each task going to cost in terms of time AND money?
–> List out 10-20 “do-able” techniques that you can commit to.
Step 8. Find the time. Carve out the hours you will need each week and make marketing a part of your work week.
–> Commit this plan to a calendar – if it’s not on your calendar, it’s probably not going to get done!
Step 9. This is essentially your book marketing plan and should be good for the next 6-12 months. While it is flexible (meaning you can improvise along the way depending on what happens) you should try as hard as possible to stick to it.
Step 10. Never stop learning and stay fluid. Remember those newsletters and blogs you signed up to in step 1? Keep reading the ones you find valuable and useful. Unsubscribe from the others to avoid information overload. If you get new marketing ideas, add them to your plan and try them out for a while.
Bonus step! Overcome your fear of technology. I had a huge “aha” moment when I realized this: we are all born with the same knowledge of technology.
While we classify ourselves as “technical” or “non-technical”, it’s all just a label we give ourselves that doesn’t mean a thing. If we are patient and willing, we can all understand and gain control ofthe basic technology indie author – our author website/ blog, social media accounts, and understanding how to fully utilize Amazon’s tools.
The 30 Day Books crew is launching a new set of digital tools. It’s going to change the way you promote your books for the better.
Hungry? Authorlicious is coming soon! http://authorlicious.30daybooks.com/
Laura Pepper Wu is the co-founder of 30 Day Books: a book studio. She has worked with a variety of authors to successfully promote their books, including many Amazon best-sellers. Laura is the author of wedding non-fiction guides and book marketing guides 77 Ways to Find New Readers for Your Self-Published Book and Fire Up Amazon!
Laura also runs Ladies Who Critique, a critique-partner finding site. When she's not working at the studio, you can find her walking her dog, "yoga-ing" or at a coffee shop in Seattle.