Creating a Book Marketing Plan

This article was reprinted with permission from Dog Ear Publishing.

You all know a book won’t sell itself? Right? Surprisingly, many authors DON’T understand this fact until too late — and they are disappointed with their sales performance. Every book needs some sort of marketing plan — something that sets your expectations and creates achievable goals that you can attack in an orderly fashion.

But – how do you create a marketing plan for your book? There is a ton of great freeware, even more that you can spend lots of money on, that all help you create a marketing plan for selling your book. But – before you go to the exciting effort of spending time and money on 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 to 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 the 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 – insteand 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 book in the front of Borders or 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 you 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 or achieve a goal with be 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:

1. Set up personal events to promote my book – book signings, seminars, radio interviews, etc.
2. Secure reviews from print resources.
3. Identify online resources for promotion of my book
4. Identify non-retail opportunities for book sales.
5. 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 create “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:

Objective: Personal Appearances:

Plans:
i. Set up one book signing per week at local outlets
ii. Set up two seminars on book marketing in 1Q 2006
iii. Conduct one radio interview per month in 2006

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 leads 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

ACTIONS:

  • 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?
  • Borders Mgr – drop off book – and mention reading / seminar on mktg –
  • Contact library for presentations on self-pub. Monthly event?

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 it 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 part 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:

1. Sample Books – do you plan on sending them out or dropping them off?
2. Marketing materials – posters, flyers, postcards, etc.
3. Press release writing and distribution
4. Advertising – sponsored search, links, banners, print
5. Web site design and shopping cart creation
6. 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” you are selling. 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 YOU 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 you’re your marketing plans can allow us time to helpyou create the best possible product.
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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. Please just give us credit here at www.dogearpublishing.net

May you have success in your creative efforts!

 Ray

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