Google “marketing strategy for authors” and you’ll find lots of ideas on how to use social media to promote your book. The thing is: social media isn’t the be-all and end-all of book marketing. To get the word out about your book, you need to consider much more. Developing a good book marketing strategy will help you. It will give you a plan to work with. A roadmap of sorts. You can also use it to rein in the help of marketing experts and other advisors.
Let’s look at what to include in a book marketing strategy and how to use this plan to get your book on the best-seller lists.
Your book overview is a brief summary of what the book is about. You could include a bit about yourself and why you’ve chosen to write the book too. Here you also need to include information about what you hope to achieve with the book: giving advice and inspiration to readers who might be facing a similar situation, for instance.
The strategy brief, sometimes called an executive summary, is – surprise, surprise – a brief roundup or summary of the key aspects of your book marketing strategy. It gives an overview of what you plan to do to market your book. It also summarizes your target audience, defining your ideal reader, who and where they are, and why they will be interested in your book. You may find it easier to leave writing the strategy brief for last, once you’ve put your entire plan together. (That’s what we do when we’re writing book marketing strategies for our authors.)
Book marketing strategies and associated campaigns are not about simply putting the information out there and hoping for the best. You need to tailor your activities to speak directly to the people who are most likely to buy your book. And you need to speak to them where they already are.
Identifying your reader is a big deal. As in it is important. You want to determine your reader’s demographic profile: their age, gender, where they live, level of education, average income, and so on. You also need to look at their interests and why they would want to read your book.
When preparing your nonfiction book marketing strategy, you want to identify recommenders in addition to potential readers. Recommenders are the people who may have a vested interest in recommending your book to others. Let’s say your book is a memoir about overcoming addiction. Your potential readers may include addicts, their family and friends, and people who simply want an inspiring story to read. Your recommenders may include addiction counsellors, medical professionals, psychologists and educators. These are people who may come into contact with your potential readers. Recommenders will read your book and recommend it to others who may benefit from reading it too.
In marketing language, the unique selling proposition is often abbreviated to USP. It defines what distinguishes your book from others: what makes it a must-read. When describing your USP in your book marketing strategy, there are two main aspects to focus on:
Pricing is a very important part of getting your book to sell. If it’s too expensive, your target market may not buy it. If it’s priced too low, potential readers may think it’s an inferior book. The pricing section of your book marketing strategy should include details about how you’re planning to price your book in different markets. You should also include plans for promotions, discounts and giveaways. You’ll get information to inform your pricing strategy when you look at your competitors: what are they selling for? This will tell you what readers in your genre expect to pay.
How will people get hold of your book? Will you only sell it as an ebook or will you have a print version too? Where will you sell your book? Will you upload only to KDP for Amazon? Or distribute more broadly? Will you print hundreds of copies of your book to keep in the trunk of your car, ready to hand out at that conference, book signing, or friendly conversation in the grocery store lineup? What are your plans for getting into other markets, and other countries where your readers might reside? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you refine your marketing and promotional activities.
Marketing materials are the extras you will use to promote and market your book. They include brochures, business cards and a website. Extra content is a marketing material too. You may want to write a few pieces – anecdotes from the book, opinion pieces related to the subject of your book, and the like – that you could distribute to media outlets or post on your website, social media and blogs. This will help enhance your visibility as an author. Think through what materials will work best for your book and your reader.
Your promotions strategy describes how you will reach new readers. What kind of advertising will you use? Where will you advertise? How can you use events such as conferences or book fairs as a marketing opportunity? When you plan your promotions strategy, you need to consider your budget and your schedule. If you don’t have the money or time for travelling to events, you’ll have to focus on other strategies. You also need to consider your personality. If public speaking is your biggest nightmare, you may want to avoid events where you need to give lectures or act as guest speaker.
Your online strategy is about both engagement and marketing. Outline your plans for online advertising and promotion. How you’ll utilize social media is a very important part of this. However, if you never use social media, you may want to focus on other online strategies. For example, you may want to use keywords and search engine optimization in the online content you create for your website and blogs.
With nonfiction, there are many opportunities for partnerships and joint ventures with people and organizations that could benefit from your book. List everyone you could reach out to as well as ideas on how to partner with them. For a book about addiction, for example, you could team up with an addiction treatment centre by taking part in a fundraising event that includes a book signing. We recently collaborated with another publisher on a cat book anthology who partnered with a prominent pet store to hold a book signing. The pet store gets additional traffic into the store, you get a free place to hold your book signing in a physical environment that makes sense for your book.
A successful marketing campaign takes time. It takes money too. You need to have a good idea of what everything will cost, from creating promotional materials to travelling to book signings. What you can afford will in many ways dictate what you can actually do. If one aspect of your marketing plan will cost more than the potential returns, you’ll need to focus on other, more effective strategies.
Once you’ve started implementing your book marketing strategy, you’ll have to check whether it actually works. Describe how you will be keeping track. Will you keep tabs on likes, retweets and comments on social media, for example? Will you look at sales figures after a book-signing event? When something doesn’t seem to be working, how will you adjust your plan?
Now that you’ve detailed what needs to be done, you need to get down to the nitty-gritty of what, how and when. Work out a detailed plan of action, with a timeline of when you’ll be tackling each marketing activity. Remember that you don’t wait until after your book has launched to act on your book marketing strategy. You want to start earlier, working up to the launch. Also, you don’t stop implementing your book marketing strategy after your book has launched. You’ll create a long-term post-launch strategy which is how you’ll get people to continue the conversation.
If this sounds like a lot of work, you’re right. If you’re wondering if it is all worth it… you’re wrong. The time and effort you spend on the front end, early in the process of writing and planning your book, will come back to you in spades. Marketing should not be an afterthought.
Want to talk to us about getting help with your book marketing strategy? Book a free discovery call today.
Boni is co-founder of Ingenium Books and an author, editor, and ghostwriter. She also manages communications and media for the Alliance of Independent Authors. As an award-winning former Canadian television reporter, news anchor, producer, and talk show host, working under the names Boni Fox and Boni Fox Gray, Boni covered politics, government, the economy, health, First Nations, and crime. She won several Canadian Association of Broadcaster (CAB) awards and a Jack Webster Award for best documentary. Boni also held senior management roles in government, leading teams responsible for editorial, issues management, media relations, strategic communications planning. Boni is co-author of Rock Your Business: 26 Essential Lessons to Start, Run, and Grow Your New Business From the Ground Up.
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