How To Create A Book Marketing Plan

| June 19, 2011 | Comments (214)

One of the most over-looked aspects of writing a book seems to be the dreaded Marketing Plan. I say “dreaded” because I’ve noticed this often comes as a surprise to authors who are eagerly working on their books, but don’t have a clue that the book writing is only part of the equation.

It’s hard enough to write the book, but now there is this added burden of writing a proposal that includes the all important marketing plan. When I mention this to authors I’m interviewing, many of them balk. Hairball! “That’s a lot of work,” they say. My answer is, “Well—yes, it is. But without a plan, you’ll be getting nowhere fast.”

Let’s remember the old proverbial saying: “He who fails to plan, plans to fail.” When it comes to books and book marketing, all I can say about that is, “You’ve got that right buddy!”

Here’s the deal, if you’re writing a book, or even thinking about writing a book—let’s say you’re planning it, you’ve got an outline going, or a list of chapters you want to include. That’s great! But guess what? Before you go much further into the writing, you need to take a deep breath, STOP, and begin considering how you are going to market your book.

Trust me. There are no agents or publishers out there worth their weight that will entertain your book without a book proposal that has a “full-blown” marketing plan in it. What do I mean by full-blown? Keep reading and I’ll gladly show you. But before I do that, let’s get several key points very straight:

  1. Your book will not sell itself
  2. A publisher is not going to do all the work
  3. A publisher or literary agent will not speak with you about your book if you don’t have a marketing plan
  4. Your book doesn’t know your “goals and objectives”
  5. Books are inanimate objects—they don’t jump off of shelves
  6. Everyone does not want to buy your book
  7. Selling books requires a strategic effort—that means from you

Is that enough to convince you? OK, I’m going to go over items 1, 4, and 7 in this article. We can talk about how to work with book publishers and literary agents at another time. All you need to know right now is that they will not give you the time of day without the plan, and the information I’m going to share with you now will help to point you in the right direction to deal with the powers that be later. So let’s get started!

Your Book Will Not Sell Itself

No matter how wonderful you think your book is going to be, it will not sell itself. Especially, and I emphasize this, especially if you are a new author. Books need help to make it off the shelves in the book store. Even seasoned authors need a plan. Remember, celebrities who write books have probably had years of press and media hype to help them along. The buying public already knows and loves them, so it is much easier for them to sell books.

This is a sad but true situation that we find ourselves in. Yes, we get information at the speed of light because of the internet, but when it comes to book sales, the internet really only helps those who are established, have a platform, and have a following and an online presence. As a new author without an established reputation, you must have a plan. That’s why it is crucial for the “newbie” to have a detailed book marketing plan, which is equally as important as the writing of the book, your design, the actual publication, and the distribution.

Just as each author is unique, each book proposal and marketing plan will be unique. There are specific items the book proposal and marketing plan must contain, but they will be completely tailored to the book, author, author’s goals, the book’s market and the budget. So take into consideration what you want to achieve with your book. Do you want a best seller? Are you an expert in your field? Do you have a personal experience you know could help others? Are you writing a family history? You see what I’m getting at, right? Each author and story is different, and each plan will be different. That’s why it requires your special thought and attention to detail.

Your Book Doesn’t Know Your Goals and Objectives

If you want to make money with your book, and I’m going to assume that you do, you must identify where that money is going to come from. First you must decide—WHY you are writing the book, and WHO will it help? Is there a NEED? If there is a need, you need to prove it! Once you determine that, you will have identified your target market and you’ve given yourself a reason to write the book. You now have a GOAL.

Be very specific with your targets. Your target or targets should be laser-focused. It is more powerful, and you’ll be more successful if you target a niche market, than try to be everything to everyone. So give this some serious thought. And remember—it’s your job to figure out HOW you’ll reach your readers.

Now—you may have more than one target market, and that is fine. But they must be identified so you can figure out HOW you will market the book to them. Generalizations won’t work here. I’ll say it again—be specific. Try to target each market in great detail. More than likely, each target market will require a different strategy, which means you will have a different list of tasks to get the job done.

WHAT are your sales goals? Do you know? Just saying “I want to sell a lot of books” is not going to cut it. So to get your sales goals defined, you’ll need to identify the specific markets and revenue streams you intend to target. Once you’ve done that you can determine “HOW” this will be done.

Whether you want to write a best-seller or you just want to raise funds to buy a new building for your church, club or organization, each book needs some sort of marketing plan. Your plan will capture in writing what the expectations are. This gives you something on which to create the goals for your project. Once that is done, you can create that task list to get the job done.

WHAT defines success for you? WHAT does it look like? You need to be able to answer these questions so you can write a marketing plan that matches your goals.

Yes—this is a lot of work….Are you still with me? I hope so because once you’ve done all that work, you’ll be able to determine your OBJECTIVES. And this is where it gets powerful!

For the sake of example, let’s say your objective is to sell 10,000 books in the next year. You’ve now given this a ‘number” so you’ve taken the important step of making your goal MEASURABLE! That’s a good thing, because now you have a way to measure your success. But be sure that the 10,000 is a reasonable goal for you. You’ll get a feel for this once you start to try to figure out how you are going to sell 10,000. If it seems impossible based on what you plan, then you may want to rethink the number.

Make sure you can achieve the objective. If you’re good with the number, plan away. And if at the end of the year you miss your goal, you can go back and look at your plan and make some corrections to make improvement. But you have to start somewhere. And remember, plans can be revised, and should be if something is not functioning. That’s why you should constantly be reviewing your progress. Don’t hold onto something if it’s not working! Change it!

Selling Books Requires a Strategic Effort—That Means From You!

Now that you have determined your objectives you’ll need to create PLANS that support the OBJECTIVES, and ACTIONS that support the PLANS. Believe me, it’s not that hard, you just have to give it some thought and be organized. Approach this very strategically. It’s just a matter of continuing to break things down, so they can get done. Break it down into bite-sized chunks and be prepared to take little steps to reach the big picture.

What’s important to remember is that all of your efforts need to broken down so you can understand them, achieve them, and be able to measure your success. The key is to not give up. Also, breaking things down into small pieces give you the ability to really “see” what you are doing as you make progress. You’ll get a great sense of satisfaction as you work on your plan, and little by little you can check items off the list!

Let’s take a look at how this plays out for one item of the PLAN using the objective, plan, and action format. We’ll use the example of ‘personal appearances” because that is one that seems to be the most important to all authors, and makes the biggest impact. Being face to face is the best way to reach an audience! So let’s break down “personal appearances” and see a little bit of what it’s made of.

Personal Appearances:

  • Book signings
  • Seminars/workshops
  • Media/TV interviews
  • Newspapers
  • Radio interviews
  • Classes
  • Speeches
  • Organizations
  • Trade shows
  • Book fairs
  • Schools
  • Clubs
  • Special events

These are just some of the possibilities for one item in the PLAN, and I just came up with those off the top of my head. The next thing would be to take each one of those items on your list and drill down into it. Start to make another list of what you can do to make each one happen. Those items are your ACTIONS. Who do you know? Who can you call? What clubs are you a member of? What events are taking place in your area?

Do you get the picture? You have to constantly be thinking about where and when you can market your book.

Here’s what you need to remember…marketing, publicity, and the success that can comes with it is due to a long-term, strategically planned effort that is continuous, consistent and concentrated—period. Very few people are truly “over-night successes.” It may seem that way, but usually it is not. We have all heard of the overnight success that was 10 years in the making—right? I don’t say this to discourage you, but the encourage you to create a very powerful plan that can shave years off your trajectory when properly executed.

Conclusion

So I think I have made my point, and I’m sure you’re convinced that books do not sell themselves! This has been a brief overview about book marketing plans, why you need them, and how they can help you. If I can be of service to you, please contact me with your book marketing and book proposal or marketing plan questions. I create marketing plans and book proposals for books in many non-fiction genres including culinary and chef’s memoirs, cookbooks, gardening, pets, animals, gardening, self-help, and inspirational topics.

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Category: Balanced Rock Press, laura denktash

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