In a recent blog (To be a successful writer, look to business), I wrote about the need to take a business approach to writing. I expounded the necessity for indie authors to become “authorpreneurs” to get the clarity needed to make sound decisions. Whether you decide to use a publicist or do the work yourself, you will need a marketing plan.
Many authors say, “I’m an author, not a publicist. I want to write, not promote the book.” Some may argue that marketing and writing require different skills, and they are only good at one.
Unless you are writing just for the sake of writing, you need to tell the world about the stellar book you worked so fervently to pen. You have to create a buzz about your book, otherwise no one will know it exists.
As an authorpreneur, you must decide whether to hire a publicist to create this buzz or market the book yourself. Hiring a publicist requires due diligence. Before you write the book, or at least while you are still writing it, find someone who promotes books in your genre and who has ins with your target market (your ideal reader). Call them and see if there is a fit between your personalities and marketing approaches. The sooner you do this better because a lot of groundwork and publicity is done before the book is released. Spend time together, either by email or phone, to workout the details of who will do what in terms of promoting your book.
Hiring a publicist is not a free pass. Your publicist may set up book tours, interviews, and send out ARCs (advance reader copies) to reviewers, and lots more, but he/she may still expect you to engage readers on social media or a blog. Your publicist may suggest updating your website site or Facebook page, contacting local media and bookstores, and planning local publicity events. Hiring a publicist does not mean passing off all the work to them so you can write. It means hiring someone to help you promote your book, someone who will increase the odds for a successful book launch, or help find new ways to bring life into an existing book.
In my opinion, the greatest advantage to hiring a publicist is adding another person to your team, someone with experience and fresh ideas. Without this worker bee, you would need to learn the ins and outs of book marketing, which takes time away from writing. As an indie writer, you need to determine the value and worth of hiring a professional verses learning the skills, and then doing the work yourself.
If hiring a publicist is cost-prohibitive, then you have to roll up yours sleeves and do the work. My father made and installed awnings. When he went into business for himself, he had to learn about small business management, something very foreign to him. With only an eighth-grade education, he become very successful in his field, not only because he believed in his work and in providing quality to his customers, but also because he was not afraid to stretch out of his comfort zone.
“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” ~ Mahatma Gandi:
Indie writers can learn what is needed to successfully promote a book. Whether you are indie-or traditionally published, you must create a marketing plan with a corresponding time line and review points.
Creating a book marketing plan
- Define your ideal reader. Do this BEFORE you start writing the book. If you have more than one ideal reader, define them all. Be as specific as you can be. How old are they? Where do they live? What are their job titles? Hobbies? Where do the hang out on-line? Who are the key influences? What do they eat? Think of all the publicity ET got from Reese’s Pieces. If you can use product placement, why not?
- Get your name out. Write quest posts for key influences in your target area. Join groups on LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Google+. Start talking about your upcoming book on Facebook. Keep your readers in the loop about your progress. Create or update your Website.
- Define your social media presence. Social media can be a huge time-sink. Define where you will be and how much time you will spend maintaining your presence.
- Prepare your email list. Include family and friends. Add a subscription form for your email list to your Website.
- Define your launch strategy. Will you create a book trailer? If so, who will make it? How will you distribute it? How many books will you send as ARCs for review? Time the review copies to have testimonials for book jacket and reviews ready at time of launch. Will you have a timed promotional giveaway? Will you tie in the launch to an event? Etc.
- Define your pricing and format. Will the book be printed or only in eBook format? What do similar books sell for?
- Define the distribution. Will it be an Amazon Select or available through other channels?
- Decide on the categories. Place your book in a category with the least competition to ensure highest rankings.
- Promotion Budget. What will you need to promote your book. Pay-per-click? Trailer? Other promotional cost?
- Develop a Public Relation Strategy and Schedule. Press Releases? Editorial calendar? Speaking Engagements? Conferences?
- Develop a media kit. Write a long and short bio and intro. Prepare a list of questions for your interviewer along with the answers. Prepare for each interview. Be ready for the unexpected questions. Don’t answer every question. Leave an aura of mystique or state that you don’t want to speculate or are not prepared to answer a certain question, but then segue into something else. If you are intimidated by public speaking, take classes or join Toastmasters International.
- Develop metrics and review them often. After the book is publish, monitor the metrics (sales numbers, reviews, etc.) to see if you are still on track. If not, make adjustments and review in a timely fashion.
- Most important, do not undermine your marketing strategy with an inferior book—be sure to have it proofed and edited.
- If You Give an Author a Publicist… post by Shana Galen
- The Book Tourist: Seven Steps to a Wildly Successful Book Tour by Elizabeth Huntoon Coursen
- How to Market a Book by Joanny Penn
- DIY: How to Build Buzz for Self-Published Books
Did you create a marketing plan? Were you indie or traditionally published? What changes would you make? Please leave a comment.