You may have put your all into creating the most unique story line of all time, in hopes of turning your creative literary work into a best seller. But you may have forgotten (or may be dreading) one important step: creating a marketing plan for your book.
Like many writers, marketing may not be your forte, but creating a plan is surprisingly easier than you think and it doesn’t have to be super detailed, fancy, and several pages long like a business plan for it to be a “plan”. The type of plan discussed in this blog is for your eyes only and it will help you stay focused on the promotion of the book. Follow the six steps below to develop a marketing plan for your book so you can keep readers interested while you stay on top of your literary (and marketing) game.
Create a Vision Statement
The first step is determining the vision of your book and ensuring that your vision is portrayed throughout your marketing strategy. Your vision for your book is a statement that exemplifies your desires, dreams, and hopes; the problems you want to solve; and/or the things or people you want to inspire with your book. Unlike a mission statement, which is based on the present state of the book and why it was written, a vision statement speaks into existence the plans you anticipate to occur as a result of readers encountering your book.
For instance, for my picture book, Scary, Scary Sasha, my vision was for children and adults to create a dialogue about and discuss their experiences with fear, and to encourage children and adults to read and learn together. Many children (and adults) are fearful of insects (including myself, at times), and I believed that telling a story that both children and adults have experienced will help people deal with their fear of not only insects, but other things they have experienced in life.
If you are selling your book, your obvious goal is to probably sell lots and lots of books. But how do you plan to do this? Setting smaller goals and milestones along the way can help you track the level of interest and influence your book provides and will help you determine the strategies that work (and don’t work). Here are some goals and milestones you could aim for:
- Gain a Specific Number of Followers
With social media as the top channel for marketing, you can develop and post creative content, such as blogs, videos, and images, that are related to your book. The more viewers who see your content, the more they may become interested and follow you through your literary journey – and possibly turn into customers.
- Set Sales Goals
Determine a realistic goal for the number of books you plan to sell in a certain time frame. As you are developing a buzz for your book, come up with a sales goal you want to achieve, especially for the day the book is released, as well as weekly and monthly sales.
- Start and Grow an Email List
If you create content on a regular basis and more people begin to follow you, you can create a free and simple website or blog (which is discussed in more detail below) and ask people to join an email list. This allows you to send them content directly and offer incentives for being a subscriber, which can keep them interested in your book.
- Land Interviews with Blog Websites or News Publications
Research blog sites and news publications that review or feature authors like you or books in your genre, and make it a goal to try to nail a certain number interviews with them before your release date.
- Organize Book Signings
As you promote your book and get people talking, work with your local bookstore, library, or any location that may provide a gathering space to set up a book reading and signing. It’s a great way for your audience to preview your book before the release date and share their views on your book.
As you were writing your book, what group(s) of people did you imagine would read your book? For whom is your book written? What types of people would most likely buy your book? They would be your target audience, which is the group of people who would be most interested in your book. And knowing your target audience is key to marketing to the right audience.
But don’t expect your possible interested readers and buyers to come to you; you need to find them, and Facebook is a great place to start. There are all sorts of groups on Facebook that center around a variety of topics and people. Perform a search pertaining to the book or your target audience and you will probably find a group that contains individuals who may be interested in your book.
Choose Your Marketing Channels
Consistency and timing is key to creating engaging content and keeping your audience interested. But you have to choose the right platform to do so — and it must help you achieve the vision and goals you have set for your book. Below are several marketing channels that you can use. Analyze your audience and determine which channels will engage them more and provide the best results.
Starting a website sounds complicated, but it’s essential to building your brand and promoting your book. You can add an author bio, excerpts from your book, a couple of illustrations (mainly for picture books), contact information, and more. And there’s no need to worry about actually building a website. Website builders such as Wix, Joomla, Squarespace, Weebly, and WordPress provide templates to simply add text, images and videos to the site so you can customize it to fit your brand.
After writing your book, which may have taken months or years to write, you may not want to start a blog, where you have to come up with more things to write about. But it’s a great marketing tool that gives you the opportunity to write about your experience with writing your book, in-depth tips on brainstorming, working with illustrators and editors, or anything related to your brand and book. And as you post your blog and/or add it to your website, you can share it by posting it several social media channels as well.
- Social Media
Below are four of many social media channels that are great for authors who are marketing their books. It’s recommended that you choose up to three social media sites; you don’t want to become overwhelmed with posting content on too many sites):
Facebook – great for introducing your book with a variety of content (long-form, short-form, video, images, etc.)
Instagram – great for picture book authors who want to showcase a couple of illustrations from your book
Twitter – great for posting links to long- and short-form content that direct to your website or blog
YouTube – ideal for posting your book trailers, author intro videos, more in-depth content
Sell AND Give Away Merchandise
It sounds odd to say “sell” and “give away merchandise” in the same sentence. But one great way to get people interested in your soon-to-be best seller is to give them free merchandise. Everyone likes free merchandise, and it’s the perfect strategy for grabbing their attention. Of course, you will not make money from it — at first. But as your audience grows, develop and brand merchandise that you can sell as you get closer to the release date. Below are some examples of merchandise you can brand to sell or give to interested readers:
- Tote bags
- Canvas Prints
Create a Marketing/Editorial Calendar
Time management is essential in marketing as you are balancing multiple activities and creating a variety of marketing tools to share with your audience in a particular time frame. So creating a marketing or editorial calendar will help you keep track of all of your marketing efforts. Whether you’re creating social media posts or planning to have a book signing event, you can add all content and events to one calendar.
Try to write content and schedule posts and events at least a month in advance. Planning ahead is extremely helpful as it gives you a little breathing room before working on the next marketing project for your book.
If you’re trying to figure when to start marketing your book, check out our previous blog here.