Even before you finish writing your book, you should be planning how you will market it once it’s done. According to Keith Ogorek, President of the Author Learning Center which is an online author education platform that Author Solutions recommends to all their authors, “If you wait for your book to be published to begin marketing it, you’re too late.”
A successful book marketing campaign contains three critical phases, as outlined below.
Pre-publication – Before You Publish Your Book
Before you publish your book, identify some key elements about who your target audience is and how to market your book to this audience. Ogorek stresses the importance of understanding your potential readers and their habits when preparing your book marketing campaign. He suggests doing the following:
- Describe your target audience in terms of age, gender, occupation, and any other relevant details.
- Write a simple statement as to why people would be interested in reading your book.
- Consider your readers’ habits and where to reach them. Identify what social media platforms they use most and consider what types of venues they congregate in and where you could best reach them as a guest speaker.
Identify your marketing goals – Set simple, realistic goals that you can observe, measure, and attain. Make a checklist for each day, week, month, and quarter. Set goals such as recording a trailer, publishing a blog, or planning a promotional event for your book. Remember to celebrate each goal that you achieve along the way.
Search Titles of Competing Books – Do some research existing books that are similar to yours in subject matter and note which titles are selling well. This will help to choose a good title, and to make sure that your book title stands out from the rest.
Pick Your Title – Keep your title short and memorable. Avoid fancy terminology and words that are hard to spell or pronounce. Think of your target audience and how they express themselves, and stick to language that is familiar to them. Consider adding a subtitle to a non-fiction book to let readers know what to expect.
Design Your Cover –When searching for competing book titles, look closely at book covers as well. The cover should be as eye-catching and legible online as it is when holding the book in your hand. Pay attention to such details as colors, images, layout, and typography. Bear in mind that the central graphic you will use most often in your marketing materials will be a thumbnail of your actual book cover.
Design Your Back Cover – When people are drawn to a book cover, they’ll typically flip the book over and read the back cover copy, whether they’re shopping in person or online. Choose the copy and graphics on your book’s back cover carefully, as many potential readers will make their decision based on these elements alone.
Position Yourself as An Author – As an author, it is important to have credibility, particularly if you are writing non-fiction. Mention your unique qualifications, professional accreditations, experiences, prior publications, positive reviews, and any awards or prizes you may have received as a writer, and any other factors that give you authority and credibility as an author.
Identify Your Key Selling Point – Come up with an effective pitch that explains why people should buy your book when speaking with potential readers, buyers, and/or media representatives. This pitch is extremely important as it will be the first thing that you can use to spark interest among your target audience.
Get endorsements if possible – Having someone with a large following endorse your book can do wonders for your book sales. Use quotes from your endorsers on your back cover and promotional materials, but make sure you have permission to legally use these quotes.
Pre-release: Before You Release Your Book
Once you get close to the date when your book will be available for sale, there are some other specific things you want to do to increase your chances for success.
Write Your Elevator Pitch – Also known as a “media hook,” this is a two-minute pitch that you can use to describe your published book to media outlets that may be interested in promoting your book. Your pitch should be clear, concise, and unique, and convey something compelling about your book’s subject matter that explains why your book is newsworthy.
Plan Your Book Launch Event – A key element in any successful book marketing campaign is the book launch event. This is your chance to create a buzz before you begin promoting your book. Choose a venue that somehow ties into the theme or topic of your book. Send a press release to media outlets and invite key journalists to the event. Launch parties also provide an opportunity for you to sign and sell copies directly to your audience.
Plan Additional Book Signing Events – While most venues welcome book signing events, you’ll need to plan for these events in advance. Be creative about possible locations for these events, and think beyond the usual bookstores, libraries and coffee shops. For example, if your book is about art or history, consider a book signing event at a museum. A day spa might make a great location for a self-help book, and a botanical garden could make an awesome venue if your book is about gardening. Contact potential locations in advance, but don’t set a date until your book is released.
Prepare a Mailing List – A good mailing list that accommodates both email and regular mail is an important marketing tool that will be extremely useful to invite people to your events and distribute announcements. Keep your list private and use the blind carbon copy (bcc) option when emailing anything to the entire list. Add contacts regularly as you continue marketing and provide a sign-up sheet at events and an opportunity to sign up for your mailing list on your blog or website.
Regularly Update your Marketing Plan – Evaluate and revise your marketing plan, calendar, and budget as you continue to learn more about your target audience and make progress on your short-term goals.
Post-publication: Once your book is on the Market
Once your book is published, it’s time to raise public awareness, build your platform online and as a public speaker, and get your book into the hands of your readers and fans.
Celebrate Your Book Launch – Your book launch event is all about acknowledging your hard work and celebrating your success in becoming a published author. Look at this event as the beginning of your long-term marketing plan.
Set Dates for Book Signing Events – Follow up with your venues and finalize dates for book signing events where you can promote and sell signed copies of your book. Travel to other cities and approach bookstores and other venues that might be interested in hosting you. Readings, book signings, and speaking engagements are great opportunities, but also consider trade shows, festivals, and workshops where other authors, editors, agents, and publicists may be in attendance. These events may draw large crowds, while providing excellent learning and networking opportunities, giving you credibility as an author and opportunities for direct sales.
Pitch Your Book to Media Outlets – Contact local print and broadcast media outlets, as well as websites and bloggers that may be interested in your topic. Use your elevator pitch to get them interested in your book.
Schedule Regular Social Media Posts – Successful social media marketing requires consistency in order to build a relationship with your audience. Post quality content that your followers can share, engage in conversations, and encourage interaction with your blog and website. Comments and feedback from your followers help you to better understand your readers and the best ways to reach and engage them. Always thank followers for sharing your content and reciprocate by sharing their posts when relevant to your audience.
Revise Your Plan – Be prepared to regularly evaluate your marketing plan, take note of what’s working and not working, and make adjustments as needed. It’s always best to start marketing locally and gradually expand beyond your city once you learn what works best for you.
If you’d like to read more about how to set up a successful marketing plan, download your free copy of “The Three Phases of an Effective Book Marketing Campaign” here.