Planning to sell through your first print run will require dedication and a solid marketing strategy you can commit to. Detailing the tasks is important and so is budgeting your time and money. If you hate planning, schedule short sessions. Whatever works to get it done. Be sure to build in lots of marketing activities that you enjoy. I like to try new applications and learn new technical skills. And, of course, there are those creative book launches and parties.
If you are not a hobbyist but a serious player, you should consider writing a business plan, even if you are not trying to wow investors at this time. Why not take your life mission seriously and plan for success? See if you can make the numbers work to make your mission a career, your life’s work. Writing a book will likely not constitute a lucrative living, in fact, the odds are so stacked against it! However, you could add writing-related activities to your portfolio like editing, coaching, speaking, teaching, magazine and online writing, writer-in-residence programs, online courses, webinars, etc. Perhaps you want to set up a non-profit organization which will pay you. Why not have all of your activities serve your life mission?
Here is a wonderful business plan kit to download, including interactive planning template and loads of info.
MARKETING PLAN – for a book
Situation analysis: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
• Hopefully, your strengths include superior and desirable content, incredible cover and interior book design, a well-crafted kick-ass description, advance praise from well-known and respected authors and a team of supporters.
• Your weaknesses may include limited distribution for your physical books, a saturated market, your knowledge about marketing…
• Opportunities can be connections you’ve made, new marketing channels you can open up, a focus on the news on your topic…
• Threats can be from new competitors on the scene with a better book and promo package along with powerful distribution. Perhaps your publisher or distributor is going out of business.
Your target audience is NOT “adults who read books”. Be as specific as you can, so that you can determine how to reach the people who will want to read your book. Imagine a few characters who will particularly enjoy reading your books. And for each, ask yourself:
• How much education do they have?
• How much money do they make?
• Where do they shop?
• What magazines and newspapers do they read?
• What radio stations do they prefer?
• Where do they live?
• What organizations and groups do they join?
• What other books do they read? Where do they buy them?
• What is their job title? What conferences do they attend?
• If you already have a website and some social media that has a relationship to your book and its audience, analyze your followers.
• Take a look at your closest competitors and find out who their fans are and where they are coming from. Also, by comparison, determine what makes you distinctive. What is your very unique value proposition? Here’s an exercise to get you started. It’s very difficult to determine and it may take you a while to hone your skill.
• If you are very thorough, you should be launched on the details for your plan.
What is this marketing plan designed to achieve? Plot how many books you plan to sell – on and off-line – by month over the first year. Plot your numbers on a spreadsheet, and on a calendar where you can see them regularly.
Marketing Strategies and Tactics
Determine which formats you will produce and how they will be produced.
Paperback? Hardcover? Ebooks via iBooks? Kindle? Kobo? Google Play? Audio? Etc.
Who will produce? Publish? Convert?
PRICING – if you are the person in charge.
Have you researched your peers’ pricing strategy? Is yours competitive? Will your book be required reading in your industry? How price sensitive are your readers? Will you create sales and giveaways to try to get attention and increase your sales numbers? Or are you selling quality and uniqueness?
What will be your discount structure and how will you distribute to:
• Individual buyers
• Library wholesalers
• Small business
• Non-profit organizations
Hard copies might be mailed and dropped off to bookstores and individuals via a distributor if you can convince them that they will sell lots of copies to their particular marketplace. Booksellers can be a good source of information about distributors. Do your homework.
Here’s a list of distributors in Canada that you might consider:
Will you distribute to the US? Other countries? How? For paperback print on demand, consider using Amazon CreateSpace or Ingram Spark.
Will you sell from your website? Or link to others who will sell for you?
Will you sell your ebooks to libraries? Check out Overdrive.
What about Chapters/Indigo? If you do not have a distributor, you must sell the books on consignment, store by store.
MARKETING TO LIBRARIES
• Target libraries you want to approach. Are there specialized libraries for your topic?
• Talk to your local librarian and ask if they would be interested in carrying your book. Pitch a reading or speaking engagement at the library. Note that these are usually planned long in advance.
• Buy a library list. Here is a targetted Canadian library list for $35. http://www.simonteakettle.com/canlibr.htm
• Put in a proposal to speak at an upcoming library conference or buy a table (along with others)
• Self-published authors can register with library wholesalers, ie http://www.librarybound.com/SELFPUBLISH.PDF
• Join the self-E program in the US. https://janefriedman.com/selfpub-distribution-libraries/
• Be sure to send your book for review to publications that librarians value and use like Publishers Weekly and Library Journal in the US, http://www.resourcelinksmagazine.ca/ for YA and kids books in Canada, and so on.
MARKETING TO BOOKSTORES
If you do not have a distributor, you will be selling to each store directly – on consignment. Set an appointment with the buyer, bring your marketing materials and if the book is already published, take a copy of your book. Tell them how you will be directing traffic to that store for them to buy a book at that location. Be prepared to invoice, track sales, and monitor on an agreed-upon regular time frame.
Some of the most lucrative sales fall into this category. Suppose that you’ve written a book that is going to have an impact on the audience of an upcoming conference. And suppose that there is an individual or company who has a vested interest in that message. Then suppose you approach the appropriate individual to suggest that they purchase a copy for each conference participant to go in the conference kit with a message from the sponsor (often done as a bookmark, or in a special print run with a special introductory printed page. Or you sell to a company to provide to their staff or suppliers or customers as Christmas gifts or appreciation gifts….
Take a look at where your most direct competitors have publicized. Google them. Check out their website for media reviews and interviews. Make a list of your specific media targets. Research them and if you can find a connection to a story your blogger or journalist has done in the past, make the connection. Help them as much as possible by suggesting stories that fit their mandate and tailoring your press release to answer their need for a story. You may also tailor the release to an event, certainly the book launch – or Heart Month, International Women’s Day, Christmas, etc. You might even get to the point where you will be called on by media – weekly, monthly or for each holiday with your recommendations for books, recipes, restaurants, cocktail recipes, financial advice, or whatever your area of expertise may be.
Naturally, you will want to have a book launch to celebrate, to thank everyone involved in the publishing process, to gather up your supporters and to reach out to potential buyers, influencers, and anyone you think might help you promote the book.
If you are a good speaker or could become a good speaker, look for opportunities regularly and continue to develop your art. Consider joining a speakers bureau.
Join organizations and put yourself forward for events.
Have a bookstore signing strategy. If you want to do a lot of these, plan how you will advertise and get attention. Pair up with different authors in different locations to cross-pollinate audiences.
Sell books at craft fairs leading up to Christmas.
Put yourself on a tour and book as many events as you can along the way. Contact the local media to tell them that you are coming and wow them with your expertise.
ADVERTISING, MARKETING MATERIALS
It’s rare for a publisher or an author to be able to afford the kind of repeat exposure in a magazine or newspaper that will be effective – unless it is very targetted and has a direct, powerful message. Other approaches include stickers, bookmarks, posters, postcards, or vehicle wraps. www.vistaprint.ca/ is a veritable catalogue of possibilities
In addition to promoting yourself on social media using Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, GoodReads, blogs, podcasts, etc, etc, you can advertise and promote on many of those channels. An email signature and a business card that sends people to your social media are basics.
Budget how much you plan to spend and what you expect in return. Also, budget your time, measure it and be realistic about what you can manage.
Apply for book awards. Usually, this is a publisher responsibility, but here are some that accept self-published authors:
SOCIAL MEDIA PLAN
First, do you need to do social media? Almost certainly. But, you can decide what makes the most sense for your objectives and find ways to streamline your efforts. The idea here is to provide lots of information, entertainment and engage people who might be interested in you. Be very careful not to sell, sell, sell. There is more information about social media tools that can be downloaded from my homepage. http://cadencepr.ca I mention it here to remind you to budget your time and money to include social media. I will provide more information about this in future posts. Don’t wait for the book to come out to start on your social media. You can begin positioning and experimenting before you publish. Start telling them that it is forthcoming. Some bloggers have even blogged all of the chapters of their book over time and then sold it to their swelling audience.
Which social media platforms are used by your peers, your mentors? How do they use them? What can you do that improves on their tactics?
What about your audience? Where are they and how are they using social media?
How much time and money do you want to invest in social media? Are you a natural at social media? Or do you need to take a course or get someone to coach you to get you started? Or can you find other ways to meet your objectives.
LinkedIn is for professionals and doesn’t require much maintenance. Even if your target market isn’t professionals, it is worth setting up a profile to increase your credibility and make it easier to be found. Take a little time to fill it out in as much detail as possible and keep in mind the keywords that people will be entering to find your peers. If you are marketing to a professional audience, join the groups that your audience is in and participate. If you are a blogger, adjust your blogposts for this audience and post a version on LinkedIn.
Facebook is a great way to stay in touch with friends. A Facebook page can be set up to sign up your fans and stay in touch. Since Facebook only serves your posts to a percentage of your fanbase, can be as low as 6% be sure to post compelling content, be prepared to drive traffic to the page from your other social media, try promotions and contests (using Shortstack or similar software) and to advertise, which need not cost much.
Twitter requires a little more time to be effective.
Who to follow?
_ Follow your influencers, your peers, anyone who already qualifies as your audience.
_ Check out their lists for followers.
_ Make lists of your customers, influencers.
_ Follow/Unfollow to keep a ratio that it is not too out of balance. Use tools like SocialBro to help you maintain your profile.
Automate connections, not relationships. Try some applications that will lessen your load.
_ Social Quant
_ Tweet Jukebox
_ Use@name when you can by responding or initiating conversation
_ Use hashtags # to target your audience, ie. #yyc for Calgary and #yegwrites for Edmonton writers
_ Twitter Cards
Pinterest requires great imagery and is targetted more to women than to men.
YouTube is a great way to showcase yourself as a reader or speaker. You still need to send people to look at your videos. And, you can embed them on your website and other places. If you were to get a bad review that rises to the top of a Google search, post a series of great videos and send that bad review back to page 2 or 3.
Google+ puts your contribution high in the Google search rankings.
This is just a mention of social media. I will discuss in more detail later. If you are looking for social media tips and tools, download info from my homepage, http://cadencepr.ca
Schedule times with yourself for regular review of your initiatives and to set new targets. You will want to balance marketing this book with writing the next one!
More on social media in particular, in future posts.