Marketing is something authors need to do once they have a published book. It's something that doesn't come easy to most authors---especially the introverted type. But authors should market their books. Whether they have a publishing house helping them or not, their name is on the cover. Their career is at stake. And they know their book better than anyone else. It doesn’t have to take over an author's life or drain an author's bank account. But authors should put forth an effort.
It's true, authors are writers first, marketers second. And if you have a book coming out, you might be freaking out a little about how you'll market it. But worrying about how to market your book doesn't help. And trying to do everything isn’t healthy. The best thing you can do is be smart and plan ahead. But you need to be willing to say "No" or "That’s enough." To draw the line in the sand and move on to the next thing.
I tend to start actively marketing a new book five or six months before the release date, all the way up to about four weeks after the book release. I have a system that works for me, but that doesn't mean I'll never try new things, because there is always something new to learn. Here is how I usually go about marketing a new book.
1. I create a MARKETING PLAN that is right for my book (and my publishing house, if I have one for this project). The Marketing Plan contains the following:
Overview- Here is where I pinpoint my marketing goals: target market, message, timing of the marketing campaign, and my budget.
PR and publicity- This includes a press kit, press release, plans for media (TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, etc.), print articles, book reviews, and endorsements.
In Person- Plans I have for speaking engagements, networking, book launch parties/signings, and creating promotional materials that can be passed out in these venues.
Internet- Here I list plans for sharing my new book on my author website, blogs I contribute to, my author newsletter, social media, blogging topics for my own blogs and possible guest blogs, and contests I might run.
Cross-promotions- This is where I list plans to trade promotion with author friends.
Charitable tie-ins- If I want to do a promo in which the proceeds go to charity, I list that here.
Buzz for sequels- Ideas for promoting sequels or writing novellas that promote the next book.
2. I create a MARKETING BUDGET.
I set aside a reasonable amount of money that I can afford to spend on marketing. Then I brainstorm ideas on how I'll spend that money. I do everything I can to stay within that dollar amount. There are a lot of ways to spend money when you market a book. You can buy ads online or in newspapers or magazines. You can invest in prizes or books for giveaways. You can hire a publicity firm to market the book for you. The sky is the limit here. In fact, if you really wanted to, you could hire a plane to write the name of your book in the sky. My point? There are so many options. Too many. It's important to be careful, patient, and intentional with how you spend money to promote a book. The best ideas are those you can see a return on your investment, though sometimes it's just not possible to know for sure how, or if, your money paid off.
3. I create a MARKETING CALENDAR that lays out my specific strategies from as early as I start marketing to when I'm ready to look back and evaluate. This helps me stay on track and not forget to do anything.
BONUS: Want to see a sample marketing plan? Click here to see my marketing plan, budget, and calendar for The New Recruit.
5. I partner with AUTHOR FRIENDS to cross-promote, which is when two or more authors team up to promote each other's books. For example, I have a small following, and my friend John Otte has a small following. If we decided to cross-promote, when his book came out, I would share it with my people and promote his book to them. And he would do the same for me once my book released. Cross-promotion is great because it's free, it's easy (who doesn't love sharing about a new book they love?), and you're promoting to an audience that isn't your own.
Have you ever created a marketing plan? Do you have any tips to share? What are some ideas you have to promote books to readers? Or have you seen an author do something really cool? Share in the comments.