The Secret to Successful Book Marketing
Guest Post by Dana Lynn Smith
Recently, someone asked me the secret to successful book marketing. My immediate response was “lots of hard work.” While that’s true, a better answer to this question is “good planning and lots of hard work.” In addition to making your marketing more effective, good planning will save you time and make the task more enjoyable.
Here are five keys to planning for successful book marketing:
1. Educate yourself about book marketing.
It’s important to understand the principles of book marketing. We are fortunate in the publishing business to have many experts who share their wealth of knowledge and ideas through books, teleseminars, conferences, networks, articles, forums, blogs, ezines, and other venues.
Take advantage of these resources to shorten your learning curve and get great ideas for book promotion. Many of these resources are free, but I recommend budgeting some money to purchase books and courses that will give you a more in-depth education in planning and executing your book marketing.
2. Understand your market.
To successfully sell any product, you need to understand your market. Who is your ideal customer? What are your secondary markets? What are their characteristics, interests, fears, and motivations? Who else reaches these same audiences? How is your book different from those of your competitors? Ideally, these questions are answered before the book is written.
3. Have a written marketing and promotion plan.
Some people tend to jump from one promotional activity to another, without any clear strategy. A written book marketing and promotion plan will give you a blueprint for promoting your book and keep you focused on what’s important. It will also guide you in how best to spend your marketing budget.
Creating a book marketing plan involves big picture planning, like defining target audiences, understanding reader benefits, studying the competition, determining what channels you will sell through (online stores, retail bookstores, distributors, corporate customers, libraries, specialty retailers, foreign markets), and setting the price and wholesale discount, and determining how you will promote the book.
A promotional plan includes strategies and tactics for reaching your target audiences. Popular book promotion activities include article writing, social marketing, book signings, email promotions, media releases, book reviews, speaking, joint ventures, ezines, virtual book tours, videos, blogging, teleseminars, affiliate programs, Amazon.com promotions, advertising, radio and television interviews, book fairs, and more.
4. Get organized.
You’ll save time and be more effective if you have a convenient way to keep track of everything you need to execute your marketing plan and track results.
Devote a day to organizing all of your data and files so you can find things quickly. Set up logical folders to store your computer files and emails. Organize your paper files with folders and three-ring binders. Set up automatic backups for your computer. Make a list of all of your websites, user names, and passwords.
Create a database of all your contacts. Set up an electronic or paper system for keeping track of your marketing and article ideas. Create a system to track your monthly progress for metrics such as book sales, number of website visitors, number of articles submitted, number of Facebook friends, etc.
Also, look into time-saving software and services. Spreadsheet programs like Microsoft Excel are ideal for creating lists, budgets, schedules, and databases. If you aren’t familiar with spreadsheets, learn the basics (how to add and delete rows and columns, how to sort data, and basic math formulas) by reading a “dummies” book or using the help menu.
5. Budget your time and money wisely.
With so many book promotion options available, and a limited number of hours in the day, it’s important to prioritize your promotional ideas and focus your time and money on those tasks that are most likely to produce results. Budget funds for book marketing, even if it’s only a modest amount, and block out time on your calendar each day or week to devote to marketing.
Consider hiring a virtual assistant or intern if your budget permits. There are a number of author assistants who specialize in working with authors and publishers, but many of them require a minimum monthly fee.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the myriad of options for marketing your book. Devote some time to learning, develop a plan, get organized, prioritize your promotional ideas, and then implement one thing at a time. You can do it!
Dana Lynn Smith is a book marketing coach and author of the Savvy Book Marketer Guides. For more tips, follow @BookMarketer on Twitter, visit Dana’s blog at www.TheSavvyBookMarketer.com , and get a copy of the Top Book Marketing Tips ebook when you sign up for her free newsletter at www.BookMarketingNewsletter.com.