Some authors outline their novels before they begin writing. Others just start writing and go where the characters take them. When you’re writing your book, no single way is “better.” But when it comes to marketing your book, the better way is to have a business-like plan.
You’ve probably heard it before, but there are two truisms for book marketing: Truism Number 1 is that marketing should begin BEFORE you write your book and Truism Number 2 is that you need SMART goals. (That is, goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.)
Of course you can still market your book after it’s been published, but some options may be limited or eliminated altogether. For instance, you may find there isn’t really an audience for your genre or the way your book was published means schools and libraries can’t buy it.
Also, since you only get one book launch, you’ll want to make the most of it by preparing well beforehand. It may take months to first find reviewers and then leave them with enough time to read your book. Scheduling your release to coincide with a holiday or public event could boost visibility. And contests or awards for which your book might be eligible have deadlines to meet.
But let’s say your book is already published and now you want to do more to get it into the hands of readers. Here are some examples of how to set SMART marketing goals:
You need to know EXACTLY who your audience is so you can get in front of them. Are they young moms? Try Pinterest. Grade school kids? Maybe a library program. Small business owners? Work with your Chamber of Commerce.
Remember that sometimes the person who purchases your book is not necessarily the one who will be reading it. How do you get in front of the young mom’s friend, the grade school kid’s grandma and the small business owner’s spouse?
Websites and social media platforms have analytics reports that can tell you things like how well you are engaging with visitors, the gender and age of your visitors and who is recommending that they check you out. That information will help you refine your efforts to better appeal to your target market or perhaps discover a new target. You’ll also learn about the other places where your audience hangs out so you can go there, too.
100% of your email list won’t buy your book. But 5% might buy. So growing your email list as a way to increase sales would be a more attainable goal than trying for a 100% conversion rate.
If you’re working full-time, have a family at home and are plotting your next book, will you really be able to write an original blog post every day? Maybe a more realistic plan would be an original post once a week and fill in the other days with “A book I loved,” “An author you should know” and similar two-sentence posts.
Take advantage of “trending” topics in the media. Talk up your thriller about kidnapping the President during election season. Look up “National Days” and write press releases or blog posts that refer to appropriate holidays. If readers are saying they’re so over Twilight, stress that your vampire book is more like Fifty Shades as written by Stephen King.
Obviously the main goal is getting books in readers’ hands, but your overall marketing plan should include the tactics that help fulfill that main goal. Take the time to sketch out your marketing plan so you can follow it. There are plenty of online resources that will guide you or you can set up a free appointment with a local SCORE mentor. Marketing your book is no different than marketing any other product and you owe it to yourself to treat it like a business.