1: Outline your most promising book promotion activities. By now you must be aware of the many book promotion activities you could engage in. Let’s start with those that make the most sense in light of your particular project and your proposed audience. As we discussed in yesterday’s blog post, consider who comprises your audience, where they shop, what programs/lectures they attend related to this topic or genre—in other words, which activities are most appropriate for this audience and what venues do they frequent?
Many authors stick strictly to those venues and activities that are most comfortable for them. Perhaps they’ve heard that social media is the best way to get word out about your book, and they put all of their energy into this channel. Is social media actually the best way to market? Probably not for all books and all category of reader. But I believe that it should be a part of most book marketing plans.
So which activities fit most realistically into a marketing plan for you and for your book? How can you reach the greatest number of your readers?
I suggest making a 3-tiered list:
- Priority activities that you believe are most conducive to promoting your particular book.
- Secondary activities you think will sell books. These might be activities you pursue occasionally—local book festivals, community auctions, radio and blog radio gigs, teaching a course at the local college, etc.
- Activities that might or might not work for you and your product, but are worth a try. This might include running a contest through your website, setting up your own workshops or a conference related to the theme of your book, going door-to-door with your book, having house parties to promote your book and so forth.
2: List the tasks necessary in pursuing each activity on your priority list and note how much time is involved. Maybe you want to go out and speak on behalf of your book. What are the steps to making this happen? What skills do you need in place? How far in advance do you need to start planning/taking action? First, do you need to learn or brush up on your public speaking skills? It might be necessary to join a Toastmasters club or a storytelling group a year in advance of your book launch in order to prepare for this important book promotion activity.
When you have a book in hand and some public speaking experience, most likely you’ll want to start by speaking to groups that meet regularly. Locate a list of appropriate clubs and organizations, begin contacting the program chairpersons, prepare a handful of speeches you can present and create promotional and informational materials to hand out. If you want to apply as a workshop leader for out of town meetings and conferences, there are also travel plans to take into consideration. And in either of these scenarios, publicity is an issue. Factor in each newspaper and radio station requirements for receiving press materials.
If you plan to sell books in the back-of-the-room when you speak, you will probably want to set up a merchant account system so you can accept credit cards. Many authors now use a credit card reader on their iPhones/iPads, etc.
Perhaps you also want to set up a website, contact your email list, start blogging, get book reviews and have your print book published in Kindle form. Use this plan-of-action formula: research each activity, consider the time-frame, gather materials and potential partners and then take appropriate action to implement the activity. Consider priorities. You’ll want to have a website before you start contacting reviewers and those on your massive email list. However, you can hold off on having the Kindle version of your book set up. When your book is on Kindle, this will give you another reason to promote to your massive email list.
3: Implement your plan. Once you have a plan in place that makes sense to you, implement it. But don’t get discouraged if you don’t sell as many books as you hoped, the turn-out was disappointing, your presentation seemed to fall flat, you’re not getting many reviews, people aren’t commenting at your blog site, and so forth. If you’re just starting out as a published author and you’re not accustomed to the task of marketing, there’s often a learning curve.
If you expect to sell a carton of books after speaking to the PTA of a small private school or during a signing at even a major bookstore, you’re probably going to be disappointed. But this does not mean that you failed in some way. This is not a sign that you should never speak in public or do a book signing again. This simply means that next time, you need to prepare more thoroughly, you should implement a more aggressive publicity plan and/or you should adopt more realistic expectations. On the other hand, maybe this activity isn’t the best way to sell your particular book. Give it one more try using different tactics and then decide.
Book promotion is not an exact science. It takes a keen understanding of your audience and a willingness to be flexible on their account. It also takes your full attention. Use this 3-tiered marketing plan and then keep doing what works and adjust those things that don’t meet your grandest expectations the first few times around.
As a reminder, Patricia Fry is the author of 45 books, including Publish Your Book, Proven Strategies and Resources for the Enterprising Author (Allworth Press, 2012) and Promote Your Book, Over 250 Proven, Low-Cost Tips and Techniques for the Enterprising Author (Allworth Press, 2011). Her next book, scheduled for launch in the fall of 2012 is Talk Up Your Book, How to Sell Your Book Through Public Speaking, Interviews, Signings, Festivals, Conferences and More. www.patriciafry.com and www.matilijapress.com. After 40 years of writing for publication—and supporting herself with her writing for most of this time—Patricia has produced her first novel series—the Klepto Cat Mystery series. Available at Amazon.com.