Yesterday I visited a group of the Southern California Writers Association in Fountain Valley. I talked to them about book marketing for the reluctant fiction and nonfiction author. However, I got the impression from audience questions and from chatting with some of the delightful attendees that there probably wasn’t a reluctant marketer among them.
This seemed like a savvy group of authors who had taken the time to study the publishing industry before getting too deeply involved. However, several of them told me they picked up some ideas during my presentation that they hadn’t even thought of, and they were eager to try. Cool! And some of them bought copies of my books—all of which include at least a section on book promotion. Yes, these are serious authors—authors who want to make an impression with their books.
If you take your book project seriously and if you want a successful outcome, there are steps you should definitely take before launching it.
1: Make sure you are writing the right book for the right audience. So often, we write what I consider “throw-away books.” We write what we want to write and there is no real audience for our “masterpiece.” Define your audience and keep them in mind throughout the entire writing procession.
For help with this step, I strongly suggest that you write a book proposal. Yes, now. It will help you to understand more about your audience, the appropriateness and value of your proposed book, whether it is a valid project, your role as a published author and so much more.
2: Study the publishing industry before you ever think about getting involved in it. Read books like my “Publish Your Book.” Available at amazon.com in print, Kindle and audio. Also available at most other online and downtown bookstores. Also attend lectures, subscribe to industry publications and read them. (For a list of those I recommend, plus other author resources, email me: PLFry620@yahoo.com)
3: Determine which publishing option you will pursue early on in the process of writing your book. And have some companies in mind. This research could take some time—be sure to check each company you consider. Let me know if you need some tips for checking the credibility of publishing companies and self-publishing companies. (PLFry620@yahoo.com)
4: Begin building your platform. This means, if you aren’t already known in your field or in your genre, take steps to become known. There are countless ways to do this. Read some of the posts I’ve done on platform. Study the section on platform in “Publish Your Book.” In the meantime, use your imagination to make yourself more visible to your particular audience, talk about your book everywhere you go, collect email addresses of those who might be interested in your book, join organizations related to the theme/genre of your book and so forth.
5: Start devising a marketing plan early on. What skills do you have that you can use in promoting your book? You already know who your audience is—where do they hangout, buy books, etc. What conferences, meetings, lectures do they attend? What periodicals do they read, what websites do they visit? Map out a plan based on your responses to these questions.
6: When you finish your last draft, hire a book editor. This does not mean your child’s teacher, a friend who is good with words, the retired professor down the street. Hire a book editor who is currently working in the field. Expect to pay anywhere from $800 to $3,000 (possibly more), depending on the extent of work your manuscript needs.
7: Part one: If you hope to attract an agent or one of the many traditional publishers out there who are hungry for a good project: while your book is with the editor, start approaching appropriate agents or publishers. (Not all publishers require that you come to them through an agent.) Locate the submission guidelines for each agent/publisher you hope to approach. Send a masterfully-written query letter to those that require one first. (If your editor is industry-savvy, he/she can help you with the query letter.) If you didn’t do so as part of step 1, start preparing a book proposal for those agents/publishers who require one.
Part Two: If you plan to self-publish (establish your own publishing company) or go with a pay-to-publish company, begin now implementing your marketing plan. Make contacts, write press releases, schedule presentations, etc.
Doesn’t sound like an easy journey, does it? But if you want your project to succeed—if you want to be one of the 22 percent of authors who actually makes it, it is important that you pay close attention to these 7 steps.