How To Create A Quick, Marketing Plan For Your Book

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How To Create A Quick, Marketing Plan For Your Book

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If you  were considering driving to an unfamiliar destination, what is the first  thing you would do? You would probably consult a map to chart the best  way to reach it. When getting the word out about your book, a marketing  plan is your map, describing your journey from where you are now as an  author to where you want to be. It sets your direction, guides your  thinking, and lists the actions you will take to get there.

Marketing  planning is simply deciding what you want to accomplish with your book,  setting an objective to keep you on target, and then asking yourself a  few questions about what you need to do to reach your goal. Organize  these questions and your answers to them in two parts. Part one sets  your direction, during which you’ll ask the following questions: What do  you want to accomplish by writing your book? Who will buy it? What’s in  it for you? Part two answers the following questions: What information  do people want that is not already available? Where will you sell your  book? At what price? How will you let people know that it exists? What Should be in a Marketing Plan?

Part One: 
Direction

Your initial marketing plan is a wish list of what you would do if you had sufficient resources. You might  consider developing this list in a creative brainstorming session with a  group of people, which could include friends, family members, or fellow  writers, to name a few. Initially, focus on quantity of ideas, not quality,  and include some that may at first seem illogical. Such big ideas may  stimulate better ones as you get started with your marketing. So, wait  until later to apply judgment and eliminate any programs you determine  are not currently feasible.

Begin  your marketing plan with a sentence stating your overall objective for  the upcoming period. Next, make a list of your strategies that outline  your general game plan. Finally, describe your tactics that are the  specific actions you will take to fulfill your go to market strategy and achieve  your objective.
Before  planning your specific marketing actions, think about your product,  potential readers, goals, and objectives for the next year.

he  information below provides ideas, examples, and instructions that will  help you create a quick, practical marketing plan for a business book.  This plan is meant to get you started, but effective marketing requires  flexibility. If something is not working for you after you have given it  a concerted effort, try another tactic to reach the realistic goals you  establish.

Part One: Before planning your specific marketing actions, think about your  product, potential readers, goals, and objectives for the next year.

1. Product Description

The  entire marketing process is based on having a good book to sell. Was it  well written and properly edited? Does the cover and page layout look  professionally designed? Will you make it available as a printed book,  an eBook, or both? Before you price your book or begin distributing or  promoting it, describe what your book is about in 100 words or less.  Think of it from your readers’ points of view. How can your information  help them become more successful, make money, or start a new business?

Identify  books that are similar to yours, and describe how yours is different  from and better than competitive titles. A good description may be  started by completing this sentence: My book helps________ who want  ________ get _________. Then, add your competitive advantage. For  example “My book helps small businesspeople who want increased profits  get more sales from existing and new customers. Its unique advantage is  that it was based on the author’s actual successful experience.”

Finally,  develop a strong mission statement. Your mission statement is a one or  two sentence description of why you wrote your book. Reading this  regularly will help keep you focused and motivated. For example, a good  mission statement for a book about finding a job would be “Help  unemployed people develop their job search and networking skills in a  supportive environment so they find a new, well-compensated career  position quickly.”

2. Author Biography

As  an author, you are also selling yourself as a product, so it is  important to start making the right brand impressions early. Think of  who you know, and also about your background in terms of how it can help  you sell more books. What makes you the expert on this topic? Where did  you go to school? In what clubs and associations are you (or could you  be) a member? What are you good (or not good) at doing, and what do you  like (or dislike) doing? Who are your current and previous employers?  Your answers will give you ideas for how to target and present yourself  to potential readers.

3. Target Readers

You  cannot market to everybody, so think about who will buy your books. Who  is the typical reader you had in mind when you wrote your book? Is the  person male or female? In what age group would you categorize your  reader? For example, if you are writing a book about preparing people  for retirement, your target reader description might include people in  these categories: Employed males and females, age 50 – 65, and middle to  upper-middle income bracket. Give consideration to increasing the font  size in the page layout a point or two to help people with poor eyesight  see it better.

4. Marketing Goals and Objectives

Write  a specific statement of what you want to accomplish in the next year.  Some of your goals may be hard to quantify, but do so where you can. Do  you want more reviews? How many more? Do you want more media attention?  How many print articles and broadcast appearances will you seek? How  many books do you want to sell? How much money do you want to make? Be  realistic in your estimation.

By (date) _____ I will sell (number) _____ books and make $____ by getting ___ reviews, ___ awards and ___ media appearances.

Part Two: 
Action Plan.

Given your descriptions in Part One, what specific things must you do  to reach your objectives? It is helpful to group these activities under  three major topics: 1) How you will price your book, 2) Where you will  sell it, and 3) How you will promote it. The sections below include  examples to help you get started. Your actions will vary according to  your own content and target readers.

 1. Pricing Your Book. The  price at which you will sell your book could determine your sales,  profits, and opportunities for long-term growth. Your final choice will  be determined by your costs, distribution method, and competitive  prices. Be strategic in your decisions.

Choose  a lower-than-average price if you 1) intend to sell directly to  corporate buyers rather than through a distribution network to  retailers, 2) plan to limit your promotional expenditures, 3) want to  make your book more competitive against other market options, or 4) seek  a long-term profit potential. You might choose a higher-than-average  price if your content will be quickly outdated or is highly specialized,  or if you have little competition. Another consideration is the format  in which you deliver your content. For example, eBooks are typically  priced lower than printed books because of the lower production and  distribution costs. Lower-priced eBooks also tend to attract more  potential buyers.

 
2. Sales Outlet Options. Sales outlets will vary according to each individual title. Be sure to  conduct research and think about where your content will have the best  sales opportunities when deciding what works best for your book. Some  ideas for sales outlet options include:

1)  Ask where your typical reader will shop for business books; that is  where you will want to sell it. For instance, CreateSpace offers wide  distribution on Amazon.com, your own eStore, and through the Expanded Distribution Channel, as well as a Kindle file conversion service to provide you with Kindle-ready eBook files. You may also want to  consider sales opportunities to non-retail buyers, such as corporations  or schools, for your book. Approach local, independent retail stores to  see if they’d be interested in stocking a title by a local author.
2)  Think about which retail outlets may consider stocking business books.  Examples of retail outlets for business books would include bookstores  (your book is listed with Ingram and Baker & Taylor through  CreateSpace’s Expanded Distribution Channel), business stores (such as  Staples through Select Media Services), airport stores (such as Hudson News Co.), warehouse clubs (Costco or BJs through Anderson Merchandisers), and college bookstores (through Follett).
3)  Examples of non-retail buyers could include corporate buyers, schools,  associations, clubs for entrepreneurs, alumni associations, and  home-based businesses. These opportunities require direct selling since  there are no distributors that sell books to non-retail buyers. Find  prospects through online searches after reviewing the following:
a.  What companies could use the information in your book? For example, for  a book about sales techniques, you may want to reach out to sales  managers, career coaches, and networks of sales representatives. Find  names of companies and contact information at Manta.com.
b.  What associations could use the information in your book? For example,  for a book about how to communicate in writing, you may want to reach  out to the International Association of Business Communicators. Find  names of associations and contact information for each at Weddles.com.
c.  Books on many business topics are popular in libraries and on military  bases. You can reach libraries through Baker & Taylor and sell books  through military exchanges such as AAFES.com.
d.  What other organizations could use the information in your book? For  example, if your book is targeted to executive women, you’d want to  contact the National Association of Women Business Owners or the National Association of Female Executives. If you target small-business people, reach out to the International Council for Small Business.


 
3. Promotion Actions. How will you reach and tell your target buyers about your book so they  can buy it? Use a variety of promotion tools as described below, and  promote regularly. Prospective buyers may need to see or hear your  message multiple times before it drives them to purchase your book.  Also, choose the promotional techniques that are consistent with your  personality. For example, if you are not comfortable performing on  television, deliver your message through radio, print, or the internet.

There  are promotional tools to fit any budget. Most public relations actions  are free or low cost, while advertising, trade shows, and sending direct  mail packages are more expensive. Finally, there are even some  promotional actions for which you could be paid, such as public speaking  or conducting webinars. Find the best combination of those listed below  that fit your target audience and your goals, personality, and budget.

3.1 Publicity. Public relations activities entail reaching the most people in your  target markets as frequently and inexpensively as possible. Most media  exposure is free so you can get maximum coverage on a limited budget.  Examples include TV and radio appearances, letters to the editor,  publishing informative articles in magazines, producing a newsletter, or  reading/speaking at schools. Here are some things to try or consider:

1)  Write a one-page press release, focusing on what makes you and your  book unique and important to readers. Begin your press release with a  simple statement or question (your hook) that will get the attention of  the reader. Your hook is the key concept that makes you or your book  unique and beneficial to your audience. Your press release should fit on  one page, be double-spaced and written in a way that is interesting and  informative to the recipient. What can you say that will get the  readers’ attention quickly, help them understand how your information  can benefit them, and get them to take some action to buy your book at  the designated sales outlet? For a free analysis of your press release,  go to PressReleaseGrader.com.
2)  On what TV and radio shows could you be a guest? Choose shows that  people in your target audience will listen to or watch. For example,  target shows such as The Dave Ramsey Show, The Ray Lucia Show, Business Talk Radio Network, or Your Money Matters! for a book about money or personal finances. Visit Radio-locator.com for a simple means of contacting radio stations. Check out Kidon Media Link for a list of TV outlets and other media. Keep in mind that your  broadcast media opportunities will be greater for local, regional, or  niche shows rather than those at a national level.
3) What newspapers could write about your book? What newspapers does your target reader read? For example, choose Financial Times, Barrons or The Wall Street Journal for books relating to finance. Visit Bizmove for a list of local newspapers.
4) What magazines could write about your book? For example, seek exposure in publications like Entrepreneur and Fast Company for a book about entrepreneurship. Remember, getting media coverage  online is just as good, if not better, than coverage in print. Check for lists of national media organizations and magazines.
5) Who could review your book?
a. Pre-publication reviewers like Library Journal, School Library Journal, Booklist, and Bookpage
b.  Media outlets and bloggers. For media reviewers, search Literary  Marketplace and trade publications for those with an interest in your  niche.
c. Post-publication reviewers such as Midwest Book Review, Computer Book Review, Education Review, Military Book Review
d. Paid reviewers such as ForeWord Clarion and Kirkus Indie
e. Seek niche reviewers for business books online, such as eSuccessBooks.com.
6)  What award competitions would be right for your book? Considering a  business book, some examples include Axiom Business Book Awards, Small  Business Book Awards and the National Business Book Award. For more  ideas, read the Resources article 2011 Competitions for Self-Published & Independently Published Books. Search online for award competitions for books on your topic.
7) Seek advance sales through corporate buyers or by conducting pre-publication promotion. Consider arranging a launch party.
8)  Time the introduction of your book with special marketing periods (key  dates, anniversaries, etc.) relevant to your title. Find examples of  these at HolidayInsights.com.
9)  Get testimonials and endorsements. Sometimes called “blurbs,” these are  statements by people attesting to the quality of writing and the value  of the content in your book. A site with free background information  about celebrities you may want to target for your book is Who2.com.
10)  Consider executive services that summarize business books such as  Soundview Executive Book Summaries or Business Book Review.

3.2 Internet Actions. In today’s internet world, it’s important to market your book online to  reach the widest possible audience. Websites, blogs, social media, and  online forums are all important channels for promotion and building your  brand.

1)  Consider purchasing the website address with your name or book title  and build a website. Search for websites that you like and then go to Web.com or WordPress for step-by-step instructions for creating your site. Or, you can have  someone design it for you. Once created, for a free analysis of your  website, go to WebsiteGrader.com.
2) Start blogging to build an audience and your personal brand. You can create your own blog for free at sites such as WordPress.com or Blogger.com. You may also want to make connections with other bloggers to see if you can write guests posts for them. Go to Blogtoplist.com to find appropriate blogs for your topic.
3)  Create an author page on Amazon.com, Facebook and Twitter where you can  highlight your current and future books and build your image as an  expert. Also, join LinkedIn to network with like-minded people and  prospects. Join groups relevant to your subject matter to start building  awareness. Participate in the conversation, but don’t overtly promote  your title.
4)  Join other online websites and forums relevant to your title. You can  find them by searching for those about your topic, such as Conservation  Commons, Open Access of Economics, Open Access Health Informatics  Community, or Men in Child Care.
5) Check out MeetUp.com to find relevant groups to network within your area.
6) Record a podcast or consider hosting a webinar on your topic. Visit BlogTalkRadio.com for instructions to do it yourself, or have them create it for you.
7)  When internet users search for your book, you want your website to be  the first one they find. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) helps the  search engines, such as Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, recognize your  relevance to specific keywords that people search for online. This  process includes researching keywords, creating content, building links,  and making sure your website is visible in search engines.

3.3 Personal Selling Actions. As an independent author, you aren’t just selling your book – you’re  selling yourself. You might find in-person selling and networking  beneficial for connecting with potential readers face-to-face.

1)  In what bookstores or other retail outlets could you conduct an  in-store event or book signing? Focus especially on local retailers and  businesses, airport stores, high schools, and colleges.
2)  Are there association meetings at which you could speak? Rotary clubs,  Chambers of Commerce, business schools, corporate outings, trade shows,  and meeting planners seek speakers for their events and meetings. Go to  their websites and search for local chapter meetings.
3)  Is your book appropriate for speaking events at educational  institutions, or do you have the opportunity to provide training for a  company’s employees?
4) Attend or exhibit at trade shows, conferences, or appropriate events
b. Regional bookseller exhibits (Search the American Booksellers Association site)
c. Tradeshows where your buyers would attend (Search BizTradeShows.com)
5) Throw a launch party,  inviting local media, friends, family, and people in your target  market. Have copies of your book available to sign, as well as print  materials with your website and social media information. Get the emails  of attendees to start building out a targeted email list.

3.4 Direct Marketing Actions. These give you targeted and personalized contact with potential buyers.  You can reach many more people through a mail or email campaign than  through personal calls. You may find that the U.S. Mail (letter or  postcard) may deliver to more people than email with the likes of SPAM  filters. In either case, your results will be better if you conduct  tests before you send to an entire list. Test the creative offer, the  timing and the list itself before sending your package. The package you  send (or email) should include a cover letter, descriptive flyer, and  some response mechanism (business reply card). Consider some of these  direct marketing actions:

1) Send a postcard or letter and brochure to potential buyers. Visit DirectMail.com or InfoUSA.com for one-stop places to purchase a list or have them produce and mail your package for you.
2)  Purchase the subscription list for magazines reaching your target  buyers and mail to them. For example, if you want to reach home-based  business owners, get the subscription list for Home Business Magazine.
3)  Purchase opt-in email lists and send email blasts. For example, if you  want to reach small business owners, purchase a list for a trade  magazine targeted at small businesses.
4) Order bookmarks, stationery, and business cards to present a professional and consistent image among your target buyers.

3.5 Advertising Actions. Advertising can be costly, but some authors may choose to pay for ad  placements in online and print channels relevant to their titles.

1)  Advertise in local newspapers or on radio shows if appropriate. Offer  to provide your content in exchange for free ad space. Contact the  advertising departments of your target outlets directly to examine your  options.

4. Evaluation. Every  few months after you begin marketing your book, compare your actual  sales results with your objectives. Are you on target to reach them? If  not, what changes can you make to meet your goals?

For  sales goals, create a simple Excel spreadsheet with your forecasted  sales for any period in one column. Then, insert your actual sales  figures and automatically calculate the difference. Have a line for  retail sales, library sales, corporate sales, etc. to point out where  your revenue may be below that which you projected.

Have  a means to objectively evaluate progress toward all your goals. If you  planned to get a certain number of reviews or media appearances, keep  tack of your progress toward them. The important thing is to think about  why you are above or below forecast, and make necessary changes in time  to reach your annual objectives.

(C) Fourquadrant

Sam. O. Salau
(Africa’s Leading Author On Campus Issues)

Twitter: @samosalau
Facebook: Sam. O. Salau

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