Once you publish a book, a strange thing happens. You suddenly become the CEO of a company. The mission of that company is to market and sell your book. As the CEO, it’s your job to ensure that your company has a marketing plan.
A marketing plan consists of defining your customers and the market where your book will compete against many other books.
The overall marketing plan consists of three major areas:
- Describe the product
- Objectives and budget
- Customer identification
Let’s take a look at each of these areas. I suggest you copy these bullet items and paste them into a word processor so you’ll have a permanent file you can use to refresh your memory. It will also be useful if you write a second book. A word of caution: the answers to the questions aren’t as simple as they might first appear
Describe the product.
- What’s different about it?
- What benefit does the customer get from buying your book?
- Why would a customer buy your book instead of a competitor’s book?
- Who are your competitors?
- What benefits do they offer?
- How is your book better than the competitor’s book?
- Who are your target customers
- What will your book be priced at?
- How does your price compare to the competitor’s price?
What these questions focus on is basic marketing content. A primary marketing area is to identify who the competition is and to differentiate your product from the competitor’s product.
Objectives and Budgets
- What are the financial objectives for this plan?
- How will you measure the results?
- What are the secondary objectives for this plan?
- How will you measure the results?
- What is your marketing budget for year 1?
- What is your marketing budget for year 2?
Another first step in market plan development is to establish a set of financial objectives. As a published author, you own a business. A business needs to set goals for itself. While a business may have non-financial goals, they are secondary to the financial goals. The reality facing a first-time self-published author is that you won’t sell many books in the near term even though, over time, you may indeed sell truckloads of books. For this reason, you should establish goals that recognize this reality and keep your initial goals modest.
An important consideration is that the objectives must be measurable. Another consideration is that they must be reasonable and achievable. Setting goals that can’t be reached is simply an exercise in futility. However, the goals must be hard enough to reach that they will force you to turn off the TV and work on meeting the goals.
For example, your objectives could be to sell X number of books in the first year and bring in $Y in revenue. This would be a valid set of objectives, but they are short term objectives. You should also come up with objectives for a longer term, say five years: sell 10X books and bring in $10Y in revenue.
Since your goals must be measurable, it follows that you should measure them. Whatever book packager you use, it will have sales reports you can peruse to track sales.
Your objectives should be linked with your expense budget and should be updated together.
Who are the book’s customers?
- Who is the customer for the book?
- What problem does your book solve for those customers?
- What sales channels will you use to sell your book?
- What marketing channels will you use to reach your targeted customers?
Let’s talk in more detail about the identification of customers. The first step in the development of a marketing plan is to identify who the customers are and what problem your book will solve for those customers.
If you wrote a non-fiction book, you must have had a set of potential readers in mind. For instance, if you wrote a book about fixing household plumbing, your potential readers are people who live in homes with leaky faucets or pipes. Or people who suspect they will have leak problems someday. Your customers are the plumbing-needy and your book will solve the customers’ needs for plumbing advice.
If you wrote a book on how to do surgery at home on the kitchen table, your target readership is a bit more limited. Possibly it’ll be folks who don’t have health insurance although I’m not sure this book will solve the customer’s problem. It may actually worsen their problem.
If your book is a fictional tale, you have to position it depending upon the potential audience. Romance readers are quite different from mystery fans and so are sci-fi affectionados. In this case, your book will entertain the reader which is a way of solving a problem for the customer. It gives them a break from reality.
If you wrote a children’s book, your customers are not children because children don’t buy books. The parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles are the ones who buy children’s books.
Once you identify your readership, the rest of the marketing plan will be aimed at that group of people, not the general population.
The purpose of these questions and the answers are to get you thinking like the CEO of your business.
Marketing a book can’t be a half-hearted effort involving an occasional email or blog post, stuff you send out when you don’t have anything better to do. You have to dedicate a chunk of time, effort and, yes, money, to market the book.
Remember, no one knows you published a book and no one cares. It’s your job as the CEO to tell people about your book and to make them care enough to buy a copy.
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My first Kindle Vella project launched has launched. It’s called Berserker Babe, a satiric story of revenge. It’s the first of 5 episodes: https://amazon.com/kindle-vella/product/B098YSJFYT
For vacations, Hank and Pat usually visit distant parts of the galaxy. Occasionally, they also time-travel.
Besides writing novels, Hank lectures on fiction writing, publishing and book marketing. He is most proud of his talk showing grammar school kids how to create a short story. He used these lectures to create an advanced ebook with embedded videos to coach the students on how to create characters, plots and settings. The target audience is 4th to 7th graders. The book’s title is Fiction Writing Workshop for Kids.