“Fail to plan? Then plan to fail.” What a HORRIBLE quote, but SO apt for authors who are trying to figure out their marketing strategies. Now is the perfect time to sit down and create a 2019 marketing plan. The problem for most of us is that marketing is such a big job. We get bogged down in the enormity of the task and quite often push it off. It is easier to do things that we know and like, so marketing often gets delayed or even skipped altogether. But we can overcome this.
A Bite-Sized Marketing Plan to Avoid Overwhelm
My FAVORITE way of starting getting a handle on book marketing is to break it up into small, bite-sized pieces. If we take ONE aspect of marketing and add it to our publishing/author to-do list, THAT is perfectly reasonable. Just ONE thing…. Easy!
So I have created a list of ideas and activities that we can add, a little at a time. Just one small marketing focus each month. So that by the end of the year, we will have a fully fleshed out marketing plan underway!
This first month, I would suggest that we all identify the top books in our genres and find the authors who are selling books to our potential readers. The readers you want to attract and sell your books to are already reading other authors right now. Who are they? What books are already on the bedside tables and on the bookshelves of your potential readers? Use that list to go find your target readers. Who are the bestselling authors in your genre? Look for them at:
Who lists those books on GoodReads? Go to https://www.goodreads.com/ and see who is listing those books as favorites? What other books do they read?
Commit to engaging with those readers on social media.
- Make a list of dozens of those authors…. Visit their blogs…. Comment and join in on discussions that are happening their pages.
- Google and search for bloggers and GoodReads discussions ABOUT the authors…. Participate!
- Use the search functions on Facebook pages and Twitter to find discussions and posts that you can engage with.
Search out professional reviewers of comparable titles and start asking 3 of them a day if they would review your book
Google bloggers who review books like yours on their sites and on Amazon. To find these people, simply Google Blog + Author Name. You can Also Google Blog + Book Name. You can also go to Amazon.com and look at the reviews of a bestselling book. Only approach the reviewers who have blogs or indicate that they are professional book reviewers.
Use the list you came up with in January. It will be a terrific start, but keep in mind… a LOT of books will have released since you came up with that list. Don’t JUST depend upon a list you created 2 months ago. That list should be updated regularly!
Map out months in 2019 and 2020 that have events and holidays that your book would fit. A great list to start with is http://www.holidayinsights.com/everyday-2019.htm
- Come up with a list of display and article suggestions
- Create outreach suggestion emails
- Reach out to retailers, libraries, newsletters, and websites 5 months before each event and suggest the displays and articles you have in mind.
Learn how to effectively place ads on Facebook. Facebook has their own tutorials HERE https://www.facebook.com/business/help/1361486070635113 but there are also wonderful videos on YouTube that can walk you through the process.
To start you will want to create a Facebook Author Page. I usually recommend that authors experiment with regional ads to start.
I also recommend partnering with stores and libraries to get them to buy your book in exchange for a link in your Facebook ads. Yes, you will want to drive sales to Amazon, but local stores and libraries LOVE to be promoted. So if you are going to do Facebook ads to promote your book, throw a few links to local bookstores and libraries into the mix.
Learn how to effectively place ads on Amazon:
- Go to https://advertising.amazon.com/
- Play around with sponsored keyword ads. Amazon has a great tutorial HERE https://advertising.amazon.com/products/sponsored-products/?ref_=a20m_us_gw_splm, but you can also find great classes on YouTube.
- Make sure you test your ads for just a few days and then evaluate. Don’t set up ads to run for weeks or months. They need to be tended.
Rewrite your book copy and author bio on Amazon and everywhere else. Copy should be freshened up every few months at the outside. (Some authors do it every MONTH!) A few key tips:
- Read the text and copy on top authors' pages.
- Use the keywords that had the most punch in your Amazon ads.
- Consider working with a copywriter to see if their expertise can drive more sales for you.
Investigate content Licensing and Sales. August is a great time to research and approach non-book venues to sell your content. There are corporations and corporate libraries that are constantly looking for content and materials. If you have ever thought that your book would be a perfect fit for the corporate world, check out Proquest. They are the largest and most effective content distribution company out there.
For you fiction writers, look up the different content sharing sites that disseminate books OUTSIDE of the paper and eBook world. Wattpad, Hooked… there are a lot of ways to get your writing out there. And if Hollywood or foreign language rights are your goal? Spend this month querying agents and publishers. I have a great overview of this process on a video HERE
SeptemberIdentify 10 articles you could write. OR come up with 10 topics you could be interviewed about. Ask yourself:
- What are you able to share with others?
- Are you funny? Clarifying? Helpful? Experienced? Pick your tone.
- Do you have a Top 10 list you could share?
- What resources or tools do you use the most that could be the focus of an article?
Start offering your articles and lists to bloggers, editors, and freelancers. Joan Stewart of The PublicityHound.com is amazing at finding great resources for projects like this. Over the years, she has shared the following tools with me and I have LOVED them!
USNPL.com (newspapers, TV, radio)
EmailUniverse.com (electronic newsletters)
ANewsTip.com (app for finding influencers)
UPitchApp.com (An app for pitching ideas)
50States.com (media, libraries, retail for every state)
(Do you see how I took a list of tools I found helpful and turned them into an article? You can do that too!)
Update your book and plan for a 2019 edition if it's more than 2 years old.
- You will need fresh cover and copy
- You will need a new ISBN and pub date
- It is a great way to reinvigorate attention from press and industry
Create and execute a Bookstore and Library campaign to get in front of book buyers and librarians for their 2019 budget purchases.
- By this point, your online sales will have increased
- Those higher sales are being reported on Bookscan and your sales numbers can be shared
- A bigger platform means that books arriving in new venues can be announced to a wider readership. Libraries LOVE to help an author who is working to promote a good book!
There you have it. A complete, yet not overwhelming marketing plan you can do each month to ramp up your book promotion and author platform in 2019. See you in the New Year!
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