Now is the time to develop a marketing and publicity plan for your book
By Rachel M. Anderson, Publicist, RMA Publicity
For many authors, marketing is more of an afterthought than something they think about as they are writing their books. But if you want the manuscript you have poured your heart and soul into to sell, you need to put some thought into how you are going to reach readers.
A good starting point is to determine your target audience, and no, not everyone who can read will be a good target! You need to step back and determine the characteristics of the person most likely to want to read your book. For example, a reader in his or her 20s is unlikely to take interest in a memoir about an Alzheimer's Journey. But people in their 40s and 50s with older parents may. By the same token, a senior citizen probably won't care for a novel set on a college campus. The ideal audience for that type of book would be older teens and those in their 20s.
Once you have determined whom you are writing for, it is time to give some serious thought to how you can best reach that ideal reader. I recommend you consider both publicity and marketing to promote your books. Contrary to popular belief, they are not one in the same. A good way to differentiate the two is to think of marketing as the paid side of things and publicity as the unpaid side.
Marketing involves such things as book distribution, advertising and securing signings and tables at events. Publicity involves reaching out to the media to secure stories on TV, in the newspaper, on radio and online, as well as acquiring reviews.
Here are ten tips that will help get you started on a solid marketing and publicity plan:
1. Create a Website for your book. If you don’t have one, it will be hard for potential readers to find you and the media to promote you.
2. Launch a social media campaign. This is something you can and should do well before your book is in print to create a following/fan-base. An easy way to do this is to create a Facebook Fan Page for your book and contribute entries to it regularly. Fan pages are totally free to set up and offer a viral method of making contact with potential customers. The average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events. (Make sure you mention that you have a Facebook Fan Page on your Website.)
3. Develop a list of places where your potential readers spend time and make plans to visit with them on their “home turf” throughout the year. If, for example, your book is about dieting or recovering from drug addiction, you should be attending regular support group meetings and telling people about your book. If you have a business book, join the local Chamber of Commerce and regularly attend meetings.
4. Seek out non-profits and other organizations that would be most interested in your book and/or expertise and let them know about your title. If your book is about organ donation, for example, Life Source, the American Organ Transplant Association and the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), are good organizations to get to know.
5. If you haven’t done it yet, ask your friends and people you know who have purchased your book to write a review and post it on Amazon.com. The more reviews and activity you have, the higher you move in the searchable listings.
6. A lot of authors who started out by publishing just a traditional printed book have found that having their title available as an eBook as well significantly impacts the number of sales they get. According to a recent survey released by the American Association of Publishers (AAP) the market share of eBooks grew more than 1,200 percent from 2008 to 2010.
7. Start a blog and contribute to it regularly, making reference to your book as often as you can. If people like what you have to say, they are likely to purchase your book.
8. Pay attention to stories making their way through the news cycle. They may offer you opportunities to get on the news.
9. Prepare regular press releases and distribute them to the media, or hire a publicist to handle this task for you. When you see a story in the news that you would like to comment on, don’t just think about it, do it! Those authors who send out regular press releases are more likely to become sources for reporters than those who don’t. The release of your book should mark the first time you reach out to the media, not the last.
10. Spend some time researching the editorial calendar used by reporters to determine where your story would fit best.
Need help executing your plan? RMA Publicity would be happy to help. We develop marketing and publicity plans for authors, offer writing and pitching services, and can also help with setting up book launch parties, book signings and other author events. Contact us for more information.
About the Author
Rachel M. Anderson has more than 25 years of communications experience across a wide range of disciplines. She currently works as a marketing & PR consultant and publicist for RMA Publicity, a company she founded in 2009 to help small publishers and those who have self published promote their books to local, national and international audiences. Rachel also has experience as a marketing and direct response copywriter, television newscast producer and assignment editor, television newscast reporter and newspaper reporter. She is currently an at-large board member with the Midwest Independent Publishing Association (MIPA) and writes the monthly marketing article for the Association newsletter.
Rachel lives in the Twin Cities, but works with authors and publishers across the country.
Rachel M. Anderson