A Sample Marketing Plan
Small publishers have a limited budget for marketing, and every dollar has to have impact. You, the author, should assist in the marketing of your book in some way. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, and a reputable publisher won’t ask you to pay them to market your book, but you should actively promote your book on your own. Remember to coordinate your efforts with your publisher or editor.
This is an example marketing strategy that focuses the author’s effort in two areas: the Internet space and your local space.
The Internet Space, Part I: Connecting With Readers
This consists of defining your presence as an author, giving your potential readers a touch-point – a place they can go to in order to find out about who you are, your books, and where they might be able to see you present your book. Some authors create blogs, websites, join social networking sites and forums, and try to blanket the Internet in every possible way. The danger to doing this is that you will not be able to keep everything maintained in the way that you want. Or, you may find yourself so busy at self-promotion that you don’t have time to write. Other authors decide early on that they won’t be able to devote the time and energy into maintaining multitudes of cyber sites, and will select to participate on a level that they can manage.
Connecting with your fellow writers is also important, but in marketing your book, seek out those sites that put you in contact with your readers or with those who might book you to do a reading. Some possibilities include:
Facebook – free social networking site, event listing.
Goodreads – free social networking site targeted to book lovers. Sign up as an author for a free listing of your author info, video, events, blog, book giveaways.
Pinterest – free social networking site, highly visual, may attract potential readers if your cover is visually appealing.
Amazon Author Page – free listing of your author info, video, events, blog
Author website – Nearly free or paid-for author info, blog, events listing, contact info. Be sure to include a way for people to contact you to schedule readings and events.
The Internet Space, Part II: Advertising Your Events
So you have friends and a way to reach your readers, but do you have enough advertising? Once you start doing book readings, you need to be able to reach your audience and grow it. Facebook and Goodreads give you a way of getting the word out about your upcoming events, but consider adding low-stress free advertising such as Prlog.com or similar for free press release and distribution.
The Internet Space, Part III: Targeted Book Promotion
Your publisher should be sending your book out for review, but if they are very small or new, they will have limited resources to get review copies out. If you are able, consider sending copies of your book out for review.
Bloggers are also a viable option, however you should take into account the traffic that bloggers receive. Blog tours, popular with many authors, can be a very good way to promote your book, provided that the bloggers have a large following. Many bloggers have fewer than 20 followers, meaning that even if you put together a blog tour with 10 such bloggers, you are only reaching 200 potential readers. Compare that to a well-placed press release in your small community newspaper which might reach 10,000 people, many of whom may know you in some way. So, approach bloggers that have been around for a few years and have built up a following. Check to see if they post their book reviews on Amazon.
Some places to consider:
Midwest Book Review – Online review site, small-press friendly
The Reading Tub – Online review site
Independent Publisher Online – Book listing site
Friends and family members are your best marketers. They are the ones who tell friends-of-friends about your book. They can hook you up with librarians and teachers who are looking for authors to do school visits. They order your book from the local bookseller, and tell the bookseller to stock your book.
Your other best friends are your local independent bookseller. They can tell you a lot about how your book might be shelved at the store, and about your target audience. They can schedule you for in-store events. Similarly, your local library and the children’s librarian are must-have contacts. They can help you with library visits and other book events. These contacts should be considered long-term relationships for your next book, and the ones after that.
Some other things to consider
- Send out a mass postcard mailing via snail-mail to friends and family to announce your book.
- Send out a mass email announcement to friends and colleagues
- Send flyers (one-sheet “book facts” or a media kit) to local independent bookstores with a cover page that tells them you are available to do in-store events, signings.
- Throw a book launch party at your favorite independent bookstore.
- Get on the speaker’s list for your library, or schedule some library events with the librarian.
- Put together one or two in-store or school event ideas, such as a reading and craft activity, or a reading and sing-along. Sometimes the idea of an “event” will bring readers in much more than an author signing. Make your event sound special.
- Make giveaways, like a simple sticker or bookmarks (with your book title, author name, ISBN) for children who attend your events. Put bookmarks into the kids’ baskets at Halloween time.
- Whenever you do a reading in a bookstore, library or school, make sure every child receives a bookmark or sticker. Parents often buy the book at a later time, especially when they know the book title and author name.
- Send targeted press releases to your community newspapers, including the community where you grew up.
- Make flyers that describe who you are, what your book is about, and how to contact you for school visits.
- Make send-home flyers for schools to duplicate to send home to parents for your planned school visits. Include an order-form for your book if the school doesn’t have a distributor they work with.
Some authors have found success using these additional marketing ideas. My experience has varied. I created a book video and put it on YouTube, which brought in more traffic to my book website. Some of the other ideas did not translate into sales but did provide contact with other writers. Your mileage may vary, so I’ve included these ideas for you to ponder:
- Networking and friend sites – Facebook, Redroom, Linkedin, writer message boards, SCBWI message boards, Amazon reader forums, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest.
- Blogs – Blogtalk radio, multitudes of author blogs, reader blogs, parent blogs, book blogs.
- Book Video Sites – YouTube, http://www.bookscreening.com, http://thenewcoveytrailerawards.blogspot.com
- Online magazines – various magazines with target demographics
- Freebee community magazines or newspapers – Will often print press releases or do book reviews.Check outside your local grocery stores for giveaway papers. Some of these target grandparents who buy books for their grandchildren, for example.
- City newspapers – Check to see if your big city paper has a books or lifestyle editor, and send them a press release.