The last post covered why you need to market your own books. Today we’re going to start building your marketing plan.
A marketing plan doesn’t have to be scary. It needs just four elements to be successful. Yep, only four.
Element #1 – What do you want to achieve?
To start your marketing plan, you need to know what you want the outcome of your marketing to be. You need to know where you’re trying to get to. (Remember Albuquerque vs. Poughkeepsie).
When you know your destination you can select the best method for getting there. You don’t want to spend the money and time to fly from Des Moines to Iowa City when you can drive there in three hours. A car is a better choice for that journey. (Unless you like standing in security checkpoint lines and waiting in cramped seats for your plane to be given takeoff clearance. In that case, the sky is yours.)
From Des Moines to Seattle though… now you probably do want a plane unless you want to spend several long days driving (and let me tell you, western Nebraska is really flat and not that interesting to drive through).
So the marketing methods you choose will depend on what outcome you want for your marketing.
You’re probably thinking, “Duh, I want to sell more books, obviously.”
Yes, that is a worthy outcome for a writer. BUT (you knew there was one coming, right) if you’re a new writer, newly published or soon-to-be-published, you probably don’t want to start with this goal.
Well, if you’re a new writer or newly published, you probably don’t have a lot of fans yet. So the pool of people that are predisposed to buy your book (current fans, good friends and your family) is not very large. That means you’re going to be approaching strangers with your marketing efforts.
How often do you buy something from a stranger that knocks on your door and launches into their sales pitch?
Yep, not often.
People don’t like to be “sold”.
They don’t like to be cold-called by strangers. They don’t like pushy sales messages.
What DO people like? Recommendations from friends, free samples, the soft sell, offers that fit their interests.
When you’re starting out in your marketing efforts, you want to build up a list of people who are interested in hearing from you first. Why? As a customer, I’m a lot more likely to listen to a sales message from someone I know and like than from a stranger.
I’m a lot more likely to respond to a sales message from a writer when I voluntarily visited their website or signed up for their mailing list, because I initiated the contacts and I decided how much access I want to allow the writer in my life. They didn’t push the message on me. I invited it. I allowed them to send it to me.
See where the control is? It’s in the reader’s hand. The best (and most) sales come from allowing the reader to set the level of engagement.
What does that mean for your marketing plan?
That means you need to focus less on sales and more on interactions and gaining permission from readers to talk to them about your books. Yeah, seems like a lot of work. Doesn’t have to be, though.
Try these sample marketing goals:
Get more readers
Note that this isn’t “get more sales”. More readers can mean that you’re giving out free copies of your novel. It could mean that you’re posting short stories on your website. It could mean you’re posting the first chapter of your novel online.
It does mean that you’re doing things with the intent of getting more people to read your work. That doesn’t have to involve an exchange of money for the reader.
Why would you give away your books or stories for free? To get fans. To hook readers into liking your stuff and then buying it in the future.
Increase awareness of your book
This one might seem like a funny goal, but remember last week’s discussion. If I don’t know that a product exists, I won’t go looking for it and I won’t buy it. Especially since the world is flooded with books to buy, both in print and electronically. I’d rather have a reader go looking specifically for my book, rather than just browsing through everything that’s available and hope they stumble across mine.
You need lots of readers to know that your book is out there. Not everyone is going to love your book. But if a lot of people know that it exists there’s a much better chance that some of those people will like it. If 1% of a given group of people will like your book, how large do you want the entire group to be? 5% of 100 people means 5 people. 5% of 10,000 people means 500 people. I’d rather have 500 people liking my book, so I’d shoot for the 10,000 to be aware of it first.
The more people who know your book exists, the better.
Get more website visitors
People visit websites for information. They want to know something. When readers visit a writer’s website, they usually want to know something about the writer or about his/her books. Maybe they want to what kind of books the writer writers. Maybe they want to read some writing samples. Maybe they want a complete book list. Maybe they want to know where to purchase the books.
Visitors to your website are potential readers and book buyers. Just like the “Awareness” goal, the more visitors to your website, the better chance you have that some of those people will be interested in your book.
Get more friends/followers
This is a social media marketing goal. “Friends” is a Facebook term. “Followers” is a Twitter term. If someone chooses to interact with you on a social media site, i.e. Friend you on Facebook, they’re interested in you on some level.
Essentially, this goal is very similar to the “increase awareness” and “increase website visitors” goals. You’re trying to increase the number of people that are aware of your book.
Not every reader is on every social media site. Some prefer Twitter, some prefer Facebook, some MySpace or other sites. You’ll want to spend time on several sites working to increase the size of your friends/followers on each one.
Get more newsletter subscribers
If a reader gives you their email address in exchange for your monthly newsletter, they’ve given you a deeper level of permission to “sell” to them. Your newsletter subscribers expect you to talk about your book, your upcoming releases, and your book signings or other events. It doesn’t guarantee they’ll buy your book, but it’s a step closer on the cold sell-warm sell continuum.
Make the goal specific and realistic
When you’ve picked a goal to start with, you need to make it as specific as possible by putting numbers and a deadline to it.
Let’s say you’ve decided on a marketing goal of increasing website visitors. How many visitors do you want? (Okay, yes, we all want millions, but you have to start somewhere and a million isn’t the place to start.)
How many website visitors do you have now? Figure out the current amount of traffic that your website gets. 500 visitors a month? 5?
When you know your current numbers, pick a target to shoot for. If you currently get 5 visitors a month, maybe you want to pick a target of 1000 visitors in a month.
So your goal is now “Increase website visitors to 1000 each month.”
Next you need a deadline. If you’re starting with 5 visitors a month in August, you probably aren’t going to hit 1000 visitors in September. Pick a deadline that seems reasonable.
“Increase website visitors to 1000 a month by the end of November.”
“Gain 500 new newsletter subscribers in three months.”
“Get 250 downloads of my Kindle book in one month.”
The more specific and realistic your goal is, the better chance you have of achieving it.
One thing to note: Your marketing goal doesn’t have to be grandiose and all-encompassing, like “Increase website visitors to 10,000 per month, gain 1000 newsletter subscribers and increase Facebook Friends to 2000 this month.”
Really big marketing plans are scary and intimidating. This is Book Marketing Made Easy, not Book Marketing to Intimidate You and Make You Fail. If your goal is big and scary, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
Start small with one simple, short-term goal. Something that you can achieve in the next month. Like putting a short story on your website in PDF form and then trying to get 25 people to download it this month. Or increasing your website visitors by 100. Something easy to achieve.
Then next month, after you’ve had one success, set a new goal, a little bigger than the last one.
That’s the first element – Figure out what you want to achieve and make it specific.
Next up: Step #2 – Figuring out how to make your goal happen