Your author marketing plan is an overview of your goals for your book and yourself as an author, and you can start developing it before you write your first sentence.
Your author marketing plan is the broad overview of what your goals are for your book and for yourself as an author – and the steps you plan to take to reach those goals.
You can begin developing your marketing plan by conducting research before you even type the first sentence of your book. You can always refine your research at any stage of the publishing process, whether you’re still writing your manuscript, are waiting to hear back from an agent, or are in talks with your publisher. There is always more to learn!
If you’ve already written your book, don’t worry: it’s never too late to research and define your book from a marketing perspective. Part of that research will require that you define and answer the following, regardless of which stage of writing or publishing you are in.
1. Identify your target audience
Be very specific! There may be multiple groups of people that would be interested in your book, but it’s best to narrow your focus before you start your marketing efforts and identify a clear target audience. Consider characteristics like age, gender, career, income, location, and educational background. Clarifying your target audience, like you may do with your first beta readers, will help you to find your niche and make your marketing much easier and more effective later down the line. You can then search out the best means of reaching your audience and execute your marketing endeavors with a clear plan of action.
2. Study your competition
The book market is huge and highly competitive. You can use this to your advantage, however. Find out what kinds of books are selling the best. Scrutinize your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and how you might capitalize on a trend or improve in areas. Track the selling price of other books based on subject, binding type, and page count.
3. Develop a strategy to reach your target audience
Does your audience listen to a certain type radio station, attend particular events, read specific magazines or blogs, or have a direct connection to a region or city? Are there cultural ties that may influence their career choices, location, or religion? Do members of your targeted audience represent a higher percentage of the demographic in certain cities? For example: if you are targeting young adults, you could research the location of the largest high schools in the United States. Or, if your YA novel has Roman Catholic overtones to it, you would want to narrow your search to Catholic schools in the same regions.
4. Develop a statement to position your book within your targeted audience
This statement should highlight your book’s unique selling position, or what separates your book from the competition. If you’re not sure exactly how to answer that, consider this scenario: A reader is browsing a shelf of books and finds the opportunity to ask you directly, “Why should I buy your book?” What would you say? What makes your book – or your experience as its author – different from everyone else’s? What special background or experience do you have as the author that will drive the audience’s interest?
5. Tighten up your marketing budget
How much can you realistically spend on marketing this year? Over the next two years? What type of media are you going to use? What kind of campaigns and advertisements are you going to develop? Some marketing efforts are, of course, extremely affordable, while others are outrageously expensive. Your budget will ultimately affect which promotional activities you can afford, but remember: a more expensive promotional product or strategy does not necessarily produce the best results. Do what works for your audience and your personality.
Now that you’ve developed the basic goals and targeted your audience for your marketing campaign, it’s time to put it to work. Do you have a defined author marketing plan?
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