I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, being an author is tantamount to being a small business owner. We are in the business of selling books, or more exactly, the business of selling stories. And to do that effectively I wholeheartedly believe every author who wants to sell book must have a marketing plan.
What is a marketing plan.
Investopia.com defines a marketing plan as: “an operational document that outlines an advertising strategy that an organization will implement to generate leads and reach its target market.”
Sounds a bit technical, huh? Basically, a marketing plan is a written plan that identifies the techniques you will use to reach your target market. In our case, that target market is our readers.
Determining Your Target Market
In my opinion, this is the most crucial part of a marketing plan because it forces an author (aka the small business owner) to really focus and decide who their target market is. For most us, genre defines the general market. Romance is typically marketed to women. YA also to women, though the age range is dramatic. Sci-Fi and Fantasy typically skew male, but that is changing and can entirely depend on the storyline.
So, who is your target audience? Start with a general description based on genre, but if you really want to reach readers and connect with them (as any good marketer should), then the key is to get as specific as possible. Try to describe your ideal reader. Is it a stay-at-home mom looking for a bit of romantic escape? Is it fifth-grader who stays up late to read action/adventure stories?
Spend some time developing the persona of your ideal reader. That is who you will market to. Not some big, ambiguous, nebulous crowd of “genre readers,” but specific members of that group.
Decide on your Techniques
This is where many folks get hung up, but honestly, this is part depends entirely on you and what you feel comfortable with. It’s where you get to start using some of those same creative juices that led you to write to figure out where to share your message.
In the day and age of social media, marketing is entirely accessible to everyone. As are things like targeted ads. But just like most other things in life, they take a little finesse, a little study, and a little planning to be most effective. If you think about themes in your book and your ideal readers, figure out where and how those two ideas intersect. Are there groups you could join to share content and network with readers? What about video options?
Don’t forget about in-person activities like readings and book signing. Consider looking for opportunities to guest blog on sites related to your genre or themes within your book. The key here is to remember that all of these are platforms or mechanisms to get you in front of readers. Content will still be key, so keep reading.
Figure out what makes your memorable
This, friends, is my favorite part of a marketing plan. This is where you get to bathe in all of those creative juices that led you to write. This is where you get to craft the message and brainstorm the idea that will help you connect with your readers. This is where you get to flex those creativity muscles.
Lots of authors get stuck in the “buy my book” posts on social media. Do those work? Well, that entirely depends on what you’ve done before hand and where you are posting it. But even in ideal situations, it doesn’t help you connect with readers, it just comes of as, well, a sales pitch. And most of us can’t stand a sales pitch.
So, what’s an author to do? Ah, grasshopper, the answer comes from the very essence of the business we are in…you tell a story. Which of the following interests you more:
A FB post of your book and a buy link? Or a blog post about an old-family recipe for chocolate cake discovered while cleaning out your grandmother’s attic that served as inspiration for your main character’s award-winning cupcakes in your cozy mystery novel? And at the end of the blog post, a link to where the reader can get the book? See the difference? The goal in creating connect is to tell a story that draws your reader in.
Let’s try another one. Which is more interesting? A tweet about how your character plants an herb garden and a buy link? Or a video about how basil serves an important role in any post-apocalyptic garden because of it’s anti-bacterial properties with a link to your website?
Find the story behind your story. Find the themes within your book, those little things that make your character who they are then figure out how to make that content interesting to your ideal readers. Gotta pirate fairy princess who loves swordplay? Write a blog post about famous female pirates or do a demo video of some of the classic sword moves…thrust and parry anyone? Maybe one of your characters finds out their long lost father lives in Italy. Write up or prepare some of your favorite Italian recipes and share that content on Pinterest or maybe look for guest blogging opportunities on a cooking site.
The key here is to use your imagination and look for ways to connect. Ben Franklin said, “Write something worth reading, or do something worth writing about.” It’s a good mantra when brainstorming marketing idea. The sky really is the limit.