How to Market Your Self-Published Book – A Plan
“Last month I published an article called ‘Author Platform: What Are You Waiting For?’ that attempted to communicate my enthusiasm for marketing through social media and online generally.
Response was strong with people chiming in in the comments. I asked one poster, Bill Quain, to expand on his book marketing ideas. And Bill took me up on it—in a big way. Over the last month he’s published a virtual marketing manifesto for authors. I reprint it here, together in one place, because I think we all have a lot to learn from Bill’s teaching and his generosity. Enjoy!
A Practical Background
Let me give you just a bit of my background to explain how I came to the planning process. My first five books were commercial failures. I lost money on four of them. But, I kept at it, because I needed the money, and I knew that I was a decent writer. I just wasn’t selling books.
Before I wrote my sixth book, I started looking around and asking a very good question. ‘Who buys books, and what kind of books do they buy?’ Asking this simple question made all the difference. Because I asked that question, my wife stayed home from work to raise our kids, we lived on the water and had a big fishing boat. We took vacations, and I had the opportunity to help my parents. In short, I was able to reach my dreams.
Now, you may write for different reasons. For me, it was always about the money. I wanted money to be able to do the things that I could not do on my college professor’s salary. But, that was my dream. If you decide on a dream, you will start asking the right questions as well.
Folks, I discovered the Big Selling Secret with my sixth book. Here it is:
If you want to sell books, you need to know who is buying them.
Sounds simple, I know, but so many authors are quite unaware of this Big Selling Secret.
The Five-Step Planning Process
I use a five-step process for planning: Here are the steps.
- Break your markets into groups (segment)
- Choose the group(s) that are going to be your best customers (target)
- Learn how, when, where, and why they buy books, and be there when they are (intercept)
- Create a special marketing mix (product, price, promotions, and distribution) for each target group (position)
- Create a “to do” list and turn it into a “to sell” list.
This may seem complicated, but it is not. If you do it once, you will see how simple it is. Let me just give you an example of steps 1 and 2 to get you started.
- Break your market into groups. Do not try to be all things to all buyers. Look for groups that “buy and use” similarly. I always use the example of the Best Banana Cream Pie company of Philadelphia. They found two kinds of users of their pies. Some people eat them, and some people throw them into others’ faces. They USE the pies differently. On the other hand, some people buy just one pie at a time (for throwing or eating) and some buy it in bulk (again, for throwing or eating) The Best Banana Pie Company of Phillie does not care HOW people use their pies, they only care if they BUY the pies!
- Choose your target markets. Of all the groups you identify, you cannot possibly afford the time and money to market to all of them. Choose your top markets. Both individuals and brokers buy my books. I would rather sell to brokers. I don’t ignore the individual buyers, I just don’t market to them. I choose my targets and concentrate on them.”