Tips for Building a Comprehensive Book Marketing Strategy

A book marketing strategy is merely a written plan that outlines the plans an author has to promote awareness and interest in their book. Although a written marketing strategy-or a marketing plan-is not part of the book, I would dare say that it may actually be more important than the book itself.

Why?

Because even if you manage to write the best book in the world, no one will ever read it if there isn’t an effective strategy in place to tell them about it. This post illustrates the seven primary fields of marketing authors use to tell their target audiences about their books with the intention of inspiring you to think about whether you can use them for your book’s marketing plan. If you do find something that you think you can use, don’t hesitate to write it down to use the information for yourself or at least print out this page so you can keep it for later use.

If you are serious about building your marketing strategy, I recommend that you pause for about ten minutes before reading the information below and complete the “Quick Start Marketing Guide.”The free guide will help you clearly define your audience, think about the circumstances that usually surround their need for the answers you are providing and brainstorm the places-or markets-where you will be most likely to find your audience, and after you finish you will automatically receive a copy of your answers in your email inbox.

I’m serious. You will get a lot more out of this post if you take a moment to complete that guide first. It’s okay, I’ll wait for you to finish…it does not need to be perfect or even based on research-for now you just need to take a minute to think through the questions and write your responses.

Now that you have a clear picture in your mind of:

  • who your audience is,
  • when they need the answers your non-fiction book provides, and
  • where you are likely to find your target audience members in large groups,

you are ready to consider which of the seven primary book marketing strategy components to include in your book marketing strategy.

(Remember, the goal is to introduce you to the menu of marketing options so you can pick out the options you think may work best to help you connect with your audience. You don’t need to know how you will use the tools you choose just yet, just pick out the ones you think will be useful and forget about the rest.)

1. Content Marketing Strategy

I’m sure that this does not surprise you if you have followed my blog for a while. In an earlier post I explained why every author should have a content marketing strategy. It does not matter how large or how small your marketing budget is or how large or small your publishing success team is-you should have a content marketing strategy related to your book.

In that post we defined content marketing as creating, publishing and distributing content that your target audience finds useful. This means that your marketing plan should include plans to create, publish and distribute an information product that you can give away for free to your target audience that they will value enough to want to collect it and maybe even share it. Your website or blog will most likely serve as the central hub for your content marketing campaign.

The people who fall in love with the information you give away-and who join your mailing list-will talk about you so much that they will attract others to you. This group of people will form the basis of your “platform,” and a healthy platform is critical to your success as an author. So much so that I included it as item number two on my list of “3 Things Every Published Author Needs to Be Successful.” 

To learn more about content marketing and how you can use it as part of your strategy, read the post “5 Reasons Every Author Should Use Content Marketing.” 

2. Social Media Strategy

Content marketing will help you build the home base for your platform, so you can think of your social media strategy as the “outreach” part of your platform. Unlike the website or blog that likely serves as the hub for your content marketing strategy, you do not really own your social media outreach posts. You are merely borrowing or “renting” space on:

  • Facebook (if your target audience includes “everyday” consumers),
  • LinkedIn (if your target audience includes white-collar professionals, entrepreneurs and/or business owners),
  • Twitter (if you are able to keep up with the fast and highly interactive nature of the medium that connects you with people and businesses of all sizes, socioeconomic status and geographic locations),
  • Google Plus (for anyone who has a Google account…which is pretty much everyone),
  • YouTube (if you are a fan of videos),

and other social media networks.

Before blindly jumping into social media marketing, you definitely need to be mindful about which social media accounts you choose, what kind of messages you send out on those channels (messages that often encourage people to come visit your website or blog where your home base is in exchange for free content you produced as part of your content marketing strategy), how often you communicate on those channels, and how you respond to the people you meet there.

If you think social media marketing could be an asset to your book marketing strategy, I highly recommend that you take control over your social media accounts and use them to communicate with your platform followers instead of hiring someone else to do it for you. There’s nothing wrong with hiring someone to set up the accounts for you, design your profile pages or even write your social media marketing campaign for you, but it won’t take long for people to realize that the sterile and canned responses  they receive from your account are not from you…or they will assume that it is from you and that you are a boring person that they are not interested in following. In either scenario, it doesn’t work out well. You would have to work very, very closely with your social media marketing specialist to pull off a successful campaign.

To learn more, I highly recommend that you join Karen May Dy’s mailing list to receive her free social media workbook, videos and to-do list. If you prefer to get help with setting up your campaign, I recommend that you contact her about her services-she is an accredited virtual assistant who does amazing work!

3. Publicity Strategy

Publicity is all about borrowing someone else’s platform to talk about your message in hopes that people will be interested enough to follow you back to your platform…or at least buy your book. This usually happens by being a guest on a TV or radio talk show, being interviewed or reviewed in a magazine, newspaper or even a popular blog.

I often talk about Robert Kiyosaki when I talk about authors using publicity. He originally self-published his book and sold copies out of the trunk of his car to anyone he could reach. But after he learned about Steve Harrison’s Radio-TV Interview Report (RTIR) that advertises authors and other content experts to radio and TV show producers around the country, Robert ended up as a guest on Oprah. By the time the show was over, he had bookstores from around the country calling him and asking him how they could get a copy of his book in their store because they had so many people requesting it.

These results are by no means typical, but they do illustrate how publicity can help drive demand for your book. Unfortunately that demand only has a short-term relevance, but considering that most authors never sell more than 250 books in their lifetime, having the opportunity to reach a large audience and sell even a few dozen at one time is promising. 

There are many ways to get publicity on your own for free, but you will have a much better chance of succeeding if you partner with a pro who knows what they are doing. Major book PR companies like Smith Publicity have well-established relationships with most of the talk show producers, magazine editors, newspaper editors and popular bloggers who could give you the access you need to your potential readers, but you will pay $2,500+ per month for three to six month-long campaigns that can never guarantee results. As an alternative, you could buy a service that allows them to send several copies of your book out to those same contacts but have the leads come directly to you instead of a Smith Publicity representative for a smaller budget.

Self-publishing companies like Outskirts press and book distributors offer similar services at smaller prices with the same lack of guarantee.

If you are going to pay for publicity, I actually recommend going with the same company Robert Kiyosaki used-RTIR. RTIR not only helped Robert launch his self-published book to the status of an international best seller, but RTIR also helped launch the “For Dummies” series (remember “Computers for Dummies” and similar titles?) and “Chicken Soup for the Soul.” Even if you don’t buy their services you should look into joining their mailing list so you can receive invitations to their free webinars-they offer a lot of great information. You can learn more about them  here. And if you happen to be a member of IBPA, you will want to take advantage of the discount they offer you. The cheapest option is about $1,800, but you are likely to get at least five interview options according to their statistics.

PumpUpYourBooks.com is a great site to check out if you prefer to have someone set up your virtual blog tour for you. If you want to learn how to set up a virtual blog tour on your own, D’vorah Lansky is the woman who can teach you. (The benefit of learning how to set up a blog tour on your own is that you can schedule your own tours annually or semi-annually to stimulate sales at will.)

4. Advertisement Strategy

Advertising involves paying someone for space that highlights your book because that space is located somewhere your target audience is likely to see it. Your advertisement may be on a billboard next to a highway where your target audience is likely to drive by (this is only recommended if your book has significance to a specific geographic location), in a magazine or newspaper that circulates to the people who are likely to read your book, airs during a TV show your readers are likely to watch, airs during a radio show that your readers are likely to listen to, on a sign that is dragged by a plane across the skyline in an area that is heavily populated by your target readers, in the ad section of your computer search engine results or inside LinkedIn or Facebook, or any other advertising idea you come up with.

If you choose to use advertising, please make sure that the space you are paying for really will reach your target audience. It may be enticing to take advantage of the $75 discount to advertise in the local newspaper, but if your target audience includes soldiers and there are no military bases in your area-it is a waste of money. Pay Per Click advertising (PPC) is a form of online advertising that is quickly becoming popular simply because results only appear when people are actually searching for your keywords (which means they are highly likely to be part of your target audience) and you only have to pay when people click on the ad-not just when they see it. No other form of advertising can offer this.

A few PPC options worth considering include:

(I don’t necessarily endorse any of these links, I’ve just included them so you can get a little more information on the respective PPC campaign options.)

5. Event Strategy

It’s much easier to get the attention of the media and the public if you have some type of event. Whether it is a book tour, a book signing event, an online webinar, a seminar at the local college or take part in a fair or convention in your community, an event is a great way to generate buzz about your book.

The easiest way to go about this option is to find a book fair or other highly publicized event that you can take part in because you won’t have to work on getting the people to attend. The only thing you will have to do is find a way to make people want to stop and talk to you and then make sure that you follow-up with those who said they “might” buy later.

When you create your own event you will need to find the event location, plan the activities, invite the people, engage the people and follow-up with the people. But it can definitely be worth it.

6. Partnership Strategy (a.k.a. Joint Venture)

If your book truly fills a popular problem, there will be other people who are working to solve that problem. Those “people” may be businesses, public charities, professional associations, schools, churches, political leaders, community leaders, entrepreneurs or the woman down the street. If you find someone who has an expertise that complements (not competes with) what you offer, money that they are willing to use to promote what you do, or connections that can help take your book to another level, and you have one of the above to offer them, then you two may be a good match for a partnership.

Brendon Burchard, author of the “Millionaire Messenger,” has made a career out of teaching people how to build partnerships. He started teaching this after he closed a deal with a large non-profit organization to sell about 50,000 copies of his student leadership book each year. No one knew who he was when he made the deal, but it worked because his book complemented their nationwide student leadership training program. Since that deal, he helped the organization develop a conference based on the book and they negotiated a deal with Coca Cola to have the bottling company pay for the non-profit to host the conference at Disney world.

With that said, I recommend that you seek out Burchard to learn more about his partnership strategies and to decide whether you want to go this route for your book. But if you are already affiliated with someone who you think may make a good partner, don’t be afraid to brainstorm ideas about how you two can form a mutually beneficial partnership and then pitch them the idea. All they can say is no…

7. Personal Sales Strategy

Each day that you wake up and interact with other people is an opportunity to sell your book. Whether you hand out business card or bookmarks with information about your book and other services, add information about your book to your personal email signature or simply talk about your book with others you are engaging in a personal sales strategy.

You can get creative with how you promote your book in your day-to-day life. Not everyone is comfortable with just randomly talking about their book, but I know authors who use arm bands with a slogan related to their book to spark conversation. Some authors will even wear hats, pens, shirts or bags that feature their book cover to inspire conversation. Your personal sales options are only limited by your creativity.

Final Thoughts 

This is definitely the longest post I have published up to this date, but it is also one of the most important. The seven marketing components above offer a high level overview of the millions of marketing options that are available to you. If you decide to self-publish your book, you will need to commit to a marketing activity to promote your book (after you do more in-depth market research of course to increase your chances of being effective.) If you decide to partner with a traditional publisher, you will need to get a literary agent first and they will want to see an outline of your book marketing plan…or at least see that you have a platform with a lot of followers.

Whatever you do, don’t put marketing off until after  you write and publish your book, because you will only end up frustrating yourself. Most authors do not think about their marketing plan, and this may be why most authors never sell more than 250 books. But you-my friend-are not like most authors are you? So that’s why I’m confident that you will choose to use the information above to draft a quick marketing plan.

As my last resource on the topic of building your marketing plan, I  highly recommend that you visit CreateSpace’s “Marketing Central” and get a copy of the sample genre-specific book marketing plan that matches your book. You don’t have to answer everything in the guide, but I do recommend that you pull out the tips that you think will help make you successful. When you combine the information I have given you here in this post with his book marketing worksheets, you will be light years ahead of almost any other author and much more likely to meet your sales goals.

Happy book marketing planning!

Danielle Fetherson

Danielle helps aspiring authors become published authors. She believes that everyone has at least one book on the inside of them that can make a positive impact on someone else's life. If you have been thinking about writing a book, learn how to start your book today with the free resources at DanielleFetherson.com.

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