I can’t help but quote the late, great James Brown…”Please, please, please… (Please, please don’t go.)”
I beg you please don’t take your book to market if you haven’t developed a marketing plan. That includes:
– defining your target audience (visualize specific individuals you foresee purchasing the book)
– making a list of specific organizations that might
– hosting a book signing or speaking engagement
– developing promotional materials – sales sheet, web page, post cards and book marks
– writing an enticing book description
– determining ideal outlets for selling your book (internet retailers, your web site, independent book stores, speaking engagements, etc.)
What’s the worst that could happen? You could be one of those authors who never sells more than 99 books!
Marketing should not begin after the book is produced; it must begin before the book goes to press. Why not wait until the book has been printed? First of all, you’ll miss several crucial marketing opportunities. Secondly, if you wait until the book is in your hands you’ll feel under the gun to sell it and planning probably won’t be a priority for you.
Another good reason to think of marketing before your book is printed or published is the book cover. After all, you can’t expect your readers to judge a book without its cover!
In regards to your book cover, the marketing plan will help you determine the appropriate design, key words, and the content for the back cover. By developing a marketing plan, you’ll be forced to consider:
○ specific target markets
○ their interests and desires
○ their trusted and frequent information resources
Armed with this information you’ll be able to write a back cover description that entices prospective readers to open and purchase the book.
Once you understand your target market, where they purchase books and whose opinions they trust and admire you’ll have enough information to identify the appropriate sales venues (internet retailers, book stores, conferences, etc.). I’ve included a sample target market analysis at the end of the book.
Here’s an example: I mentioned the client who’s writing a young adult fiction novel. She told me her target market was teens and young women aged 15 – 35. That’s a great start, but it’s not enough. With my help she was able to expand this description…
○ Primary target: black single women and single mothers ages 23- 30;
○ Secondary target: black young adult women & college students age 18 – 22
○ Tertiary target: black high school teens 15-18
Notice that we didn’t just say readers, but that we were specific about their sex, age, marital status and education – single women, single mothers, college students and high school students.
We also considered geography. The author lives in Atlanta, GA therefore this is her primary geographic target. We expanded this to include the Southeast region of the U.S. since it’s easy for her to travel to neighboring states for book signings and speaking engagements. She also has extensive contacts in New York so we included the Northeast as a secondary geographic market. Segmented the market this way does not mean preclude the author from pursuing national sales, it just helps her focus on specific regions.
Don’t worry if the thought of writing a formal marketing plan, causes some apprehension. Instead consider using a tool that my clients and I have found extremely helpful – the book proposal. Traditionally, book proposals are only necessary for authors in search of an agent or a traditional publisher, however I’ve found the proposal to be an immense help to all authors.
In the process of writing a book proposal you will:
○ Clarify the subject hook (short, compelling book description)
○ Present the book hook (title, selling handle and length)
○ Identify specific benefits and features
○ Identify competitive titles
○ Address marketing strategies and tactics
While writing God is My Consultant I found myself a bit confused about how to position the book, how to make it different and better than other spiritual/self-help books and the book’s major selling points. After two re-writes I still like it wasn’t quite right. So I stopped working on the manuscript and turned to writing the proposal. By the time I finished writing the proposal I was able to delete a lot of extraneous information from my manuscript, I had a full-fledged marketing and promotions plan and I knew exactly what to put in query letters to agents and publishers.
I also used the book proposal format to help a client edit her novel and write a book description to use on the back cover and in promotional material. To solve this problem we wrote the subject hook and the target market sections of the book proposal. In doing so, she was compelled to focus on the book’s main theme and why it appealed to her target readers.
TARA Y. COYT believes in the power of the written word. Known as The Write Author Coach, she has been writing and speaking professionally for over twenty years. Tara helps aspiring and existing authors by sharing her best talents – writing, strategic development, marketing and creativity. In 2005 Tara founded the GET IT WRITE Author’s Circle to connect writers and authors with industry professionals and resources. Her first book, DOWNlo MARKETING: Uncover Your Business, Discover More Profits is an example of Taras straightforward, personable and humorous approach to writing.
When she isnt coaching authors or writing (a column for Catalyst Magazine, a memoir and a book on spirituality) Tara can be heard discussing the GET IT WRITE Approach. Her audiences include writers, business professionals, elected officials, speakers, educators and college students striving to transform their ideas, goals, experience and passions into successful ventures.