When you are an author - particularly a self published author - unless you are content to let your book languish at the bottom of the Amazon heap, there is really no alternative but to market your book.
Yet most of us have no idea where to start, once we've shared the book with our friends on facebook and twitter. We are most fortunate to have as today's guest poster, Kayelle Allen, founder of Marketing for Romance Writers and award winning Science Fiction and Romance, to give us some tips.
Making a Simple Author Marketing Plan
Educate yourself in how to be a successful writer and you will accomplish more than you ever thought possible. Today, let's look at a simple, four-part marketing plan. A plan like this is not the be-all, end-all of plans. It's the start of a bigger picture for your career, but it's as vital as the floor of a building.
In fact, marketing plans are like modular houses. You have a solid foundation and beams for support, but you can pull out one room and pop in another. Plans can change and grow, the way a family can outgrow a house.
Like anything you learn, you can't absorb the entire thing in one big gulp. Even if you could, I wouldn't be able to transfer it all to you in one big lump. I don't know of any teaching method that could - with the exception of telepathy. You must learn by steps, and those are bigger for some, smaller for others.
When you're doing a worthwhile job, don't allow the work to make you weary enough to quit. If you keep going, you will prosper and succeed. You haven't failed until you've quit. With that piece of advice out of the way, let's get started. There are four basic steps to making your first marketing plan.
What do objectives have to do with marketing? Everything. If you don't know why you're marketing your books, why do it?
An objective is a goal intended to be attained (and which is believed to be attainable). To say that in a more blunt way -- it's something you want to do, and that you believe you can do. It does you no good to set a goal you don't think you can accomplish. Do you want "USA Today Best Selling Author" beside your name? That's a great goal. Many authors have attained it -- it's doable. If you don't believe you can do it, you are not likely to achieve it. A goal must be believable by you. Could you be surprised by attaining a goal you hadn't thought you could accomplish? Certainly. But it is more likely you'll complete a goal you believe in. Positive self-talk, the act of affirming your own goals, will help you. Ban thoughts such as "I'm such a loser" or "I know this is a dumb question" or "This will never work." Replace them with belief that you can and will do the things you say you will do.
Record the goals you set for yourself, and read them daily. This is part of your affirmation process and will help you focus your energy in the right areas.
Who is your audience? Do you write Young Adult (YA) books? Romance? Science Fiction? True Crime? Or maybe you're putting together a non-fiction book. It doesn't matter what you're writing -- you still have to know who is going to buy and read it. If you write for the YA crowd, your style will be different from that of the self-help psychology book author. You will market differently as well. Let's say you write YA and you decide to join Twitter. What hashtags will you use? Do you even know what a hashtag is? Before you decide to use a particular social media, you need to know whether your readers are going to be there.
List your target audience. Learn as much about them as possible. For example, if they are young people, what is their age range? What grades does that equate to in school? Which gender is more likely to read your work? Which social media is favored by this audience? Did you know that the majority (about 70%) of Pinterest users are women? If you write for a female audience, that means your target audience is there. How do you go about reaching them? It pays to know who your audience is so that you can find out where they are. If you can find readers, you can sell books.
Who are you as an author? Do you have a recurring theme in your books? Do all your heroes tend to be cowboys, or pirates? Are your heroines usually take-charge women who don't take no for an answer? Do you write about alpha males, or do your heroes lean more toward the sensitive type? If you write non-fiction, what topics do your books cover?
This is likely your brand. I write about "unstoppable heroes, uncompromising love, and unforgettable passion." Therefore, I've branded all my material with that phrase. My blog is called Unstoppable Heroes.
Record your identity and brand, and tweak it until you come up with something you can use as a tag for your writing. Focus your attention on marketing that allows you to make the most of that phrase. If you write about passionate heroes, don't spend time marketing yourself on a site that doesn't cater to readers who want that type of book. Focus your attention on a site that does.
Plan of Action
What steps will you take to achieve your objectives? Will you hold book signings, chats, blog frequently, create a fan page on Facebook, etc.? Make these plans short, to the point, and high level without detail. This is more of an outline for what you'll do than a detailed step-by-step instruction guide.
In a five-year plan, each year will have different goals and objectives. Each builds upon the other. What you can accomplish by year three will be more than the result of years one plus two. This is why you will want to tweak your plan each year. Take advantage of strengths you develop, and you will grow more.
As you begin to work on your plan, remember to read over your objectives. This will help you focus your time, attention, and money in the places most important to you. Keep your audience in mind, and work to reach them. Be true to yourself as a writer by clearly stating your identity and brand. All your marketing should underscore this important aspect. Stay with your plan. Have a plan and work the plan -- that is the byword for success.
Kayelle's latest book is Tales of the Chosen trilogy: Wulf, Alitus, Jawk, available on Amazon now.
Share your own author marketing successes in the comments below!