10 Things You Need to Know BEFORE You Market Your Book
My father once told me that no one cares about your money as much as you do. The same is true when it comes to your book. There’s nothing mean or sinister about that observation. It’s merely the truth. Book marketing people, even with the best of intentions, have more than one client. You need to learn enough to make good decisions on your own. You also need to be willing to work. If you are not willing to learn new skills and work hard to promote your book, then chances are, as an independent publisher/author, you will not succeed.
2. Filling your garage with books only makes the printer happy.
Many companies “publish” your book and make their money printing it. They will sometimes tell you that you need hundreds and often thousands of books for public appearances. But most public appearances are planned more than a week in advance. Therefore, any books you need can be printed via POD (print on demand) with time to spare. If you’re with a reputable company, that POD price should be reasonable enough to make plenty of money selling directly to an audience. Most indie authors keep few books on hand, preferring instead to sell through Amazon or other online retailers and have their POD printers handle printing and shipping. Another benefit of printing few copies is that if you decide to change anything, it’s easy and inexpensive to simply upload an updated file.
3. You need a Marketing Plan.
The Marketing Plan is the “big picture.” It is critical and it helps you keep your goals in mind. For example, your real goal might be to sell books. But sometimes you get so immersed in the marketing and social media process that it appears that your “real goal” is to become a Twitter or Facebook expert.
4. Don’t let the caboose drive the train.
Social media (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, et al.) are tools you use to connect with people and ultimately convert them to customers. Each tool has its own etiquette and culture that you need to understand in order to use it effectively. Yet I see people become so immersed in social media that they get distracted from their original goals. I find that it’s important to step back regularly and take a look at the big picture (your marketing plan) in order to see where you’re at and what to do next. Sometimes the next thing to do is step away from Twitter (or Facebook, etc.).
5. Don’t forget about your Real World Social Network.
Most of the people I work with get their best results from networking with existing “real world” contacts. I generally have people fill out a comprehensive Client Information Marketing Questionnaire. This form helps authors focus on their existing resources and assets, which includes real social and business connections and networks. My experience has been that more successful marketing campaigns are built on personal relationships than on clever click-through schemes.
6. Keep up on latest and best ideas about book marketing.
I originally put together the IBMG website because I wanted a one-stop site where I could get the latest, most cutting edge ideas about book marketing. The site is an aggregate of some of the best book marketing blogs in the country, updated 24/7/365. I still go there almost every day, and many of the new ideas I implement come from blogs posted there. It’s a tremendous – and FREE – resource.
7. An average book with a well-executed plan will do better than a GREAT book with a poorly executed plan.
How many times have you said, “I had that exact idea?” Having good ideas is great, but it doesn’t mean anything unless you make them real. Making them real is all about execution. Execution is difficult without a clearly understood plan that is ready to put into action. Also, you should be able to analyze what’s working and what’s not. This will help you make necessary adjustments. Google Analytics is free and extremely helpful. I also use HootSuite analytics to keep track of which social media marketing ideas are working best. (HootSuite is a social media integration tool.)
8. Always keep adjusting.
Having a goal and a plan is important. But it’s also important to realize and know how to make adjustments. Like a ballistic missile that constantly keeps self-correcting its course based on a constant flow of data, so too do you need to keep the goal or target in sight and make course corrections based on what’s working and what’s not. Don’t assume that every aspect of your plan will work out exactly as you planned it. That’s not real life. Successful people know how to “course-correct” and improve the plan moving forward, keeping the ultimate goal in mind.
9. Be honest about strengths, weaknesses and what you’re really willing to do.
Publishing is a tough business with lots of competition. The fact that you’re confused is to be expected. Still, you’re going to need to learn how to determine what’s important and how best to use your resources.
At some point in the process, you will probably partner with, or hire, others to help you. Therefore, it’s important to be completely honest with yourself about your strengths, weaknesses, and what you’re really willing to do. For example, you may know that you need to use Twitter but you either hate doing it or don’t want to learn. If that’s the truth, then you should find someone who can help you and agree on what that’s worth. If you need to make cold calls but can’t bear talking to people on the phone, you will need to find someone as good at cold-calling as you are at writing.
When you hire someone, you should know enough about the job you want others to do so that you can find the right person, at a fair price. If you don’t know what’s involved in executing a marketing plan, a social media campaign, or an “Amazon bestseller campaign,” you need to find out enough so that you can negotiate a fair price with someone does.
10. Keep it simple
Keep the big picture in mind. Review your Marketing Plan frequently. You’re selling books and, perhaps, services and/or other products. If you were building a house, you would probably consider it a waste of time trying to become an expert architect, landscaper, dry wall installer, painter, wallpaper hanger, plumber and electrician along the way. While it’s good to learn how to use tools – or learn enough about them to determine what you can do and what you need others to do – it’s best for Indie writer/publishers to focus on selling books and let someone else become the Pinterest expert.