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Creating Your Ultimate Marketing Playbook

Many authors miss out on marketing their book and wonder why they have low sales. iUniverse says it is crucial that you develop a sound marketing strategy and adapt effective tactics as soon as you can, even though you are in the middle of say, proofreading and editing your manuscript and the cover design.

Developing a Sound Marketing Strategy

There are many sources you can turn to which will help you identify and set the basic elements that you need. To come up with a sound marketing strategy, here are some questions you should ask yourself before embarking on your book promotions campaign:

What is your overall goal? Books are written for a great many reasons—the need to tell your story, share rare knowledge on a specific topic, or the belief that you’ve written the ultimate sci-fi series or next best seller. Once you’ve set your goal, develop your marketing strategy accordingly.

Who is your target market? After you’ve decided what the goal is, you can fix on who you want to target. Pin down your target market to specific groups by age, sex, interests, etc.

Try to find a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Once you have your market, try to find a specific nuance or angle to get your book noticed. Your USP should be coupled with a key message, which you need to get across again and again.

Objectives. You must have objectives for your goal, ones that are feasible and achievable within the strategy. A typical set of objectives could look like this:

  1. To generate awareness of yourself and the book
  2. To set up events to promote the book
  3. To gain exposure from online and print resources
  4. To exploit the internet promotion of my book

Plans. If the objectives listed above are the “to’s” then the plans are the “by’s.” The plans should determine the steps needed to meet the objectives, and they should begin to create quantifiable actions.

Actions. These are the individual tasks required to achieve the plans.

Timing. Your marketing should occur on a continuing basis, so you should create a schedule from your plans to ensure your objectives are met. Also ensure resources are available for each action.

Budget. You need to fix a budget within your means to attain the objectives and overall goal. So you may need to change strategy and/or to retime various actions to stay within budget.

Adapting Effective Marketing Tactics

After defining your overall strategy, you should be able to get down to the brass tacks. The tactics you employ is where the rubber meets the road, so choose only the ones you can competently execute and sustain. Here are some of the non-negotiables:

  1. Polish Your Product. Granting your book has proven potential, you should not skimp on polishing your manuscript. Edit, cut, and polish manuscript as close to perfection as you possibly could. Dress to Impress. This applies more importantly to your book’s front and back cover. In the very competitive book retail marketplace, count on getting your book judged by its cover. So study how competitive titles are made image-wise, and do not hesitate to get professional help if you don’t know anything about book design.
  2. Go Social. Develop a consistent, professional-looking online presence through a personal website or blog or across social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads. These assets will not work on their own, so you also need to invest some time in developing content and engaging potential readers. Interact with them on a regular basis and try to launch occasional online promotions where you give out free copies of your book on a limited-time basis. And be creative with your offers.
  3. Go Grassroots. Independently marketing your book is a great creative challenge. In the absence of large financial resources, you may need to take the grassroots approach. Tapping book clubs and writers groups to help spread the word, volunteering for community literacy programs, and getting relevant groups to listen to your message will go a long way. Tour your book and talk about your writing wherever and whenever possible.
  4. Build a Platform. Building a platform is a matter of finding the right channels where you can break through to your audience: a blog, a regular writing beat, a review column in a local magazine, even a monthly opt-in newsletter—whatever form of regular communication that helps keep your name and your book in the public consciousness and you can use to promote your work.
  5. Know What You Can and Can’t Do. Just as a writer can’t be a specialist in all literary genres, neither can he be an expert in all the aspects of marketing. Consider your strengths. Are you a people person? How are your copywriting skills? Do you have a broad-enough network of personal and professional connections, or do you have the time to develop one? Are you comfortable with social media? When marketing your book, make sure you have the know-how or the time to learn how to market your own book. Otherwise, you may be better off getting a professional to help you.

This list is by no means intended to be a comprehensive road map. Just as your book is as unique as your publishing dreams, your marketing approach will likely require an equally unique approach. Let these tips serve as a guide to creating the ultimate marketing playbook you have yet to write.