During the past 10 weeks, I’ve been discussing different approaches to marketing your book, including list-building incentives, one sheets, and obtaining pre-publication quotes. (Here’s where you can review all previous installments.)
This week, I’d like to tie the previous 10 installments together, and close Part 3, Planning, by discussing the importance of creating a book marketing plan as early as possible.
As you’ll see below, the reason to start early is to set-up systems, like a blog with incentives and auto-responders, so that everything will be placed well before your book is published. Committing to a plan, even if you only spend an hour a week on marketing activities, will save you money and stress in the long run, paving the way for a successful book launch.
A marketing plan doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective! I believe in work worksheets, like the samples shown, but you can also create your own marketing plan worksheets using the tables feature of Microsoft Word. You can also use an online calendar, like Google’s, to assign starting and completion dates for each task identified in your book marketing plan.
4-stage book marketing
There are four distinct stages, or phases, of a successful book marketing plan:
- Announcement. As soon as you sign a contract with your publisher, or- -if you’re self-publishing- -your printer, it’s time to announce your forthcoming book online and offline.
- Pre-Launch. During the pre-launch phase, while you’re writing your book, you should be setting up the online structure for marketing your book and building a network of marketing partners whose efforts will culminate during your publication week book launch.
- Launch. The week of your book’s publication, you won’t have much time left over for beginning new marketing endeavors; hopefully, you’ll be too busy with interviews and events designed to call attention to your book’s publication.
- On-going. Things will settle down to a “maintenance” stage after your book’s publication. Your primary activities will involve keeping your book in the news, (and search engines), by commenting on reader feedback, encouraging reader reviews at Amazon.com, and blogging about new ideas that have emerged after your book’s publication.
Stage 1: Announcement
Here are some of the marketing tasks you should be addressing during the Announcement stage, right after you formally plan your publication agreement:
- Social media. Announce your book’s title, publisher information, and publication date on your blog, and social media like Twitter, Facebook, etc.
- Press. Prepare a press release and add it to your current website’s press center, as well as submit it online and offline to appropriate media.
- Special markets. Prepare a list targeting special, i.e., non-bookstore, markets that are likely to be interested in your book, and announce your book using postcards and special market catalogs like Brian Jud’s Premium Book Company.
As in the stages that follow, the best way to assure that the tasks are completed is to prioritize the tasks, and assign definite (and realistic) starting dates and deadlines for each task, as shown in the worksheet samples.
Stage 2: Pre-launch
The Pre-launch phase is the longest and, in many ways, the most important. Here, you’ll be preparing the structure that will roll into action as your book’s publication date approaches. Tasks include:
- Building anticipation. It’s never too early to start discussing your book using a series of podcasts, teleseminars, or videos describing why you’re writing your book, the topics you’re covering in your book, and how your target market will benefit from your book. Each podcast, teleseminar, or video enhances your search engine visibility and begins to attract prospective book buyers.
- Online marketing. Unless you’ve already set up a blog for your book, it’s important that you set up a blog with an incentive and autoresponder to capture the names and e-mail addresses of prospective book buyers. Online marketing also includes setting up an Author’s Page at Amazon.com, which can include audios, videos, and an RSS feed from your blog.
- Marketing partners. One of the most important pre-publication tasks is to identify others who sell to markets similar to yours, so you can set up a series of Launch Week promotions to introduce you and your book to their clients and prospects. The more work you do for your marketing partners, like creating landing pages and marketing messages for them to forward during your Launch Week promotion, the easier it will be to encourage marketing partners to promote your book’s publication, building advance sales and publication week sales.
- Virtual book tour. Bookstore signings, although valuable in your area, may not be as important as virtual book tours that consist of teleseminar interviews hosted by bloggers and marketers with a strong Internet presence. Elizabeth Marshall is one of the most experienced resources for setting up virtual book tours.
- Book covers and one sheets. It’s never too early to “encourage” your book publisher to begin working on a front cover design for your book. You’ll need a tentative book cover so you can produce downloadable and attachable one-sheets that describe your book, it’s contents, and its benefits to website visitors and the press.
- Pre-publication reviews and testimonials. Finally, you should be building your expert network as early as possible, and preparing a “quote package” that you can send to experts in your field, soliciting their pre-publication comments and testimonials about your book.
As always, slow and steady wins the race; consistent weekly progress, beginning as early as possible, creates the best results.
Stage 3: Launch week.
With systems already set in place by the time your book’s publication date approaches, you’ll be able to focus on putting your best foot forward as you promote your book in the following ways:
- Teleseminars and speaking. Hopefully, your book’s publication week will be occupied with a full schedule of local and online events. Each night, as you prepare for bed, you should review the talking points you want to weave into your interviews and responses to audience questions.
- Acknowledging key supporters. As soon as your advance copies of your book arrive, you should send copies, accompanied by hand-written notes, to all who contributed pre-publication quotes and reader testimonials.
- Encouraging reader reviews. Whenever possible, you should encourage family, friends, and key supporters to submit Reader Reviews to online bookstores like Amazon.com and others. You can also encourage these in your blogs and newsletters.
Traffic to your blogs and websites should be growing during your book launch week, as autoresponders and other online tools do the work while you reap the rewards of the marketing systems you’ve put in place.
Stage 4: On-going
Things settle down even more after the publication of your book. Promotion never “ends,” and you’ll undoubtedly discover new marketing opportunities as you move forward.
During the on-going, or maintenance, stage, a single blog post a week calling attention to your book, possibly referencing current events or new information, may be enough to maintain your book’s momentum and search engine visibility.
Setting yourself apart
The above 4-stage marketing approach, with the emphasis on the third, or Pre-Launch, stage will provide you and your book a significant competitive edge over your competition.
Many authors simply ignore the realities of book marketing, trusting their publisher or the fates to market their book for them. Most authors still begin to promote their book too late, i.e., after their book appears!
But, you can be far ahead of your competition if you’ve done your homework during the Announcement and Pre-launch stages. The benefit? While others are just getting started, you can be working on your follow-up titles, or leverage your book into highly-profitable back-end products and services.
As always, a little planning goes a long way!