Has anyone ever told you that you need a marketing plan? Have you just followed the leader without really having a plan and just spent money without getting a good ROI? Have you listened to people who have told you “it’s getting your name out there” when you realize the ad did not make back what you spent on it? Have you boosted Facebook posts only to have that not do anything?

I ask all these questions because I am primarily an author and I once did all these things. I had no clue. I even had author friends at local meetings call me a “marketing genius” but I was making ZERO dollars. I spent more than I made. I made tons of mistakes—for years.

The best thing that ever happened to my writing career was a forced sabbatical when I was pregnant. For the first time, I was too tired to write my stories. I couldn’t sleep, but I couldn’t move. I was in an uncomfortable situation. If I watched a sappy movie, I cried. If I watched an action movie, I cringed. So basically I went off all movies and shows as they affected me. So while I couldn’t write, sleep, watch TV, I could watch webinars. Sales pitches and marketing classes did not make me cry. I felt nothing. I could turn it off when I wasn’t in the mood. I could take out a word document and take notes. And I realized something big. I had no idea how to sell anything. I never sold anything in real life. I needed to learn how to sell anything from diapers to computers in order to create my marketing plan.

And I realized I desperately needed a marketing plan with goals for 2016. I delayed my book releases until my maternity leave to implement the 2016 plan. And I realized I made choices along this journey. My choices might not be everyone’s choices, but I choose my path. Then I implemented the path and it was successful.

So as the New Year approaches, I am already revising the 2016 plan and coming up with my 2017 goals for marketing.

In Mind Mapping, the marketing plan we divide the class into 4-weeks and focus on four major topic areas. One is my own goals. This is the easiest and the hardest part. I know what my dreams are. (I should be hitting a list because my name is like Nora Roberts, which everyone associates automatically romance with.) I know the reality is that most people would say “who are you” when I say “romance author.” I definitely don’t have people lining up to meet me and no waiter at any restaurant is going to know me from the next table. So how do I get to be on a list? How do I build my name and brand? What is my brand?

My original brand, which I thought was good from going to conference just wasn’t good when it came to selling products. My website needed work. I had no goals to actually obtain 100 sales never mind 9000 sales with any stability. So in the first part of the course we get to discuss the writer and the writers’ goals.

Then we move on to discuss readers. We have to make up and realize who we are selling novels too. What does your reader look like? What does she do in her daily life? How old is she? This part of the course is fun when you create and learn the voice of the readers you wish to attract.

If you don’t know who your characters are, can you write? I know I can’t. So if you don’t know your readers in fleshed out details, how can you even think to sell to them? Is it luck? And whoever is taking the course might attract different readers than my own readers. Don’t be scared of the next word, but the Census data in the US is a treasure trove of information on who your readers are and what he or she does with her time. If you know her daily habits you can figure out her reading habits.

After we have drawn out in detail who the reader is, the next week we are going to delve into the benefits the writer offer to the reader. This is not about the benefits for the writer. It’s about the reader first. The writer has to figure out what part of her life she will be open about and what parts of her life are not public. If you go into this with a battle plan of what’s private and what you can share then you have material to be authentic with readers about. In the age of the Internet, we can find out anything about anyone and stalking online can be an art. As a public figure who wishes to connect with readers your boundaries and what interests the readers must still meld together.

The primary focus must be on the reader. Why does the supermarket make us care about Jen and Brad and Angelina still? Do you honestly care that they are getting divorced or are we as a country still buying into the good girl, bad girl where we want to root for the good girl. And if that is the selling point to the magazines at the supermarket check out, then how does that myth help you as an author? It’s not about the story. It’s about what the reader and what you have in common or don’t have in common. We’re delving deep into psychology to figure out pieces of your marketing plan that are authentic to your voice that people will find interesting.

Then in the last week, we’ll look at marketing tools that match. Once you know your goals, who your readers are and what you can offer the reader, now it’s time to look the online options that will work for the author. There are tons of online places and people will say “do everything.” This is a time suck and when would the writing happen if you truly are everywhere, all the time? It’s best to pick the venue where you can focus and walk away from, while being set up to be in more places. Once you have your venue, it’s time to use those tools the venue offers to get the readers.

Start 2017 off with dusting off the marketing plan and coming up with what you intend to do that’s different. It’s time to create your goals! I hope you join me and we can talk in detail!

USA Today Bestselling Author, Victoria Pinder grew up in Irish Catholic Boston before moving to the Miami sun. She’s worked in engineering, after passing many tests proving how easy Math came to her. Then hating her life at the age of twenty four, she decided to go to law school. Four years later, after passing the bar and practicing very little, she realized that she hates the practice of law. She refused to one day turn 50 and realize she had nothing but her career and hours at a desk. After realizing she needed change, she became a high school teacher. Teaching is rewarding, but writing is a passion.

During all this time, she always wrote stories to entertain herself or calm down. Her parents are practical minded people demanding a job, and Victoria spent too many years living other people’s dreams, but when she sat down to see what skill she had that matched what she enjoyed doing, writing became so obvious. The middle school year book when someone wrote in it that one day she’d be a writer made sense when she turned thirty.

She’s always been determined. She is amazing, adventurous and assured on a regular basis. Her website is  www.victoriapinder.com.

Member of Florida Romance Writers, Contemporary Romance, Celtic Hearts and Savvy Authors.

Heir to a billion-dollar fortune, Peter Morgan has a healthy ego and cynical view on women. Abandoned by his mother and raised by a controlling, manipulative father, Peter trusts no one, especially with his heart. He knows he can have any woman he wants, but he also knows they are only after him for the money.

He’s always kept his women at arm’s length, never letting anyone get close or stick around for long. It’s not like he’s afraid of commitment, he just chooses to be smart. So when his brother makes a bet that Peter can’t date the same woman for 30 days, the game is on. Peter is sure he can woo for one month and then walk away heart unscathed, but the woman his brother picks changes all the rules.

Former Marine Belle Jordan has lived through the scandal of being jilted at the altar. Now she protects her heart, knowing she can never go through that kind of heartbreak again. Now, the brother of the woman who tore her life apart is pursuing her with an intensity that is hard to resist. Peter Morgan is gorgeous, sexy, and rich beyond her imagination. Belle has no idea what he could see in her. She’s certainly not like the rich and glamorous women he usually dates. Her brain says to stay far away, but her heart wants to trust his seductive words.

Before long, Peter finds that Belle is turning his cynical world on its head and awakening his long-dormant heart. And when the truth comes out about the secret bet, Peter fears he may lose the one woman who can look past the dollar signs to see the man behind the throne.