For a new author, marketing is a vague, bewildering concept. The process of writing a book does nothing to prepare an author for the necessary chores of marketing that book, nevertheless it is a daunting project that all authors must face. The scariest part is the plethora of choices and tactics that are possible to include in a marketing campaign. It’s like the author must cross a vast swampland without a map. And the swamp is filled with alligators otherwise known as scam artists. And then there are all the false paths and dead ends.
What’s an author to do? How does she navigate the swamp and retain her sanity? The answer is to find a mentor, a guide. I can do that! I’ve crossed the swampland a number of times. I’ve lost a few toes to the alligators and I know where the false paths are.
So get in the boat with me and let’s start rowing.
The ideal time to begin your marketing efforts is several months before your book becomes available. However, if your book is already out, don’t worry. You can still market the book. Actually, it is never too early or too late to start such a campaign.
There are many ways to market a book. Many of these choices are free, but some will cost money. You, in the role as your book’s marketing director, will have to decide which ones to implement and which ones to ignore. Since some of the activities will require funding, part of your decision making will have a financial element to it. Another factor is whether the book has a print or an ebook edition. Some marketing tactics are specific to ebooks and others to print books. If you have both an ebook and a print edition, then many tactics will apply to your campaign.
A word of caution: don’t let the large number of possible activities overwhelm you. They all don’t have to be worked on immediately. There is nothing wrong with spacing out your marketing over an extended period. It would be a mistake to go into overload trying to complete all the activities in as short a time as possible. You should begin by choosing the ones that look easy. Start with those. Some activities may require the investment of a chunk of time because you’ll have to investigate how to do it, and it may also involve a bit of learning before you can start it.
If you have, or will have, a publisher, it should perform some of the pre-launch activities such as establishing a webpage. The publisher may or may not choose to work on marketing activities after the book becomes available. How do you know which activities are pre-launch and which ones are not? You can use the extensive spreadsheet I developed.
Besides indicating the time frame, this free spreadsheet can be used to control your marketing campaign. See the screenshot below. It is available in .numbers for Mac and .xls for PC formats. To get a copy send me an email at hanque99 (at) gmail (dot) com. Specify which format you want.
The spreadsheet lists a number of marketing activities you can use and they are grouped into several categories. While there is a lot of activities shown, it is not a complete list. It only lists stuff I’m familiar with.
If you have a publisher, it will be in your best interest to determine exactly which activities they will be responsible for.
Although the publisher will take care of the pre-launch stuff, it is important for you to understand what those tasks are so you can better discuss them with the publisher.
So let’s get to the crux of the matter: Your questions that need to be answered: Does book marketing work? Is it worth the time and money?
The answer to both questions is a definitive Yes, No and/or Maybe.
To explain the last statement, book marketing is similar to playing the lottery. If you buy a lottery ticket, you have a small, very small, chance to win a lot of money. If you don’t buy a ticket, you have no chance of winning the money. With book marketing, if you do the marketing stuff, you have a small, very small, chance of making a lot of money through your royalties. If you don’t market the book, you have zero chance of making money on the book.
With the lottery, you can also win smaller amounts of cash. So too with book marketing. If you market the book, you may earn back your investment through your royalties and perhaps a bit more.
So the real question is this: Will you market your book? If the answer is ‘Yes’, it’s time to begin.
Always remember: You can do this!
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