You’ve done it! Finally, after months spent writing and editing, finding a publisher, choosing a cover design, debating over type fonts, suffering through proofreading and corrections, and dealing with all of the usual setbacks and delays of a complex project, you have your book in hand. It is beautiful. It is your baby. You want everyone in the world to read it, and you’re sure that as soon as a couple of book reviewers find it, you’ll head straight to the top of the bestseller charts.
Unless you market your book wisely, only your mother will buy a copy. Do you know how many copies the average book sells? Two hundred. That includes every author from Stephen King and JK Rowling to the John Doe who sells 15 copies of his book on the history of postage stamps to his philatelist club.
So how do you help your book rise above the pack and get noticed when hundreds of thousands of individual book titles are published in the United States each year?
Start by revisiting why you wrote your book in the first place. There are hundreds of ways to market your book, and you can easily spend thousands of dollars trying different approaches. But don’t get ahead of yourself. The first step in deciding how to market your book is to look at your purpose for writing it — vanity? Business accessory? Posterity? Without knowing why you are doing something how will you know if you have achieved the results you are looking for?
So before you start marketing your book, rethink what you wanted to achieve in writing it.
You know a better way. You are a bookkeeper who is an expert in Quickbooks, a business coach with a new method for business growth, a teacher with great ideas to share on education. You have ideas and you want to share them with the world.
You want to increase your credibility. There is no better way to increase your credibility than by writing a book. In fact, one survey I read showed that people perceive a published author without a Ph.D. to have as much or more credibility as a person with a Ph.D.
You want to become the go-to pro. With some marketing assistance, a book can make you the person who newspaper reporters, radio hosts, or television commentators call when they need to quote an expert in the field.
Increase your business. One author tells me he doesn’t care if he ever sells a book. He gives his away. “Every time I give my book to a prospective client it not only increases my chances of getting the job, it increases the amount of money I can ask for it,” he says.
So what’s your reason for writing a book? Answering the questions below will help you to clarify your objectives.
— What would you like your book to accomplish for you?
— How can your book help your business?
— How will your book help others?
— Do you have other goals for your book?
Most writers I work with want to write their books first, then deal with the publishing and printing process, and then think about how to market it. But if you talk to book publicists or marketing experts they will tell you that this order is backward. Begin to think about marketing your book the day you start to think about writing it, and work to develop your marketing strategy and platform while the book is still in process.
The first thing you need is a website. If you do not already have one for yourself or your business, get one. A website does not need to be complex to be effective. There are hundreds of resources available at the bookstore and online to help you with a simple do-it-yourself website.
If you already have a website make sure you add a “coming soon” advertisement to your site. You can even ask for advance orders, but be sure to set a publication date — and know that you can honor it —- before you do. Wouldn’t it be great to start getting income from your book before it is even published? In addition, consider setting up a second site dedicated to your book and link it to your business website.
Once you have the website, start to think creatively about how to market your book. Think about both electronic and personal ways to market. Everything from twittering and blogging to good old fashioned networking should be considered. One author I know recently sold 200 books in the first 10 days after publication only using word of mouth marketing and networking in her community.
Here are few ideas to get you started on your marketing plan.
Send out press releases to local, regional, and national publications about your book;
Send copies of your book to book review websites;
Have a party! Invite your friends, family and business associates and announce it to the press, too;
Place a book trailer on YouTube and other Internet sites to advertise your book;
Blog and Twitter about your area of expertise;
Develop add-on products that sell your book. If you’re a fiction writer, can your book be adapted for a computer game?
Most books aren’t sold in traditional bookstores these days. Make a list of gift shops and boutiques that sell items related to your book;
Give seminars and workshops and sell your book as a part of the package;
Give radio and television interviews;
Don’t forget the new Internet-based radio stations, they are developing excellent niche audiences
Once you have decided on how to market your book ask yourself which portions of your plan you can do yourself and which will need the help of a book publicist or marketer. Sure, you can probably write a press release that will get you into the local paper, but if your goal is an interview on a national news show, you’ll need help in getting there. No one starts out with an interview in the Wall Street Journal or on the Larry King Show. Get your feet wet by starting with local marketing, then regional marketing, then go for the national audience.
Set up a timeline and a budget and be realistic about it. Marketing costs money, but it can pay for itself in increased sales of your book and increased recognition of you as an expert in your field.
Write releases, and send copies of your book with them to all appropriate media outlets. Include copies of book or book excerpts where appropriate, and don’t forget to follow-up with phone calls.
If you plan to hold a seminar, develop an outline for a one to two-hour seminar, find a place to hold it (libraries or restaurants are good locations), set a price for the event based on cost of the meeting place, marketing materials, seminar materials, refreshments, and announce your seminar through your website, newsletter, press releases, etc.
A budget for a seminar can be anywhere from the cost of materials only to $1,000 or more for an elaborate set-up at a hotel.
But think like a business person. Your book is your investment. Most writers I work with are business people. They own their own business and they understand that if they do not market their business no one will buy their services. Yet I am always surprised by how many of these savvy business people don’t understand that they must also market their book.
Marketing a book is an ongoing process. The day you quit marketing your book is the day it stops selling.
Karen Miller, owner of Open Door Publications in Lawrenceville and a frequent contributor to U.S. 1, is the author of “Unlocking Your Ideas: Your Book from Concept to Publication.” She will host a seminar for people who “have always wanted to write a book, but don’t know where to start,” on Monday, June 21, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Inn at Glencairn, 3301 Lawrenceville Road, Princeton.
Cost: $79. RSVP by calling 609-620-0188 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The fee includes brunch and a copy of Miller’s book, which is, of course, self published.