Writing a book is a great experience. There’s coming up with the story idea, hammering through the writing process, and the euphoria from watching your project come to life.
But there’s also a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes that are as essential to a successful novel as great writing; excellent editing; and a high quality, eye-catching book cover.
Your publicist, manager, literary agent, and the publishing house you target will ask you questions that your marketing plan should answer. Some may insist on seeing that documented marketing plan, or may refuse to start working with you until one has been written.
But what if you don’t plan to work with a publicist, manager, literary agent, or publishing house? Is a marketing plan still necessary? The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, a marketing plan is even more important when you’re going it alone.
1. Identifies your Readers & Customers
While consulting with clients, a common problem we notice is that most indie authors have no idea who their target market is, and how to reach them. A marketing plan compels writers to confront this problem.
By knowing exactly who your readers are, you stand a better chance of connecting with them. It’s not enough to know you want to reach young adults. What kind of young adults are you trying to reach?
Depending on the book in question, that might mean giggly teenage girls who love cute boys and romantic tales. Or is it young adults who love to unravel a mystery? Or are you like our client, Michael Fedison, who targets those who love sci-fi, animals, and comic books?
Now you have the information you need to make decisions about everything from book cover design, to font size, to where to distribute your books. Make no mistake: all of this is the part of branding and PR for your book.
2. Clearly Defines Objectives, Roles & Tasks
Many writers are so focused on making it through their book that once they’re done, they’re in a bit of a daze. What’s the next step? How do you get the publishing process started? Will you go it alone, or will it be easier and better to take on some outside help?
A marketing plan helps to answer these questions, or at the very least, remind you that you have no idea what the answers are. By knowing what you don’t know, you are one step closer to getting all the answers you need.
It also helps you to center your tasks around a primary goal. People write books for different reasons. Some people write books to build credibility, some as part of a marketing campaign, and others to build an audience and make a living. All task and objectives you take on, should center around the primary purpose for writing your book.
If you plan to hire outside help, a marketing plan also helps to clearly define roles. This prevents overlapping of tasks, and the kind of disagreements and wasted resources that often result from this – thus, saving you time and money.
3. Helps You Differentiate and Position your Book
It’s not about the money. I just want to focus on my art and do what I love.
This is the mantra of many artists – writers included. But the fact is, if you plan to sell your art, and make a living from it, then your art is a product. And that product needs to be branded, packaged, and distributed.
The good news is that as an indie author, self-publishing gives you a lot of control over how you go about this. The better news is that as your publicist, we would never push your book in a direction you don’t agree with.
However, it is important to push it in some direction. Even multi-billion dollar companies understand the need to specialize. And the smaller your budget, the more important that is.
By branding and distinguishing your book from other published pieces in the market, you can better hone in on the audience most likely to bond with your book.
4. Forces you to Budget
Budget is a foreign word to many artists. When we ask potential clients, “What’s your budget?” the most common answer is crickets.
While we understand how difficult it is to focus on numbers, when you’re already working through 100,000 words, you’d be surprised how much money you pour into your book when you don’t pay attention.
Investing in your project is important, but some functions are more important than others. By tracking where you spend your money, and how much of it, you can better fine tune your budget to meet your goals in the most efficient way possible.
We also like that it helps to prevent the likelihood of your default on bills to your publicist ie. me.
There are many concerns marketing plans broach and resolve that writers never consider until it’s too late. So make a marketing plan your starting point – after the book, of course.
Need help putting the marketing plan together for your book? Then reach out to our team for help. You can start off by shooting me an email.
About the Author
Shadow the PR Cat is the Goodwill Ambassador at Alexis Chateau PR, and head of the firm’s indie author division. His job includes tweeting, taking selfies, rolling in catnip, and advocating for animal rights and social equality. Follow his kitty adventures on Twitter as @ShadowThePRCat.
About Alexis Chateau PR
Alexis Chateau PR is an independent public relations agency with a special interest in lifestyle brands. From education to entertainment to travel, we’ve worked with clients in all areas of the lifestyle industry since 2006.