We’ve written extensively about the importance of book marketing. It’s that old adage of hiding your light under a bushel basket – and just having your book ‘available’ on Barnes&Noble or other retail sites in NO WAY implies any level of awareness. Really, some of the most important work you’ll do to make your book sell STARTS long after your writing was finished.

Self published authors frequently lament their lack of book sales. All too often, I’m sure, good planning and a smart strategy could have changed those stories.

A sound and sensible book marketing plan is just as important as the writing, editing, design, and publication of a book. No matter how wonderful your book might be, it won’t sell itself…and it’s highly unlikely for a new author’s (and even many well seasoned ones’) book to jump off bookstore shelves without some help. Readers have MILLIONS of titles to choose from – tens-of-thousands are published every year.

Your book marketing plan should be designed to identify the revenue streams you plan to tap into. This document should be an outline of how you will achieve your income or sales goals, and it should identify in detail the market you’re targeting.

Building a book marketing plan.

Everyone knows a book won’t sell itself, Right? Surprisingly, many authors DON’T fully grasp this fact until it’s too late – and they are disappointed with their sales performance. Every book needs some sort of book marketing plan – something that sets your expectations and creates achievable goals that you can pursue in an orderly fashion.

But, how do you create a marketing plan for your book? There is a ton of great free software, and even more that you can spend lots of money on, that all help you create a marketing plan for selling your book. However, before you spend a lot of time and money downloading software, open up your trusty word processor and follow me…

Chapter One – Who will buy your book?

The secret to sales success is to target your marketing as directly as possible to your potential reader – and have it be someone who is reachable.

“Everyone will want to read my book!” Sorry, but that doesn’t work. Even the absolute best selling books – that sell 2 or 3 million copies in a year – only penetrate about 3% of the reading population. Sales success for your book will be driven by defining a very clear picture of who is interested in your book.

They must be identifiable: Make a list! Which groups would be interested in your book? Why? Who is next? Why should they need or want your book? (remember this – someone is more likely to buy something they NEED before something they WANT)

Now – narrow it down even more. Find a unique angle about your book – and don’t try and be everything to everyone, because you can’t – instead target 100% of a specific part!

Chapter Two – What is your definition of success for your book? What is your GOAL?

Some authors write for themselves and their families only – they don’t dream of their books as bestsellers in the marketplace. Some authors write for a very specific personal need to tell their story. Some have unique insight into very specific topics. Many have dreams of seeing their books in the front of Barnes & Noble. Each author is different, but you MUST decide what your real definition of success happens to be. We don’t want to pursue a goal that may not be what you actually feel is important.

Chapter Three – Objectives, Plans and Actions

Everything needs to start with a GOAL – and that is what you outlined in Chapter Two. Everything you do for your book should be in support of this goal.

Objectives– these are the steps you take to achieve your GOAL – for example, if your goal is to sell 5,000 books, then you need to identify some OBJECTIVES as the “steps” to achieving your goal. Just like your GOAL – make sure your Objectives are reasonable, and something that you can achieve. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to confuse WANTING to do something to achieve a goal with being ABLE to achieve a goal – make sure you possess the necessary skills to do the things on your list. Perhaps my OBJECTIVES list would look like this:

  1. Set up personal events to promote my book – book signings, seminars, radio interviews, etc.
  2. Secure reviews from print resources.
  3. Identify online resources for promotion of my book
  4. Identify non-retail opportunities for book sales.
  5. Create outbound awareness campaign of me, the author, as an expert in my field

Plans – your PLANS outline the needed steps to get your OBJECTIVES moving, and they begin to suggest “to do lists” and measurable actions. For example, one of my Objectives is to set up personal events to promote my book. So, my plan section might look like this:

  • Objective:Personal Appearances:
    • Plans:
      i. Set up one book signing per week at local outlets
      ii. Set up two seminars on book marketing in 1st quarter
      iii. Conduct one radio interview per month over the coming year

Actions– these are the details of each PLAN- and, as the saying goes, “the devil is in the details”. This is where most marketing plans fail – you must have a coherent and workable set of “actions” to achieve each plan, that then lead to each objective – and, eventually, achieves your ultimate goal. If you can’t produce a reasonable set of “actions” for achieving each plan, then scrap the plan and start over. Here is my “Action” list for the Objective / Plans above:

  • Objective: Personal Appearances:
    • Plan: Set up one book signing per week at local bookstores
      ACTIONS:
      • Call B&N at Keystone– get Events Coord. name – make appt. to visit and present book signing idea. BRING BOOK!! Mary knows Mgr. – get intro?
      • Books-A-Million Mgr. – drop off book – and mention reading / seminar on mktg.
      • Contact library for presentations on self-pub. Monthly event?

As you can see, it really is all about breaking your marketing efforts down in to small enough pieces to be A) understandable, B) achievable and C) measurable.

Marketing & publicity is a long-term, consistent and concerted effort. It never ever happens overnight, even though it may seem to for some people.

Chapter Four – Create a reasonable timeline and budget

All of us have finite amounts of time, energy and money. Marketing can eat up all three very quickly, leaving you alone, exhausted and broke. The game is to pace yourself and resources so that you can keep the effort moving along. This is where your planning in Chapter Three works its magic. Without looking at the “big picture,” most of us would never know how much of our precious resources should be devoted to each aspect of the game. Organization and prioritizing are the most important parts of the process – and you may find yourself returning to “Chapter Three” and rewriting sections of your plan.

Here are some monetary expenses you may expect to incur in your marketing plan:

  1. Sample Books – do you plan on sending them out or dropping them off?
  2. Marketing materials – posters, flyers, postcards, etc.
  3. Press release writing and distribution
  4. Advertising – sponsored search, links, banners, print
  5. Web site design and shopping cart creation
  6. Direct mail opportunities

A quick note on samples – I don’t believe in sending out books blindly – it’s too expensive and not effective. If a potential resource is interested in your book, they’ll ask for it (as long as you’ve written a good press release).

Chapter Five – Creating a brand with your book marketing plan

Think about this. In many cases you, not your book,  are really the “brand”. Books can occasionally be seen as a commodity. “Experts” who can be interviewed on a topic are often far more valuable. Your book is your calling card, and ultimately the way you will profit from your expertise,  but many times it’s YOU, the expert, that is the selling point!

Use your marketing plan to push you as the primary product, building a brand around what you know and your “mystique” as an author. Also, don’t forget to let us know your plans! If you and your book are “tied” as a brand, let us help you use your book to increase your credibility and awareness. At least have us add your web site in several places in the book – even on the cover. Letting us in on your marketing plans can allow us time to help you create the best possible product.

That’s it – the building of a book marketing plan in a nutshell if you will. Let us know if we can answer any questions, and thanks for reading.

As always – if you like this information (and found it helpful) please feel free to post it on your site, put it in a blog, toss it in your newsletter, or in general spread it around. Please just give us credit here at dogearpublishing.net

May you have success in your creative efforts!

If you have any questions or comments – please write us at AuthorResources@dogearpublishing.net

In other articles we’ve talked about how to identify what you would consider success for your book – and how to begin developing ideas for promotion and marketing (see the article here –What Is Book Marketing?). In this article, we want to bring you more fully into the world of book marketing and show you how to effectively market your self published book using Press Releases and New Book Announcements.

I come from the traditional publishing world – both working at the largest retail bookstore chain in the world and at the largest book publisher… and I spent years thinking that I (and others like me) knew the best ways to promote and sell books. All it took was tens of thousands of dollars in advertising, a hot spot on radio or TV, and an author who could be presentable in interviews. It wasn’t about the audience, topic, book quality, or even the author.

It wasn’t long before I saw how wrong I was! Boy did I learn some lessons after leaving the safe havens and hallowed halls of traditional publishing (I actually learned a bunch while I was there too). I am convinced that the author is the single most important and effective tool in promoting his or her book. You must promote your book as aggressively as possible. It is your efforts that will make the difference between your book becoming a successful and exciting seller, or collecting dust and mold on damp shelves (those units that don’t get returned.)

Well, then – what to do? How can you go beyond just seeing your words in print, and actually bring to life your dream of being a successful, selling author? It’s always risky to make broad statements about marketing and promoting books – because so often varying audiences and topics have very different needs. BUT – most of the mechanics are the same. Keep in mind the audience for which you wrote your book in the first place. NEVER, EVER forget that it’s far easier to sell your book to someone genuinely interested in your topic!

So we return once again to WHO WILL READ YOUR BOOK? Who is your target audience? Hopefully you’ve spent some time thinking about this – and have written your book with an audience in mind. Now we have to find ways to reach them…

1 – Magazines

One of the first items on the list is to identify the media sources that cater to your audience – look for the magazines that are read by the people who will be reading your book and search the Internet for newsletters. It goes like this – say your are Helen Corey – our author of Healthy Syrian and Lebanese Cooking, then her target magazines include Bon Apetit, Gourmet, and Cuisine magazines. Web sites would be Cooks.com, Epicurious.com and others. How about a book on real estate like our recent author Al Chapman – then maybe magazines like REALTOR, but also publications like Smart Money. Try to think outside the box!

But wait – now you need to do some research about each of those magazines! Spend some time identifying the editor that writes reviews about books or other materials – or the editor who is charge of covering your specific topic (ethnic food, or real estate investments for example). It’s far better to contact 50 highly targeted sources than to send 500 blind or blanketed press releases.

Now it’s time to write your press release (or review the one we’ll provide you in our Professional and Masterpiece packages). Two things have to occur for your Press Release to have ANY value – 1) it must truly reflect your book and the target markets needs, and 2) unless it actually gets to the desk of the RIGHT person to write about your book, it’s almost guaranteed that the WRONG person will dump your hard won Release in the wastebasket. What does this all mean? Research, research, research – hit the phones, scour the web sites, and go to the bookstore and read the mastheads and ferret out the name – or names – of the RIGHT person (or persons) at each magazine. Remember this, too – getting a review in a niche publication (think small targeted circulation vs. mainstream like Gourmet) is well worth your effort and time – the people reading and visiting specialty publications are already predisposed to be interested in your book.

2- Newspapers (small and large)

Now it’s time to hit the papers. Here, some additional tricks can help you – and it’s even more important to send your press release to targeted individuals. Practically every paper around the country has an editor for specific topics such as science, health, sports, lifestyle, travel, etc. Get to the right person! But, don’t neglect the Book Reviewer or editor – just remember that there are quite likely many places in the paper that could possibly review your book (or even mention it as a resource for a story!) A “guerilla” marketing approach (if we don’t write your press release) – ask your targeted editor if he or she can recommend someone to write your press release. Many editors “freelance” their services – and it might be a way to get a wonderfully written press release, and a leg up in getting it printed!

3- I want to be a star on the RADIO (and TV)

Both the AM and FM dials are full of talk radio – and this is your target. Hit AM first (since there are so many, the chances of getting on the air are higher) and then follow up with the “big guys” on FM like NPR’s All Things Considered. Email, mail, or fax your Press Release to every single one that seems appropriate. We can assist you in purchasing a database of such stations, or you can hit the internet and look this information up on your own. Several companies make directories of the radio industry – including Gale Research – and many are available in the library. Don’t forget to start local and work outwards – you are more likely to attract attention in your own town than somewhere 500 miles away. While it’s tough to say how often it is successful, make sure to get your information to your local TV stations – quite often a slow news day may come up, or, you might be hitting on a hot and current topic – and you might get a call. Get the names of the producers who set up interviews, or the reporter who covers the subject that you’ve written about. Don’t forget cable television. Then fax AND email your information to them – and my experience is DON’T call… but be persistent with email and faxes every couple of weeks.

As I’ve said, pay particular attention to your local stations and papers – you’ll have a far greater chance of getting on a local show or in a local paper. Another strong outlet is your city’s multitude of “freebie” community newspapers. Most of the time, these outlets have a need for good material – and always love it when that information is free. Remember to contact the ones you wouldn’t normally think of – a book on real estate would be a great “editorial” in the local real estate or “homes for sale” magazine!

Well, I’ve sent all these Press Releases – Don’t I want to send a book, too? NO – for one, it’s VERY expensive; and two – most editors don’t want to read your book, they want to read a nice, short Press Release to get an idea of what your book is about. Your Press Release will be nicely written, one or two pages, and will direct the reader to either contact you or us for review copies, and to set up an interview – pick one or the other. NO editor wants to call two places. Don’t make them do extra work!

4 -National Exposure – the BIG ONES

The Today Show, Regis, Oprah, Good Morning America – all the famous shows. Every single one of them should get a copy of your Press Release. Do your research again and get the names of the producers – watch a show or two and see who produces which segments (or even the ones you think you’ll like) and send them your Press Release. Mention what you liked about one of their shows and why you think you can present something of a similar level of interest to the audience. These shows are long shots for even the most successful of authors – but there are times you’ d be very surprised by who ends up on the air!

These four “Marketing Targets” cover the entire spectrum of media likely to review your book and give you “air time”. Between all these media outlets, the internet, and local interest, there is a very good chance that you’ll end up on at least one. One of the last bits of advice to increase your chances is to make sure the producers and editors understand that you are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Many times complete unknowns have vaulted into stardom because of a big name last minute cancellation!

As a last thought – use the relationships you have. Authors MUST be fairly shameless self promoters – but do it with some level of dignity. Everyone you know should know that you have written a book and that you are on the Promotion & Marketing Warpath! Ask friends if they have friends who have friends at any of the above mentioned outlets – you’ll be surprised how close some of these “media makers” are –sometimes desperate reporters, television producers and radio hosts are just looking for guests to pop up out of the woodwork. Let everyone know that you are available.

Finally – promote, promote, promote – saturate the media with Press Releases and Announcements. It is a very rare book indeed that sells purely on it’s own “psychic” draw and no public awareness.

We’ve all  had, at one time or another, the fantasy of our books being absolutely indispensable to readers – and that our genius is immediately recognizable even without the benefit of creating awareness or self-promotion. Well, for some very famous authors this may be true – but then again, publishers still spend millions of dollars promoting even the greatest writers’ books. Having your book recognized for the high quality endeavor that it is, and selling some in the process, really is ALL about building an awareness of both you as an author and your book. One of the hard truths of the self-publishing industry is that authors must work diligently to create a market for their books – and all without the multi-million dollar book marketing budgets of the big publishers.

Author Events are the primary vehicle for the self-published author to get out and meet the public. These book marketing events can be your ticket to both sales and increased publicity – all thanks to your local retail outlet. This article will be your quickstart guide to developing and setting up winning Author Events and Book Signings.

Follow the steps outlined below, and you’ll find yourself scheduling more effective (and enjoyable) events, selling more books, and reaching more readers than ever before.

1 – Research the target locations

Keep in mind that sometimes (more often than not as a matter of fact) the best place to sell books ISN’T in a bookstore. Craft book? What about hobby or fabric stores? Cookbook? What about a local gourmet shop? Business or finance book? Any local seminars coming up that you could “piggyback” with? History or historical fiction? How about your local historical society functions?

Each bookstore has a specific focus, clientele and “ambiance” that contribute to its success. These traits are determined by the store’s location, the inventory focus, the personality of the manager and her or his team, and the appearance and atmosphere of the store itself – and these factors drive what products sell within this store. Make sure ALL of these factors support YOUR topic and your book. For example – a store focusing on children wouldn’t be the place to pitch your latest investment strategy guide…

Start local before you go global. You’ll have the most success where you have the greatest chance of being recognized.

Each and every venue you discover will have has specific presentation opportunities and needs. Make sure you understand where author events are typically held within the store, and what area is available for your presentation. Find out who is in charge of coordinating author events and get to know them – get on their mailing list of events so you can see what the store is typically presenting to their customers. Ask them what they want in an author. Match their needs and wants to what you have to offer, and don’t waste each other’s time by forcing your book to fit their world.

2 – Be absolutely professional in requesting an event

It’s almost funny how many authors begin to think that just because they put pen to paper they deserve to be treated like royalty. Respect the store managers – you need them far more than they need you, keep your ego in check, ask them if you can present your idea for an author event and ASK FOR THEIR FEEDBACK. They will be far more inclined to want you in their store if they feel involved and invested in your success – it doesn’t mean make them do your work, but use their experience and knowledge to make your event a success (they probably know their customers better than you do…).

Create and use the best possible marketing materials – build a professional media kit that includes a press release, reviews, articles on topics that support your book (both articles you have written and other sources), a print out of your cover, a poster, postcards, author bio, author photo, marketing info and calendar showing other events. Send this rather large packet of goodies to the appropriate person at the store – you should have this person’s name from your research phase. NEVER send a media kit to a generic address – I guarantee you are better off having NOT sent anything.

3 – Help drive attendance (and thereby book sales)

Author Events really have only one goal as far as the store is concerned – get more people into the store to spend money. It isn’t a public service. Let the manager and events coordinator know what you can do to help drive customers to the store – as I said, an author event is designed to sell books and boost bookstore attendance, if all you are doing is capitalizing on customers already in the store – what value is your signing to the store?

There are lots of ways you can help the store bring more faces to your event:
– provide a mailing list to the store to which they can mail their newsletter with an announcement of your event
– offer to mail / email info about your signing to THEIR list, or provide materials they can send to their list (they may not want you having total access to their customer list – which may violate some privacy/spam requirements)
– help drive media coverage of your event – local papers, radio, etc – by sending them a press release announcing your event. Ask the manager about what forms of advertising they prefer you use and which work best for their store
– call the local paper the week before your event and ask if they’ll send a local editor or cameraman over for your event

The goal is to coordinate and cooperate – combining your efforts with those of the store will far more than double your results

4 – Create an interesting presentation or performance – tailored for each store you visit

It’s not just about sitting at a table and hoping that your signature will create interest and sell books. In today’s multimedia, multimodal, multimessage world, sitting and chatting to prospective readers won’t get you much interest.

Don’t just ask for a signing – think about what else can you do to draw traffic into the store. Is there a tie in with your book that you can use to create interest? Any current events that make your book timely? Be highly creative – think outside the box – got a cookbook? bring prepared food and teach the group how to make one of your recipes; got a fiction story? dress up like a character and do a reading or re-create one of the scenes; conduct a “seminar”; offer advice… whatever it takes to draw NEW customers into the store. It’s not enough to just capitalize on the traffic that is already there – that doesn’t make the storeowner any more invested in your success, and most of those people aren’t there to buy your book anyway.

5 – Remember the details of selling books

Don’t neglect the details of inventory and actually selling books – and remember that for you, the goal is as much about author awareness as it is selling books. Good awareness can contribute to an additional 50 to 75% of your event book sales. Remember these things:
– You need to have books in the store for your event, so help the store get a good deal on stocking 10 to 30 units and make sure they are in-stock before your event
• offer extra units at a good discount – if they buy direct from you and pass along some savings to the customer
• consider consignment – though only as a last resort
– Make sure you understand the store’s stocking policy for author events
• will they bring in extra inventory for the promotional period surrounding your event?
• do they keep extra after the event? (don’t be surprised if they only keep a few… be prepared to have some returns)
• how long will they keep you in inventory?
– Ask the store manager if they’d like you to autograph the remaining copies.

6 – Tie in callback or side opportunities

Can you schedule another appearance while you are there? It’s a long shot, but often worth a try. (However, don’t advertise your “next appearance” at your current event, or people will put off buying your book.) Does the store have multiple locations at which you can conduct additional events?

Make sure you get the names of your attendees – ask them to fill out cards to receive your newsletter (you have one, right?)

7 – After Event follow up
– send a “thank you” note to the store
– ask for their feedback
– ask to schedule another event (though this is a long shot) – or be part of an event that the store may be sponsoring or in which it may be involved (a community event or even another author event)
– keep in contact with the key person at the store – by visiting in person once a month or so (the best) or call / email
– send a complimentary note to the store’s district manager or corporate home office about the event

Never ever underestimate the power of an author appearance – most book sellers need events that can help drive additional customers to their store. Try to hit weekends, but remember that weeknights are good for many topics. Concentrate on what helps bring customers in to the store and you will be more successful than presenting an event that only draws on the traffic already present. Decide carefully where you prospect for events – make sure that what you offer (and the topic of your book) suits the needs of the store. It’s always easier to start local and then move outwards in radiating circles – this gives store personnel the chance to have actually heard about you from other sources.

Follow these simple steps and you will find yourself scheduling more events and conducting them more successfully – creating even greater demand for you in future events.

In a nutshell:

1. Research, research, and research – don’t waste your time on stores that aren’t a fit just because they’ll let you in the door.
2. Create an interesting “EVENT”. Presentations sell more than “visitations” – people will be more interested in you and your book if you entertain or inform (so will the store manager). Don’t just expect to sit around, chat, and sell books.
3. Be absolutely professional – provide all the detail they could ever dream of having about you, your book, and why they should care.
4. Gather reviews and blurbs from all possible sources
5. Show them what you can do for their store. Present ideas on driving more traffic to their location.
6. Tie in side opportunities
7. Don’t forget the details of selling books
8. Make everyone glad you were there

An incomplete checklist of setting up your event:

1. Research & Identify target stores
2. Create marketing materials
3. Contact store managers in person or by phone, then follow up with materials – remember to have your ISBN on hand – this is how they look items up with the greatest ease
4. Get all the store info on a single sheet – address, phone number, manager’s name and direct line, event coordinator (if there is one), all the email addresses you need – including a contact at their corporate home office or a district manager if you can
5. Prepare materials you will bring:
a. Two Posters – glued or bonded to a hard backing so that it stands up – if you aren’t handy and can make this as professional as possible, go to a craft shop or frame shop and have them do it
b. Post cards about your book to hand out
c. Bookmarks – put one in each book in the store (and leave them there even after you leave)
d. Author bio sheet with picture in plastic frame
e. Easel to stand one of your posters on

6. Ask store to stock some copies of your book at the register along with your bookmarks

7. Offer to do a Press Release or announcement about the signing for the store

8. Bring book easels to set 3 or 4 books on – or borrow some from the store

9. In-store – don’t sit behind your table, get into the crowd!

10. Be Happy! You are there to share something special with the audience – and they are there to support you and listen to your ideas. Remember – they came to your event voluntarily. They WANT to be there!

11. Put a bookmark or card in every single copy of your book in the store

12. Hand a book to everyone you can – ask them to browse through it, take it to table and read it, or even show them your favorite passage. Just getting them to TOUCH the book will increase your sales dramatically

13. Put articles of interest (on your topic of course) on your table – generate conversation with them

14. Take pictures of your event – have a friend or store associate photo you ‘in action’ at the table. One shot posed, one shot candid, one with the store manager and/or events coordinator – send this one to the store with your thank you note (maybe you could suggest they start posting author signing photos in the store??)

Nothing can guarantee a great book signing – but not being prepared CAN guarantee a lousy one. Follow these steps and tips, and your next event will not disappoint. Good luck!

If you like this information (and found it helpful) please feel free to post it on your site, put it in a blog, toss it in your newsletter, or in general spread it around. Please just give us credit here at dogearpublishing.net

May you have success in your creative efforts!

If you have any questions or comments – please write us atAuthorResources@dogearpublishing.net