The marketing work you put forth before, during and after your book launch will make or break your book’s success. It’s never enough to publish a book and hope for the best in today’s competitive marketplace. You’re competing with thousands of other titles. A combination of the best marketing practices is necessary to set your book apart.
Remember, the quality of your marketing is just as important as the methods you engage in, so let’s take a look at the most basic marketing steps every author must take.
Step #1: Identify and Understand Your Target Audience
You probably already know this. All marketing guides, blog posts and books highlight this piece of marketing advice. You may argue that you already know who your audience is, and that’s well and good, but in reality, many authors still tend to reach out to a too broad audience even when they’re well into their marketing campaigns. They gather Facebook likes from random book readers, send out free copies to people who aren’t interested in their genre, or create fan pages on all social media platforms. Bear in mind that not everyone in the world will want to read your book. Even the most voracious of readers will say no to a number of genres.
Two things can happen when you don’t zero in on your core market: one, you target people not interested in your book and thus you waste energy, time and money, and two, you can implement a solid marketing strategy but no one will buy your book.
But how do you find your target audience?
a. If you’ve already published…
You have the advantage of using your existing customers for in-depth research. Digital tools and customer purchasing data can offer insight into who is reading your book. Go to Amazon, Twitter, Goodreads, Facebook, email subscription list and other channels where your book can be accessed. Gather information about your customers, including their:
- Other book purchases
- Buying habits
- Religious and political preferences
- Marital status
- Facebook pages they like
- Movies they watch
- Social networks they visit
- Places where they hang out (malls, Starbucks, McDonald’s, etc.)
These are relevant factors to identify who to market to. Their ages may vary—your book may appeal to 50-year-olds as well as teenagers, but they may have similar interests.
If you have a children’s book, you are targeting parents, not the kids, but read their reviews and comments about your book and find what appeals to them and their kids.
You may also find inspiration in the story of J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame. In 1995, her agent pitched Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to 12 publishers, which all rejected it. A year later, she was finally given a deal when an editor gave the first chapter to his 8-year-old daughter, who was so enthused over the manuscript that she immediately demanded more chapters.
The point in this story is that Rowling didn’t receive acclaim at first because her book was first read by the wrong audience—adults instead of 8-year-old kids.
b. If you haven’t written your book…
Conduct a market research to determine if there’s an audience for your idea. List down your ideal readers and find out what kinds of books they read. What are their interests and needs? What are their buying tendencies? What influences their purchasing decisions?
This is also a good time to find books that have the same concept as yours. You want to be original. Try not to write books about subject matters that are eerily similar to already published books.
If you’re writing nonfiction, start building a website and ask to be a guest post on niche websites. This will help you gather an audience and establish yourself as an expert in the field.
Step #2: Connect with Your Target Audience
Once you’ve identified your target market, find out how to connect with them. Here are some ideas:
- Promote your book on the social media sites they frequent. Don’t jump on every social network you find. You can already amass an audience with just Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Create profiles on social networks that your audience enjoys rather than those that you prefer. Ask yourself these questions: Does your target audience like Facebook pages of books? Do they use social media to discover good reads? Who are their favorite authors?
- Make your book available according to how and where they read books? Do they prefer paperbacks over e-books or vice versa? Do they go to libraries and coffee shops? Do they meet at book clubs?
- Sell your books on places where they are. Maybe they get their books from Amazon, supermarkets or airports.
- Other book discovery tools are blogs, forums and Goodreads. Readers who come to these places usually love finding new authors and books to gorge on.
Step #3: Spread the Word
The next step is to commence the actual marketing procedure. You have a good grasp of how to connect and communicate with your target audience, so now you can get the word out in the most lucrative, effective and efficient ways.
Here are things to accomplish for this step:
- Write posts, tweets and status messages so you have a whole arsenal ready. You can write this before or after the launch date, and even while writing the book.
- Be active in forums, Facebook groups and other reader communities. Interact with other members so that they know who you are.
- Announce your book launch on your social networks and blog.
- Set up social media profiles and fan pages. Build relationships with friends and followers.
- Keep your pages active by posting every day. The most active Twitter accounts send out 10 tweets a day.
- Set up an e-mail subscription list and send updates once or twice a month.
- Set up a launch publicity tour. It can include book signings, a radio interview and guest posting. Don’t underestimate the power of radio interviews. They’re big on the Internet. Find local radio interviewers and look them up on social media to see if they have a good listener base.
- Use press release distribution services. Target industry as well as local publications. Your own hometown may find your book launch, inspiring story or book newsworthy. Start there and then target national/international media outlets.
- Find ways to tie your book with holidays and events, such as Valentine’s Day or even Columbus Day, and then publish blog and social media posts related to the occasion.
- Contact book reviewers and use reviews and excerpts to market your book.
- Give away copies in exchange for book reviews.
- Make sure your books can easily be purchased and accessed. Include a page dedicated to your book on your website, and optimize your Amazon sales page to influence purchase decisions.
- Print out physical marketing materials such as bookmarks and postcards.
- After the book release, continue all book marketing methods that require consistent efforts, such as blogging, social media management, contests and other forms of self-promotion.
There is so much to see results from your book promotion. While you can skip some pre-launch and post-launch efforts, you will miss out on marketing opportunities that could drive buzz and sales.
About Jill Bennett
Jill Bennett a marketing specialist for LitFire Publishing, a company based in Atlanta, Georgia. She has several years of publishing and book marketing experience under her belt. Also under her belt is the mastery in taking care of three cats named Ginger, Pepper, and Marty.