So you wrote a book. That’s quite an accomplishment, and don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. You’ve overcome hurdles, dodged obstacles, and pushed through to the finish line — not too shabby of an accomplishment.

There’s just one thing: when most people get to “The End,” they realize they haven’t even begun to think about their long-term marketing strategy.

“Marketing?!?” they say, “That’s a dirty word!”

Or: “Gross — who wants to do marketing?

The answer is, well, me.

I want to do marketing. 

I like marketing. It’s neat. It makes sense — it’s measurable when done correctly, it can be tweaked, and it works.

But I see the turmoil — writers (artists) don’t like to do the marketing stuff (boring). It’s not artistic; it fits in a box — it’s not ethereal, or boundless.

Here’s the deal: I like marketing because as a self-proclaimed “nobody,” it’s the only way I’m going to get my book in front of a reader.

I’ll say that again, because it is worth repeating:

Marketing is the only way I’m going to get my stuff in front of potential buyers. 

Notice I said buyers — if I don’t really care about them, then marketing is, of course, pointless. If I’m truly writing “for myself,” then it doesn’t matter much or how little marketing I actually do.

But I do care about buyers — it’s how I make a living, and even if it wasn’t, I’ve got a big enough ego to think that someone out there will want to read what I have to say.

I’ll bet you feel similar — that doesn’t mean you’re comfortable with marketing, but it does mean you’re probably getting to the point where you realize its benefit.

So with that out of the way, here’s what I look at when I’m starting, in the middle of, or re-doing a marketing plan for one of my (or one of my clients’) books:

1. Lead generation

Are you collecting email addresses? When someone gets to your website (you do have a website, right?!?), how are you capturing their email address?

It’s easy enough to set up a free MailChimp account and stick an HTML form on your About page and sidebar — so do it! Seriously — your email list is going to be become one of the most important assets in your marketing arsenal, but it only helps you if you have one. 

I just had a meeting today with an author who is on an extended book tour, selling copies of his book and directing people to his website.

Which doesn’t have anything on it yet. 

Yup, that’s right. I recommended immediately that he set up something like what we’ve got at Turtleshell Press — a simple, one-page way to capture email addresses for a mailing list. Turtleshell Press is currently using the free theme LaunchEffect.

2. Surveys

Know your readers. I’ve written an entire chapter about this in my upcoming book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Self-Publishing, which you can get a sneak peak of by signing up at the aforementioned Turtleshell Press site.

Demographics is another one of those dreaded “market-y” words, but knowing them makes your life immeasurably easier. If you know that your readers are mostly female middle-aged, busy soccer-mom types who like to read romance just before bed, it helps you to hone in on the perfect “ideal reader,” as my friend Danny would say.

You can still write for yourself (and you should), but knowing who might read your stuff is going to help you create marketing for it. For that reason, I’m going to be creating a survey that I’ll release soon. Michael Hyatt did this on his blog back in 2011, and he mentioned its effectiveness again today on the blog.

You can build a great survey for free using SurveyMonkey or Google Docs, but you could also do this through a simple form-building software like Gravity Forms (what I use and recommend).

Your survey really just needs to collect the data that you’ll type into an advertising demographic form. By this I mean, think in terms of to whom you will be promoting your work.

So your survey might collect data like:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Profession
  • Country of residence
  • Favorite author

You can get more creative than that (and you probably should if you actually want people to fill this thing out), but that’s the gist of what I’m talking about. Play around with it, but definitely consider asking people for this information.

In addition, get answers from them regarding their thoughts on your book’s cover design, layout, content/storyline/plot, characters, style, etc. This information is crucial if you want to sell books — you need to make sure you’re writing great books!

3. Meta

“Meta” is a magical Internet-voodoo word that basically means “information about information.” I’m using it here to describe the multiple “points of contact” your readers will use to connect with/find you.

For example, go through your author page, making sure it reads well and doesn’t suck. Mine sucks — that’s something on my to-do list. Also check your book description there, on the back cover of the book itself (if you’ve gone the print route), and check your Goodreads listing.

Basically, act like a reader and go through each and every place your book is being sold and/or promoted, and make sure the listing for you doesn’t suck.

4. Advertising

Ads are what I call “immediate marketing,” because they give the impression that they can be bought and started immediately.

Well, actually, that’s true — but that’s even more of a reason to not do that. Ads in and of themselves aren’t bad, but most self-published authors throw money at them and do the old “spray and pray” technique.

It doesn’t work.

Instead, plan out your campaign — how much are you going to spend each month? Can you give it at least six months to fail/succeed? What places will you advertise?

Ads are one of those marketing areas where having a big spreadsheet with all the information in it isn’t such a bad idea…

5. Plan a blog tour

Okay, this one can’t really be done today, but you can at least start thinking ahead. A blog tour (basically, just guest-posting or interviewing at a number of other websites/blogs) is a great way to generate buzz for your book/product/course/etc.

Start by setting up a spreadsheet with all of the places you’d like to tour, and then fill out the general contact information for each blog (this is crucial, as it’s a huge headache to track down this information in the heat of the moment!). Then add possible post titles, publication dates for each interview, and other necessary information you might need.

For a better example of all of this stuff, check out The Platform Firestarter — all three versions include a guest posting campaign plan, spreadsheet, and instructions!

Market the way you’d like to be marketed to. 

No one really likes ads, but we’re all usually okay with one or two advertisements that totally hit the nail on the head and strike a nerve (how do you think I initially came to love the iPhone). If you target your ads well enough, and write your descriptions and such in a way that completely encapsulates the target market you’re trying to reach, you’re going to be set up for success.

Above all, as I’ve said many times before — always add value. Think in terms of what you’re offering — is it entertainment value, knowledge, how-to/advice, or another form? Whatever it is, lead with that and be confident.

If you need help, just leave a comment!