Here’s the short answer: focus.
Focus on the Book Marketing Plan
Technology has opened up many new opportunities for indie authors to market books and continues to do so, but it’s a chaotic world and a book marketing plan really helps you retain focus. If you try to follow all the latest technologies or let yourself be swept up in one current trend after another, without a plan, you will end up spreading yourself too thinly, like a scatter-gun.
This may be fine for those with an existing platform (celebrity/notoriety/social media presence) or large amounts of cash to splash on promotion; they make a quick killing and move on. But for the rest of us average Joes, that produce averagely good novels and seek only to make an average living from our work, something more sustained is required. And that requires a book marketing plan; actually, you may need more than one, but more about that later.
If you self-publish your novels, then you are not just an Indie author, you are also an entrepreneur. Your writing is a business that you run for your own benefit. I am not a marketer, but as someone with experience in business strategy, I can tell you that businesses without plans are businesses that fail.
Sustainable book marketing plans
Sustainability, weight, gravity, presence, platform, consistency, popularity, expertise—whatever you call It, you need it to make you book visible, and if you don’t have It already then it has to be built, by you.
Let’s be realistic: even with the best and most widely promoted book launch, your novel will (unless you have written a masterpiece, or caught the public imagination) quickly sink in the vast mire of social media activity.
If you are lucky with your launch, you will have covered the production costs of the novel and not be out of pocket on the promotion. If you are really lucky, you may have made enough profit to cover the production cost of the next novel. A few people will have made enough to fund their lifestyle until the next launch, provided they are not too overindulgent.
For most authors, the investment of a launch will have resulted in a financial loss. Such is the life of a jobbing indie novelist—come on, you didn’t think telling stories for a living be easy, did you?
The Long Tail book marketing plan
The real benefits of self-publishing as an indie author is in the long-tail. I have written about the long-tail in other articles so I will not repeat myself here. The long-tail requires time: years. It requires effort and consistency. It requires a back catalogue: lots more novels.
If you aren’t able or willing to put in a sustained effort over years to build your brand, stick to the day job and enjoy you writing as a hobby. (Wait, did you just say ‘brand’? I did, more about that later). There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing for a hobby—it’s a very rewarding hobby, for which your fans will love you, but don’t expect to make a sustainable living.
Build a Book Marketing Plan
To build presence on social media, you need a plan. Again I have written about this elsewhere.
There is loads and loads of great advice on the internet about how to form your own book marketing plan. As whatever if might recommend will almost certainly be out of date shortly after I post this blog, I shall leave you to explore content of a book marketing plan for yourself. The important point I’m making her is that you really do need a plan.
Some book marketing plans are better than others. Some will be more suited to your character, lifestyle, subject matter etc. Some will require a lot more work than others. The important thing is to come up with a book marketing plan that you are comfortable with and that you can sustain over years.
Something is better than nothing
To some degree it doesn’t even matter what the plan is, as long as you have one. My time in business taught me a couple of things about business plans and therefore book marketing plans:
- It you don’t have a target or an aim, how can you measure how well you are doing?
- A book marketing plan helps you set short term goals and actions.
- A bad book marketing plan can be improved once you start measuring your targets and aims.
- Failure or inefficiency can be tracked if you have a book marketing plan to analyse.
- Changing direction by adapting an existing book marketing plan is a whole lot easier that starting again.
- A good book marketing plan can be improved by doing more of what is working well.
- If you try something new, and you should be constantly experimenting, a book marketing plan will ensure you don’t take our eye off the ball and drop what is already working.
- Change is inevitable, so even the best book marketing plan need monitoring, revision and updating. What works today may not work tomorrow, or some new opportunity may come over the horizon.
- A book marketing plan give you the illusion of control, at least over your small niche, in a vast and chaotic marketplace.
- If you are struggling with marketing or creative choices, referring back to the book marketing plan can help you make good decisions.
Hopefully I have now convinced you of the need for your own book marketing plan. Now I’m going to mess things up, because you might need more than just the one plan.
Multiple Book Marketing Plans
You could heave a great sigh and give up at this point, but stick with me, it’s not as bad as it sounds.
- If you have more than one novel, you need a plan for each novel.
- If you have more than one audience, you need a plan for each audience.
- If you have a series, you need a plan for each series.
Brand in book marketing plans
Your brand (there’s that word again) is whatever you use to identify your books to the market: book name, book series, author name, company name, the name of your author cooperative/group, publishing imprint etc.
- If you market with anyone else, you need a plan for the brand.
- If you market by yourself, you are the brand, so you need an overall plan for the brand of you.
- If you publish under different names, or by different media channels, you have multiple brands, so you need a plan for each.
In fact, the more detailed your business model the more detailed your plans need to be for you to remain in control, or at least maintain the illusion of control.
Direction and aim is a valuable thing in a chaotic world—they steady the ship in the storm.
How to start you book marketing plan
Go on, don’t be shy. A few simple sentence are all you need to start the plan:
“My novel is about…”
“My novel fits into the genre (or genres) of…”
“My target audience are…”
“They can be found…”
“I want my novel to…”
“The three most important things I will do to achieve this are…”
There you go, you have already made some important decisions about your marketing and you already have a more detailed book marketing plan than the majority of indie authors.
If you have any useful ideas for book marketing plans, please leave them in the comments. And finally, all the best with the book marketing plan.