I'm an author and an author consultant working hard to help authors create a marketing strategy to publish and sell more books.
In this blog, I hope to give you easy tips and tools you can consider for helping your books along in this competitive market. I've included a worksheet here if you'd like to create your own marketing plan. Click here to download a copy.
What is a Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan is a roadmap used in crafting a cohesive strategy to market your books. I'll use Joe Schmoe's books to help create a mock marketing plan as a sample. Feel free to create your own marketing plan using the tips and tricks in this blog.
The elements of a marketing plan are Price, Product, Placement, and Promotions.
Let's take a look at these elements and see how our author Joe Schmoe, can improve his marketing efforts.
1. Price: What price points are Joe's eBook and print (and other formats) and are they relevant to current market conditions?
Joe's Ebooks are $6.99. On Amazon I looked up other books in his genre (Mystery, Crime, and Thriller) and realized his price was a bit high compared to other books in his genre when you pull out the top authors who can charge a premium price. Joe's competitors were selling for $2.99-5.99 on average.
If your books are priced too high, you're limiting your sales. Consider lowering your price to be closer to what the genre is selling.
There are separate categories for your print book, do the same type of research for the price of your paperback. What are comparable titles selling for? In this example, Joe's paperbacks are selling for $18.90, which fits nicely with similar price points in his genre.
2. Product: What are you selling? Write a brief description of your books, genre, and how you are selling your books.
Joe Schmoe writes in the Mystery, Crime, and Suspense genre. He has five books with the latest “The Plunger in Peril” published by MacDaddy Publishing. One book, "The Third Armpit", is published by Books for Armpits Publishing. Joe does well with sales from his website, selling on average one a day but needs to increase sales online.
Describe each book with a short blurb. This forces you to come up with an elevator pitch version of the plot. Here are Joe's blurbs.
• "The Plunger in Peril" - Book 1 -- A crime scene weapon, a plunger, is locked in the evidence drawer and someone is out to steal it. Who is the thief, and are they connected to the original murder?
• "The Color of the French Horns" – Book 2 -- This story is based on a true account of one man’s obsession with brass instruments.
• "Sweet Sandcastles" – Book 3 - Dreamers can be murderers -- Can the sandcastle killer be put to bed at last?
• "The Third Armpit" – Book 4 - A strange experiment turns deadly when a man is given a third armpit, and all hell breaks loose.
• "Life and Times of an Eraser Sniffer" – A Memoir.
Pro Tip: Consider new ways to use existing products to create another income stream. For example, publish a trade paperback (smaller version) to offer a cheaper paperback option) or combine books into a boxed set — minimal effort for a new product to sell.
Suggestion: Joe should combine the four books in his series into a boxed set to create another product. Also, he should publish an eBook for "The Third Armpit." As soon as possible, Joe should publish another book to bring more attention to his backlist.
3. Place: Where are your books distributed?
Joe’s books are available as eBooks on Amazon (except for "The Third Armpit" is only in paperback) and other outlets including Barnes and Noble. He sells well on his website. His publisher is in control of where the books are sold.
Suggestions: One recommendation is to get his books in libraries and smaller bookstores.
Pro Tip: If you’re independently published, you have more control over where your books are sold. You can be exclusive on Amazon and in addition to your sales also receive income through KENP Page reads. You keep more of your royalties with this option (called KDP Select) as well, but your eBooks cannot be sold on other sites.
4. Promotion: How will you tell readers about your books?
A study from Verso Digital shows that there are seven strategies that sell books. I will address each below and provide some links to more information.
A. Personal Recommendations (49.2%) –
This is the most successful way to sell your books. Get your readers excited about your coming release and see if they will be your super fans, helping others learn about your books. Here are some other methods to increase personal recommendations.
· Speaking Engagements: Contact your local community clubs and organizations as see if you can speak about your books or topics you've researched for your books, (Lion's Clubs, Rotary Clubs, etc.) Joe could talk about how he researched the police work involved in writing his novel.
· Connect with other authors to recommend your books to their readers, or ask them to write an endorsement for the front of your book. Joe is part of a writing group and has asked them to help review his books.
B. Bookstore Recommendations (30.8%) –
· Set up a local signing - Joe has a signing every time he releases a new book. Covid-19 may limit this avenue for the time being.
· Ask local book stores to put your book in the local author section.
· Meet the booksellers in your local stores and give them a free copy asking if they’d be willing to recommend your book to readers looking for books in that genre.
C. Advertising (24.4%) –
Advertising is THE only way you will be able to sell your books consistently. You will not succeed without this powerful tool. The problem is there is an endless array of choices, and in my experience, 90% of them will bring you a tiny bump or none while taking your money and time.
I use the following sites with success:
· BookBub, Amazon Ads, Authors Cross Promotions (AuthorsXP.com), Fussy Librarian, Goodreads Giveaway, Bargan Booksy, and Robin Reads.
It would take a lot of space to go through all of these options but I've provided a few links for you to learn more:
Kindlepreneur: 127 of the Best Free and Paid Promotion Sites.
Scribe: Book Promotion Sites
TCK Publshing: Book Promotion Sites
D. Search Engines (21.8%) –
Once you have a website set up, there is a lot you can do to increase the traffic you bring to your site through SEO optimization. There are people who do this for a living who can give you a focused approach and take care of this for you if you want to make that investment.
This is crucially important to have everywhere you are online SEO savvy to show up where people are looking for you and similar books. Google your name and see what pops up. These are the areas you’re showing up on Google, see what is missing and make changes to be seen on those platforms.
Article to help you:
A Marketing Expert: Easy SEO for Authors
E. Book Reviews (18.9%) –
As you climb in reviews, Amazon makes your books more visible by sending suggestions to people who have looked for similar titles in emails.
This is free and begins at 20 reviews and bumps up when you hit 50. Many advertising sites won’t let you promote there unless you have a certain number of reviews with a 3 or higher ranking.
Strategy: Ask for reviews in your newsletter, blog, and on social media, use Authors Cross Promotion (AuthorsXP.com) author review service, ask other authors to help review your books. Read your friend’s books and write reviews.
· Reader reviews – ask friends and associates to review your books. Use paid services if you want to grow this quickly.
· Offer Advanced Review Copies (ARC) before you release your next book and ask for reviews on the day your book publishes.
· There is a service called NetGalley you can sign up for where librarians and others in that system to review your book before it comes out.
· Ask for reviews on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, BookBub, etc.
· Create a contest linking to your Amazon review page. See articles below for ideas.
Good Info on How to Get More Reviews:
F. Blogs (12.1%) –
The purpose of the blog is to give people an insight into your work, your personality, and your writing. The focus of these blogs should be to entertain the reader and let them get to know you enough to want to click on the buy link at the end of the blog.
Joe started a blog where he talks about his writing, his career as a plumber turned policeman, and his love of brass instruments. He publishes it faithfully monthly on his website.
Pro Tip: It would help if you aimed to publish on a regular schedule and establish a method for sharing these as far and wide as possible. That is the benefit of your author platform.
G. Social Media (11.8%) –
Social media can be a lot of effort but you can get a huge push when you launch a book. People need to know who you are before they’ll buy a book.
It takes at least seven exposures before someone you never met will purchase a book. You need to be out there showing off your personality, your book recommendations, and your knowledge.
· Top sites: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Goodreads. Pick one site and get comfortable with its format. Follow other authors and see how they are marketing. Spend your time finding readers by finding authors similar to what you write and follow their followers.
· Look into using sites like Recurpost that help you manage a social media strategy to grow your platform with potential readers.
· Post articles and content related to your book subject matter to encourage people interested in that topic to follow you. Joe should post articles from other sites that touch on the topics covered in his books. French horns, plungers, true-life police procedurals. You get the idea.
· Be authentic when you post on social media.
· Use the 2:1:1 rule to focus engagement on your target reader. 2 parts of your content is merely for entertainment, 1 part is a soft sell (blog post with a link) and one is a hard sell (buy my book.)
Video and links with good info:
H. Other Recommended Activities to boost your visibility:
1. BookBub: Claim your author page on BookBub.
2. Look at your reviews on Amazon. Like the positive ones. Send your friends to your books and like the positive reviews as well.
3. Claim your author page on Goodreads. Find your book, claim your author profile. Connect your blog.
4. Claim your author page on Author Central on Amazon. Also great tips on how to boost that site.
5. Connect your blog to Goodreads and Amazon Central.
KJ Waters is the author of the #1 international best-selling Time Travel Fiction series Stealing Time, the short-story Blow, and the anthology With Words We Weave. The second book in the series, Shattering Time, is frequently on the bestseller list alongside Outlander and Stephen King's Time Travel Fiction stories.
In addition to her writing, she runs KJ Waters Consultancy helping authors brand, publish, and promote their books. Also, she is the CEO of Blondie's Custom Book Covers and the co-host of the popular podcast Blondie and the Brit.
She has a Master's in Business and over 18 years of experience in the marketing field. Before quitting her job to raise a family and work on writing she was the Director of Marketing and communications for a national behavioral healthcare company. You can visit her author website at kjwaters.com and consulting site at kjwconsultancy.com.