Thursday, March 18, 2010

Take These Ten Marketing Steps ...

... before you finish writing your book: Rookie authors--and some veterans, I'm afraid--think that book marketing begins after the book comes off the presses. Wrong, wrong, wrong. In fact, book marketing is front-loaded. What you do after the book is printed is continue all the good stuff you began much earlier. Herewith are some ideas:

  1. Plan the project. Before you begin to write, define your reader, determine how you will change his or her life, settle on a working title and subtitle that capsulize what your book is about and who it is for, and write out a Table of Contents that will make your reader want to buy your book.
  2. Compile your key contacts. Throughout the process, you should be compiling a database of "key contacts." Divide these into four categories: contacts who will get a complimentary copy of your book automatically (keep this list small); contacts who will be sent a press release and a review copy request form (if these contacts ask for a copy, then and only then will you send them a copy); contacts who will be sent a press release without a review copy request form (you won't be offering these contacts a complimentary copy); and, finally, contacts who will be notified that your book is published and how they can purchase a copy.
  3. Create and use a blog. Do this anytime, the earlier the better. You can create and use a blog for free and even make money, potentially, by opening it up to Google ads or the like. Use the blog to show samples from your book, to talk about writing problems you're trying to solve, to publish related opinions or articles. Try to attract people to your blog and give them the opportunity to comment. In this way, you're building your audience. To create a blog, check out Blogspot or Wordpress.
  4. Create and use a website. Websites are not free. You'll have to pay for a domain name and a website host. However, you do not need an expensive website designer. Some website hosts offer templates, similar to the blogs, that enable you to set up a website without much or any programming experience. In addition, if you do this, you'll be free to add your own material to the website without going through a "web administrator." Your websites and blogs should all link to each other.
  5. Write about content related to your book. Notice, I didn't say "write about your book." You can, but it is more effective (and far less annoying) to present yourself as an expert in your subject and note that you are the author of a forthcoming book more subtly, like in a bio.
  6. Give presentations.The best way to sell your book is at presentations. However, you should not wait until your book is published to begin. You need the practice. You need to build your reputation as a speaker, workshop presenter, and expert in your field. When you speak, you can work in the news that you're working on a book. Again, be subtle. For example, distribute a handout relevant to the presentation that happens to be a chapter of your forthcoming book--and says so.
  7. Use your cover. Get your cover designed early and use it on your blog, your website, and your promotions.
  8. Create your publicity package. This should include a one page press release about your book, a simple "review copy request form," and a list of 20 questions to give prospective interviewers. The materials should include an image of your book and yourself.
  9. Gather testimonials. Once you have a working manuscript, begin to invite likely candidates to read your book and give you a testimonial. You can use some of these on the back cover of your book--testimonials make the best back-cover copy. You can add additional testimonials to the website, promotional material, even the back of the book.
  10. Offer discounts to pre-publication buyers. Two months or so before you get your book printed, tell your prospective customers they can get a signed copy of your book at a discount if they order it early. Ask for checks. I recommend that you don't cash them until you know for sure when you will have books in hand.
You can do much more than this. The point is to begin now. Don't wait until your book is printed to begin marketing. The Publishing Pro, LLC.