5 Book Marketing Resolutions

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A new year means new resolutions! Many authors have writing goals and publishing goals, but what about marketing goals?

Marketing goals are important for authors since a strong author platform can make the difference between selling books only to your family and friends and selling books around the world. Here are 5 marketing resolutions that are a great place to start in order to boost your author platform in 2018.

1. Actively participate in one writing organization

The key word is activelyThe purpose of joining an organization is to create a network of fellow writers that can help you not only strengthen your writing skills but also strengthen your circle of influence. The organization can be as simple as a local writing group or as large as a national writing organization. Remember, be involved! Participate in monthly meetings, comment on forum threads, and make yourself a positive asset to the organization’s community. When you’re ready to publish your book, this organization will be one of your strongest support groups.

2. Submit one article each month for publication consideration

It can be a magazine, website, or blog, just make sure that the media you are contacting publishes content that aligns with your genre/topic. Creating your own media list will help you track which media outlets you’ve contacted recently. Published articles increase your credibility as an author and create connections for potential book reviews/features in the future.

3. Post bi-monthly articles on your blog or website

Having fresh content on your blog or website can increase both your website traffic and subscriber count. You will become a trusted source (so make sure you do your research) in your specific genre/topic. A strong email list is one of the most beneficial things you as an author can have when you launch your book, because you already have an eager readership. If already post bi-monthly up your goal to posting weekly.

4. Attend one writing conference 

Similar to actively participating in a writing organization, a writing conference allows you to meet with specialists from all fields of writing and publishing. You will find editors, agents, publicists, and publishers who could prove to be very valuable connections. Attend a writing conference, take notes in each session, and meet as many people as possible (if you have business cards, be sure to bring them!)

5. Post daily on at least two different social media platforms

Social media is the bridge between authors and readers. Posting good content (strong photography, posts relevant to your work, current links) will help potential readers discover your work. Make sure your posts are a reflection of the genre/topic you are writing about. Having a goal to post daily will force you to plan ahead which in turn will strengthen your posts and increase your engagement rates.

 

Media Lists: Choosing the Media

Book Marketing

An important part of book marketing is working with the media to generate publicity for you and your work. This publicity can be any number of things including:

  • Book Reviews
  • Author Interviews
  • Guest Posts
  • Book Features
  • Gift Guides
  • Endorsements
  • Giveaways
  • Roundups
  • Events

You want people to talk about your book, post about your book, and share content about your book. The best way to do this is through established media channels like Radio/Podcasts, television, magazines, newspapers, and blogs/websites. They already have a strong fan base, so when they share content it’s well received by hundreds if not thousands of potential book readers.

It can be daunting looking at all the different media outlets and think who will want to talk about my book?

Define Your Target Audience

The best place to start is with your target audience– the profile of the type of person who would be interested in reading your book. If you’re not sure what a target audience is, read this post: Finding Your Book’s Target Audience.

Who Shares Your Target Audience?

Next, think about who shares the same target audience as you. Look for the media that your target audience would be reading, watching, listening to, following, and engaging with.

For example, if your target audience is 30-50 year old women who go to the beach every summer and love light-read romances, you can narrow down which media to reach out to. Forbes magazine isn’t going to have the same target audience, but Woman’s Day will, and they would be interested in your book (they even do an annual Beach Read roundup).

Keep Track of Media

As you gather the media outlets you will reach out to, it’s nice to have them all on an easy-to-edit document. On my media list, I like to include the name and type of media of each outlet so I can make sure I’m getting a good balance of blogs vs. podcasts vs. magazine attention.

Below is the media list excel sheet I use when gathering outlet names. Feel free to download it and start building your own media list. You will be able to fill out columns A & B. The other columns will be discussed in a later post.

 

Media List

 

Finding Your Book’s Target Audience

Finding Target Audience

With so many books on the market, it’s important to find your target audience.

One of the first questions I ask an author when we’re discussing book marketing is “Who’s going to read your book?”

About 99% of the time they respond, “I hope everyone reads my book!”

While it would be nice to have every single person between the ages of 6-100 pick up your book and love it, there’s no such thing as a book for everyone. (Even Harry Potter has critics.) We all have reading preferences and are drawn to specific genres based on our own interests and background.

Your time and money will be best spent marketing to a core group of readers– the people most likely to read (and love) your book. This group of people is known as your target audience. Identifying your target audience is so important, because once you decide who you should reach out to you will be better able to decide how you should reach out to them.

Here are 4 ways I help authors define their target audience:

1. All About You

Multiple writing mentors have taught me, “Write what you know.”

Being able to draw from your personal experiences makes your writing both believable and relatable. Your life and interests are woven throughout your book (sometimes unconsciously), because you’re writing about the things that are most important to you. If you read through your manuscript, chances are you’ll find a lot of yourself in the plot and characters.

Your target audience will enjoy your book simply because it’s written by you. Friends tend to share similar interests, and the same trend applies to readers and authors. Below are a few questions to ask yourself. You’ll be able to find a part of your target audience just by going through these questions because their answers will match yours.

Yes, these are very similar to questions you might ask on a first date 🙂

  • What are your hobbies?
  • What is your favorite school subject?
  • Where did you grow up (city, country, suburbs, internationally, etc.)?
  • How do you spend your Friday nights?
  • What is your dream job?
  • What is your favorite time of year?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

2. All About Your Protagonist

We are naturally drawn to books where we relate to the main character. Whether you’re writing fiction, a memoir, or creative non-fiction, you’re going to have a protagonist, and your protagonist is going to be unique. Go through basic character development questions (beyond physical appearance), and you’ll have a nice idea as to who would read your book.

Here are a few character development bullet points to get you started. Remember your target audience will be similar to your protagonist.

  • Age*
  • Ethnicity
  • Hobbies
  • Family Life
  • Antagonist
  • Greatest Strengths
  • Greatest Weakness

*Keep in mind that young readers like to read books where the antagonist is about 2 years older than them.

3. Single Sentence Summary

Sometimes we get caught up in the sub-plots or the unimportant details of our book. Yes, your YA romance could have a protagonist whose favorite teacher is married to a doctor, but that doesn’t mean that your book will appeal to readers of medical fiction.

If you can find the barest bones of your plot, you’ll have a better idea as to who will be interested in reading your book.

Write down the basis of your book in a single sentence. State only the facts and leave out any adjectives or adverbs. Here’s my single sentence summary for a book I’m working on: Faye, an 18-year-old girl with a power that makes both the angels and demons want her, must put love aside in order to choose who she will fight for in the war for humanity. 

Now bold key words in that sentence: Faye, an 18-year-old girl with a power that makes both the angels and demons want her, must put love aside in order to choose who she will fight for in the war for humanity.  

Take a look at your key words and think about who would like this book:

  • 18-year-old- YA readers
  • Girl- Female readers
  • Power- Fiction readers
  • Angels, Demons- Supernatural readers
  • Love– Romance readers
  • Fight, War for humanity- Action readers

So, the target audience for my book would be females that enjoy YA romance about supernatural action. Yes, there are family issues in my plot. Yes, there’s also self-discovery. But, they aren’t the focus of my book, so I left them out and found my true core group of readers.

4. Comparative Titles

When thinking about your book’s target audience, always research comparative titles a.k.a. comp titles. Comp titles are books that will directly compete with yours for sales. You both will have the same genre, the same readers, the same price point, and similar packaging (i.e. paperback, hard cover, box set, etc.)

If you’re not sure what comp titles your book has, think about where your book would be shelved in a bookstore or library. If you want another reason to go to the bookstore, use “comp title research” as your excuse and browse the genre your book falls in.

Once you have a list of 3-5 comp titles, take a look at their target audience by answering these questions:

  • What is the look and feel of their book/author website? (Look at color scheme, font choice, and the content they post.)
  • Which magazines and blogs reviewed the book?
  • What types of stores did the author hold events at?
  • What are the demographics of the author’s social media followers?
  • Which organizations is the author involved in?

 

Go through each of these points, and you’ll be able to find the right readers for your book. If you focus your outreach and marketing on this specific target audience, you will see an increase in book sales and your fan following. Yes, there will be a few outliers who don’t fit your described target audience, but if you focus on your core group of readers then you can be confident in the direction of your marketing.

 

What’s An Author Platform?

platform

One of the first things I look at when we receive a book proposal is the author’s platform. Most people think that an author’s platform is their social media following, but it’s so much more! I would define it as the meaningful connections an author has that will result in book sales.

Think about it, when you go to the bookstore you’re going to be drawn to the books whose titles or cover art you recognize from Instagram or your favorite Goodreads list. When you read the author’s name and you think, “Oh, I’ve heard of this author on…” that is part of the author’s platform.

There are 6 key categories I look at when researching a potential author. I want to know all the various outlets they already have established that we could use to promote and sell the book.

  • Social Media
  • Blog/Website
  • Media Segments
  • Organizations
  • Public Speaking
  • Celebrity Connections

I ask myself a few questions while looking at each level of an author’s platform. These help me to get a better feel for the ability they have to convert connections into sales.

Social Media

  • How many followers do you have on each of your social media sites?
  • How involved are your followers? Do they like, comment, or reshare your posts?
  • How is the quality of your posts?
  • How often do you post?

Blog/Website (These questions are very similar to social media.)

  • How professional is your website?
  • What is your website’s world ranking on alexa.com?
  • How is the quality of your posts? Do you focus on a specific topic?
  • How often do you post?
  • How involved are your readers? Do they like, comment, or reshare your posts?
  • Do you have an email list? How many subscribers do you reach?

Media Segments

  • Have you recently been interviewed on television, radio, podcast, newspaper, or magazine? If so, include dates and a links to the interviews.
  • Are there any news stations, newspapers, etc. that would be willing to interview you about your book?
  • Do you guest write for any newspapers, magazines, major blogs/websites?

Organizations

  • Are you part of any credited writing organizations (i.e. SCBWI, SFWA, IBPA, etc.)? Hint: If you Google “writing organizations” you’re sure to find a group that fits your writing genre.
  • Do you participate in any annual conferences?
  • Are you involved in any national or community organizations?

Public Speaking

  • Are you an expert in a specific subject to the point that you are qualified to speak on the topic?
  • Are you represented by a speaking agency?
  • What is the general demographic of your audiences? Do you speak at corporate events, middle schools, parenting conferences, or writing workshops?
  • Are you paid to travel for speaking events?

Celebrity Connections

  • Do you personally know any “big names” that would be willing to endorse your book? (Think about the wonders an Oprah’s Book Club sticker can do for sales.)
  • If you are writing non-fiction, do you know an influential person willing to write the foreword?
  • Are you connected with any popular bloggers or social media accounts that would feature your book?

You can see from the above points that each connection will allow you to influence a new group of people. Yes, writing a standout book is important, but having a strong author platform allows people to know your standout book exists.