October 16th, 2015

How to Create a Book that Sells and a Marketing Plan that Works (every time!)

Penny Sansevieri

Death_to_stock_communicate_hands_9For authors, there’s nothing more satisfying than writing the final sentence of a book that you’ve poured your heart and soul into. You can feel proud of what you have accomplished, but the hard work doesn’t end here.

Although you have completed the book, now you need to ask yourself whether you’ve written a book that is saleable. This may seem a strange question to ask, but by asking it now, you can set yourself up to have a successful marketing campaign once your book has been published.

What do I mean by “saleable?”

Make sure that you are publishing a book that people want to read. One of the best ways to do this by researching the market for your book prior to its launch.

I recommend starting this research at your local bookstore. Look for books similar to yours – if there aren’t any, ask the clerk if there’s a reason why. A lot of folks think that because they are the first to market for a topic, they’ll sell truckloads of that book, but that’s often not true. As they say there are no new ideas. While that’s not 100% true, it’s a good rule to follow.

The exceptions to this might be something like a book about mastering Twitter, something you probably wouldn’t have found a market for ten years ago. However, bookstore clerks are a wonderful resource, and will know if there’s a book like yours. If there is, buy it or buy a few of them, or all of them – it’s always nice to support your fellow authors. By doing this research, you get to know who else is writing in your genre.

Most importantly, this research will help you identify what is already being discussed in your genre, how information is presented, what your audience expects, and how you can meet (or exceed) those expectations. That way, you have an exceptional, saleable book to hand to an editor.

The next step is creating a pre-launch plan. As a writer, you know that a great many details go into crafting a great book. Similarly, your book launch is a culmination of great detail and planning; first and foremost, giving your book a solid start date and marketing plan is important.

When determining a start date, you need to research the optimal time to release your book. We all know that publishing is an extremely crowded and competitive industry, so if you want to avoid the majority of the competition, try releasing your book during an off-season.

Publishers typically release in three seasons: January to Spring, in the Summer season, and the Fall. Fall is the biggest publishing season, because it often has titles related to impending New Year’s resolutions, such as diet, life goals, and finances. So, it may be smart to skip releasing in Fall; however, this is where your research comes in.

You may also want to consider event tie-ins: for example the Pope visiting America, or the next Star Wars movie being released. For each of these big events you’ll see a lot of buzz around their primary topics. A lot of books will be released (both fiction and non-fiction) to support these events.

The next piece of this is to monitor authors in your market. Who is writing what? How often are they producing books and, most important, how are they marketing themselves. By following them on their website and in social media, you’ll have a great sense of what’s working for them and may also work for you.

Next, make sure that when you launch you have your various “pieces” in place. You may be surprised to find that often authors come to us after their book is out and still don’t have a website, or any social media presence. If you’re building this house, make sure it’s solid. Don’t launch your book without these pieces. Keeping in mind that you don’t need to be on every social site, only the ones that matter to your audience, but you should have a presence there.

Finally, if you still aren’t sure where exactly to reach your reader, start a short reader profile. This will help you unearth markets that you may not have previously considered.

A reader profile should look at things like:

  • What’s their age range?
  • Male or female?
  • Who are their favorite authors (besides you!)
  • Are they deal hunters or are they impulse buyers?
  • What genres do they read?
  • How many books do they read a month?
  • What publications do they subscribe to?
  • Do they reside in a particular area of the country or world?

This is just a short list of starter questions, you can certainly go deeper than this, and while you may not know all of these answers right off the bat, you should spend some time getting to know who your reader is and there are some easy ways to do this. The first is your social media or website analytics. Both of these pieces of data could give you some great insights. The next might be to do a reader survey or interview some of your readers (offer than a thank you or prize incentive to do this!).

Information is power and the right information could save you a lot of time when it comes to marketing.

Now, that you know how to create a book that your audience will buy, understand your reader and your industry, and ensure that you have the necessary platform (i.e. website/social media accounts) in place before you publish, you have the resources to create a pre-launch plan that ensures a successful book launch. So often I see authors who launch into campaigns without doing this and end up wasting a ton of time and money.

Spend some time doing your homework – you’ll be glad you did.

What tips do you have for market research?

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About Penny

Author MarkketingPenny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert and an Adjunct Professor with NYU. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. She is the author of fourteen books, including How to Sell Books by the Truckload. AME is the first marketing and publicity firm to use Internet promotion to its full impact through online promotion and their signature program called: The Virtual Author Tour™

To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at http://www.amarketingexpert.com. To subscribe to her free newsletter, send a blank email to: mailto:subscribe@amarketingexpert.com

Copyright @2015 Penny C. Sansevieri

8 comments to How to Create a Book that Sells and a Marketing Plan that Works (every time!)

  • Penny, I wrote the book of my heart – thinking only of the story, and my heart. When I got done, I started thinking about the market….duh. Western is big in romance – not so much in Women’s Fiction (which is the book’s genre).

    I’d have written it anyway – I love it. And I think readers who read it will like it – but I’m going to have an uphill climb, convincing them to read it.

    I’ll use your reader profile, and dig deeper. Thanks for this blog – it’ll help me!

  • Thank you for the insightful blog, Penny!

  • You summed it up for me, Laura: When I write a book, it’s always the “story in my heart.” When it comes to targeting a specific audience, I fall short, and that makes marketing a challenge. Being genre-specific is difficult for me; my stories usually straddle the fence. Everything Penny said is true, though. If I could follow her advice, maybe I could sell more books and find more success as an author.

  • Let me just make a comment on “straddling” because I’ve seen it a ton. Don’t do it. If you can, move your book – switch up your genre on Amazon as soon as you can. Most of the time this is easy – I know that sometimes though that’s tough. In the cases I’ve worked with, where books have languished in the wrong markets – I’ve found that moving the genre and doing some refreshed marketing can really help give them the boost they need! Good luck!!

  • Hi Penny, I just write as it happens in my mind but after reading this post I’m wondering if it would make a better story if I did some switching in the several WIP I have going. Some of them were hard to write. It seemed something is not right. I have one, location Oklahoma City and contemporary. I keep slipping when I write into a western flavor and it almost sounds like it is a story with the wrong background. It is my finish half to third NANOWRIMO project for Nov. Revision again here I come. Thanks for the insight.

  • […] traditional and Indie authors need to work on marketing their books. Penny Sansevieri explains how to create a book that sells and a marketing plan that works (every time). Elizabeth S. Craig discusses preorders, and agent Janet Reid expresses some thoughts […]