Recently on the phone with a buyer for a large bookstore retailer, she very casually mentioned a major pet peeve she has with ALL authors. She asserted that most authors would do much better in sales if they only had one thing. A marketing plan. Though we think authors need other things too: distribution, a good book to begin with, an unlimited supply of coffee and Advil…we get it. Authors need a marketing plan.
Why? Retailers want to see that you’re at least thinking about promotion ideas and have plans in the pipeline. Marketing plan align your book to a strategy and help keep you focused. Every marketing plan is different, but here are the nuts and bolts of what should be included:
• Book Specifications: Include the basic details of your book: page count, trim size, ISBN, price, website address, and your contact information.
• Book Cover Image: Include a small picture of your front cover to give your marketing plan more flavor and help retailers and media remember it.
• Book Synopsis: Write a two hundred-word summary of your book highlighting the important facts and identifying the problems that your book solves. For fiction, highlight the major conflict of the story without giving too much away. For nonfiction, include what’s new, unique, helpful, entertaining, and distinctive about your book that affirms its value for readers.
• Endorsements: Quote credible sources that highlight your level of authority on the topic.
• About the Author: Summarize credentials relevant to your book that reinforce your authority.
• Target Audiences: Describe characteristics of your readers—by profession, background, experience or interests, as well as by gender, age, race, or other relevant traits.
• Upcoming Events and Signings: List where you plan to promote your book. Highlight the geographic areas you intend to reach. Describe local opportunities in detail.
• Media & Sales Contacts: List persons, organizations, or resources you intend to contact about your book. Look for associations, organizations, and institutions to which your readers belong and list their contact information.
• Awards and Contests: Include ones you have either won or intend to enter in the next twelve to eighteen months.
• Television and Radio: List interviews you have had or are working on arranging.
• Sales Methods: Will you make cold calls? Do you have a list of warm calls to start with? How will you get in front of large groups? Name businesses, networking groups, and community-service organizations where you can give presentations or showcase your book.
And final tips:
Identify seasonal influences on book sales (both challenges and opportunities): think three- to four-months ahead for publicity opportunities.
How will you attract and keep readers? Describe the type of promotion and advertising you’ll use: flyers, ads, postcards, e‐mails, blogs, websites, etc.
Describe any website or social media promotions: special offers, e‐mail newsletters from you to your readership, etc.
Will you offer credit to your customers? That is, how will you make it as easy as possible to buy your book directly from you? Does your website/publisher enable easy purchases and order fulfillment?