For aspiring career authors, those without an extensive backlist and an established author platform, the idea of marketing can be overwhelming. To counter that notion of complexity, here’s your entire book marketing plan in one sentence:
After you write three compelling, related books, each better than the one before, get them to people who are fanatical about the kinds of stories you write and make those fans happy enough to tell their friends.
Your book marketing plan has 3 steps
- Create an author platform where people can find you.
- Write three compelling, related books.
- Find fans who love the work you do and delight them.
Anything else is a waste of time (unless it brings you joy).
Step 1: Build your author platform
Your platform is where you find your tribe and they find you.
Start this step now, especially before your first book is published. This is where, over time, you and your readers will have the opportunities to appreciate each other.
You start your platform first. That platform – your author hub – must have these three things:
- A basic website.
- A mailing list you use to heap love on your fans.
- Participation at one place online where your tribe hangs out.
Your book marketing will fail if you don’t have these, but you don’t need any more than that to start. Read here for much more about the hub and spokes of your author platform.
Step 2: Write three compelling, related books
Until you have three related books, the return on your marketing time is not nearly as good as writing your next book is.
So write more and better books, because the best book marketing plan can’t sell a bad one.
And once you have, consider this: people do business with and buy products from people they know, like, and trust. Your first book’s job is to make that happen. In that order. Which is why you need at least three related books.
The first book builds trust; the others make money.
That’s because your first book isn’t a product that you sell. It’s an advertisement that you spread.
Which means that your marketing efforts are about awareness and attraction, to get readers to know and like you enough to hold your first book in their hands. So that when they read it, they say, “You get me. I can trust you as a writer because you see the world like I do.”
And your readers’ – your fans’ – role is to demonstrate that trust with reviews. Which makes getting reviews your first book’s job.
Your first book isn’t what you market. It’s how you market.
It’s an ad that you spread in order to get reviews.
And reviews matter. A lot. Most books find new readers from word-of-mouth. When a reader tells a friend that way, it’s a recommendation. When a reader writes it down, that’s a review.
And all your launch tactics will fail until you have them.
So you have to work hard to get reviews until you have at least 20, and then keep asking (a little less urgently) until you have 100.
To get reviews, don’t try to cudgel all your friends into writing them. Instead find people who love reading and love writing reviews, and bring them something to make them happy, so they can say, “Finally! A book I like!”
Do some research. Find reviewers for comparable books on review blogs, Amazon, or Goodreads. Offer them a copy. And then play the numbers game.
Step 3: Find fans who love the work you do and delight them
Here’s the essence.
Don’t try to get others’ attention. Go to where people are already paying attention and bring them joy.
That is: find where these book lovers are, then join them and bring what they want.
An article on how to be found online and boost your discoverability is coming soon. It will show how to get the most value from your reviews, your strong production design, your authentic personal relationships, and – occasionally – judicious paid ads to find your perfect audience. And when you have that, use your books themselves and your author newsletter to delight them.
In the meantime, join us on Facebook with your comments. Do you already have a book marketing plan? Let us know what’s working and what’s not.