Guest Blog by Jodie Cain Smith: Book Promotions:  Plan Your Attack!

Posted by on Sep 8, 2014 in Writing | 0 comments

“Just let me write!”  One of the voices in my head wants me to scream this out loud from the nearest mountaintop.  The thought is just so damn romantic – type away furiously at a laptop, hair twisted on top of my head with a pencil, three-day-old lounge pants and coffee stained t-shirt.  If I stop writing in order to market my book, then my muse may silence herself forever.  Do I risk it?  But if I don’t market my book, no one will ever read it.  Step away from the keyboard, sister.  It’s time to sell.

Whether I think of it as marketing or publicity or promotions, it’s all the same – I must sell my book.  After all, there is a self-promotion clause in my publishing contract.

Unfortunately, I do not have a degree in business.  So, I have forced myself to become a self-taught expert in the world of marketing. Fear not, fellow self-promoters.  My journey to world domination started with a few simple steps.

Step 1:  Research!

For months I scoured the Internet soaking up any marketing information I could click on and then finally decided to focus on information geared toward small businesses.  Two sites proved especially worthy of my dedication:  www.score.org  and http://www.business.gov.au.  Both sites offer marketing plan templates and information that can be applied to promoting a book.

I also attended every event I could find that centered on marketing and book promotions.  Scour your local area for book festivals, free library classes, public book events, and community education opportunities.  There are nuggets to be found at every event.  Observe table displays, party themes, and sales logistics.  Steal the good ideas.  Make a note of the bad ideas so that you do not make the same mistake.

Step 2:  Whittle down the excess!

After completing my research, having fully splayed the dark underbelly of the book promotions world, I decided to concentrate my efforts in a four key areas:  social media, website development, traditional media, and a grass roots campaign.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, and guest blogging would all be included in my attack.  A strong online presence through social media can only boost sales.  But developing a following takes time.  Plan accordingly.

A fully developed author website with interesting content will hopefully engage my social media subscribers and Internet passerby’s alike.  The days of the stagnant author website are long gone.  No longer will a head shot, lead banner, and link to Amazon suffice.  Readers want content:  a journal into the soul of the author, writing samples, quirky content such as writing playlists, influences, and inspiration.

The grass roots campaign is all about boots on the ground.  Launch parties to empower my inner circle must be thoughtfully planned.  Networking events to put my business card complete with website link in the hands of potential customers must be attended.  Schedule signings, festival appearances, vendor opportunities, and book club Skype chats.

Step 3:  Construct the Battle Plan!

Step 2 seems daunting, doesn’t it?  My first instinct when I looked at the jumbled marketing notes I had assembled over a year of research was to hyperventilate.  But having a panic attack will sell books almost as well as hiding in my writing cave.  So, I flipped on the left side of my brain and made a plan.

First, I had to deconstruct each element listed in step two.  Planning a launch party was more than one entry on a to-do list.  The task contained many subtasks that must be completed in order for the party to be successfully executed.  So, I made a list of all the subtasks that the launch party would require, as well as subtask lists for the three other elements listed in step two.

Once my subtask lists were written, I took to the calendar.  Working backwards from my books release date, I plugged in subtasks according to when each task needed to be completed.  When I was finished, I looked at the document to discover that I had constructed a battle plan that required me to complete only four to five marketing tasks each week – much more feasible than tackling forty subtasks at once.  And I’m not in a fetal position in a corner, rocking back and forth, chanting, “I’m an artist not a salesperson.  Somebody get me a brown paper bag!”

Marketing gives your book a fighting chance!

Whether we like it or not, we went and got what we asked for.  We wrote a book.  We convinced someone to publish it.  Now we must bite the bullet and sell the damn thing.  Buck up, Sally.  You’re in the big leagues now.

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