Sunday, September 25, 2011

So You Want to Write a Novel: Marketing Set-up

So now you have written, edited, submitted, and published your novel.  Now, all you need to do is convince readers to buy it.  (That being said, this post is primarily for those endeavoring to self-publish. If you have chosen traditional publishing, you can still implement some of your own promotion, but primarily major publishers are prepared to do the marketing work for you.)  There are a great many marketing tactics you can use, but before we get to that, there are some things we need to address.

First, you need to establish who your reading audience is and garner some demographics about them.  For example: who are they? What do they do?  What's their age range?  Does your book appeal primarily to a particular ethnicity, religious background or faith, or profession?  If your book is non-fiction, what trade or interest are you targeting?  Without knowing your audience, you can't figure out how your readers think.  And without knowing how they think, you don't know where they shop or how to find them.  And if you can't find them, you can't sell your book to them.

The next thing of which you need to be cognizant is what type of seller you are.  Are you outgoing and willing to engage strangers in conversation?  Or are you more timid and withdrawn?  Are you willing to make appearances and interact with your readers?  Or are you the strong silent type that is at one's best when using the written word?  If you're the outgoing type, you're not going to have a lot of issues implementing most, if not all, of the suggestions in this and next post.  However, if you're a little leary about social interaction, many of these suggestions will be difficult tasks for you.  Introverts should probably stick to a strictly online campaign which is better suited to their individual personalities.

And finally, before you start, set up a marketing strategy.  Essentially, this is a plan of action or an outline of how you expect to use different tactics to promote yourself and your book to maximize your earnings.  Do your research; there's tons of stuff on the internet about marketing a self-published book.  Take some polls.  Join some book clubs.  Ask readers what draws them toward a book; ask other authors what strategies have worked for them in the past.  And above everything, consider your budget.  As I mentioned in previous posts in this series, self-publishing is an investment if nothing else.  While a lot of these suggestions I'm going to make in this and the post following have minimal start-up cost, you have probably just spent anywhere from $600-1400 on pre-publishing, and maybe there is no more stretch left in your income to tackle a broad campaign.  By no means do you have to do them all.  See what you can do monetarily, then build your promo campaign around that.  There are many options we'll discuss that are entirely free, and equally effective.  Be realistic about what you can spend then build your marketing campaign to match that amount.

I will stress as we begin that the 21st century is nothing if not a technological age.  You will not succeed without an online presence.  Period.  You may say to me, "But Ray, I'm not all that tech savvy."  Well, shoot, neither am I.  I don't know HTML code, and I certainly can't build a website from scratch, but there are ways around these things if you know where to look.  So, obviously, the first thing you should do is get a website.  It doesn't matter if it's your own domain name (like www.authornamehere.com) or if it's just an author page provided by the self-publisher with which you're working.  You can even set up something as simple as a blog on Blogger, which is free by the way, and advertise yourself and your work there.  If you want more than just a blog, you can look into companies like Intuit, GoDaddy, and Google that have website packages for a few bucks a month with simple click-and-drag interfaces that make designing your website easy and fun.  For the introverts, your website is key because this will be the only interaction your audience will have with you since you will not be out greeting them in person.  It must reflect your personality and style and draw viewers in.

Marketing your site and SEO (search engine optimization) are their own complicated gremlins about which, I admit, I have no real clue.  Find help with these issues as best you can; there are a plethra of sites and organizations that specialize in just this kind of stuff.  Again, consider your budget.  If it's something you have the room to pay someone to assist you with, great.  If not, don't sweat it.  If you're using your tactics efficiently, word of mouth will help build that SEO over the long-term.

In the next post, Promotion, I'll give you some suggestions on tactics you can use to start promoting your book.  I've used a lot of these tactics myself, and they'll really give you the edge to get your work and name out there!

So You Want to Write a Novel Intro
So You Want to Write a Novel: The Idea
So You Want to Write a Novel: Writing
So You Want to Write a Novel: Editing
So You Want to Write a Novel: Publishing
Next in this series: So You Want to Write a Novel: Promotion

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