Friday, May 15, 2020

                                                                                                                                                                                                               Photo: Jonathan Borba 

We want our lives to get back to normal, like they were before the onset of COVID-19.  As you know, that is going to take a while.  So if you're like me, you've found you have some time on your hands.  That said, you might like to think about developing a marketing plan for the book that you want to get published.

But, you say you're not ready for marketing because you haven't found an agent yet.  That's no excuse.  Agents want to see that you have a website.

Still, you push back on that idea.  I reacted the same way.  But the truth is, it's better to prepare now.  Case in point, the small press that published my book Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell expected me to carry the weight of marketing my book.  Which was daunting.  And frightening.  And worrisome.  I didn't know how to begin.

On the bright side, I had about seven months to prepare before the book was released.  After reading and researching everything I could get my hands on, I developed a plan which is presented below.  It may give you some ideas how you can go about marketing your book.  It takes lots of time to market a book.  So get started now.  Sooner or later, your book is going to get published and when that happens, you will need to have a plan.

Before you get an agent: create a website

  • Check out famous authors' websites.  Take note of what appeals to you.
  • Decide how to incorporate some of these ideas for your website. 
  • Establish your brand.  Your style and personality should be apparent on the homepage.

Before the book is released:  create some buzz    
  • Website:  Update pages at least once or twice a month.  Offer new content.  Tell followers about your writing projects.  If you blog, announce new posts along with the link to your blog. 
  • Marketing team:  Assemble a group of volunteers who will promote the news about your book on their social media platforms.  
  • Book reviews:  Give reviewers an advanced copy of your book.  Add the reviews to your website.  
  • E-mail list:  Compose a list of your friends, business associates, classmates, and family.  Platforms like Mailchimp, MailerLite, or Mad Mimi offer solutions to create a list.  Send a monthly email to the list to report news: book signings, awards, upcoming articles, book fairs, etc. 
  • Writer's magazines:  Create pieces for writer's magazines to inform people about the inspiration for your book or the process of writing your book. 
  • Online interviews:  Ask bloggers if they'd accept a guest post or if they'd write a blog about you and your book.  Find a way to reciprocate—feature them on your blog or use social media to promote their work. 
  • Local newspaper and magazines:  See if a newspaper journalist or a magazine writer would be willing to write an article about you and your book.  Your pitch should mention a current event, a fact, or a statistic that ties-in to your book.  Explain how an article would serve the audience.  
  • Lesson plans.  Develop activities, games and teaching ideas that kids can enjoy during a school visit.
  • School visit program.  Decide how long the presentation will be, how many classrooms you can visit, and how you will engage the students.  Discuss your plans with the school coordinator. 
  • Book signing.  Call a book store manager to set up a date to sign and sell books.  Send out e-invites to friends, business associates, and family six weeks before the date.  Make arrangements with the manager to discuss the location of your table, how to charge people for your book (will you handle selling or will the bookstore take control?), and what profits you and the bookstore will make.  Think about exciting ways to decorate your table. 

After the book is released:  create some more buzz
  • Press release:  Ask your publisher to send press releases to newspapers and bookstores so that your book can be advertised.     
  • Library story times:  Ask librarians if they have the funds to buy your book; and if so, offer to read your book at story time.  
  • School visits:  Talk with the school librarian to see if she would be interested in having you give a presentation for students.  Keep in mind that safety in a school environment is a priority, so it helps to have personal connections with teachers when trying to arrange school visits. 
  • Visit day care facilities.  Make fliers about the book and how to purchase a copy so that the day care can send them home to parents.  Arrange a time to read your book to the children.  Bring games or activities to engage the children afterward. 
  • Local craft fairs or book fairs:  Create an interesting table top display to attract readers to visit you.  Have items like cookies or bookmarks handy to give away.  
  • Local shop owners:  Figure out how your book is similar to the products sold in the store.  Tell the owner how your book would benefit the customers.
  • Online selling:  Ask your publisher to put your book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. 
  • Speaking Engagements:  Give a talk about your journey from idea to publication.  Meet the fans of your book.  Bring copies to autograph and sell.
  • Book Signing:  Arrive at least 30 minutes in advance.  Check in with the manager.  Stand in front of your table to greet guests.  Have someone take pictures of the event to post online. Celebrate afterward.

Preparing for the next books:  keep connecting  
  • Twitter:  Connect with other writers and agents by tweeting encouraging quotes, writing news, and personal opinions.  
  • Blogging:  Create amusing, poignant, or informational blog posts that followers can relate to. 
  • Pinterest:  Develop your brand visually by creating boards and pins for your boards.
  • LinkedIn:  Connect with business associates and advertise blog posts or writing news. 
  • Facebook:  Share your writing projects with friends. 
  • Website:  Keep updating, sell your book, highlight your achievements.  

As you can see, there are many facets to marketing, before and after an author publishes a book.  My advice to you would be to learn about marketing as you write your book and as you pursue a publisher or an agent.  It may seem early, but the sooner you work on a strategy, the better prepared you'll be when your book is published.

Have fun developing your marketing plan.  Be original.  Get creative.  Think out of the box.  Do things differently than others.  Let it be all about you, because well, it IS all about you.  Remember most of the marketing will fall on your shoulders.  It's just how things are done these days.  But it won't be so daunting or frightening or worrisome when you figure this stuff out now.

✌ and