Book Marketing Plan, Part 1—Objectives

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by Laurie McAndish King

A marketing plan is roadmap for taking a product to market. In this case, the product will be my book, and the marketing plan will include the following components:

    • Marketing objectives
    • Definition of my target market
    • Strategies for achieving my objectives
    • Metrics for determining the effectiveness of my marketing efforts

I’ve been thinking about my objectives, and realize that defining them will be a challenge. What I really want to do is create a beautifully crafted book, and then start writing another one. I don’t really want to market my book at all. But publishing a book and then not marketing it is a little like having a baby and then not raising it. (OK, they are only slightly similar. But you get the point.)

Part of my not wanting to market my book is born from my not knowing how to market it. And the more I think about the process—the more ideas I have—the less daunting the prospect becomes and the more I want to jump in and get going.

To start, I listed these possible objectives (some of which will not apply to me):

  • Creating Beauty
    • Yes, this I know I want. I want to create a little gem of a book, beautiful to read, and beautiful to look at, and beautiful to hold. It has to be a print book for this to happen.
  • Making a Statement
    • Use my book to get the word out about a topic or cause that’s important to me. There may well be an overarching message in my book, but if so, I have yet to discover it. And if I can’t find it, I doubt that anyone else will. Yet, this is what the agents say an author—especially a new one—needs in order to even get an agent (let alone sell a book).
  • Earning Critical Acclaim
    • Get some good reviews by people I respect, which would provide outside validation that I did a good job.
    • If that doesn’t work, get any reviews (good, bad, or indifferent, by anyone at all).
  • Achieving Popular Acclaim
    • Have a New York Times bestseller (meh, probably not possible for me).
    • Have a local bestseller (although this sounds possible, I have heard that it is next to impossible).
  • Building Business
    • Have a book to use as a “calling card” for my travel writing business.
  • Making Money
    • Sell a lot of books. (What does a lot mean to me?)
    • Make money. (Hahahaha. I don’t even want to know what percentage of books make money for their authors. I’m pretty sure it’s well under 10%, and would be lower for first-time authors.)

The objectives I decide on will determine my marketing strategy. If I wanted a bestseller, for example, I’d need to be willing to commit an awful lot of time and money to marketing. And that objective might be at odds with an objective to make money from my book.

If I wanted to use my book to get the word out about responsible travel, I might be willing to give it away. If I wanted a Kindle bestseller, I might not even bother with a printed book. If I wanted to develop a broader audience (because I had three more books waiting in the wings), I might consider crowdsourcing the printing.

Since I’m at the beginning of this process, and doing it for the first time, my objectives will probably change between now and the time my book is ready to go. If they do, I can always change my strategy. For now, my writing objective is to produce as good a book as I can, and my marketing objective is to receive ten good reviews from respected sources.

Oh, that’s terrible. I’m aiming way too low. I should be aiming higher than I think is realistic (to push myself, and because you never know how well you can do)—but not so high that I need to commit resources I don’t have (too much time and money).

OK, my new, higher objectives are to:

  • Receive twenty good reviews from respected sources.
  • Sell 1,000 copies (including e-books).

Right now that sounds pretty unlikely, but not impossible. Which I think is a good place for objectives to be.

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