Is there no end to the things you need to learn to be a successful indie author?
Writing itself is something none of us ever master, and that’s just the very tip of the iceberg!
To succeed without the backing of a big book publisher requires a lot from indie authors. Even the most successful out there are still learning and growing all the time.
Regardless of if you’re just starting in the self-publishing world, or if you have a few books under your belt, book marketing isn’t something you can afford to ignore.
Too many authors have been held back from the success they deserve by failing to market their books properly.
If you’re not sure where to start, consider these essential elements of marketing your indie books.
Start With The End in Mind
Too many authors see book marketing as a set of unrelated activities that need to be carried out.
In fact, book marketing is a holistic, integrated process.
The first key to marketing your book properly is to start with the end in mind.
This is a concept taken from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits, but it applies to book marketing all the same.
Before you start making a list of ways you will promote your book, stop, and try and see the bigger picture.
Do you want to sell a certain amount of copies? Do you want to add a particular number of readers to your author mailing list? Do you want to achieve bestseller status?
Whatever your end goal happens to be, there will be a series of steps you need to carry out to get there. Only by starting with a clearly defined aim can you then work backward and figure out how to get there.
Without an end goal, your book marketing efforts will be unfocused and ineffective.
You can’t measure success without an aim.
Make sure to start clearly with your ultimate book marketing goal in mind before going any further.
Copyright, Registration, and Other Formalities
While we’ve just covered why the big picture overview is essential to have in book marketing, it’s also vital to take a more granular, zoomed-in view of things.
If you don’t try and account for every practical task you will carry out as part of your book marketing efforts, you run the risk of overlooking something crucial.
Some of the practical steps you need to schedule in your book marketing plan include.
- Copyright. Don’t run the risk of having your work stolen. Make sure you not only copyright your work but create a legally valid copyright page to place within your book.
- Uploading. When will you upload your book to the places it will be sold? What are the technical requirements to do this? Do you have all the files you need in the correct formats and sizes?
- Promotion sites. Will you submit your book to promotion sites? What is the lead time you will need to do this? Will you need to have any fees ready? Are there prerequisites your book will need to achieve before it can be promoted?
- Sales tracking. How will you measure your sales as they come in? Do you have target numbers you are aiming to hit for particular days? Will you take remedial action if your targets aren’t being met?
- Paid advertising. Are you running paid promotion for your book? What will your daily budget be? What’s your plan for scaling spend up and down? How often will you tweak your creative, and what will be your criteria for doing so?
- Social media promotion. Which social media platforms will you promote your book on? Will you use automated software to make this easier? Do you have all the graphics and copy you need to ensure social media promotion runs smoothly?
These are just a few examples of the types of activities you need to plan for. Your book promotion campaign in particular will likely look a lot different.
Only by starting with the end in mind and considering everything it will take to get there can you come up with your own list of marketing activities.
Creating Tasks and Tracking
For any one of the book marketing activities listed above, you will need to further break it down into specific tasks.
One of the major keys to being a productive book marketer is making everything into the smallest steps possible.
When we small chunk our book marketing tasks, the impossible suddenly seems manageable. Also, it’s a lot easier to get started and build momentum if the first step is very small and achievable.
So how do you create small, manageable tasks for every stage of your book marketing project?
Make sure to base the small chunk tasks on reality, not your idea of how something will look. For example, if you’re small chunking the process of getting featured on book promotion sites, either go off your experience or ask an author who has that experience. Things rarely work in reality as we imagine them to.
Once you’ve got a series of the smallest steps possible to get something done, consider the wider context. Which parts of your book marketing and design plan need to be carried out before others? Are there some later activities that depend upon earlier ones?
Finally, keep in mind the duration that each of the small chunks will take. Schedule them in, and be strict about allowing yourself some buffer room for if things go wrong.
Answer these four questions to make sure you’ve covered this properly:
- Have I come up with a full list of activities I need to realize my eventual book marketing goal?
- Have I broken each book marketing activity down into the smallest steps possible?
- Have I assigned a realistic amount of time for each of the small steps to be carried out?
- Have I determined the proper sequence to carry out my book marketing activities, and scheduled them accordingly?
When you can honestly answer yes to these four questions, you have a book marketing plan to be proud of.
It’s important to make time to measure your book marketing results and reflect upon them.
Ideally, you should carry out this process of measurement in two phases.
First, measure your activities as you go. For example, if you’re running paid ads on a particular day, measure their impact on that day. If your book is featured on a book promotion site, note down the downloads you got on that day. Track everything.
Second, you want to measure the effectiveness of your campaign as a whole. Which activities produced the best results? What would you do more or less of next time? How will your initial results inform your ongoing book marketing efforts after the time of your launch has passed? Would you benefit from hiring a launch team next time, or will you continue as a solo marketer?
It’s unlikely you’ll experience a flawless marketing campaign on your first try.
Instead, see the learning process itself as valuable. As long as you’re becoming a better marketer with every book you release, you’re moving in the right direction.
PS There are a ton of book promo websites to try, but start with these (more coming soon!)