Sometimes, taking the time to stop and ask yourself questions is the wisest way to make smarter choices.
And when it comes to marketing your book, it can be both time-consuming and expensive to go the wrong route.
Before you rush into a book marketing campaign, take some time to stop and consider these five questions.
What is my deepest reason for becoming an author?
Before you get absorbed in the day to day work of marketing your book, it’s important to take a step back and look at the big picture.
Authors decide to write and release books for a whole host of reasons. What’s yours?
It’s worth taking the time to reflect on this question deeply. Often, what we assume to be our underlying motivations and driving forces are different when we explore them more profoundly.
This question isn’t abstract either. Being in touch with your deeper motivations will help you stay aligned with them as time passes.
How can you take this insight and apply it to book marketing?
- Brand. If you run headfirst into marketing your book without stopping to look at your deepest motivations, you risk establishing a brand that isn’t aligned with your future vision. Rebranding is expensive and time-consuming, so do what you can to avoid it becoming necessary.
- Tone. Understanding what your ideal author life looks like also helps you choose the right tone for your written and visual marketing. You’ll feel a lot more at ease with your marketing when you know it reflects your deepest vision.
- Time. You will have a much better sense of how to allocate your time after determining your deeper motivations. For example, if you know you want to use your book as a springboard to something else, like becoming an active motivational speaker, your timeframe will look different to someone only interested in sharing their autobiography with the world.
When you start with your core motivation for being an author, the activities needed to make it happen will fall into place a lot easier.
What is my financial goal for releasing a book?
Although it’s invaluable to have a deep understanding of why you want to share a book with the world, you also need to take a rational look at the financial realities.
Every author has a different financial situation to the next, so having a clear understanding of yours will help you make more appropriate choices.
Here are some example financial situations to help you consider yours.
- Passion project. You might be writing and releasing your book purely as a passion project. If this sounds like you, it’s still valuable to have a good idea of the costs you will face. The returns might be less important, but if your book is a labor of love, be sure you can afford the quality that will satisfy you.
- Cover your costs. Other authors might find it valuable to aim to break even from their first release. Adopting this goal is a good way to get familiar with the practical process of self-publishing and to determine how easy it is to cover the costs of production.
- Build a future. If you know your goal as an author is to become a full-time self-publisher, you need to make sure that every marketing choice you make is aligned with your long-term vision. For example, you might find getting readers to follow and review you at the start of your career to be more valuable than immediate financial return.
Being proactive and honest about any financial expectations you have for your book will help you avoid marketing activities that aren’t aligned with them.
What is my publishing budget?
Now that you’ve established both your personal and financial objectives for releasing a book, you can make a more detailed plan for your situation.
It’s a wise idea to research your book’s financial plan in an unrushed setting where you can think clearly and make choices outside of a pressured sales environment.
So what are some questions to keep in mind when determining a budget?
- No hidden costs. Marketing your book is stressful and has a lot of moving pieces. Avoid the stress of hidden costs by researching them carefully ahead of time. For example, if you’re setting up an author website, check out your hosting and domain renewal costs in advance. If you want to run paid ads to your book, learn about paid advertising models and targeting ahead of schedule.
- Flexibility. Whenever possible, you want to pursue flexibility in both your book marketing plan and its budget. Try and have backup plans in place for any important activity provider, and have an understanding of how spending more or less in one area will affect another.
- Timing. How does your budget impact your marketing timeframe? Do you need to hit any financial milestones before pursuing another part of your plan? If your financial situation changes, how will this impact your book marketing? Will you look to adjust your spend, or postpone the project?
Making a budget for your book can’t guarantee that everything will run smoothly, but it can help you feel prepared and proactive when hurdles pop up.
What return do I expect from any investment I make?
After you have a plan in place for your intended expenditure, take the time to consider what you hope to gain from it.
It’s easy to assume that your return on investment should be viewed monetarily. While that’s an important consideration, it’s not the only one.
- Time trade-off. You might want to think about the time you will save in exchange for investing in certain marketing activities. Consider the value of having more time to spend on writing or with your loved ones.
- Financial benefit. It’s all too easy to become emotional rather than rational and start wasting your book marketing budget through errors like the sunk cost fallacy. For activities where financial return is important, consider setting clear budget floors, ceilings, and walk away points.
- Knowledge. Sometimes, you might decide that the knowledge and experience you gain from book marketing experimentation is worth far more than its financial consequences.
Thinking carefully about the return you want to get from your book marketing activity is a smart way to avoid falling victim to disappointments such as vanity publishing.
How will I evaluate my marketing campaign?
While the first four questions primarily relate to the time before your book marketing campaign, it’s also important to stop and reflect after it’s over.
A lot of the value from any major project comes from learning the unique lessons it has to teach.
Regardless of if your book marketing campaign appears to be a success or a failure, don’t let it go to waste by ignoring any of the following.
- Metrics. What kind of metrics will you use to evaluate your campaign? Make sure any you choose are aligned with your wider aims rather than being vanity numbers.
- Expectation VS reality. How did your project end up being different than you envisioned? For example, were costs as you anticipated? How about timescale? You should also consider which activities moved the needle in line with your vision and objectives.
- Future impact. After evaluating your campaign, make sure you understand how this will affect your future decisions. Even apparent successes can end up being failures if you rest on your laurels, while apparent failure can lead to success if you implement the right lessons.
By looking back and learning lessons from your book marketing campaigns, you gain truly valuable experience and wisdom to serve you far into the future.
So have you taken the time to think through these questions for your next book?
The time you spend on them now might not seem exciting, but you save yourself stress and worry in the future for the things that matter more.