What a crazy year 2020 has been.
On the one hand, it seems to have flown by.
It seems like just yesterday we were on the verge of celebrating an entirely new decade, full of possibility and promise.
On the other hand, this is the year everything changed.
The pandemic has affected countless lives, and we don’t even know when things will get back to normal, or if they even will.
In times of such turmoil, it’s easy to lose sight of your goals and the things that motivate you.
Perhaps you feel like you haven’t made the most of the year. However, there’s still a whole quarter of it to go.
If you want to dedicate the final part of 2020 to becoming a better book marketer, here is a clear method to help you move forward.
Assess your current self-publishing strengths and weaknesses
It’s impossible to make a plan to be a better book marketer without first knowing where you are at.
Self-publishing has so many elements and aspects to it. There are inevitably some areas where you have more knowledge, strength, and skill than others.
You might wish to strengthen the things you are good at even further, or you might wish to brush up on your weaknesses. That’s entirely down to you. However, to carry out either approach, you first need to stop and consider the way things stand.
So how do you go about doing that?
Start by listing out all the elements of self-publishing that make a difference to the success of your books.
This could include writing, your understanding of book covers, book launches, building an author platform, paid advertising – whatever it is that is needed to achieve your author goals.
Then, when you have a long list, make detailed notes under each large category. How do you currently feel about each one? How much experience do you have? What’s worked well for you in each area, and where have you had failures?
The key is to be brutally honest with yourself. Carry out this exercise at a time when you feel unrushed, comfortable, and able to focus.
Only by determining where your strengths and weaknesses currently are can you figure out how to move forward.
Find the 80/20 of your personal improvement
After you’ve assessed the current state of your self-publishing knowledge, you can determine the areas that are most suitable for improvement.
You might find it helpful to take a Pareto, or 80/20, approach to doing this.
In case you’re not familiar with the Pareto principle, it stems from an economist who discovered that 80% of wealth typically stems from 20% of the people.
This basic principle was then shown to be true in other areas. For example, companies will typically derive around 80% of their revenue from around 20% of their sources.
The numbers aren’t exact, but the basic principle is solid. In a nutshell, a small minority of what we do produces the most significant impact.
Keep this principle in mind when you are thinking about areas to improve during the rest of 2020.
Once you have your full list of self-publishing elements, as described in the above step, think about which ones will make the largest impact on your author goals if you improve them.
For example, let’s say you feel you’re around an 8/10 when it comes to writing books quickly. Would moving up to a 9/10 make that much fo a difference, or would the improvement be marginal?
However, if you’re only a 2/10 when it comes to building an author platform, getting stronger in this area is likely to have a significant impact.
After you’ve figured out where you want to improve, consider the best way to improve.
For example, you might find investing in a paid self-publishing program is worthwhile, or you might be able to get what you need from podcasts and blog posts.
Match your marketing approach to your retail platform
One of the key principles of strategic marketing is that marketing shouldn’t exist as an isolated activity that is carried out separately from activities such as sales.
Back in the day, companies tended to take what is known as a silo approach, where different aspects of their operation were carried out without coordination between them.
This is as much of a mistake for book marketers as it is any other type of business.
Sometimes, it’s easy to carry out book marketing activities in isolation, without thinking about their wider strategic purpose or how they fit into your wider plan,
Let’s just look at one brief example.
Imagine you want to market your books on Pinterest. You’ve heard this approach can work well for authors, so you take the time to set up a Pinterest account and start creating content for it.
However, why are you doing this? Are you aiming to drive traffic from Pinterest to your author sales page on Amazon? Or perhaps you want to get people to check out your author blog and sign up for your mailing list?
The bottom line is that any marketing activity you take the time to improve should ultimately be conducive to selling more books.
For example, if you sell your books on Amazon, you should figure out the highest impact activities to sell more copies there. These could include learning Amazon Advertising, mastering attractive book descriptions, or figuring out best practice guidelines for Amazon Author Central.
Authors have different approaches when it comes to selling books. Some go narrow, some go wide. Some sell only in the USA while others sell internationally.
Whatever your sales situation happens to be, make sure your marketing activities are in full alignment with it.
Set ambitious, measurable goals
If you’ve been working through the process shown in this article so far, you will have assessed your current self-publishing prowess, figured out the highest areas of impact to pursue, and ensured your chosen book marketing activities are in full alignment with your chosen approach to book sales.
The final step is to take everything you’ve done so far and translate it to tangible, measurable goals to pursue for the rest of the year, and even beyond that.
Without a measurable goal, you’ll end up finding that things slip by. Activities that would make a huge difference to your life end up becoming ‘shoulds’ rather than ‘musts’.
Also, it’s important to avoid the mistake of setting vague goals that don’t move the needle. If a goal isn’t measurable, you have no idea if you’re achieving it or not. A vague book marketing goal would be the equivalent of aiming to lose weight without actually having a target weight in mind.
So how can you set meaningful, measurable goals?
Here are five examples for you to consider.
- Become a speaker. Both fiction and nonfiction authors can sell more copies and grow their author profiles by speaking at relevant events. If this is a goal you have, make it measurable by committing to researching a specific number of events by a certain date, and reaching out to them by another.
- Sell more copies. Every author wants to sell more copies, but this is a vague aim on its own. Instead, make it quantifiable. Start with the end in mind and work backward from there to figure out how many extra copies you need to sell each month to hit your eventual aim.
- Grow your author mailing list. Author mailing lists are one of the most important assets you can build. If you want to grow yours, figure out a concrete percentage you wish to increase your subscribers by, and then spread this target out over a period of time so you can ensure you’re on track.
- Become more proliferate. For many indie authors, having a large number of books is the key to enjoying a respectable income. Try and get ambitious about your next book projects. Try and carry out every step of the process faster, from outlining your book to writing it.
- Try a new style of writing. Sometimes, it’s fun to switch up the type of book you write. Just look at Stephen King and his pen name Richard Bachman, or J.K Rowling and her Robert Galbraith pseudonym for proof. If this is a goal of yours, set a deadline for it. Make a methodical plan to assess new types of writing, and then set yourself a deadline for getting momentum going, such as by outlining a book in a style you’ve never attempted before.
No matter how you’re feeling about 2020 so far, it’s not too late to turn it around.
There’s still a significant amount of time for you to identify and make progress in any area of book marketing you think will help you succeed.
I wish you every success for the upcoming months. May you use them wisely.