We have all heard the story. The one about that really great book. You know the one. It’s a really great book that did not make it in today's marketplace. It was a great book that failed.
Conversely, we are all very aware of those poorly written books that, for some strange reason, continue to break sales records year after year. What is perhaps surprising is the fact that, in both cases, a single concept could be said to be the cause of both situations, good or bad.Strategy.
Fact 1: A poor book can become wildly successful if there is a good marketing strategy behind it.
Fact 2: An absolutely wonderful book can fail miserably if the marketing strategy is poor. A well designed strategy is more than just important - it is of the utmost importance. However a strategy is not WHAT you do. A strategy is WHY you do what you do. Allow me to explain.The Tool Is NOT The Strategy
Unfortunately, most well meaning authors believe that the tool IS the strategy. In my work with authors I hear many of the same statements over and over again:
"I know there are buyers for my book out there. I just need to find a way to tell them about it."
"I know I need to have a website. But I cannot afford to hire a professional as they are quite expensive, so I will do it myself. I will do the best I can to optimize it for the search engines."
"I use a blog because everyone says this will work."
"I am on Twitter and I post every day."
"I send out press releases to journalists frequently."
"I belong to a bunch of social networking sites."
"I use discussion groups to get the word out to my buyers."
"Book signing events are a good idea."
So, naturally, my first question is: "How are sales?
"Not as good as I hoped."
This is how 99% of people attempt to market their books. This is fine and certainly there is nothing wrong here. But there is a very important point that must be considered here. Effort does not guarantee sales. As a matter of fact, effort, without a well planned strategy, will most likely just cause more frustration than sales. Frankly effort can be wasted without that strategy. All of the above methods mentioned above are just TOOLS. These are not the STRATEGY.The Reality Of Book Marketing
Depending on the source you believe, there are roughly 400,000 - 500,000` new titles hitting the marketplace every year.
Now certainly nearly every single author has a website. Nearly all of them are blogging. Many are all twittering, using press releases, social networking, using discussion groups and doing book signings. So the question becomes:
How can YOU possibly get any real attention for your book in a competitive environment such as this?
The simple answer is that you must develop a marketing and publicity strategy that will set you apart from that very, very large crowd..Marketing Strategy 101
(Please note: This is not a full blown marketing strategy. This is an extremely simplistic example used to illustrate a few simple points).
To develop a strategy, you start by defining your market. Defining your market means you simply must do the research. The research will allow you to determine:
a. IF there is a market for your book
b. if so, HOW MANY people comprise that market
c. WHO comprises that market.
d. HOW those potential buyers prefer to receive their information
e. WHAT tools should be used to deliver a well developed branded messageWhat Does This Mean?
1. IS there a market for your product/service? If so, what verifiable sources can you cite? List
them. Don't fool yourself here or you may be setting yourself up for failure. It is not enough to say ‘I
think there are interested buyers out there!’ If there is no interest in your subject matter, you will not
sell many books.
2. HOW MANY people comprise that potential market? Cite the studies, surveys, verifiable
information sources. Be completely honest here. If there are only a few hundred potential buyers for
your book, you will most likely not sell many books.
3. WHO comprises this market? You simply must know your potential purchasers. To get to know
your potential buyers, you must create a buyer profile. That profile is developed by knowing:
* Income Level
* Education Level
* Geographic region
* Lifestyle characteristics
* Purchasing characteristics
* Benefits sought by this profile
Example: Let us create a fictitious author named Joe Smith. Joe has written a book entitled 'Becoming A Scratch Golfer - For Retirees'. Let us also suppose that Joe has determined, through his valid and documented research, that there are 1.5 million retired golfers in the US alone. He knows he has 1.5 million potential buyers for his book. He also knows that his profile is very targeted. He manages to put together the following assumptions:
* Gender = PRIMARILY MALE
* Income Level = 50K to 100K plus
* Age = OVER 55 to 65
* Occupation = EXECUTIVE
* Education Level = COLLEGE
* Geographic region = ALL
* Lifestyle characteristics = HIGH INCOME, ENJOY GOLF
* Purchasing characteristics = TRADITIONAL, SOME INTERNET
* Benefits sought by this profile = IMPROVED GOLFING SKILLS
This profile tells Joe that his potential buyer will most often be spending time on the course. They
will be hanging out at the club, listening to radio, watching television or listening to radio - certainly
reading the newspaper and golfing magazines.
Now, let's look at back at which tools might work for Joe, based on his newly developed profile:
A website - Yes, in all cases, a well optimized website is an absolute necessity. The verbiage on the
website must 'speak the language' of the profile and it must be optimized for the search engines.
A blog - perhaps not necessary, though some retired golfing enthusiasts may be reading blogs in
their spare time.
A Twitter account - most likely not necessary, for obvious reasons
A press release campaign to the journalists - Absolutely. Retired golfers will get their information
from traditional sources such as newspaper and television
Social networking sites - Not likely, though possible
Social discussion groups - Not likely, though possible
Book signing events - Absolutely.
Result: In this case, Joe would want to concentrate on driving traffic to his site, approaching
journalists, and doing book signings. Though they may produce a few sales, blogging, twittering and
posting to groups would most likely be a waste of precious time. These are just the basics. We have not yet touched on the targeted branding strategy employed to set Joe's book apart from all the other books out there.
Clearly defining your profile and then using the tools that will deliver a sharply honed message to the
profile in the manner in which they prefer to receive that message is the easy way to market books.
Not having a sharply defined strategy will most certainly lead to an unsatisfactory number of sales.
Do listen to what works well for others. However, do not adopt tools that have worked well for others
unless these tools can be used within the profiles you have created. Others do not have the same
buyer profile as yourself. Using a tool that works well for others would be like using a screwdriver to
drive a nail. If your goal is to drive nails, this will not work, as the tool is not designed to accomplish that particular goal.Please Note: The subjects of positioning, branding and subjects such as effective use of marketing language are beyond the scope of this single article. It is recommended that you read some of the free articles located on this site for a more in-depth treatment of these subjects)
Don McCauley is the facilitator of the Free Publicity Focus Group