SUCCESSFUL BOOK MARKET PLAN FOR AUTHORS
So today we are going to get a little more technical. Today we are going to talk about market plans. You may groan when you hear market plans (I know I sure did) but it isn’t just for small businesses any more. If you’re taking your writing seriously and want to make a living off your work, a market plan is the best way to focus your energy and your efforts so you’re not throwing yourself at the newest fad indie authors are gunning for. A market plan is a great way to make realistic goals you can stick with, and figure out how to move forward toward that goal.
First, though, we need to know some of the basics. It is best with your writing if you have a plan and a schedule in place. Make sure you get your editor, cover artist, and format specialist on board and scheduled with at least a tentative date. As an author, I know that isn’t always possible, but if you can ballpark when you think things will be done, you can plan a tentative schedule. These are your book essentials, and will help you in the long run with sales. The quality of your book speaks directly to your brand. Also, being able to schedule your books release date well in advance will help all the other pieces fall into place.
Now that you have that out of the way, think about the book itself. Come up with an elevator pitch of one or two sentences that captures the core story of the book. What is the theme of your book? Who do you think would be interested? This is the time you want to figure out your target audience. You will need to know who the book(s) are targeting, who might be most interested and why. What does your book give them that others don’t? Is it a book about a woman leaving an abusive husband and figuring life out twenty years after most of her friends have settled down? Then you’re likely looking at women in the 40-50 age range who are also struggling with abuse. Maybe there is an underlying story there of trusting again, you can focus on another target audience of women who have trust issues. Pin point the people who would most like your book, and then go out and join them. Find blogs and forums and social groups they hang out in, and talk with them, not to them.
Have you already published your book(s) and find that you’ve gotten a bit of an audience already? Great, you’re already halfway there with your target audience, they’ve started to find you! Survey them, maybe ask some questions about where they hang out and what they like to do or read online, then join them there!
While you’re at it, take a look at some authors that are out there already and writing in the same genre as you. What do they do that works? What aren’t they doing that you could do with your platform? Take a look at their site, their prices, their covers, their platform. While you may be friends with these people, they are your competitors, and they have gone before you so their path to success could help you find your own. Of course books aren’t like shoes, we don’t normally have to choose between the pair we want most and what we need most. Often we will grab several books, or go back to a book once we’re done with the first. It’s not about crushing the competition, it’s about finding our own audience.
You also need a clear budget and a system of accountability. What do you consider success? Do you consider it just having more followers on Facebook or Twitter? Maybe there’s a profit threshold that you’re looking to achieve? Be honest with yourself and create realistic yet challenging goals. Figure up how much all of your marketing tasks are going to cost.
Don’t forget the four Ps of marketing: Product; price; promotions; placement. We already know the product, but this would be a great time to tighten up your author bio and your book blurb. Figure out the pricing by looking at your competitors and studying some of the prices of top sellers in your genre/category. Come up with a competitive price that’s not going to leave you broke. How are you going to promote your work? Are you just going to rely on free methods like blogging and social media? Are you going to try ads on sites or newsletters? How are you going to gauge if these were worth the money? Different techniques work for different people, so try it out if you want to, but learn from your data. Finally where is it going to be placed? Are you going to do KDP alone, or are you going to distribute to other retailers? If you choose KDP exclusively, how are you going to utilize their tools to best capture those sales?
A market plan for your author brand and your books is a challenging task, but it’s rewarding. It gives you focus on where you need to be online, who you need to talk with and target, as well as what the market trends look like and how you can work with them. Don’t think you will write this plan and then just stop, market plans can change as much as you do and as often as the marketplace does. Good luck!