Self-publishers face an emotional roller coaster as they venture through the world of publishing, realizing a terrific high when they finally see their book in print, followed by a sometimes significant low as they face the challenge of getting their book to potential customers. Not everyone is a natural marketer!
The Marketing Bottom Line
The bottom line is that all authors, whether traditionally published or self-published, are largely responsible for their own marketing. The benefit of working with a traditional publisher (such as Random House) is that they cover a considerable portion of the cost of marketing, and prepare the marketing plan with you. The author, however, is still the primary person sent out to promote their book. Please make sure you understand this point. Regardless of whether you’re paying for your publishing project, or have been picked up by a publishing company, you are the one who does the work of promoting your book.
If this is something that you simply cannot undertake, then you need to set your goals accordingly. There are book marketing services available but they are expensive and do not guarantee success.
So what should my publishing goal be?
Simply put, we believe that publishing should be undertaken with the end goal of personal satisfaction. The next tier of success would be to recover your publishing expenses. Webb Publishing has worked with authors who have created very successful projects, but they are few and far between, and their success is largely due to circumstances: the right product, the right time, the right people involved in the project.
Creating a Marketing Plan
Developing a thorough marketing plan will provide a step-by-step plan to achieve your sales goals and help you stay realistic. An author should write a marketing plan to cover the twelve months following the launch of their book, addressing the following types of questions:
- Retailers: Where will I sell my book?
Options include consigning your book to bookstores, local museums and shops, setting up online sales via Amazon.ca and other sites, personal sales to your own contacts, finding a book distributor to handle sales for you, attending appropriate fairs and trade shows.
Consigning books to bookstores and/or distributors generally costs 40%-60% of your book’s cover price. Many self-publishing authors find this discouraging and prefer to sell directly to their customers instead of going through a middle-man.
Don’t forget to think outside the box. Does your book talk about the history of a certain community? Reach out to venues in that community and discuss selling through them.
Should I send out a press release?
Should I organize a book launch event?
Should I arrange some author appearances?
Writing a press release (an announcement of your book) is a great way to start the marketing process. It gives you a ‘calling card’ when you approach book stores and can be attached to any mailings you do. An official-looking press release shows that you are serious in your goals.
Also prepare a ‘sell sheet’ for potential bookstore buyers. You can find samples online.
Try finding some free publicity by tying into local community events, accessing media (radio, newspaper, TV) for applicable interviews, etc.
If you consign your book to a bookstore, the book store may request that you host a book signing in their store. This is a good way to get a feel for the sales and marketing side of publishing, but we find that book signings and appearances do not usually generate many book sales.
How will people find out about my new book?
Should I do any advertising?
Do I need a website?
Again, these questions will be answered by the sales goals you set for yourself. If you can find appropriate advertising opportunities (ie: advertising that is targeted to your specific audience), and the advertising is affordable, then it may make sense for you to pursue it. In general, advertising dollars are best spent trying to target a specific audience (ie: there’s no point advertising a book about hair loss to children).
This one might surprise you. Awards can be a very good way to find new readers, but be careful — there are book marketing companies out there running ‘awards programs’. Send them some money, and they send you a document saying that you have won an award …. they legitimize it by calling it their awards program, but it’s completely false. Legitimate contests are run by industry associations. Check online to find out if your provincial authors or publishers associations run annual awards programs. Then promote your wins!
Where do I start?
Set a goal for yourself and use this end goal to help design a marketing plan. Then n use your marketing plan to keep you on track and avoid options that don’t meet your marketing goals.
As stated in other sections of this website, Webb Publishing feels that an appropriate starting goal for a new self-publishing author is recovery of cost and the satisfaction of seeing your book in print.
We are happy to provide estimates for the following marketing services: press releases, posters, sell sheets, business cards, personal web site development, planning sessions, and more. Webb Publishing has many years of media marketing experience and is happy to share our knowledge with an author during the marketing planning stages.