Author Essentials Part 6: Marketing Plan

Good morning Story Empire readers, PH here with you today back with another author essential. Previous author essential posts can be found just below here for reference, all of which cover various topics that you will find it necessary to have if you’re going to progress as an author. Today, were going to take a look at a specific plan that will help you sell books, marketing plan.

When I first published The Bow of Destiny, I thought I had a sufficient marketing plan. I was very wrong and paid for it with a complete lack of sale. Understanding what is needed to actually market book took far more than I thought. The result was largely crickets in response to my release, a consequence both unnerving and disappointing. It took me a good eight months to grasp what I needed for a real marketing plan, though some of that time was taken up by a number of ongoing, personal projects. Once I turned my attention to marketing, I began to sell books in much greater frequency.

First, let me offer up this caution: results with marketing vary widely and this is especially true based on genre and current trends in the market. Additionally, marketing is affected by the quality of your book, the quality of your cover art (this is especially true with speculative fiction) and the size of your audience as well as the quality of your book description (blurb).

Without getting into too many details about each one of those caveats, suffice it to say you should figure out a way to have your book professionally edited. Likewise, if your genre requires original, high quality artwork, then you should look for a good artist. Your number of sales to begin is always going to be dictated by the size of your audience which will be influenced by your publishing past and your price point. Sales conversion is always going to be influenced in the final decision by your book description. If the blurb is not good enough to grab the reader’s attention, then this is where you will likely fail to sell an otherwise good book that’s well represented with good artwork.

I could write a entire posts based on each one of those issues regarding marketing and probably will at a later time, but today let’s look directly at creating a marketing plan, assuming that you have addressed all of the issues previously mentioned. Also keep in mind that previous concept that marketing results widely vary. As a beginning author, you basically must except the fact that you have no audience, zero, zip, nada. This means no one knows about your book or you. Fortunately, there are many readers who look for new authors and wish to discover your books. There’s no reason to be discouraged by the reality of your audience size at the beginning.

When I started, I thought gaining a lot of followers on social media would do me good. This idea can help, but in the end it’s still tough to get your book in front of people on social media because it moves so quickly. Likewise I thought if I simply made blog appearances or even some internet blog radio appearances I would gain readers very quickly. You can gain some readers, but this will still have its limits. I also jumped in to an online book convention, hoping that I would draw readers attention and again this helped some but not as much as you would think.

So where does this leave an author at the very beginning of their writing career? Being unknown is an uncomfortable place and any sale is a wonderful thing that grows your audience. I have previously written about audience growth, and I cannot stress enough that you must concern yourself with regard to your early books with growing your audience over the long term. This is where your marketing plan should begin, not with an incorrect expectation that you will have thousands of sales immediately. Such an overnight success could happen, but likely will not. Being realistic is imortant, and even then you may still find yourself very disappointed with the results.

Perhaps the beginning point of realizing what my marketing plan should have been was understanding the price point for a beginning author. When your book has no sales and you have no audience you are very low in the rankings on Amazon and other retailers so your book is very unlikely to be discovered.. The most likely way to address this is by marketing your book at 99 cents. No, you do not make a lot of royalties out of this, but you do begin to gain some sales volume.

Next, you need to establish a marketing budget. With your initial book you may find that you actually lose money while marketing for it as you sell it for $.99. This means that your marketing budget is going to guide what you do you should be willing to spend, at least for a break-even result. Regardless, at the end of the year you can take much of spending on your book including production off on taxes.

While this is not a discussion about taxes and profit, you should be aware that you can take even a loss on your taxes but you should be careful about doing this since the IRS will expect you to actually report some sort of profit, no matter how small about 3 out of 5 years. So with that reality in mind, you should take expenses off your taxes enough to at least declare a one dollar profit for the year. But don’t let this discourage you, you should just use this as a consideration.

Understanding that you need a marketing budget and a price point for volume will help you grow your audience. As you build your catalog, your first book may be a loss leader, used to build your audience and act as a doorway to the rest of your list. You should work to find as many ways as possible to market your book for free. Yes, you can make appearances on blogs of other authors and places where reviewers want to post new books. These are excellent ways to market your book freely, and there are other venues you can discover to also market a $.99 book for free. Find as many of these as possible since you have a marketing budget and you want to spend as little as possible in as many places as you can.

Next, there are some paid services that you will want to identify, such as BookBub. Some of these are inexpensive and will easily fit into your budget, while others, like book Bookbub, are very expensive. You should plan accordingly if you are paying for these and understand that results vary widely, especially based on the time of year. But if you can land a deal on BookBub, then you will sell a large volume of books and generally make a return on that investment which is pure gold for growing your audience. Read here about my experience and results from my BookBub deal, which took me a long time to land.

Some of this I started out with and other things I did not. Once I established a price point and a budget, then I was able to begin setting goals and seeing more regular sales. Be aware that your marketing plan should also center around prime sales seasons in the year, including Fall into the holidays as well as January and February. There are some improvements in sales a month at a time over the rest of the year, but you will have to learn which ones work for your genre. It is important to center your marketing plan around the primary sales which is the Fall and the holidays. I might also add that being in Kindle Unlimited also helps with marketing.

Planning and budgeting your marketing is an important approach to working on book sales. Starting with a small audience can be frustrating but you can also begin to see sales if you plan well and get the word out in the most effective ways possible. Always keep in mind that the results will vary and you must understand that just because you wrote the book does not mean that it will sell immediately.

What marketing plans have you used? What results have you gotten from marketing plans in the past? This is a beginning discussion on the topic and there are many more ideas which can be covered, but hopefully, you have a realistic picture of your starting point with an audience and basic targets for a marketing plan beyond just blasting to social media or blogging.

Thanks for reading this post on Story Empire today. If you enjoyed this post, please share it on social media or re-blog it on your site to share with others. Please leave your answers and thoughts in the comments section and I will reply as soon as I can.

P. H. Solomon

29 thoughts on “Author Essentials Part 6: Marketing Plan

  1. Marketing is a necessary evil, P.H. I don’t know of anything that works consistently. I am having some limited success with Amazon ads. I have been studying this method for two years and am now just getting some results. I have had little success with e-mail newsletters. Mostly even though the list was developed with interested folks the open rate is very low. I also find the low cost or free promotion methods don’t consistently work either. I enjoyed your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Undoubtedly, marketing is the hardest part of any author’s job. With over one million new titles added to Amazon each year, it gets more difficult as we go. I have found that instead of trying to share my books with the entire world (which, of course, I would love to do), I focus on smaller interest groups and while I can’t say I’ve broken even yet from all my books, I’ve had some decent sales. My favorite way to market my books is book festivals where you can have one-on-one conversations with potential readers. But those have gone by the wayside for now. Building a fan base is a slow process. It doesn’t happen overnight for sure and can be discouraging to new authors. Great post, P.H.!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve done so many things with marketing—blog tours, Facbeook ads, blog blasts, giveaways, newsletter insertions, follower builders, print, and BookBub through my publisher. Something will work one time (I hit bestseller status with the first one day blast I did), then bomb the next time. The only thing that consistently works is BB, but my publisher is the one who landed and paid for those deals. I still like newsletter insertions and some blog tours, but it just always feels like a crap shoot.
    Marketing is part of a writer’s life but I think most of us approach it with a passionate dislike

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:

    Is marketing your books as big a puzzle for you as it is for me? If so, you might want to check out today’s Story Empire post from P. H. Solomon. Paul shares his experiences in various marketing techniques and you are sure to garner some new tips and ideas. Please remember to pass the post along so others can learn as well, thanks. And thanks to Paul for this informative post. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I wish I had a better handle on marketing, and I thank you for this input, P. H. I’ll be studying it in more detail over the course of the next couple of months as I try to figure out a plan for marketing my already published books that will work for me. You’ve mentioned several things that I hadn’t considered, and I need more than my first cup of Earl Grey to help me ponder them. One thing I have done fairly well is to build a local readership. I’ll probably do a post on that at some point, as it has helped me considerably. The sales volume may not be as high as it is online, but it is steady. The loyalty is there, and the inspiration and encouragement from meeting readers face to face is wonderful.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. Passing this along on The Write Stuff. 🙂

    Like

  6. Marketing baffles me. I probably had my best luck with a 99¢ Price point. Blog tours help, and I’ve had luck with several platforms that no longer work. Marketing is also a moving target to make it more frustrating.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m with Harmony. The whole thing frustrates me. I need to step back even further from this and revisit the “build your audience” topics. BookBub is a pipe dream for me. Well, for my indie titles. My current publisher may land one, but on my own, I don’t stand a chance.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I tried, got a handle on AMS with Amazon, and then they changed it all. Talk about fed up and not trying so hard since. It’s too easy to lose a lot of money. And I’ve paid for so many blog tour and promos that just never worked out. For me, and I suspect for most of us, we’re writers, not marketers. And the two don’t necessarily go together.

    Great post, PH. And full of useful info and tips. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. A very interesting, thought-provoking post. I’m just about to publish my debut novel so this stuff is very important to me at the moment. I’ll be popping back to check other readers’ experiences in the comments, but you’ve given me a lot to think about 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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