Publishing a book is not an easy task and the process does not end when the book is printed. 95% of the publishing process is marketing. You may spend thousands of dollars and may wait months or years for your book to finally be published, but without proper marketing, you will never reach the sales numbers you anticipated. Knowing that marketing is such a major part of the process, it is important to begin thinking about how you will market your book before and during the writing of the manuscript.
Below are 6 marketing goals you should complete before you publish your book:
1.Know your target audience
I often come across books that have multiple target audiences that do not always correlate. It is important to identify who you want your target reader to be and then to cater your manuscript content towards that reader. For example, if you are writing a non-fiction, reference book on gardening, the content of your book will differ based upon whether your target audience is made up of beginner gardeners who are wanting to learn basics or gardening professionals who have extensive experience and knowledge about the industry.
If you write a non-fiction, medical reference book, your content will differ based on whether your audience consists of readers without a medical background versus if they are medical professionals, students or professors.Authors often make the mistake of bogging down their manuscript with complex, industry terminology and research statistics when attempting to attract every day readers. When you do not cater the content of your book to your audience, you face the risk of losing your readers’ attention and of them missing the message of your book. While we would like to believe that our books appeal to every reader out there, it is unrealistic to believe that every single person will find value and interest in your book. If you do not tailor your manuscript content to your audience, you risk losing your readers’ attention, having your message lost or misunderstood, and will face difficulties marketing later on.
2. Research books that are similar to yours
When I am doing my initial marketing discovery with clients, I commonly have authors tell me that there are no other books similar to their own on the market. This tells me that they have not taken the time to do any market research for their book. As an author, knowing what already exists in your genre is critical to the success of your book. Your first step should be to go to your local bookstore or browse around online through Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com for books that discuss the same topic, tackle similar issues, or are within the same genre as your own. I suggest reviewing these books to see what they offer in order to properly evaluate the unique value proposition (what value your book presents to readers) of your book. Consider what makes your book better than the rest and what unique characteristics will make people choose your book over a competitor’s. If your book is fiction, look at the books that are in your specific sub-genre. For example, if you are writing a young adult novel, you would want to look within your specific sub-genre, young adult romance, science fiction, or thriller. Aside from evaluating the content, you will want to pay attention to the reviews your competitors’ books have received in order to get an idea of what your target readers want. Take note of what reviewers enjoyed and what critiques they had. This will allow you to adapt your manuscript to better appeal to your audience and to add even more value to your content.
3. Complete a title search
When deciding on a title for your book, I recommend searching online to see how many books have the same or a similar title to your own. If you begin to notice that there is an abundance of books out there with the same or similar title, you may want to make a change. If you do not complete a title search, you may set yourself up for even stronger competition in regards to search engine visibility, name and brand recognition, online book selling sites such as Amazon, and on review sites such as Goodreads.
4. Consider the size and printing format of your book
Will your book be hardcover or softcover? What is the average binding method for books within your genre? What is the standard size of your competitors’ books? If all of the competing books run large, consider producing a book that is smaller and more convenient to carry around. This can help set you apart from the crowd. Remember hardcover binding, color printing, and large print sizes can dramatically increase the cost to produce your book.
5. Properly price your book
Your target audience, market research, and the value of your content should all play in to the pricing of your book. If you want your book to succeed, you need to be sure that you price it at the appropriate price point. If you book is priced well above industry standards, you will have a much more difficult time selling it to readers and distributors. In determining the price for your book, make sure you consider what competitors are pricing their books at, what your target audience would be willing to pay realistically, and how the production goals for your book will impact your selling price. It is easy to get caught up in a specific dream for your book, but for most of you, your goal is to sell books. You will have a tough time reaching that goal if people are not willing to pay the price you have set for your book. While you may believe that the content in your book justifies a higher price, remember that you are competing with thousands of other authors who may be just as qualified as you are. Keep your book affordable. You can always revisit producing a second edition or a hardcover version later for a higher selling price.
6. Have your book professional edited and your cover professionally designed
While these things may cost you more money up front, they are vital to the success of your book. Nobody will take you seriously as an author if there are grammatical, spelling, or content issues with your book. The same thing goes for the cover of your book. They say to never judge a book on its cover, but unfortunately this idiom is not followed by most in the publishing industry. With the already established taboo about self-publishing, it is imperative for you to present yourself in the most professional light possible. Your cover is the first thing people will notice about your book. The cover is what will draw a reader in and make them pick up your book to learn more about it. If the cover is poorly designed and amateurish, your book will likely be disregarded and overlooked by buyers, distributors, and media. Though your content may be incredible, most people will not give your book the time or day to make that discovery.