Something we rarely talk about when it comes to your book marketing plan, is our mindset. And I’m not talking about the power of positive thinking (though there’s that) or setting long and short-term goals (though that’s great, too). But rather I’m speaking about how you approach your book marketing – mentally. And by mentally, I mean all the facets that are key to your success, as well as those things that help you manage your mental energy when it comes to marketing a book. Because book publishing is awesome, but it’s a long haul. So being prepared with your active list of to-dos’, and a mindset that will keep the train moving, is key.
Let’s explore some ways to stay engaged with your book promotion, as well as some pitfalls to avoid:
Finding Readers is not a Model for Successful Book Marketing
A lot of times when authors come to me for their book marketing, they want me to “find them readers”. While I get this, the process of finding a reader is sort of spammy. Last week I was sent a message on Facebook messenger: I just published a book, please take a look at it and buy a copy!
I don’t know the person, the book isn’t even in a genre I would read. So did a buy a copy? Absolutely not. And much as I’m always about supporting authors, I don’t support spam tactics, because to be candid, that’s not real book marketing.
Sadly, a lot of authors subscribe to this method of finding readers, which almost never works.
The idea is to have readers find you and we know that the number one way book sales happen is by word of mouth. The number two way? Author/reader engagement. When a reader likes you, they’ll buy your books. How do you get readers to “like” you? This isn’t a social media term, but a branding term. Spending some time on your author brand – what’s your book? Do you have a color palate you work from? What’s your core message? All of this, and more, is your brand – an important element in your book marketing plan – and it’s worth spending time there.
Invest in your Brand/Author Platform
Honestly, nothing you do will work if your website is a mess, your book covers don’t match the market they are serving, or your messages to readers and social media postings are all over the place.
It’s discouraging, not just to your pocketbook, if you’re investing a ton of time in your marketing with very little return. Step back and spend some time on your brand. Not only is this something that will help move the needle, but all of your book marketing efforts will be easier (no, really) if your brand is cohesive and well thought out.
A Solid Book Marketing Plan includes Planning to Invest in your Book Marketing
I’m always amazed at authors who publish a book only to find out that their book marketing budget is $50. No, I’m not making this up.
Book publishing is a business, and as such, you should be prepared to make an investment. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hire a firm (like ours) but you should be prepared to invest your time, and some money, to get your book out there.
Be Mindful of Where you Want to Invest Your Time
It’s sometimes fun to dip your toe into a particular book marketing idea – like using a hashtag, #throwbackThursday, to push out an old picture, vintage book cover, or whatever. But being mindful of what you incorporate into your book marketing is important, too.
When I speak with authors, they’ll cite various things they’ve done or tried. None of them particularly long-term, just you know – giving something a shot. The issue is that these sporadic attempts don’t generally push the book marketing train forward. Then authors say “I tried this and it didn’t work” and often I find out they tried it once, maybe a few times.
Maybe you’re thinking: Well I’ve tried things for a month that didn’t work either. But you have to ask yourself, was a month really enough time?
Most book marketing strategies can take a while to take hold. And the thing is this: if you divert your attention to a strategy you want to dabble in, make sure you make the time for it and invest the time. The same is true for book promotion strategies that you dip into now and again. Doing one video and popping it up on your social media may not move the needle, but doing several over the course of a month might.
What you do sporadically will never work or show any real results. This is not meant to deter you from trying new things, but if you’re going to try something new, be sure you’ve got the time and the mental bandwidth to incorporate it into your book marketing plan.
Become Addicted to Learning
Maybe you’re thrilled to no longer be in school, you hated it. But guess what? You’d better get addicted to learning again because you’ll need to do a lot of it to continue to improve your book marketing plan.
I’m a total nerd. My best vibe is when I’m learning. I love exploring new things – in fact, if I had the time, I could spend all day learning. I know, I’m kind of weird.
Dedicating some time, even just one hour a week to learning is really important. Not only will it help you to explore new things you might want to try, but it also connects you to other authors who may be struggling with the same things you are. It’s always great when you feel like you’re not alone in your struggle, isn’t it?
Hire Out What you Dislike Doing (or aren’t good at)
Years ago, when I was first in business, I did my own accounting. But I hated it, and I honestly didn’t have time for it. So I put it off, my books got behind. It was a mess. But since I was newly in business, I didn’t want to spend the money on an accountant. I mean if I could do it myself, even if I was terrible at it, was better, right?
Not really. Hiring people to help you do what you can’t or aren’t good at, is a way of freeing you up mentally, not just opening up space in your calendar to write. I found that the burden of forcing myself to do something I loathed, was hindering my ability to grow my business.
When I finally did hire someone, within a few months I had increased my business considerably. In six months, I doubled it.
My attention was being funneled in a better way. Make sure yours is, too. When you lay out your book marketing plan, outsource the things you don’t like, the stuff that doesn’t energize you. Keep the stuff that does.
Don’t Confuse Busy and Productive
It’s really easy to feel busy these days, isn’t it? And we all love it when we put a post on Facebook that gets a ton of comments. But being mindful of where you spend your time is as important as an actionable to-do list, too.
If you walk away from a workweek feeling like you were “so busy!” but very little got done, that’s a telltale sign that you’re not being productive. Though it could also be a sign that you aren’t tracking enough things you’re actually doing, which I’ll cover in a minute.
Your time is an investment, so use it wisely. It’s not just an investment in the success of your book – but it’s an investment in your career, building your author platform.
One way you can manage your “busy” is to start isolating times to do certain things. Comments on your social media don’t need to be responded to immediately, once or twice a day is sufficient. There are things you can save for when you’re in line at the grocery store, or whenever you have some idle time.
When I put together my weekly (and daily) to-do lists, I rank things in order of importance. And I’m not talking about a tax deadline (though that’s important). Rather, I’m speaking of the importance, or the weight, it carries with my book success. I also rank things by what’ll take the longest to accomplish and then ideally divide up the longer, more complex projects into smaller steps that I can tackle daily or weekly.
Whether you hire someone to do your book marketing and promotion, you’ll still want to do some things on your own – generally checking email and social media doesn’t move the needle. But putting your attention to things that will help grow your brand and author platform are absolutely places you’ll want to spend your time. As a reminder, we have a free book marketing planner you can download, I’ll add the link to the resources section of this blog post!
Track Everything you do to Market Your Book
So now that we know where we need to spend our time, it’s also important to track all of your weekly accomplishments. Not only does it help you keep track of what you’ve done, but checking things off a list is good for us mentally, too. Am I the only one who sometimes adds things I’ve already done to my to-do list just so I can check it off? Probably not. But the check-off (or putting a line through it, as I do) feels really good.
Track all the small, minutia stuff that helps to push you towards your larger goals. For example, need to find a web designer? Add to your weekly to-do list to interview (or research) two of them and get bids. Then add “get website bids” to your to-do list, too – and be sure to quantify how many you plan on getting.
As you migrate through the website process, your designer will have a checklist for you. Your bio, copy for your website, images you want on your website. Get that list early so you can start to add it to your to-do list so you aren’t overwhelmed with having to do it all in one week.
See? All of these small things end up growing into bigger projects and before you know it – your website is done.
You can do this process with just about every piece of your book marketing. Take big tasks and chunk them down into something that feels less overwhelming or time-consuming. The act of checking off these things feels really great and will help keep your mental momentum moving, too!
What’s Your Measure of Success?
As you begin to embark on your book promotion, and begin creating your book marketing plan, consider what you want your end goal to be. Sure, maybe you want to sell a ton of books. Maybe you think your book is movie-worthy. All of those are good long-term goals. But what’s your real measure of success? Because that’s what will keep you going when sales are slow and movie interest in your book is non-existent.
A measure of success can be long-term, certainly. But creating incremental goals is much better for your book marketing mindset. It’s the thing that’ll keep you going, no matter how small the goal is.
Success, in a broad term, can mean a lot of things. Some authors just want to be able to write and earn a decent living from their writing. That’s a great long-term goal, it’s not something that’ll happen overnight.
Let’s pretend you’re driving from New York to Los Angeles. You put the final address in your GPS and you head off. But it takes a while to get there and during the drive, you have to stop, refuel, get something to eat, and find a place to stay the night.
Book marketing is much the same way. That long-term goal is not your daily measurement of success. Because each day when you wake up and realize you’re not there yet, your motivation to keep going will ebb – fast.
So much like that cross-country drive, remember that you won’t get there overnight, but if you keep at it – and keep doing the right things, you’ll start to see your success pay off.
Resources and Free Downloads
Book Marketing Kickstart Package
Monthly Book Marketing Planner
13 Book Marketing Ideas to Consider Before you Hit Publish
Very nicely done. Fun to read (The parenthesis help bring a smile). I enjoyed how you broke it down.
Thank you so much, Dutch – glad you enjoyed it!
I really enjoy your articles and this one in particular. You got me with your photo, carrying a pile of books in one are and a cute little dog in your arms. I related immediately. Books are my life line both reading and writing and my little dog is always in my arms, when I’m not typing and sometimes when I am. Oh, by the way her name is Penny, Miss Penny to be precise. Sorry I’m rambling here, I hate the advertising part of being an author and would love to delegate it but isn’t it very expensive? I hate to whine but finances are tight and have to be used wisely. Plus I am introverted and like most introverts putting myself out there can sometimes be a challenge. Any suggestions?
Hi Susan, That’s lovely! We offer many different options. Please feel free to reach out to Amy, my programs manager, at email@example.com to see how we can help with your book marketing.