Writing a Business Plan for Your Book, Part 3: Pre-Release Marketing

Welcome back to our continuing Wednesday series on How to Write a Business Plan for Your Book.

If you missed Part 1 (Writing a Business Plan for Your Book), Part 2 (The Overview), or Part 3 (The Synopsis) the links will take you there.

Today we’re looking at the third section of the business plan: Marketing Strategies.

The Marketing section normally contains three sub-sections: pre-release marketing, release week (or “marketing around release”), and marketing efforts after the “release publicity” push.

This topic, and section, covers a lot of ground so we’ll take each sub-section one at a time. This week: pre-release marketing.

Pre-release Marketing involves building a platform and making your presence known. Advertising your book plays a role, but so do things like learning to manage social media, writing a blog, and connecting with other authors, readers, and industry professionals.

Remember: the connections need to be real. You can’t just shout your name and book title across the Internet and expect a horde of readers to appear at the bookstore clamoring for your work. (And if they do, they’re probably waving pitchforks, not pocketbooks.)

Become a content-provider, offering useful, interesting information that readers want to know. When readers find you useful online, they’re far more likely to investigate your novels (or non-fiction) too.

How do you do that? Think outside the box!

Is your book non-fiction? Become an expert in your field (if you already are one, that’s a bonus) and share that expertise in the online arena.

Writing fiction? Surprise – you still have something to share. Talk about writing, or research, or anything else you love to explore or do–even something totally off-the-wall (seahorses, anyone?).

If you have the creativity to write a book, you have interesting information to share. 

The pre-release marketing section of your business plan is the place to flush your uniqueness out of the weeds.

When preparing the pre-release marketing section of your business plan, spend time brainstorming three different areas: platform-building, making connections, and book marketing activities. (Notice that only one of these involves your book.) 

As you plan, remember that personal connections and useful content are far more effective marketing strategies than yelling about your book will ever be. Whose book would you rather purchase: one written by a person who responds to you on Twitter, or one written by an author who you know about only because (s)he constantly yells at you to buy, buy, buy?

Other people think that way, too.

As you brainstorm, don’t restrict yourself to marketing strategies you currently use, have used before, or know how to work with. Each book offers a chance to experiment – get out there and learn. If you’ve published other books, plan to use the things that worked best the last time and a couple of new ones. Test the waters. See what works for you.

During the pre-release phase, take the time to learn about the publishing industry, whether you self-publish or have a traditional publisher. Subscribe to newsletters like Shelf Awareness or Author Marketing Experts. Read Publisher’s Marketplace, and industry watchdog blogs. Pay attention to Twitter links, especially those that lead to successful authors talking about their marketing efforts – what worked, what didn’t, and their experiences with the process. Screen all information for reliability, of course, and remember: what worked for someone else might or might not work for you.

Traditional authors can learn from successful self-published authors, and vice versa. The digital realm is available to all – and you can do a lot of marketing and platform-building for relatively little cost if you investigate the options.

Here are some ideas to get you started building your pre-release platform:

– Blogging. Try writing a blog, or making guest appearances on someone else’s established blog. Guest posts are a great way to ease into blogging without the commitment of maintaining a blog on your own. Group blogs are another great idea; several authors share the work, and expose the contributors to one another’s readers. 

– Teaching and Public Speaking. Libraries and civic organizations are often happy to host engaging speakers for salon-style lectures and evening presentations. (The key, of course, is “engaging” – if you’re not comfortable in front of a group, a visit to Toastmasters or a public speaking class may be a helpful investment.) Brainstorm places where you can use your expertise and enthusiasm, and grow your platform along the way.

– Effective Use of Social Media. Jump on Twitter (or your social media outlet of choice) and find people with interests similar to your own. Start a Facebook page. Join the conversation–but be careful to speak in a way that doesn’t alienate potential readers. If your book isn’t sexual, or political, exercise caution when discussing hot-button topics in your official feed. That doesn’t mean you can’t discuss them–just be aware that your public “face” isn’t always the same as your private one.

–Share Your Research. Many times, authors do significant research before writing a novel. Most of your writing research doesn’t end up in the finished book–but that doesn’t mean you have to toss it out! Share those interesting facts with readers, in person, on a blog, or on social media. (Make sure to attribute where appropriate!) People looking for the kind of information you use in your books will often pick up the books as well. Share the information and help them find you.

Have you been brainstorming about your pre-release marketing? Do you have questions about the process? Hop into the comments and share!


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