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Marketing 101: Introduction

Anyone who has ever done a course in marketing will have heard of The Four P’s that form the basis of marketing strategies – Product, Price, Promotion and Place. But how does that apply to publishing? Over the next few weeks, my Saturday posts will look at what you need to know about the Four P’s and what you can do to successfully market your book.

I’ve read several current books on the subject of book marketing, and I’ll be reviewing each of them over the next few weeks, with my posting on Wednesdays. While most of the books are aimed at those who are self-publishing on Amazon and other sites, some of them have information that is useful to all writers, regardless of where they are on the publishing journey, and whether they are trade published or self-published, as there are many common principles.

As the author, your level of input into the development and implementation of the marketing plan will depend on whether you are self-publishing or have a publishing contract. Different publishers will have different levels of expectation of their authors, and this should be covered in your contract. However, all publishers expect their authors to participate in marketing to some extent, and having established relationships with readers should improve your chances of getting published.

Have a Marketing Plan

The first step is to have a marketing plan (to echo Stephen Covey, begin with the end in mind). What do you want to achieve? Do you want to sell lots of books? Do you want to make lots of money? Do you want lots of people to read your books? (Those goals might be mutually exclusive.) What must you do to achieve that goal?

In my view, it’s never too early to begin thinking about marketing. For example, one of the first decisions an author needs to make about their book is what genre it is. Is it fiction or non-fiction? Is it a devotional or a self-help book? If fiction, is it contemporary or historical, romance or action? If you’re not sure what the different fiction genres are, I suggest you reread my series on genre.

Know Your Genre

Knowing your genre will help you understand your target market: an essential piece of a marketing plan. If you don’t know who your target reader is, you won’t know how to connect with them. This is one of the key points in Karen Baney’s book, 10 Keys to Ebook Marketing Success.

Knowing your genre will help you determine your author brand: the way you want readers to see you and your work. Understand what you are, and ensure all your marketing efforts (including tweets and Facebook posts) reinforce that brand. You don’t need a fancy tagline (although a tagline is a way of keeping your marketing efforts on track), but you do need to consider and manage your brand. Joanna Penn discusses this in How to Market a Book.

Understand Your Author Brand

It’s never too late to develop and implement a marketing plan, but the earlier you understand your author brand, the earlier you will be able to begin developing and implementing a marketing plan (including that all-important platform) that introduces and reinforces that brand. An established platform will be an invaluable asset if you are seeking traditional publication, as agents and commissioning editors are more interested in authors who understand the need to be active on social media. And an established platform is essential if you decide to self-publish, as it gives you a built-in group on which to focus your marketing efforts.

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3 comments

  1. Hi,
    I am new to the publishing world. My first book Facing Trials: Thoughts for Meditation was published about three months ago on West Bow Press. I liked that it was the Christian arm of Thomas Nelson.

    However,
    With my next manuscript… a Bible Study called Divine Interruptions: Opportunities for Spiritual Growth, I am thinking I might go with a different publisher. I want to spend less money with the package and spend more money on marketing.

    How much do you charge for a ten chapter Bible Study? Do your formatt?
    I don’t know how this all works. It is easier to go with a publisher who does everything for the author but I know they can charge an arm and a leg for their services.

    Cheryl Zelenka

    • Iola says:

      Hi Cheryl

      My fees are based on actual word count (as chapter length can vary a lot). Copyediting for a short non-fiction manuscript can be less than $200, depending on word count and the level of editing needed (it can also be a lot more – depending on word count and the level of editing ne. I don’t format, but can suggest people who do.

      I suggest you consider self-publishing your next book rather than going with a company like WestBow (or Tate, or Xulon). While they provide a lot of services, most of these (like getting an ISBN number or registering copyright) are things you can learn to do for yourself for very little cost. However, services like these aren’t truly self-publishing, as you are paying someone to do this for you, and signing over the rights to your book as well. In terms of cost, it’s a lot cheaper to do it yourself (WestBow packages start at $999 and go up into the thousands, Tate charges a $4000 marketing fee but doesn’t really explain what you get for it, and Xulon packages start at $1,699 but don’t include editing). Personally, I’m wary of spending this amount of money without having a clear understanding of the benefits.

      True self-publishers, like CreateSpace and Lightning Source provide print on demand services, so you don’t need to pay for paper copies you don’t need. They allow you to upload to Amazon and other e-stores, and to be listed in the major trade catalogues. You keep all the rights to your book, which means you get the royalties directly from Amazon (and the royalties are a higher percentage).

      I’ll be going into some of these issues in future posts, so do sign up to receive them by email so you don’t miss any.

      Iola

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