Writing a book is such a monumental and all-encompassing task that it’s easy to get caught up in all its details—How can I insert 10,000 more words? Is the content in this chapter truly relevant to my audience? Who should I include in my acknowledgements?—and forget that you’re writing the book for sale, and that when you publish your book, you will have gone from writing as a hobby to writing as a business.
To make sure you’re prepared for the business side of writing, make sure you follow these steps before the publication of your book:
1. Know Your Audience – It’s essential to be crystal-clear about who your book is for and how it will benefit them. Next, make a list of traits your audience has in common and where they spend their time. Are there trade associations where they congregate? Online communities where they spend their time? Identify all of the opportunities where you can reach them.
2. Choose a Great Title – For many authors, selecting a book title can be challenging. Brainstorm as many options as you can and then test them. Start by sending choices to a trusted group of peers. You can also survey people on a larger scale with a tool like Survey Monkey. And if you narrow it down to two or three, consider testing titles by buying a Google Ad for each and seeing which one gets the most clicks.
3. Write a Marketing Plan – If you want to sell books, you need a plan that includes ongoing marketing efforts. There should be many tasks from the plan that you can also begin tackling before the book is in print. Jenny Blake developed a fabulous spreadsheet with book marketing tactics that you can use as a reference for getting started.
4. Start a Blog – Do not wait until the book is in print to start building your audience. Write about topics of interest to your target audience and update your blog at least twice each week.
5. Build a Social Media Platform – Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are ideal for authors because they allow you to share content and interact with potential readers. Start by sharing your blog posts. Also ask questions, share other people’s content, and engage your audience. Engage daily and develop your social media “voice.”
6. Develop a Launch Plan – Know how you’re going to introduce your book to the world. Strategies might include e-mail marketing to your lists, social media promotion, PR campaign, a contest, and partnering with other writers.
7. Invest in High-Quality Publishing Services – If you’re self-publishing, don’t make the mistake of skimping on services. The two most important elements of book production are editing and cover design. A homemade cover will tell everyone that your book is self-published, and substandard editing will leave readers disappointed (which can lead to poor book reviews).
8. Prepare Your Marketing Collateral – From printing bookmarks and business cards to writing promotional copy and announcements for colleagues, make sure you prepare all of your marketing materials in advance. Start by making a list of what you will need and then get those ready before publication time.
9. Develop a Presentation – Most authors conduct speaking engagements and you should, too. Develop one or more presentations that you can give based on the subject matter of your book. Add a “Speaker” page to your website and develop a one-page speaker sheet that you can give to prospects. If you need an example, you can view my speaker page here.
10. Acquire Media Lists – You should plan to pursue every opportunity to conduct an interview about your book or have a book review written. You can purchase media lists or, if you’re budget-conscious, create your own. Look for producers and editors of publications, radio shows, television shows, blogs, and websites that reach your target audience.
11. Get Testimonials – Book endorsements are a great way to add credibility to your work and get the attention of readers. Testimonials should come from other authors who write in a similar genre (not friends and family!). Make a list of all the authors you want to approach, and don’t be afraid to aim big. Smart authors know that endorsements are good marketing for them, too. Reach out via e-mail, keep it short and sweet, and ask if they would consider reviewing your work. Most will ask for a table of contents and a couple sample chapters.
12. Plan to Give Away at Least 100 Copies – The goal with any book is to get people talking about it and build buzz. Make sure you have plenty of books to give away to reporters, reviewers, bloggers, and anyone else who may be influential in helping you reach your target audience. Start making your list of who you will send review copies to so that you’re ready to go as soon as your book is complete.