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You’ve finally done it. That book that you’ve been working so hard on is finally finished and you are publishing it with Wheatmark. Now what?

“Well,” you might say, “my book is listed with the major online bookstores where it is exposed to millions of potential buyers. What else do I need to do?”

The answer is—marketing.

Marketing a book is like lunch. You eat lunch so you have the energy to keep going all day. You know that if you skip lunch, you’re tired by 2:00. Likewise, you market your book so it can “keep going” in the marketplace; no marketing may mean that sales will dwindle before they need to. So, where should you begin when you decide to market your book?

The Plan

Every good marketing campaign begins with a plan. A marketing plan is basically an outline of the steps you will undertake to sell your book. It provides you with a guideline of where you are, and where you’re going. A sound marketing plan is essential for anyone who is not content with sitting back and hoping for the best.

* A good marketing plan should answer a number of questions:
* Who is the audience for the book?
* Why is it important that people read this book? Or, what makes my book different from others in its genre?
* What makes me qualified to write this book?
* How will I promote this book? (For example, will you send out review copies?)
* How much will I spend on marketing my book?

The answers to these questions will tell you to whom you are trying to appeal with your promotion plans and how these people can be reached. You will also be able to say confidently why it is that they should read your book, giving your promotions credibility. Finally, knowing how much you can spend will enable you to make the best decisions in order to maximize your marketing budget while getting the best results.

To help you determine who your audience is going to be, even before you start, watch “The 3 Pillars of Marketing Success” in the 4-part presentation series “Secrets of Highly Paid, Highly Successful Authors.” It is an invaluable guide to helping authors focus their book and give them suggestions for crafting their work to make it more commercially viable.

Your Personal Network

How many people do you know? Do all of your friends and family members know you have a book out? If not, tell them. And encourage them to tell everyone they know. Have them spread the word via phone, email, on the street, wherever. Use social networking sites like Facebook to spread the word to all of your friends (and their friends’ friends). Hand out business cards to everyone you meet, and give them a few extras so that they can do the same on your behalf. Word of mouth is an effective and inexpensive way to market your book.

Getting Your Book onto Bookstore Shelves

As a new or first-time author, getting bookstores to carry your book can be challenging. Competition for shelf space is tough and those coveted spots are often reserved for high-profile authors. Often, book buyers want to see a proven track record of sales and a solid marketing plan that they feel will help move the book off the shelves and into the hands of readers. However, there are a number of ways to help your books get onto the shelves of bookstores. First, approach your local bookstores. Talk to the buyers about carrying your book. Many stores have a “local authors” section and may be willing to carry your title based on that.

Don’t forget to mention the magic words that will ensure the bookstore knows that your book will help them make—and not lose—money: the book is returnable, and is sold at the standard bookstore discount.

To get an in-depth look on why or why not should you focus on bookstores, watch “The Secret Hierarchy of Bookselling” in the 4-part presentation series “Secrets of Highly Paid, Highly Successful Authors.”

Book Signings, Seminars, and Talks

Book signings, seminars, and talks are great opportunities for you to sell your book. No one knows your book better than you do, and giving a miniseminar affords you the opportunity to really sell it to potential readers. In order to have an event at a local bookstore, you’ll need to speak with the store’s community relations manager (CRM). You and the CRM together can decide where and when to have the event. Remember: bookstores hold in-store events like book signings or talks to bring customers into their stores, so you should be prepared to promote the event and invite lots of guests. You may wish to use postcards or invitations to ensure a good turnout to your event.

Recommended Reading

1001 Ways to Market Your Books (6th edition) by John Kremer

Guerilla Marketing for Writers by Jay Conrad Levinson, Rick Frishman & Michael Larsen

The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing by Tom and Marilyn Ross