The Ultimate Book Marketing Plan

There are so many books written on how best to market a book.  The more ideas the better, in some ways, but I find most first-time authors are so overwhelmed by the process of writing and publishing they just don’t know which way to go by the time they get to marketing.

So let me make it simple for you and I promise if you just follow this formula you will get all the media you want, and over time, all the sales you can.

Here’s my simple formula:  Spend 60% of your time on the basics (defined in a moment), 25% of your time on what is in the news already and 15% of your time in wild ideas and you’ll do just fine.

60% of Your Book Marketing Time– You must be an outspoken advocate for the cause you passionately discuss in your book.  You must truly care for the people you are helping in your book and every communication you have with media, in your blog, etc. must be advocating for that group.  The minute you turn to think about money, your sales, etc. the entire equation is changed and you introduce fear, resentment, wanting to work on other projects.  Your audience can feel the shift and you won’t like the results.  If you need to gain energy for the continued pursuit of the passion you wrote about, then take time to do that.  Never stop advocating – don’t ever sell.

How you will actually spend your time?  Figuring out ways to help and acknowledge other people.  Figure out ways to speak and get your message out, find ways to collaborate and partner with others to make the world a better place.  Stay in a service frame of mind and everything else will follow.

The other thing you must stay on top of in this 60% of your effort is your author website.  Make is a media center.  Make it so journalist/reporter friendly that they feel fortunate to have found it.  Don’t make them ask for anything.  Have several photos of the author and book (in high resolution JPG so they can use it for print if they want).  Have interview questions and answers.  Have the author bio done as a journalist would do it – just the facts, not a lot of editorial comments.  And probably most importantly, have links and copies of any audio or print or broadcast media you’ve done in the past. Media leads to more media.  So start local, build to regional and national, but any time you get any media – post it on your site.

25% of Your Book Marketing Time – Watching news media, especially what is on Saturday mornings on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News.  They interview authors all the time.  But think about this:

When would the media naturally cover your passion? Do you know what the media is already writing about or covering on radio or TV? It is a lot easier to fit into what they are already covering than to convince them to do something special.  If you have a book on women’s history and March is Women’s History month – focus on how to get interviewed then.  If you have a book on couples, focus on Valentine’s Day or February in general because the media will be interested in new approaches – not on your timetable but when they naturally do stories on this.

Where (which media) would your story naturally fit? You need to find ways to constantly stay on top of the news.  Sign up for Google alerts will help, but reading and most importantly watching television is the way to do it.  When there is a story that you are the perfect expert to comment on tweet, blog and pick up the phone and find the reporter you need to talk to.  If you have a list of media that is right for you ahead of time, you won’t have to work so hard to find that email or phone number.

Why (under what circumstances) would you naturally get media coverage? Last weekend MSNBC covered a book on National Parks because that weekend there were free passes into all national parks.  This week, many authors discussed food safety.  There is so much opportunity if you know who to call and when.  But being prepared with a great author website (go back to the 60%) is your key to taking advantage of opportunities.  When I ran a publishing company, we had a book called True Odds about the probability of things happening. We had about 3 hours to prepare our author for an on-site interview at our offices with NBC Nightly News when both a Kennedy family member and Sonny Bono both were killed in the same week by skiing into trees.  What were the odds of that kind of skiing accident the news media wanted to know.

15% of Your Book Marketing Time – Go for broke, have no fear and pursue your wildest dreams.  One of my favorite stories is about Jennie Nash, author of many fiction and non-fiction books.  She wrote a book on breast cancer a number of years ago and her husband came home with a newspaper one day and showed her that Ford Motor Company was a major sponsor of the Susan G. Komen foundation, a well-known breast cancer advocacy and support group.  Without hesitating, Jennie went to the Ford web site and found the name and number of the marketing director at Ford…and she picked up the phone.  They started a conversation about Jennie’s book that resulted in a sale of 100,000 books to Ford.  She was also a paid national spokesperson for them for three years.

What is stopping you from doing something like that?  What if you made two wild and crazy phone calls like that every week.  What if one of them actually worked?  Is it worth taking the time to figure out what the collaborations you might find with your book and doing a little Google research to understand your possible new partner and his or her passions?  I think so.

Final comment:  70% of your success actually depends on whether you wrote the best book you could in solving the problems of the audience of readers.  I am assuming that in my marketing formula.  I am also assuming you had a professional cover designer and interior designer if you self published.  Even if you worked with an established commercial publisher, your input on cover and interior design is essential.  Look at how books look on the TV screen.  Notice how you can read the titles on some and not on others?  Make sure your title is easy to read (and preferably your name as well), even in a small reproduction of the book.  I am sure you know by now that you as the author are the chief advocate for your book.  So gratefully accept any publicity or other help you get from your publisher.  And if you see a great opportunity, by all means see if they have contacts you can call or they can call.

Let me know if you think these ideas make sense for you.  Weigh what you are doing now against the formula and make changes to your approach.  This also goes if you are hiring marketing or publicity help or are working with an author’s assistant.  Their work should follow this formula as well.  I promise you will see the difference.

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