Book Marketing Basics (Part 1) :: Who’s in Charge?

We hear this question often: “Who is responsible for marketing my book?” Many authors are shocked to learn that the answer to this question is…the author!

This is true for all books, whether your book has been published by a traditional (royalty) publisher or self-published. Sure, publishing companies will help their authors, and provide some very important help with distribution, some advertising, and getting your book into national chains like Wal-Mart or Books a Million, etc. Traditional publishers often have media contacts that can help with publicity, and they have experience in marketing that will help you.

Ideally, there is a partnership between the publisher and author. Either the publisher or the author may hire an outside agency or expert (a publicist or marketing consultant) to help with not only doing the marketing, but deciding how to do it.

But most publishing companies publish thousands of titles a year. And no one cares more about your book—or knows its message as well—than you. Publishers today expect authors to be a strong partner in marketing their own books.

The challenge of marketing becomes even greater if you have self-published. Take heart, it is possible to market your book—but there are some key steps you must take first. This is why we are creating a “Book Marketing Basics” series of posts; to help you take those steps toward successful book marketing.

Many authors see their audience as “the world.” However, most books don’t actually have universal appeal. Rather, they are aimed at a specific audience with a specific need.

Marketing your book begins by asking who your audience is, and which specific need your book meets for them. Then, you need to go find that audience and tell them about your book.

Who is your target audience? And where are they? And when you find them, do you have a place to invite them, where they can learn about, and more importantly, buy your book?

If you’ve written a book about, for example, parenting, your target audience is, of course, parents. The audience may be even narrower than that: is your book designed to help parents of babies, toddlers or teenagers? And what is your book helping them with: discipline, medical issues, or spiritual development?

Parenting forums and websites, Facebook groups, community and church groups (from the local PTA to MOPS groups) are all places where parents gather.

Once you find where your audience gathers, you need a compelling message to share with them. Hint: “Please, please, buy my book now!” is not a compelling message. You need to figure out how reading your book will benefit that audience, and then invite them to enjoy that benefit. Your message needs to be about them, not you.

For example, one best-selling parenting book promised the benefit in its title: “Have a New Kid by Friday: How to Change Your Child’s Attitude, Behavior & Character in 5 Days.” (by Kevin Leman)

Your book may not be as directive as that, especially if you’ve written a memoir or fiction title. However, every book has a message or benefit, even if it is only to entertain or inspire. And every book has a target audience. Figuring out who your reader is, and what your book will give them, is the first step toward effectively marketing your book.

In Book Marketing Basics (Part 2), you’ll learn more about the essentials you need to market your book.

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