I’ll never forget this: the first thing my agent asked me to do after she signed me was to start thinking about my “Marketing Plan.” It hit me like a ton of bricks. That was the exact reason why I was choosing to traditional publish—so I didn’t have to deal with all the marketing stuff! I mean, I knew I would have to do “a part of it,” but I didn’t expect the leading ideas would have to come from me!
That was the moment I realized being a writer was a lot more than just writing a book. It’s like Robert Kiyosaki says in RICH DAD, POOR DAD: writers want to be on the Best Seller List, not on the Best Writer List. So, we better learn a few things about how to sell, right?
- Define your expectations
This is the most important thing, because it also defines how much work you’ll have to put into your Marketing Plan. If your goal is just to have this book published and available on Amazon, or to use it to promote your company or to be recognized in your field, for example, you surely don’t have to spend a lot of time thinking about marketing. But if your dream is to become a bestseller, or to build a career as a writer, you must be willing to spend as much time on marketing as you would on writing your next novel.
- Copy other authors’ success strategies
If you don’t know from where to start, I suggest you to make a list of the most recent bestselling books in your genre, and pay attention to what their authors have done right. Study how they built their personal brand; how they connect with their audience on social media. What is it in their stories that make people love them so much? I’m sure their successful strategies will inspire you to take action, somehow.
- More than just build a platform, you have to connect with your audience
I see a lot of authors talking about the importance of building an online platform—and I agree with them, it is indeed very important. But I think more important than your number of followers, is how many of them will actually want to buy your book!
A lot of authors start producing content for other writers, for example, but they write…I don’t know, children’s books! This might be useful to connect with the writing community, yes; but to sell the book, it would be probably better to invest this time visiting schools, or talking to teachers, or parents…
Identify your target audience, and then go after them! Follow them on social media, start conversations, make friends—find different ways to connect! I guarantee you will not only make your audience excited to read your story, but you’ll also get to know them better and learn what they would like to see in your next books!
- Get all the support you can get
One of the most interesting questions my agent asked me about marketing was “What are your key areas of opportunity?” In other words, “What does you book stand for?”
Most stories discuss a particular topic, or represent a specific group of people, and these are your key areas of opportunity. If your novel talks about mental health, for example, you could reach out to mental health professionals or social media influencers, and ask for their support! If they feel like your book represents them somehow, they will be probably happy to share it with their audience.
Specially if you’re publishing your debut, it’s very important to get all the support you can get. And it’s never too early to start reaching out and letting people know that you have a story they might want to read, coming out soon.
- Nobody cares about your book as much as you do. So, yeah, you SHOULD be the one in charge of building its route to success
It’s very tempting to convince ourselves that we don’t have the time for marketing. (We are writers—we need to go write more books after all!) Letting the agent/publisher take care of everything is not only practical, but also gives us someone to blame in case the sales don’t go as well as expected. And I think, unconsciously, that’s why we feel so uncomfortable talking about this subject. Deep down, we don’t feel competent enough to do it (again, we are writers, not salespeople), and we are terribly afraid to fail—and even more afraid of being the one responsible for it.
But to me now, delegating this responsibility to someone else (even if they are professionals) is the riskiest thing a writer could do. Because the truth is that nobody cares about your book as much as you do, and if you’re not (at least) involved in the marketing process, how can you be sure they are giving it the best chance of success?
So, my last advice to you is this: start learning about marketing, and distribution, and launching, and every single step of the birth of a book. Because this is your life, this is your baby, and nobody would ever give it as much attention as you would.
Born and raised in Brazil but currently living in France, Larissa is a real citizen of the world, trying to write her own story the best way she can. Romance, personal growth, and multiculturalism are the core of her writing. And when she isn’t secretly living her characters’ lives in her head, she’s working as a researcher, as a teacher, or inspiring people to become their best version with #TheBestVersionOfMyselfMovement.
About the Series:
Now What? is a series dedicated to navigating post-query life and the agent-author relationship. Authors from every stage of their writing career have come together to tell their stories. They understand the struggles of querying and moving forward with an agent and are here to help.
New posts go live every Friday!
Previous Posts in this Series:
Keeping Motivation After Signing with An Agent
How To Know if An Agent is Right For you
By Ana Franco