I’m an engineer, not a marketing guy. That being said, I understand that, as a future self-published author, I am responsible for my success and that marketing is a huge part of the equation to becoming a professional writer. I’m treating my first release as an experiment.
The following is my preliminary marketing plan. I welcome critiques and comments.
Things to do continuously:
Write – The most important thing I can do to become successful is to continue to roll out new products. Each release will sell backlist and give me a new revenue stream.
Produce quality product – I think some high profile successes prove that a quality product isn’t necessarily crucial for success. I do think that an emotionally engaging story is a necessity, but good technique is no surefire path to stardom. That being said, I can’t stomach the thought of putting complete dreck out there. I will also hire professional editing services and a graphic artist.
Things to do far in advance of my release date:
Develop my platform – I’m targeting a June 1, 2013 release date. Sometime near the end of February, I plan to covert my blog (www.brianwfoster.com) into a better platform that just links to the blog. I do not intend to do much else. I’m just not sure that Twitter is worth the effort. I’m still on the fence about Facebook. On one hand, I don’t think it will be that successful in generating new sales. On the other, I think there’s an expectation that a professional writer has a Facebook page. I can see someone who buys my book looking to Facebook as a way to follow future releases.
Research categories – Power of the Mages belongs in epic fantasy. Epic fantasy is dominated by the big names in fantasy. Does it make sense, then, for me to put my book in that category if I have no chance of getting a decently high ranking? I haven’t researched this yet, but my understanding is that fantasy has few subcategories and that all those are somewhat clogged by heavy weights. Does there exist non-fantasy categories where my book might fit? I think it’s worth at least investigating.
SEO – I will research phrases readers might use to search for my book. I’ll then incorporate those phrases into my Amazon book page in the hopes of making my book appear high on the list when that phrase is typed into the Amazon search box.
Publish my novelette – My plan is to make Abuse of Power available for free on my website and encourage anyone downloading it to sign up for my newsletter. I want to explore the effectiveness of Craigslist ads by using postings in 10 test markets. If I can’t get people to download a free book, I’ll know it’s not worth the time advertising my real book there. I also plan to contact book bloggers to try to get them to post a link to it. If nothing else, it will be a start in building my master blog list for future marketing.
Things to do in the month before release:
Contact 250 bloggers and Amazon reviewers – It’s tough to get reviews nowadays. Your only shot is a) quantity and b) a professional yet personal approach.
Get 20 commitments from select friends and fellow authors for reviews – I’m going to use the personal connections I’ve made to try to get 20 people to post reviews on my Amazon book page on May 31, 2013. The hope is that at least half will follow through.
Things to do near the release date:
Send personal emails or Facebook messages to all my friends – Let’s face it, most of the initial surge that a book a first time author releases is due to friends and family buying it. A Facebook post simply is not guaranteed to reach all of them. Personal emails will. In the email, I’ll list all the ways they can help me: buy the book, tell friends, like the Amazon book page, like good reviews of the book on Amazon, and post a review (with guidelines) on Amazon.
Ad Blitz – The more books you sell, the more books Amazon helps you sell. I want to take advantage of the initial surge from friends and family by using paid advertisements on Adwords and Goodreads, in targeted ezines, etc.
Announce the release on internet forums – There are several forums where I contribute regularly. It shouldn’t hurt to do a quick announcement on them.
Press releases – I’m not sure of the effectiveness. It can’t hurt, though, and shouldn’t take a lot of time.
Things to do after release:
Keep contacting book bloggers – A few emails sent a day isn’t going to eat too much into my productivity, and volume is the only way to ensure a lot of exposure.
Experiment with paid advertisements – Once my sales level out, I’ll post an ad with a site and measure the response. It will be good information for the future.