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When Should an Author Start Thinking About Book Promotion?

Being an author, I know the arduous task of writing a book. However, if promotion is not part of your plan for the book from the very beginning, writing it will be for personal satisfaction only. Read why.
Written Mar 12, 2012, read 704 times since then.
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Many new authors think the answer is either “when the book is done” or “doesn’t the publisher take care of that?”

But unless you are a Glenn Beck or Dan Brown, both of those responses are dead wrong.

The right answer is before you start to write your book! Before you type the first word, it is critical that you think about the project in its entirety – including a plan for marketing and promotion, and a budget as well. Here are a few questions you want to ask yourself in this process:

  • What do I want to accomplish with my book? Is it a marketing vehicle to build your credibility and grow your business? Or perhaps it’s a novel you’re hoping will turn into a series, with fans begging for the next installment. Your answers to this fundamental question affect not only what you write, and how you write it, but what kind of promotional effort makes sense for your book.
  • Who do I want to reach with my message? Know your audience. Are they teens, men, women, baby boomers or seniors? If you’ve identified who you are writing to, it will help hone your writing style and your message. But, it will also affect to a very large degree how you go about promoting your book and the marketing opportunities available for reaching your audience. For example, an effective digital promotional strategy that reaches busy young people will not necessarily hit the mark with seniors who are less likely to get their information from the Internet or mobile phones.
  • What title and cover design will get book buyers interested in what I have to say? The title of your book can play a key role in the promotion and sales of your book. And, with limited space available for the precise words that will effectively communicate how dynamic and interesting your book is, you can see how important that title can be. There’s also the actual design of the book cover to consider which can either forward your key message, or make it seem as dull as dishwater. My point is that an impactful title with a very creative cover plays an important role in the marketing of your book, but this is an expense you must calculate into your marketing and promotional budget. Speaking of budget – this leads me to the last point which is without a doubt, one of the most important points.
  • What kind of a budget do I need for the entire project? Regardless of whether your book will be self-published, or you’ve attracted the interest of a major publisher, a budget for marketing and promotion is an absolute must. And an effective book marketing campaign isn’t necessarily cheap, particularly if you’re going to hire a professional firm to execute a solid campaign. But, if you choose to do the promotion yourself, there are still expenses involved that you need to factor into your budget, not the least of which may be hiring someone in-house to assist you, either with your book promotion or your normal everyday work that will pile up because of the book promotion!

There is a reason I am hitting this point so hard. It’s because of the countless emails and calls I get from authors who didn’t really understand this would be necessary, and who are now sitting with great books in a warehouse or boxed up in their garage. I feel bad, but there’s nothing to compare with how frustrated or disappointed they feel after all the hard work, time and passion they’ve invested in the whole process.

I’m reminded of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote, “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.” It may be catchy, but it’s simply not true. Here’s the truth: the only way the world will beat a path to your door – or to bookstores, your website or listing on Amazon.com – is if consumers even know your book exists…and that means a great deal of marketing and promotion.

Instead of explaining about the books in the garage to the grandkids, wouldn’t it make a much better story to tell them how you became a successful writer?

Publicity and Public Relations 
Wesley Chapel, Florida 
Marsha Friedman

Marsha Friedman is a 20-year PR veteran and the CEO of EMSI Public Relations (http://www.emsincorporated.com) a firm providing PR services to corporations, entertainers, authors and professional firms.

Learn more about the author, Marsha Friedman.

Comment on this article

  • Professional Web Copywriter, Response-Based Creative writer 
Monroe, Louisiana 
Stephen Monday
    Posted by Stephen Monday, Monroe, Louisiana | Mar 20, 2012

    Hi Marsha,

    You are so right about the need to have a solid marketing plan in place - before striking a key, unless you plan to give the book away to build a list of opt-in leads to grow your business.

    There is no telling how many great e-books are out there - that no one has ever heard about. Do your research first - then hire yourself a Professional Web Copywriter.

    Many good creative writers think to themselves: "Why do I need a Copywriter."? "After all - writing is what I do best."

    Then, sure enough, they hammer out their "Sales" page, and "go live," online - in a place, which gets a fair amount of Web traffic.

    It is engaging, informative, A good read, personable.

    After all it was crafted by a good creative writer, (who holds a B/Arts in English Literature) or even a Masters degree.

    It gets a lot of "comments" about how witty it is, as well as how well written it is.

    Nevertheless, after more than 3,000 visits...it has not made a single sale. What is the moral of this story?

    Having a B/A, or even a Masters in English (plus being a good creative writer) Does not make you a good Sales writer.

    Good Copy writing that sells - is an acquired skill, which is "a horse of another color." Have you ever wondered why more than 97% of "Sales" Pages (launched everyday) FAIL to sell a single dime?

    It is simple: being a great writer - does not automatically "make" you a sales writer. (Many CEO's have learned this the hard way.)

    A professional Copywriter writes Web copy that sells - it is simply what they do. Need a professional sales writer to launch your e-book?

    Hire one. It will pay you to do so.

  • Publicity and Public Relations 
Wesley Chapel, Florida 
Marsha Friedman
    Posted by Marsha Friedman, Wesley Chapel, Florida | Mar 22, 2012

    Hi Stephen,

    I loved your comment. Having been in the direct-mail marketing business prior to starting EMSI 22 years ago, I know the critical skill of a sales copywriter, which is so different than a creative writer. Unfortunately, most people aren't aware of sales copywriting even being a profession.

    Thank you so much for making this point. It's something I frequently talk about to my clients and in front of groups, but I think you said it better!

    Marsha :)