Sufi Stories

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A ‘Back of a Napkin’ Book Promotion Strategy for Self-Published Authors

A guest post by Venli.

Let’s face it, writing an irresistible book is only one piece of the puzzle. Marketing your book is another piece which completes the jigsaw.

In this post, I want to share with you a simple step-by-step process for creating your own personalized marketing plan that is literally one-page. Instead of doing random acts of marketing, when you attack with a clear strategy you will see results which will surprise you.

Whether you’re just starting out, or are an experienced writer, this back-of-the-napkin marketing-plan is the easiest and fastest way to jump-start your book sales.

When I was writing my first book, I thought it would get lapped up like sweet hot-cakes.

I imagined my prospective readers to be like a pack of hungry wolves. All I needed to do was throw in a piece of meat and, it turns into a feeding frenzy.

Unfortunately, it didn’t happen that way.

In the first year of my publishing, no one bought my book except for a few friends.

In desperation, I read a lot of books and attended courses on publishing and selling. I created masterplans which fizzled out after a couple of weeks. I have a crateful of pretty planners with only a couple of pages used in each, since I never could keep up with complicated planning.

What worked for me is a simple common-sense marketing plan. This is what I want to share with you today.

As a self-published author, you are a solo entrepreneur. You don’t really have the engine of a big corporation behind you. Your marketing plan has to be so simple, that it is sustainable without much effort.

The first step is to understand your market. Market refers to the people who want books on the kind of topics you write about. To get an understanding of your market you got to ask yourself some questions.

Is the market for your book big enough to make money?

If you are writing about some exotic topic like space shuttle vibration, then only a few people may be interested. If you write about a more common topic like books for children you are going to get attention from a larger audience. At the same time however, broader topics have more competition. The thing is to make sure your niche is not so small that it appeals only to a handful of people. At the same time do not generalize to such a degree that you get lost in the crowd.

The next step is to choose your niche. Your niche is a segment of your market. As an example, if you write children’s books, your niche could be bedtime stories book, books which teach science or history or motivational stories.

When I started out my own writing career, I wanted to write on a lot of topics. I thought everybody was my customer. As a result, it turned out that nobody was my customer. It’s easier to fish in a small pond than in a vast ocean.

Choose a niche which you are really interested in and can connect with easily. It is important to pick a niche which you are really interested in so your communications will be authentic and thus more engaging.

Choose a niche in which you can connect with readers easily so that you can save on advertising dollars. For example, if you are writing children’s books one would expect you to visit some schools or libraries and do some reading for the kids. If you would rather only interact with adults then you might as well choose an adult niche such as historical fiction or romance.

Make a success of yourself in your chosen niche and then attack another niche – but not before you have conquered the first niche!

In the next step, check out your competition. What are the weaknesses in your competitors that you can capitalize on?

Research other authors and books on the same topic. Think as a reader. What are the things you wish these writers had covered which they didn’t. Maybe their books are all fluff and not prescriptive enough? Or perhaps they left out new developments related to the subject?

The next step is to get to know your customer.

Most likely you already know who your customers are. As an example, if you are writing a book about children, then their parents are your customers. The key is to make a list of things which motivates them to buy.

To figure out how to connect with your customers, consider what kind of habits does your customer have? If you are publishing books for teens, then you know that these mysterious creatures inhabit the worlds of Instagram and Twitter. If your books appeal to senior citizens, then you are unlikely to find them tweeting away. You are most likely to reach them through snail mail or email.

Now it is time to develop your marketing message.

Your marketing message is a collection of three messages. Your biography which also explains your credentials and motivations for working in your niche, a short 3 sentence elevator pitch about your work, and a longer message which includes your understanding of the problem, the benefits your work brings, and details about how to purchase & price.

People buy when you lower any risk associated with purchase. So, reviews from customers and your unconditional guarantee are important elements of your message.

How will you deliver your marketing message?

In this step you identify your marketing mediums. Your marketing medium depends on your niche and your customers.

Your blog will function as your author platform and will be an essential component of your marketing-medium – Blog could be either written blog or YouTube video vlogs.

In addition, brainstorm other avenues for contacting your customers.

If you are writing books for children, you will find their parents on Facebook. If you are writing books for teens then Instagram is a more likely hangout.

There are many other avenues to connect with your prospective customers such as book clubs, meetup groups, seminars, trade shows and charity events.

Another step in your marketing plan is to set time-bound and measurable goals. Your goals should not only be final outcomes like book sales, but also related goals like increasing traffic to blog, gathering so many emails per week, writing so many blog posts per month.

The final step is to keep an eye on expenses by setting a budget. There is no point in making one thousand from your book if you spent ten thousand on marketing.

There is no secret which you need to know to sell your book. A common-sense marketing plan is all you need to get your book sales going.

You may also enjoy this post: How to Market a Book: Personal Experiences from Self-Published Authors – Part 1


This post is a transcript of the following video.