Friday, November 28, 2014

The Best of the Archives: The Everyday Author's Guide to Establishing a Book Marketing Plan

by Tina Radcliffe, everyday author.

This post first appeared November 27, 2013 and is our second all-time most popular post. Why? Because authors are now marketing experts. 

Establishing a book marketing plan indicates that there is planning involved.

What really happens for most of us is that suddenly we realize the book launch is upon us and we frantically look for ways to promote it. The favorite being a mass BUY ME blast on Facebook or Twitter. Or our editor asks if we have a social media presence and we spend a week without sleep, signing up for and trying to understand every single social media platform out there.

Let's go back to that word "plan."

Before we move on to marketing, let's talk about your plan as an author. Your career plan.

What's your plan for the next six months? A year from now? Two years from now? 

What are your goals? Or do you fly by the seat of your pants with your writing goals and plans as well as your  marketing efforts?

Writing is a business. How can you evaluate the success of your business without a plan for that business? A strong business plan will evaluate your SWOT-strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

 Here are some tools for goal setting and creating a business plan.

Michael Hyatt:Read his blog post:The Beginner’s Guide to Goal Setting.Then I highly encourage you to subscribe, just so you can download his free e book Creating Your Personal Life Plan.

Brian Tracy: Eat that Frog. I mention this book over and over again. But it’s been a game changer for me. Get the audio.

Only after you have established your plan as an author are you ready to create a marketing plan.

The Basics of Book Marketing:

1. Content
2. Visibility
3. ROI

1.Content is your product.

 Content marketing is the new marketing, and it's true that content is king.  FICTION is the ultimate content marketing.

"Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.Basically, content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling." Content Marketing Institute

Content marketing begins by creating a great product. Writing the best book you can and doing it over and over again. Your great product will sell itself.

Building a fan base takes time. But, book by book you build your tribe. That tribe is your second tier of marketing. Your tribe will sell your book. There are authors with rabid fans who will walk over hot coals for that author’s next book. These same fans who will do anything and buy anything from that author.

What’s the best marketing plan for these authors? WRITE THE NEXT BOOK, FAST. These authors also give back to their fans in a big way with exclusive content. And their readers love it.

That's the same strategy you and I, the everyday author, need to embrace.

Bob Mayer, Interview with The Alliance of Independent Authors.

What's your top tip for other indie authors? "Produce content. I see too many people thinking they’ll get lucky or they can promote themselves into success. A handful of people get lucky."  

2. Next Stop: Visibility
Info from Marketing for Dummies 2009 -image Tina Radcliffe

Visibility is how well you are able to narrow the awareness gap.

If you are a traditional author you have much less control over your visibility. There are too many factors out of your control. How many books you sell in a year. What month your book comes out. Your cover design. Whether your publisher supports a media campaign. Even whether your editor likes you. All these factors play into your sales and your visibility. Yet, even without control you should still be targeting marketing opportunities that increase your visibility and provide ROI.

If you are an indie author, I highly recommend you pick up David Gaughran’s Let’s Get Visible and The Naked Truth About Publishing by The Indie Voice for information on pricing strategies and Amazon algorithms, all targeting visibility and sales. I won't attempt to discuss pricing strategies as these experts already do that so well.

But remember, visibility is a numbers game. Everyone isn't going to hit the algorithms the same way.  

The truth:
  • There are no guarantees or secret formulas.
  • Luck is just that.
  • Sometimes it just takes time and content. 

 "Four years ago, self-publishing became both easy and inexpensive. And three years ago, bloggers made it sound like everyone who hit a “publish” button could make a small fortune as a writer." The Business Rusch: Reality Check

The current debate is whether ebook sales leveling/slowing/flattening out (Publishers Weekly) or not (Digital Reader). I'm more inclined to agree with the Washington Post that ebooks are leveling as the "technology matures."

But the fact is, the e book boom is over.

Visibility is getting more and more difficult. "There were 391,000 self-published books last year, up 60% from the year before." -Annoyed Librarian

What's the single best strategy for visibility ? Lots of product.

3. ROI or Bust.

Ready for some great marketing ideas? Author Media does a thorough job in their post, "89 Book Marketing Ideas That Will Change Your Life."

Will they really change your life?  Probably not. Many of these strategies you probably should be doing anyhow. However, if you spend all your time developing all these ideas you won't be writing. Do what feels right for you.

The single biggest mistake authors make is spending too much time and money on marketing strategies that have little or no ROI or worse yet, they have no idea what the ROI is. That's throwing dollars in the wind, folks.

If you are spending valuable writing time doing blog tours, Rafflecopters, ad campaigns, Tweeting, E-mail blasting, Facebook parties, and monitoring pricing algorithms, you should at least have data to show that there is a direct correlation to the time spent and increased book sales or VISIBILITY.

Indie authors have the advantage with the ability to track sales hourly to see the correlation of pricing strategies and ad campaigns. 

Here are a few strategies for tracking marketing, sales and visibility: a new bitly for each marketing plan you utilize. For example, create an  individual one for each stop on your blog tour to determine which blogs resulted in the most clicks to your book on Amazon (or bookstore of choice). The same for Twitter, and Facebook. It's also valuable feedback for which content posted on FB is of the most interest to your fans and friends. Do take time to read the stats on Bitly.

Paid Facebook Ads-Use Paid Facebook Ads  to advertise your book and to link to great content, such as blog posts. It's not always about the sale. You are paying for visibility as well. Remember that if you pay for an ad to advertise a sale, the ad will continue until the target reach is hit. This may mean your ad is still up when the sale is over. Plan accordingly. Use Bitly links in addition to the Facebook stats to determine which ads produced not only the biggest reach, but generated the most clicks to your book on Amazon. And check out the Facebook Ad Optimization page to get the most for your money.

Amazon Affiliates-(Not valid in all states.) Unless you spend a lot of time marketing your affiliate status on your blog or webpage, you aren't going to make a lot of money as an affiliate, because you are only making a certain percentage off certain items. But, it is a terrific resource to monitor who is clicking through your web page or blog (where ever you have the affiliate link set up) and buying and what they are buying. This is another tool to monitor the effectiveness of your marketing strategies.

 For example, I have my affiliate code in this link for my indie release- The Rosetti Curse. (Which by the way, is a sweet romantic comedy, with no adult content, that you will absolutely love!)

I am able to track how many users clicked on the link and how many purchased. In addition to the sale I will make a whopping six percent as an affiliate. Percentages increase according to clicks and purchases.


Everything I have talked about today is doable for the everyday author. Do your homework and create an author plan and a book marketing plan. Now for the unpleasant part of today's post.

WARNING! Avoid time, money and sanity sucks such as: Reading and over analyzing reviews. Over analyzing Amazon ranking. Throwing money into giveaways that don’t give you any return. Doing endless blog tours with original content on blogs that have limited traffic. 

I’m not saying you shouldn’t do any of the above, but they should be assigned the proportionate time, energy and dollars they deserve according to what they provide as far as VISIBILITY AND ROI. Because when you are marketing, you aren’t WRITING.

There are very few mass market fiction authors that can build a successful career on one book a year anymore. Successful is subjective and once again we go back to what your career plan is as an author.

The best marketing advice is to write more books.

Weigh in on the topic. Any strategies you'd like to share? Your observations?

This post is one year old. What do you think has changed in one year? Facebook has made some changes for business profiles (which includes author pages) and you can read about that here:

Facebook Cracks Down on Promotional Page Posts (Forbes)


Today, I'll be giving away an e copy of The Indie Author Power Pack: How To Write, Publish, & Market Your Book by David Gaughran and Joanna Penn. to one commenter. To a reader, their choice of the available 2014 Seekerville holiday  books:

Let me know which you are up for!~

Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

And do stop by the Yankee Belle-Cafe today because I'm cooking and it's going to be yummy!


  1. Oh, I'm up for that Power Pack. Yes, I am!

    It's been a good day, but I'm exhausted. Going to bed before I fall asleep at the computer.

    Coffee's brewing.

  2. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  3. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you as well.

  4. I can definitely use this, especially since I have a short story coming out on Tuesday and am supposed to have a novella out in less than a month.

    Yes, I'm behind on the marketing. :-)

  5. Great post. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  6. Yep, I could use the Power Pack too!

    Great information, Tina! Thank you. The holiday is over, hope everyone had a good one, but now, back to work.:-)

  7. Wonderful information Tina. The only thing I would say is to carefully weigh the number of blog posts you do. If writing time is short, that might be time better spent on writing the next book--depending on the blog.

    Yay Walt!

  8. Hi Tina,
    I totally agree with your comment, "WRITE THE NEXT BOOK, FAST". You know I have badgered you-sweetly, of course-on more than one occasion about when your next book is coming out.

    Which leads me to your comment, "the e book boom is over". I believe you meant this from the writers ability to make a name/money quickly, but do you still believe the boom is over?

    From my pov, I hope not. I have happened upon some wonderful indies, like yours and Ruthy's, just by reading a hard copy and then searching out all your other works. I have also taken a chance on some new authors and had some pleasant suprises, all because the e book was affordable (we won't talk about some of the books that weren't quite ready for publication and authors got ahead of themselves and selfpublished, just because they could).

    I'm just curious how you see the e book market since last year. I'm just saying I have a list of authors who I would buy anything they put out in trad. or ebook form and am still willing to take chances on new authors based on cover and content.

    Her Holiday Family is still on my reading wish list so please enter me for that (I have read both holiday sets, Debby, Pam and Mary's novella too. I'm on a Christmas reading binge, lol!

  9. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!! I'm up for a Seekerville Holiday book...have loved reading Christmas stories!!!

  10. I've lost huge amounts of time while marketing and editing. I definitely need to re-prioritize. Although, I did exchange Black Friday shopping for writing time. :)

    Please, enter me for the power pack.

    And Happy Thanksgiving!!!

  11. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving. I know we did...who wouldn't with 82* weather when at home they're freezing their tush off? Yes, sometimes people have to work in 0* weather. Thanks, TINA. YOU know I woant books! Have an awesome day!

  12. Tell us more about your short story and novella coming out, Walt! Congratulations!

  13. Read some of last week's links in the Weekend Ed. Tracey, they indicate that the number of quality books out by self published authors has increased.

    The thrill is over. Readers are more discerning about what they download to their Kindle.

    Opportunity remains, but the goldrush is over.

  14. Yes. Piper. Those darn blog posts.

    You will note this is from the archives. LOVE THE ARCHIVES.

  15. Bridgett Henson. Long time no see. Wonderful to see your lovely face in Seekerville.

  16. I did read James Rubart's post on "Stingy Buyers Disease" last week. I do agree from experience that I am more selective about my choices now, even free costs too much if you "spend" your time and are disappointed.

    You are right to say, "opportunity remains, but the goldrush is over". I like how the market has a way of correcting itself.

  17. Exactly, Tracey. I have 560 books on my Kindle. I am slowing down as well.

  18. Marianne is back in Phoenix! Yeah, 82 yesterday. Unbelievable.

  19. Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend. Please enter me into the drawing for one of the holiday books.

  20. I'm with Piper 100%.

    If you're not producing books in a 3 book/year rate, why on earth are you blogging?

    Your best, best, best marketing tool is more production....(Well, unless your work isn't ready, but you'll figure that out because readers have a way of handing you your humble pie... With a fork, by the way.) :)

    Tina, this is still as true today as it was last year. One thing I've noted in indie publishing is that with the reader's greater perception of what an author does, which books are good, etc.... A lot of them are shying away from .99/books because they don't want to waste a dollar. BUT... if they see a book reduced for a limited time, and the author has solid reviews or publishing history, they're more likely to buy it.

    I've had so many readers tell me they've wasted money on some really bad books, so the age of discernment is upon us! THIS IS A GOOD THING!!!!

  21. Don't you be braggin' on your 82 degree nonsense!

    I've got snow cover and leafless trees and a really gentle snowfall right now. Totally time to write CHRISTMAS STORIES!!!!!!

  22. Tina,

    I am one of the participating authors in a new Kindle Worlds launch, scheduled for next Tuesday, December 2nd. In Kindle Worlds, authors license a popular series through Amazon for the creation of fan fiction. However, as Amazon wants product to sell on the launch date, Amazon contacts a few authors to produce content in advance.

    The new series being launched is Body Movers by Stephanie Bond. The premise of the series is that the heroine, Carlotta Wren, is the daughter of a prominent Atlanta-based financial advisor. When Carlotta is 17, her father is indicted for embezzlement. While awaiting trial, he moves the family from a ritzy section of town to a small townhouse and then skips town with his wife, leaving the heroine alone to care for her little brother. All of the heroine's friends dump her from their lives.

    The first book of the series opens ten years from the above incident, with the parents still missing and the cops still looking. It is comedy romantic suspense. (People get murdered in every book and the heroine is always involved in solving it. The series is called Body Movers as many of the cases arise the heroine's nighttime job of moving bodies for the city.) It is absolutely hilarious.

    I am working on two pieces of fan fiction for this series. One is a short story that is already uploaded and will be available on Tuesday. It is a contemporary short story titled Revenge Is A Body Best Served Cold. It takes place between two of the books in the Body Movers series.

    I am also trying to finish a novella that will come out in mid-December. The novella imagines a prequel set at the time of the arrest of the heroine's father. However, given my love of Japanese history, I drop the prequel into 19th century Japan.

  23. And given Ruthy's comments on production, I have to produce another story after I finish the novella. :-)

  24. Walt! Congratulations! This sounds like so much fun! I can't wait for the movie version.


    I read on Publisher's Lunch that author books are driving movies more than ever. I think we can see that is very true.

  25. Walt!!!!!

    WHAT A GREAT GIG!!!!!!!

    Oh my stars, that's a hoot, and I love the comedic aspects of it!!!!!!

    Can I play the heroine's weird aunt?

    I'd be perfect, darling.

  26. The fact that you knew how many kindle books you had made me curious how many I had, so I looked it up. An embarrassing 1052! with only 208 of them read. At my current reading pace I have enough books to last 7 yrs, not counting anything new! Crazy, I know, but I still like having my own library and it doesn't take up any space. Definitely time to be discriminating.

    What Ruthy said is true, I find myself looking for the higher rated books that drop in price for a day or two and buying those. I'm reading one now that was 3.99 for a good while and dropped to 1.99. Highly rated, a contest winner I saw on seekerville and a decent price. I've only read 30 pages and already I know I made a good choice, thanks seekerville :)

  27. Don't forget to stop by Yankee Belle Cafe. Link at the top of this blog.

    Lattes and chips with pico/salsa for your dining pleasure.

  28. 1052??????????????? That's good to know in case of an apocalypse.

  29. Yeah, last year, two novellas, a book and a short story collection. This year a book and a novella. I might have my next book finished by December 31st.

    I guess I better get my buns in gear.

  30. Lol Tina, the unread 800 count doesn't sound so bad, I hope

  31. Walt that is so cool!
    I think the premise sounds fantastic too, especially since it's a comedy.
    I can't wait to get my hands on it.

  32. Ruthy,

    I have you playing a toddler in a 19th Americana novel I'm working on. The one problem with putting your name in a Kindle Worlds book is that I don't control the rights to the name. Once introduced, anyone writing in the Body Movers world could do whatever they want with the crazy aunt. :-)

    And, unfortunately, no TV rights. That's actually in the contract.


    Seriously, do not forget to send us a link when it goes live.

  34. Unfortunately
    Everything They Teach You
    About Marketing
    Is Wrong…

    It’s just not completely wrong.

    True, I'm sure that all the marketing advice mentioned in this post is helpful to a degree. It is just not the whole story. While it may point a writer in the right direction, there are additional twists and turns that an experienced marketing person would need to make in order to stay on course. For example:

    Write the best book you can… NO

    Probably the people writing the best books are selling even less of them.

    It’s not the best book that wins the sales game but rather those books that provide the best reading experience to their target audience.

    Write the next book fast…NO

    That could be like adding more water to the soup.

    Instead take the time to make your next book a more rewarding reading experience than the last one. Strive to delight the reader with more of what readers like best about your writing. (Find out what that is!) Your next book should be the "Next Big Thing" to your fans.

    It’s all about your ROI…NO

    Many efforts are not about ROI at all. They are about doing things and spending resources on what will advance your career objectives. Advertising in some organizational publications may produce no sales but can get you noticed by people with the ability to advance your career – as in asking you to speak to their group. Keep your eye on the prize!

    The key to marketing is visibility…NO

    The key is not being seen by the largest percentage of the total market. It is being seen favorably and persuasively by your best prospects – these are those most likely to buy and enjoy reading your books.

    I’d rather have only 5% of the total market see my ads or publicity, if that 5% includes 80% of the total number of people who would most likely buy my book -- if only they knew about it! That is better than having 80% of the total market notice my book when only 5% of those people are prospects who would buy my books.

    Also visibility is a double edge sword. It must be favorable and not misleading. If your cover makes your book look like something it is not, the wrong people will be attracted to it and be disappointed while, at the same time, your best prospects will be driven away. And they may be driven away not only from that book, but perhaps all your books that come out in the future.

    True Marketing Tips

    Generate favorable word-of-mouth advertising for your books.

    Write books that keep giving readers more of what they like best about your writing. No book before its time.

    Make sure your books reward the reader on each page. Readers should turn pages because they enjoy the reading experience and not just because of a caffeine-like reliance on ever increasing conflict-driven tension.

    Lastly, in all you do, be a wonderful, warm hearted, person who readers like so much that they just want to please even if they are not going to actually read the book. (I’m thinking of a Ruthian kind of wonderful here. You know: cute kids, adorable pets, beautiful flowers, savory food, a kind word and brilliant smile for all. That kind of thing. :))

    I taught a course about this for real estate credit in Oklahoma called: “Good Person Power Selling”. The theme was this: The characteristics that make a great salesman are the same as those that make a great human being*. Think about it.

    I really need to share my decades of marketing experience by writing a book. Actually, I wrote one and I’m now editing it for Kindle Direct. : )


    NaNo Report:
    3 Days Left
    About 5,000 words to go

    (Characters are screaming at me to get back to them. These words won't count they are telling me.)

    *This assumes the salesman is selling an honest product. It does not work for conmen.

  35. Advice and insights well worth repeating--thanks, TINA! This promotion thing is a hard nut to crack (excuse the cliche), especially for an introvert like me.

    WALT!!! Your venture into fan fiction sounds fun!

  36. Well Vince, get that book edited and come and guest post in Seekerville.


  37. So much information, Tina. No wonder it gets so many hits. We all need to go back and learn more from it, over and over!!!

  38. Please enter me in the reader's contest. Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving and happy shopping on Black Friday.

  39. This is such a great post that it totally deserved to be re-posted as a good reminder. You've inspired me to write out my goals for 2015, broken down monthly, to discuss with my agent as we do long term career planning. Thank you for pulling it out of the archives.

  40. T I N A!

    “The End”

    NaNo 83,288 words.

    (Epilogue will be added later to tie-up the loose ends and provide a second helping of the HEA for the characters left behind in Fictiondom. But the novel is complete! This book was 100% pantsered! I had to read it every so often just to find out what I wrote.

    I did not know how it would end until the last few pages! This was by far the most entertaining thing I have ever done for a solid 27 days in a row.

    Pantsering is like opening a literary Pandora’s box. Howeverf, if you pantser, you will have to pay the piper. I had such an interesting and seemingly impossible storyline going that I was worried I could not end it satisfactorily.

    Then, in a flash, the amazing ending occurred to me out of the blue. It was the only ending that could happen given the foundation that had already been laid down throughout the entire book.

    This book could not have been plotted and still have been written by me because I would have never come up with the kind of foundation that was required for the ending to work.

    Wow! Now I think I know how Julie felt when she discovered a way to make Emma’s book end in the most amazing but fully justifiable way possible.

    So now I have to update my business website for all the real estate changes and then it’s on to RPP.

    Tina, I know you are booked up on your editing business, but please let me know when you are open again to do a macro edit. You know more about what I am trying to present in my RPP book than any other writer. I have a NY editor lined up to do the line edit but I’d like to have your input on the overall execution of the project.


    Good luck to all the NaNos who are making their dreams happen.


  41. I would love to win one of those Seekerville holiday books! Thanks for the opportunity!!!! I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving. I am at a family reunion right on a Southern Calif. beach - tough, I know! My mom turned 80 years old yesterday so my siblings & I brought our families to Calif. to celebrate!
    Enjoy the rest of the weekend!


    How are the other NaNoWriMoer's doing???

  43. Wow, on the beach in November. I am so jealous.

  44. WALT!
    I love the Body Movers series! I am so all over seeing what you wrote. Congrats on being a chosen one. That's awesome.

    This post just reminds me that I am so far from being ready for prime time (aka publication). Maybe that's the medicine talking - the family has been sick together for Thanksgiving. Lots of sleeping, orange juice and blowing noses. *sigh* Good thing we didn't have special plans ruined. I guess the bonus is the holiday was nice and quiet. *heh*

  45. Great post, TINA. Thanks for dusting this particular blog off.

    Thanks also for the link to the Forbes article. I do spend time on facebook, but I don't like most of that time because of how they manipulate us.

    I'd love to be a reader this week...

  46. Tina, This is just as great today as before. Such great advice.

    Is anyone besides me still stuffed?

  47. Hey Vince, Great news that you finished. WE are all waiting to read it. smile

  48. Great post, Tina! I'm up for either, since I'm both a reader and a writer. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

  49. Well, Anna, hope yours was okay with just the two of you!

  50. Tina, thank you for reposting today's blog. Very interesting read. I'd say the one thing that has changed in the past year is that once again the number of e-books has skyrocketed.

    I am participating in NaNoWriMo as a way to get my next manuscript started. I'm a day behind (as always!) but I anticipate crossing 50,000 words by the end of Sunday night and finishing the first draft by the end of December with edits and more edits next year.

    Thanks to the Seekers and all the people who comment. Love reading the stories.

  51. Thanks, Tina. It was. :) Hubby was deployed over Thanksgiving and Christmas last year, so we aren't taking this one for granted even though our plans to join my family didn't work out.

  52. I would love to have my name thrown in the reader contest.
    I've heard great things about the Hope for the Holidays collection. I love historical fiction.

    Thanks for the chance to win them.

    ~Cindi Altman

  53. Thank you. Tina, for the helpful post. I am pinning it. I'd love to be entered into the contest.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀