(1050 words – 8 minutes read)
Being creative isn’t limited to writing even though writing is an artistic creative being. Writing is a never ending learning process. It can always improve and go deeper. But the most improvement happens when the writer shares her work with others, exposes herself vulnerably, and asks others to read her writing. Finding the right audience interested in reading the writing, connecting with the writer, and providing feedback is not an easy job or at least it is a lot of work and needs marketing skills.
I have done many other things in my life but I never considered my personality suitable for marketing positions. I was a quality system analyst, then became a project performance analyst working with Excel sheets and databases all day. Then when I was 43, I started writing a book. I know I can learn new skills but learning many at the same time is a tall order. Needless to say, after I had my finished manuscript in hand, I started searching for opportunities to publish it. No matter what route of publishing I take, traditional or self publishing, I need a marketing plan. A marketing plan is an important part of a book proposal to send to agents. It becomes even more important when you decide to self-publish.
The first article I read about creating a book marketing plan sounded like gibberish. The second and third ones didn’t add more to my understanding. I attended workshops and read more about it. After a while it started hitting me and my understanding level of book marketing started to climb. I know there is still a long way to go and although I have a draft of a plan, it will be modified daily as I learn more about it. I am enjoying the process as overwhelming as it is, and trying to constructively use my previous skills to get a hang of this part of life.
The most important question a writer needs to answer is who is her target audience. The million dollar question!
So here is where my journey led me after tons of research.
The most reliable website about publishing and book marketing I found is Jane Friedman website and the ones she recommends. I bought her book The Business of Being a Writer too. It is a good source book for me.
I had a preliminary answer to the most important question, as I was working on the draft. My memoir is about me growing up in Iran dealing with dictatorship of the Islamic regime and the authoritative, male-dominant culture. My target audience was people who liked similar books about Iran and the Middle East especially focused on women’s lives. But this is as vague as it sounds. There are thousands of Iranian-Americans who left after the revolution and lived abroad and are now curious to know how life was for those who stayed in Iran longer. This group is easier to reach out to. My marketing plan needs to address the tasks of getting to know these people and getting their attention to my story.
After reading many articles, listening to many podcasts, and watching YouTube videos, based on a suggestion Jane Friedman has in several useful articles, here is a rough draft of my marketing plan. Bear with me. It still needs a lot more work as I learn more.
- Do I need a Website? Yes. I am going to use www.wix.com.
- What social media do I want to use to build followers? I am going with Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and will create an Instagram account later.
- In Goodreads I try to connect with people who read similar books.
- I am also creating my Goodreads Author webpage.
- What is an efficient way of using the social media? Using associated hashtags in my story and work, following my potential readers, offering what I can (more than marketing), and having an honest and earnest presence.
- How do I build credentials? I will apply for book prizes that I am qualified for. I have written personal essays and submitted them to magazines and popular related blogs. I will write more and will submit more.
- What is my target number for sale? I am targeting 1000 books in the first year.
- Do I have a robust budget for publicity? No, I will try to do my best. I hear publicity including hiring a publicist can cost up to $25K. Jane Friedman suggests “For $1,500, you could hire a skilled publicist, with an excellent network of contacts, for probably one month to help garner mainstream media attention.”
- What publicity strategies will I use?
- I will reach out to indie bookstores and will plan a book tour starting with the Washington DC area and then the rest of the East Coast. Indie Bound provides information about the location and information of indie bookstores in the U.S.
- I will ask some authors whose writing I connect with if they would be willing to read my book and provide a review.
- I will reach out to my Goodreads friends (1300 now) and will ask if they would be willing to read my book and provide a review.
- I am thinking about using some online marketing tools such as Facebook and Instagram ads as well as websites like New in Books and Written Word Media. These websites are recommended by Joanna Penn. Joanna offers great advice for indie authors.
- I will reach out to podcasts and radio channels to apply for an interview.
- I will pitch to journalists to try to get my words to the press. I have not used www.helpareporter.com but will give it a try.
- Last but not least, I will reach out to libraries and colleges to see if I can have any events for book reading. There are different student organizations in each college that might like to open an event for an author to talk about her book.
Seems like A LOT of work! I will try to do my best to make it fun and learn from this process. The most exciting part of it is connecting with other people and sharing my story. May sharing my story encourage others to share their stories. We will understand each other and our differences better when we know about each other’s stories. Everyone has many untold stories.
Editing Credit: Mike Curtis
Photo Credit: Clem Onojeghuo on Pexel.com