Once your book is finished and you’ve decided to self-publish it, how do you sell it? The answer to this question is “marketing,” a mysterious process that has stymied authors everywhere. While there are a few marketing principles to keep in mind, there’s no reason a self-published author couldn’t manage the process on their own.
The first step is to establish precisely who makes up your audience. Are they young or old? Male or female? Employed or not? How much money do they have available for books? Where in the world do they live? Try creating a composite character and describing his or her life. Under what circumstances might they be convinced that they just have to have a copy of your book?
Next, do some research into the lifestyle of your audience. How often do they get online? What Internet sites are they likely to frequent? What do they tend to do for fun? What issues do they think about when it’s time to get serious? What media outlets are most likely to be found in their path on a daily basis?
Now decide on your book’s USP, or unique selling proposition. What is it that makes your book special? Why would it benefit the reader? If your book could speak, what single phrase or sentence would it say to justify its being chosen over all the other books for sale?
With your USP in mind, address the six Ps of marketing: product, price, place, promotion, process and people. The product includes your book and the other, perhaps intangible, benefits the reader would enjoy as consequences of their purchase. Maybe you have a cookbook, and your product is the improved health from eating its low-fat recipes. Knowing the value of your product will help you adjust your price. Most people fervently believe the old adage “you get what you pay for,” so don’t be afraid to charge what your product is truly worth. Make sure that your price is in the same range as your competition, however, or you might be overlooked in the market.
Place encompasses your physical location in relation to your readers, as well as how the book will get to them (directly from your website or through a retailer or online). Choosing the most convenient place for your readers will help them decide in your favor. It can also help you keep overhead low and improve your profit margin.
Promotion is how you get the word out to the public about your fabulous creation. This is where advertising comes in, as well as public relations. Adjusting the specifics of your promotion campaign to your readers’ lifestyle will maximize its effectiveness.
People—this term refers to not only you and your readers, but also the vendors, agents and assistants who work with you. Each has an effect on the reader’s experience in buying from you, so each deserves your best management skills and cooperation. Choosing the right people for the tasks can make all the difference to your career.
Finally, the process takes into account all of the previous Ps. When they are all working at peak performance, the reader will enjoy their experience with you and tell everyone they know about it. Plan for every contingency, establish procedures to help smooth operations and accurately document each step to help control the quality of both your product and services.
Marketing is the technique of getting the right product to the right customers at the right price. It is as essential to a successful book as proofreading, so take the time to do it right and you’ll be glad you did.