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 Marketing Plans 101

What’s the Goal?

The Marketing Plan: the official unofficial draft of your entire campaign. It’s where you’ll determine your book’s target audience and brainstorm how to successfully position it in a congested market. A successful Marketing Plan uniquely appeals to its intended audience so your book sells.

Step 1: The Basics

The basics? It’s pretty self explanatory. Here you’ll establish the logistics, including your book’s ISBN, pub date, list price, BISACs, print run, any other books by your author, and a plethora of other riveting information. No special nuances here.

That said, this doesn’t mean the basics aren’t important. They’re actually crucial to branding. Let’s take BISACs, for example. Choosing a list of four to five BISAC codes will help determine your book’s genre and, ultimately, the variation of audiences it’ll reach if positioned appropriately within those markets. It’ll also inform the book’s saleability.

The rest of the basics work together to further inform the metadata. It’s important to do your market research to determine an appropriate list price, publication quarter, trim size, and so forth. Other information, like the ISBN, will be supplied to you.

Who’s Your Author?

Next comes the author bio. Your author will supply this to you, so it’s important to ask them for an up-to-date, concise-but-effective bio. Readers want to know who writes the stories they love so much, but don’t bog them down with personal nuances.

What the Heck is a Comp?

A comparative title is a title similar to yours that’s used as market research to best inform sales price, projected sales, design and branding strategies, and ultimately, saleability. If your book doesn’t have a lot of comps, it’s either especially unique and fills a hole within the market or just isn’t what readers want.

Step 2: Who’s Your Audience?

This section is contingent on the Persona Exercise that will occur immediately before the Marketing Plan stage. In this phase, your team and the Marketing Manager will create a sort of audience avatar by answering many basic questions about your target audience, such as age, gender, ethnicity, political leanings, and so forth, as well as personality questions, some of which may seem trivial—the infamous iPhone-versus-Android debate, for example. Keep in mind that no question is trivial. Each informs the other. The goal is to create a real person you might run into at the bookstore browsing for a book just like yours.

Step 3: The Real Juicy Stuff: The Hook and Back Cover Copy

Ah, this is where it gets tricky. Writing an effective hook and description that reels in the audience in a snippet of a second is an art. Consider pithiness, concision, and drama. This is your first chance to make an impact. Avoid cliches and ensure the book’s primary goal comes across clearly. A hook should be no more than two short sentences, though one is preferred.

The description is what readers will see on the book’s back cover. Vague and mysterious? Not here. Write a summary that indulges the plot points and use as many keywords as possible. Amazon’s search algorithm will crawl the first 250 words of a description, so make sure those 250 words are impactful.

Step 4: SEO, Keywords, and Online Visibility

SEO stands for “search engine optimization” and appears in CoreSource and Amazon to make your book more visible online. Choosing over a hundred relevant, carefully chosen keywords ensures that your book won’t get lost in a wash of millions of internet searches.

Step 5: Reaching Your Audience

At this stage, there’s no need to create the actual Contact List. Instead, get inside the mind of your target audience and brainstorm the best categories to find reviewers in. Referring back to the section “Where are they?” in the Persona Exercise will tell you about your audience’s social media presence. Consider podcasts, bloggers, social media accounts, news outlets, industry outlets, clubs, academia, and so forth.

Step 6: Build That Campaign

Now’s the time to brainstorm what your campaign will look like. List the actionable things you’ll do to promote your book. Though you’ll want to keep these as bullet points, don’t skip the simple stuff like targeting reviews. Your sales reps will want to know this information. Brainstorm review and social media strategies, and promotional activities like author interviews, community outreach, and collaborations.

Now, get campaigning!

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