Developing an Effective Marketing Strategy

Marketing has always been the Achilles heel of most authors. For a new author, it can become really confusing to choose between the different types of marketing and PR avenues. The options by themselves are endless – public relations, blog tours, social media, displays, flyers, ads in newspapers, speaking events, book reviews, banners on Goodreads and Amazon and the list isn’t even close to being completed as yet.

To say that the whole process is overwhelming is putting it rather mildly. As a new author (or even a seasoned one), once your book is in its editing stage, it is best to start thinking about marketing activities. Without a marketing strategy, you might as well think of yourself as strolling in doldrums.

Let us look at the steps we can follow to develop an effective marketing strategy:

1. Organize and Plan Your Marketing Strategy:

Before you actually work on implementing a marketing strategy, sit down and divide the marketing activity as long-term and short-term. Certain marketing activities will be long-term and others will be short term. For instance, interacting with fans social media is a long-term activity which you will need to do regularly. On the other hand, book reviews need to happen within 6 months of release. Talk to your editor and publicist if you are unsure about these.

2. Choose Your Marketing Mix:

It is easy to get carried away and think that you need to undertake all activities to promote a book. However, not only is such a premise faulty, but also time-consuming and expensive. Further, not all activities will yield the desired results for your book. Hence, as a new author, pick 2-3 activities only and dedicate yourself to doing them well. Look at what works best for you. Ask your publicist, read up a bit on marketing avenues and then take a call on activities which you would like to undertake.

For instance, if you are reticent as an author, investing heavily in public relations or interviews may not be the best for you. On the other hand, if you are comfortable with social media, you can look at holding a series of Twitter chats.

3. Plan out Your Timelines:

Plan ahead and start with your marketing activities two weeks before release. Further, given that the shelf life of a book is about 3-6 months, plan these out uniformly rather than in one single burst.

If, for instance, you are doing a series of twitter chats, contests and in-store activities, keep one of these as primary which run through the whole course of your campaign while the other two are secondary and happen in short bursts.

After the initial 8-14 weeks, paid marketing should ideally cease to ascertain the organic reach and the ‘word-of-mouth’ response of the book. [Word-of-mouth marketing is recommendation by a satisfied customer or peer.]

4. Decide Your Budget:

Marketing and PR activities are costly. Hence having a budget in place and deciding what you would like to spend on is important. For instance, as a new author, you may be tempted to spend heavily on public relations. You might want to ensure the presence of reviews and interviews in a number of avenues in one go. Avenues like newspapers and magazines, digital media marketing, events and launches, printed ads, and in-store displays. However, this marketing strategy will be expensive and might not necessarily yield the desired results.

It is best to go about marketing activities systematically and expand subsequently when there is a need rather than exhausting all resources at once.

Execute, Pause, and Reflect:

The process of simply executing a marketing campaign is not enough. While there are many things that can go wrong, there are many things that may not translate into sales at all. As Kanishka Gupta in his article on Scroll.in points out his conversation with a marketing manager: “I know of several launches attended by 400-500 people, but very few copies are actually sold at the venue.”

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Ensure that you first have a realistic benchmark before starting a marketing campaign. Having a marketing strategy to this end is very important. Once you have ceased with your marketing campaign, check and see if the results met the expectations. And do the needful if there are any amendments needed on your end.

If you are an author, share about you and your book(s) in Author’s corner and do take a look at our unique community approach to Book Marketing.

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Shobhita Narayan
Shobhita Narayan currently handles online and content marketing at Glitstreet, fashion e-commerce start-up and is completing her business degree. She has previously worked with Hachette India for four years as a Publicist and has handled major brands in publishing such as Playing It my Way by Sachin Tendulkar, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz amongst others.

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