Before getting into the details, it’s important to distinguish between Marketing and Selling Plans.
Marketing is about the intake of information. So, a Marketing Plan describes the steps you intend to take in order to learn about your market — your potential audience. You need to answer a number of questions, such as:
Who? — A list of prospective customers; your potential audience. This may come from a purchased lead list, referrals, previous or current customers, etc. It may consist of actual names or may be listed by types(e.g., age group, professions, male or female, specific conditions, etc.). When you write your book, “speak” to that audience.
What? — A list of the needs and wants of your audience. Why would they buy your book? What is your competition?
When? — Your timeline, including all the important steps in your data collection. When do you want to have the book completed?
Where? — The geographic location(s) you plan to work in to accomplish your goals.
How? — The actual details of your plan of attack. It should outline, for example, whether you’ll use telephone or direct contact, interviews or written surveys. Also, how do you plan to publish your book? Will it be paper (hard or soft cover) or electronic (including audio)?
How much? — For the fiscal minded, this item might outline a budget or how much effort you’re willing to expend on the Marketing Plan and the subsequent book project. How much can you charge for your book? (Note: This last question deals with a fair market price, not how much you think it’s worth.) Based on the next question, how much money can you forecast? Are you willing to pay for a professional cover design, to hire a professional editor? After project expenses, will you make a profit (if that matters to you)?
How many? — The number of books you think you can sell in the first year, and then in subsequent years.
Some of these questions are addressed more specifically in other posts.
A Selling Plan, on the other hand, addresses how the rubber meets the road; it has to do with the outflow of information to your potential buyers. This document should contain the following elements:
“Elevator speech” for you book — 100 words or less, written, on what your book can do to help or positively affect your target audience? What advantage(s) does your book offer over the competition? What’s your “hook”?
Biography — There may be two of these: one for the back of your book, or even the back cover; and one you use when you publicize your book. Remember, you’re selling yourself as well as your book? What makes you an expert or an authority on your subject? What’s your education, relative to what you’ve written about? What credentials do you have? Who do you work for, including being self-employed? What relevant organizations do you belong to or are active in? What makes you human (e.g., interests, hobbies, family, etc.)? Write your biography in the third person, but make sure that it reflects your personality. And keep it as short as possible.
Pricing — Have you set a price for your book yet? How did you determine it? What do competitive books sell for? Since price affects both sales and profits, these are important questions? If you sell your book yourself, and don’t have other people biting into your profit, you can afford to sell it at a lower price. This is also true if you want to compete against the existing market for your subject, or if you care less about profit than about getting your book into the marketplace. On the other hand, if your book addresses a special niche in the market or you feel you need the prestige, you can charge a higher price. And finally, you publishing medium has a direct effect: electronic books (e-books) are typically priced lower than paper books (p-books). And as a rule, lower-priced books tend to have greater sales volume than higher-priced books.
Distribution — How do you plan to get your book into the hands of your customers? Direct sales from your website? In book stores? Through a mass book distributor (e.g., Amazon)? Back of Room Sales (BORS) when you give speeches? What about retail outlets near where you live? They may be happy to sell a book by a local author. If you don’t sell it directly, where will your target audience tend to look for your book? Are there non-retail outlets (e.g., businesses, associations, schools, libraries)?
Promotion — How will you publicize or advertise your book? If your audience doesn’t know about it, why would they even look for it, let alone buy it? Will you promote it at speaking engagements, in interviews by various media? Do you know how to write a press release? Will you use various social media? Will you write articles or blog posts on the content of your book? What about creating a webinar? If you’re a professional, do you plan to let your peer group know that you just wrote a book? What about direct advertising to existing customers or clients? Will you place ads in various media or journals, especially those close to home? Will you advertise it on your usual website, or have you set up a specific website for your book? Can you get one or more people to write a review of your book? Likewise, can you get testimonials or endorsements? What about book signings at various outlets in your area? The range is almost limitless, and strongly depends on your goals, your personality…and your budget.
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