Jaqui LaneBusiness book self-publishing and marketing expert.
With self-publishing making significant progress over the past decade, aspiring business book writers often look to writing coaches, book sales experts, programs and platforms to learn how to make their books accessible and visible and secure more sales. What’s often missing, however, is an understanding of how to market and sell their book in the most cost- and time-effective way possible. As a result, most self-published authors don’t sell many copies. According to Words Rated, while 300 million self-published books are sold a year, the average book only sells 250 copies.
But, this doesn’t have to be the case. It’s entirely possible to sell thousands of copies of your business book—if you think about marketing and selling it as early in the writing and publishing process as you can. Here are the seven most important steps you can take, wherever you are on your self-publishing journey.
1. Be clear on your target audience.
Most business people decide to write a book because they want to share their knowledge and insights. However, they don’t always give any thought to who their audience is. You can’t market to everyone, so you need to work out who your primary audience is and put your energy there. Determine what their challenges are, where they tend to look for the help they need, how they read (ie, print, e-book or audiobook) and which platforms, sites or podcasts they engage with.
2. Know your purpose, goals and objectives.
Knowing what you want to achieve with your business book and why it might seem obvious, but many business authors don’t give enough thought to this.
It’s vital you’re clear about why you’re writing and what you want to achieve with your book. Do you want to build your profile, share your knowledge or increase recognition of your business? Perhaps you want to change the world by helping people with a significant issue. Understanding your core purpose will underpin a range of other decisions you’ll make to focus your marketing and sales attention where it matters.
3. Create a content marketing plan.
You have to distribute your promotional content, such as ads, social media posts or blogs, in a way that interests your target audience and meets them where they already are. This requires a well-conceived marketing plan. The most successful plans are detailed, deliverable and data-driven. What do I mean by each of these components?
• Detailed: A content marketing plan should cover an 18-month period up to and through your book launch. It should then be integrated into your business marketing plan.
• Deliverables: For a content marketing strategy to work, you have to actually deliver the content. If you’re not prepared to invest time and effort into this work, don’t start. No amount of ad words, SEO or smart metadata coding will make up for flash-in-the-pan promotion.
• Data driven: Former Postmaster General John Wanamaker once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Today, with the analytics tools available across most platforms, you can avoid these issues. Using the data they provide means you can see what’s working—and what’s not—with your plan so you can make any necessary adjustments.
4. Develop a media coverage plan.
Media coverage is an important part of marketing and selling a business book. There are techniques and ways you can secure media coverage for your book. Some key strategies you can use are following and engaging with journalists on social media; personalizing your media releases to each journalist or media outlet and relating your book to a recent news story to underline its relevance. Of course, you also want to follow up several times with any media connections you’re hoping to get.
5. Pursue partnerships to generate sales.
Most business book authors focus on selling one book to one person at a time. This can be a costly risk if you don’t know what you’re doing, and it’s unlikely you’re going to recover the cost of advertising through book sales.
Instead, develop partnerships with companies and industry organizations in your field. There are only so many company-branded pens, mouse pads and water bottles one person can receive. A book on a topic that’s relevant to their profession or provides great insights on a specific topic is a way more valuable gift.
So, look to companies you’ve worked with for partners. You can also explore industry events, conferences and presentations to make new connections. You can also research podcasts, interviews on LinkedIn Live and YouTube channels of influencers/leaders in your area to determine whether you would appeal to them and their target audience. Once you’ve found viable partners, ask them if they’re interested.
6. Build a book community.
It’s very important to build a community around your book journey early. Look across your networks of colleagues, clients, industry peers, board members, university alumni groups, community organizations, friends and family. Be active on whatever social media channels they’re engaged with, and ask them to interact with you and share your book across their networks. Be clear about what you want them to do, when and how. Provide them with whatever they need to make it easy for them to help you.
7. Be consistent and persistent.
Selling your book is a long-term exercise. You should allocate one or two hours per week to work on your content marketing plan. If you can’t commit to this, find someone who can handle it for you. Then be sure to regularly review results, engagement and sales.
Being a successful business book author takes time, effort and focus. Understanding how to market yourself and your book is one of the most important factors toward that success. The more visible you and your book are, the more it will sell and the greater impact it will have.
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