by Kathy Izard
Many aspiring authors claim to despise marketing. They just want to work on their craft and write a great book, and hope that will be enough to make it hit the bestseller list. They spend years taking writing classes, searching for an agent, and working on a book contract thinking that someday, someone else will do all that social media and marketing stuff.
The truth is, even if you get a contract with one of the Big Five publishers, there will not be a team of magic marketing fairies selling your book. Publishers still expect YOU, the author, to be engaging with potential readers through social media (Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter) and speaking engagements. Unless you are already John Grisham or Michelle Obama you are not likely to go on a nationwide book tour or get booked on the morning TV shows.
I say this not to depress you but to empower you. If you have a story that you want to tell, it is your job to both write it and sell it. Hopefully, you have already spent years drafting a polished story and understand who your audience might be. But even if you have only written the first draft and have no idea who might read it, now is time to begin crafting your business plan. As the author, you are the best person to understand who will be looking to read your romance novel or who needs the advice in your nonfiction book.
Begin to understand how your book matches your readers’ needs by asking yourself these three questions:
- Why did you write the book? Take time to write about this and be honest with yourself. Maybe it is just pure entertainment for you and your reader or maybe there is a felt need you think your book meets for potential readers. Understand why you wrote the book and what your expectations might be for sales.
- Who is your ideal reader? Get specific. What are the demographics of this group, where do they shop for books, and what format do they read (e-books, audiobooks, paperbacks or hardbacks)? You wan to make sure what you publish is what they buy.
- Where can you begin connecting with your type of ideal reader—either virtually or in person? Is it Instagram or LinkedIn? Are there Facebook groups you can join to begin meeting readers before your book launches? Are there in-person groups in your city—book clubs, service clubs, faith groups—that match your book’s theme that you can connect with?
Make these basic questions the starting point for writing the business plan for selling your book. Whether you have a traditional publisher or you independently publish, you will need a good outline of who are trying to sell to and how you will reach them.
You have worked hard to write a manuscript you care about. Now give an equal amount of effort understanding how to get that book to readers who will love it as much as you do.
Kathy Izard is the author of three books, The Hundred Story Home, The Last Ordinary Hour, and A Good Night for Mr. Coleman. She connects with her readers on Instagram (@kathyizardclt) and loves helping writers get their words in the world.
Learn from Kathy
Paths to Publishing: Self-Publishing Start to Finish. Thursday, October 6, 2022, 6:00-8:00 pm. So, you’ve finished a manuscript and have made the decision to self-publish. Where do you start? Join us as Kathy Izard walks you through 10 steps to putting your words in the world. From purchasing your own ISBN number to ordering author copies, Kathy can answer all your questions about becoming a published author of adult or children’s books. Register here.