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Successful Self Publishing

Successful Self-Publishing
Terence Tam
Issue 1: January 2007

Inside this issue:
Developing a marketing plan for your book.
Discover how a carefully structured marketing plan can make the world of difference to the commercial viability and success of your book project. Read more.


Developing a Marketing Plan for your Book

A marketing plan is a business development document designed to help you identify and plan out the actual activities that will promote and sell a product or service. It is a crucial planning tool that provides focus and check-list type clarity. Marketing programmes attempted without the backup of a proper plan, often fall victim to an unstructured, ad-hoc approach and money down the drain.

Why should you develop a marketing plan for your book?
A book may not seem like the kind of item relevant for the development of a marketing plan. This is definitely wrong. Your book is ultimately a product. It is a commercial item that must be promoted and distributed to a pre- targeted marketplace. Approaching the sale of your book in this professional and business-like manner is the best platform to realise any kind of commercial success.

Core components of your marketing plan
The marketing plan for your book does not need to be an elaborate, 20+ page document full of graphs and market research analysis. This will be your marketing plan, for your book. It does need to be a clearly written and sharply presented professional document, suitable for bookstore buyers/managers, publishers and distributors to review. However, it only needs to reflect the fundamental essentials that will influence the potential commercial success of your ‘product.’

Goals and Objectives
Establishing clear goals and objectives for the commercial success that you would like to achieve from your book is the first step in the development of the overall marketing plan. Think of these goals in terms of numbers. How many units of the book do you aim to sell and over what period of time? Taking into account your estimated retail price per book, how much revenue (money made before costs and tax) and profit (money left after costs and tax) do you anticipate from your unit target?

Target Audience:
Who exactly are the people most likely to be interested in reading your book? Create a picture of this person in your minds eye, and describe this profile within the plan. Are they male or female readers? What age? What kind of social or economic background do they come from? What level of education are they likely to have?

Unique selling proposition (USP):
You now have a profile picture of the type of person most likely to read your book. Now, clearly define this next essential question – why would this person want to read your book? Does the book address important social issues such as politics, economy, health, war or religion? Is it going to evoke strong emotive response? Will it capture the minds and hearts of the audience? How? In what way will it strive to achieve this?

The qualities that will entice your target audience are the qualities that make your book unique. These unique characteristics form the foundation of your USP. They are the core messages that should be openly and clearly emphasised in all your promotional and selling activity for the book. Study the back covers of books in your local store. How does the text describe the book? What unique statements does it emphasise to capture and hook your attention? These back covers may appear to be simple synopses, but they use the essential principles of a USP.

Promotional Activities:
What promotional activities will you implement to generate publicity and public awareness of your book – especially among your selected target audience? Will you use media, through public relations or press advertisements? Will you look for speaking or networking events relevant to your book topic? How much of a role will the internet play? Do you plan to host a book launch event?

Developing a marketing plan is your opportunity to think precisely about what strategies and activities you will engage in, and structure them in a tangible form. A marketing plan also gives you the best forum to plan out the specific details for each individual activity - such as timeframes and dates, costs, essential contacts and suppliers.

In summary, a marketing plan is not a ‘quick and easy’ document. It requires thought, research and planning. Developing one really should be approached as a project in its own right. I guarantee however, that the time spent will be a worthwhile investment in the commercial success of your book. It will represent all your hard work in a professional fashion, and create a strong business impression.


About the Author: Terence Tam is the CEO of Book Pal and is a self publisher himself. His vision is to help both experienced and budding authors self publish their books. Book Pal also prints print on demand books to help the author print the number of books she requires.
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