Very recently, I received a note from an aspiring author who was overwhelmed by the sales and marketing aspect of book publishing and wanted to know when and how she is supposed to fit it all in. Her questions inspired this latest blog entry, and I hope she finds some of this information useful.
Here’s my personal formula for writing, publishing, marketing, and selling my books. Not sure if it will work for you, but here’s how I do things:
1. For each book I write, I set the goal: “I’d like the first draft completed by such and such a date.” I always keep that promise to myself. I figure out how much time I need each month/week/day in order to meet that goal date, and I discipline myself to do it. (If you click on the picture to the left, you will be redirected to an article on overcoming writer’s block. This is the same formula I use to write all my books.)
2. After three books, my teenage son now understands mom’s process … and he knows to give me some space while I write so that I’m able to achieve these types of goals. (It is important to include family in your goals so they can help you achieve them. You may be surprised by just how supportive they are when you take the time to share your plans with them. They may even offer to help with some of the marketing.)
3. Once the first draft of my book is complete and with the copy editor, I switch from the “writing” gear into the “sales and marketing” gear: I write my back cover copy; I pick out the photo I want to use as my author picture; I design a rough layout of my book cover; I begin blogging about the book and designing whatever other promo (such as “One Sheets”) that I will use to promote it; I begin contacting local book stores to set up near-future signings and/or readings; I think about what sort of video reading I may want to create to post on YouTube; I start sending out invitations to the events via Facebook and email to generate interest ahead of time; etc.
4. Once the copy editor is done with his or her job in this process, I send the newly-edited electronic version of the manuscript to my graphic designer along with my instructions, artwork, and author photo. While the designer sculpts all these raw materials into a professional-looking book, I’m still working full time, still being a mom, and still focused on my marketing plans. In fact, there are quite a few steps in this process where you’ll be waiting for others to complete their various jobs (i.e. copy editing, graphic design, indexing, proofreading), so you’d might as well work on your sales and marketing at that time.
5. Once the book is officially published, now I’m “on tour” and working hard to promote it with internet marketing, signings, and the like.
This is my process each and every time I publish a book. Although a “book tour” is meant to sell the most recent book, I always make sure to include promo for each previous book in the back matter of the new book. I also bring the old books along to each event and sell them all as a series. (Every time I write a new book, I’m thinking, “How does this tie into the other books so I can sell them all as a series?”) Do you see what I mean? Always thinking ahead.
On the top right-hand side of this page, you’ll see a link to the “Sales and Marketing” category of the PPG Publisher’s Blog. There you will find all kinds of great ideas to help you sell your book. Everything you do has a cumulative effect. All these things work together over time. But make no mistake: there is NO substitute for in-person sales. It is the most effective way to move more books, and it is the author who has to do it. Nobody can do it better for you.
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