A Writer’s Guide to Marketing that Works
How to build a marketing strategy before you launch your next book
Avery smart woman once told me the quote below. As freelancers and writers we’re pulled in many directions. Not only are we the production arm of our tiny publishing companies, but we’re marketing, sales, PR, HR, QA, and BS. We’re the idea people and the analytical people.
Strategy’s best and worst friend, is time.
Odds are, we’re not good at everything.
We want to launch our work quickly to get it in front of our audience. We’ve got a thousand ideas for new writing projects — many of which take us in opposite directions. We run around like crazy and lose many hours of sleep to get our creations launched.
Now it’s time to tell the world.
This is the part where many of us fall. We spend so much energy on our work we leave the marketing until last. We wait until our creation is out the door and fumble for a handful of quick-fixes to try and sell our idea — like digging for change in the couch cushions.
We settle for tactics because we’ve run out of time for strategy.
This means, not only does strategy need time to prove-out our marketing plan, but if we don’t choose and execute a well-developed strategy, we’ll keep strategizing indefinitely and never execute.
So, we release our work and go for cheap tactics like these:
- Throw money at banner ads, and when the prospects click to buy your product, you up-sell people to death, so they run away before they order
- Interrupt your audience with a barrage of unsolicited advertising you can’t track
- Don’t take the time to build a platform
- Post a constant barrage of buy-my-book social media posts that don’t fit an overall theme and offer no value to the follower
- Don’t build relationships
- Constantly send your customers requests to buy your products
- Search the internet for easy ways to hack the system, crack the code, and all the buzzwords you’ll get from fourteen-year-old YouTube marketing experts
- Prostitute your work for any amount someone’s willing to offer, discounting your book well-below the market rate — just to make a sale. Because you want a sale so bad
Bleak, isn’t it? But there’s hope. With a well-planned writer’s strategy you’ll map your release plan BEFORE you write your next book, not after.
How to build your writer’s marketing strategy in five steps:
Spend a long weekend or more developing this plan. Your marketing strategy is both a map and reference guide for getting more sales and more customers. This strategy document will change as you discover what works and doesn’t. As you grow as a writer, your master strategy will grow with you.
Build your marketing strategy before you develop your product
You may not even have a book yet, but it’s never too early to build your platform. The worst thing we can do is offer our work to an empty room.
(1) We start with a platform we own — your platform isn’t just your social media following (although it’s a component). You don’t own Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram. But you do own your email and mailing lists.
The platform becomes the core of the marketing strategy — everything feed into this list. Whether you make videos, post on social, have a podcast, or mail postcards, all your efforts should funnel your prospects onto your list.
If you don’t capture your customers’ email, you don’t own your list.
You’re already familiar with this process. Offer your prospect something of HIGH VALUE for joining your list (a free course, 30 minutes of coaching, a guide, a blueprint, or a master plan). This gatekeeper piece of content must be something your prospect would be willing to buy. If it’s not that good, keep working at it until it is. For example, I give an entire novel away for people who join my list.
(2) We are human in our communications. You’re one person speaking to another person. You’ll send out as a series of valuable welcome emails (or audio, or videos) to not only help you establish trust with your prospect, but also to be vulnerable and tell the story of how you got to this point.
(3) We sell evergreen books as automatically as possible. Use your welcome series to introduce prospects to your work, respectfully. Offer discounts on the first purchase and give the discount an expiration date. Evergreen books are inexpensive, have great ratings, and they’re easy to sell. This will be your core, monthly income generation.
(3) We launch our most-valuable work over multiple days — high-level products take more selling. Here, you’ll develop a launch sequence of 4–5 emails or videos. You’ll sell your product only a few times per year, or once a year. Launches require a lot of physical labor, but they also have the biggest payoff. We use the sequences to sell coaching and mastermind retreats.
(4) We have a value ladder — the value ladder is a series of price and value-increasing services and products, starting with a free offer on the bottom rung and ending with $25,000 private coaching, or one-on-one mentoring at the very top. Not every customer will travel through all rungs of your ladder. Some will start at the most expensive, while others may bounce around based on their needs.
(5) We always have something more to sell — want to keep a customer in your audience? Never run out of things to sell. Your customers aren’t on your list because they love hearing from you. They’re on your list because they like what you sell. These people may be very interested in you as a person, but they want your books. They are in it for themselves. Help each customer realize this dream. Release more books and supplement those books with training and coaching.
The best time to build a writer’s marketing strategy was before you wrote your book
The second-best time is now. Make a plan for the next book. Divide up your work into consumable soundbites. Create multiple streams of income off one book (audio, video, printed, ebook, merchandise, courses, retreats, mentoring, and mastermind groups). That’s NINE different streams of income off one piece of intellectual property. You be hard-pressed to find something more versatile than writing.
This works with both fiction and non-fiction. The fiction audience is bigger, but the non-fiction model is much easier to create multiple assets.
Build your plan, follow it, and give it time. Follow your plan for a year and revisit. Building a platform from zero takes time. Everyone starts with zero, we just don’t hear about them until they become best-sellers.
August Birch (AKA the Book Mechanic) is both a fiction and non-fiction author from Michigan, USA. A self-proclaimed guardian of writers and creators, August teaches indie authors how to write books that sell and how to sell more of those books once they’re written. When he’s not writing or thinking about writing August carries a pocket knife and shaves his head with a safety razor.