“Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers” – Tony Robbins.
Successful book marketing isn’t just about the things we do. It’s also about the questions we ask.
When you take the time to focus and reflect on your aims and objectives for marketing your book, you stand a much better chance of experiencing the results you want.
It’s easy to jump straight into the process of marketing after you finish writing. Understandably, you want to keep your momentum going.
However, it’s worth taking a moment to reflect and pause before starting. These six questions will help guide you.
What are my aims for this campaign?
At first glance, the objectives of a fiction marketing campaign might seem obvious – to sell more books.
And while that is probably the ultimate aim for most indie authors, there might be more immediate goals that are necessary stepping stones along the way.
For example, imagine you are a new author just starting in the indie author world. At this stage of your career, you might be more interested in getting reviews or free downloads rather than sales.
The takeaway is that you need to think clearly about your objectives at the very earliest stages of a marketing campaign. What makes sense for another author might not make sense for you.
It’s fine to pursue sales if that’s the most important thing for the stage of your author career you’re at, but there are plenty of other worthwhile objectives, such as building awareness of your work, growing your followers, or getting feedback on your fiction.
Which niche readers do I want to reach?
A smash hit mainstream novel might be your eventual aim, but most indie authors start by writing for a far more targeted, niche readership.
This freedom to write for the specific group of readers that mean the most to you is one of the best things about independent rather than traditional publishing.
You don’t have to try and reach everyone. Instead, you can write and market to the readers you authentically want to serve.
But who will they be?
Try and think beyond genre. There are so many niche genres that you can drill down and find a very specific target market. You can then use this information to focus your marketing efforts on trying to reach only the carefully defined group of readers that will love your book the most.
How will I choose between DIY and done for you?
After you’ve determined your marketing objectives and the specific readers you want to reach, it’s time to think about the activities your campaign will be based around.
For almost any element of fiction marketing, you have two broad choices – do it yourself, or have it done for you.
But how do you make that choice?
Sometimes, you don’t have the luxury of choosing. If your budget is limited or non-existent, you should focus entirely on free and DIY options.
However, if you have the option of investing in paid marketing, you should weigh up the pros and cons.
DIY marketing has the advantages of being entirely under your control, it doesn’t require financial outlay, and you gain valuable skills and experience for your future projects. It also has the drawbacks of being time-consuming and requiring a learning curve.
Paid marketing services have the benefit of being convenient and requiring less of your time and effort. However, on the downside, you are required to invest money and you lose the direct control you have if you opt for DIY.
Think carefully about what mix of DIY and done-for-you makes the most sense for your situation.
What is my marketing timeline?
The next thing to think about after figuring out your mix of DIY and done-for-you marketing activities is how to schedule them.
If you’re new to fiction marketing, this might be challenging!
As a general rule, try and allow more time than you think things will take. This builds in a buffer to account for any delays.
It’s also important to consider if certain activities need to occur before others. For example, imagine that you want to run a campaign to get reviews for your book, and you also want to promote it on a particular fiction promotion site. However, the fiction promotion site requires you to have a certain review score for your book before it can be promoted.
In the situation described above, you would need to make sure that you allocated sufficient time to your review campaign to get the right number of reviews before you started the process of being accepted by the promotion site. You would ideally leave a short space of time between the two so that any delays were accounted for.
As you become more experienced at running fiction marketing campaigns, you will get a better feel for how long different activities take, and can run a tighter schedule accordingly.
However, at the start, leave yourself plenty of space so that things are carried out properly and not rushed due to unrealistic time constraints.
Which marketing tools will I use?
As you will probably be quite hands-on with certain parts of your fiction marketing, particularly at the start of your indie author career, you should find as many ways as possible to lighten your load and work more efficiently.
Thankfully, marketing tools can make your job a lot easier and less stressful.
There is a tool available for almost any marketing activity you can imagine. If you’re not sure what these are and how they would help, consider the following examples:
- Email. If email is an important part of your fiction marketing plan, you should make sure it doesn’t become a drain on your time and energy. Using a free service like Gmail allows you to batch schedule emails to send in the future. This allows you to write and schedule them all in one focused period of time, rather than having to log in, compose, and send at every stage of your campaign.
- Social media. Social media can be a free and effective way of promoting your fiction projects. However, will all the different social platforms and their many notifications, it can soon become overwhelming. Consider using a tool like Hootsuite to manage content and replies across multiple social networks in the most efficient way possible.
- Project planning. Even after you’ve determined your ideal marketing timeline, and the sequence of activities that makes the most sense, it’s essential to keep track of your campaign and its many elements. A free tool like Trello is an easy and efficient way to keep everything under control and on schedule.
Don’t become too obsessed with choosing marketing tools. Simply find a few which make your marketing faster and more efficient, and if possible, make sure they are compatible with your writing software.
What lessons am I hoping to learn?
As well as the tangible benefits of a fiction marketing campaign, such as more sales of your book or reviews, there are also intangible benefits, namely invaluable knowledge and experience you can use to move forward in your author career.
But if you want to make the most of the lessons your marketing campaign can teach you, it’s essential to approach this intentionally.
This requires looking forward ahead of the campaign and reflecting on it after it’s over.
Consider these three questions ahead of your campaign:
- What am I trying in this campaign that is new or different?
- How will I know that this marketing campaign has been a success?
- If I don’t achieve my objectives, what learning points can I take forward to ensure my energy wasn’t wasted?
In terms of reflection, use these three questions as a starting point after your campaign is over:
- What parts of the campaign went according to plan? What are the reasons they succeeded?
- What did not go as I expected? What are the reasons for this?
- Knowing the results I have got, what would I do more of when marketing my next book, and what would I scale back? Why?
Ultimately, there is no substitute for learning through experience when it comes to marketing fiction.
However, if you use the six questions here to guide you, you stand a better chance of gaining useful experience that serves you far into the future.
About The Author
Chandler Bolt is the host of the Self Publishing School podcast & the author of 6 bestselling books including his most recent book titled “Published.”. He’s also the founder & CEO of Self-Publishing School, the #1 online resource for writing your first book. Self Publishing School made the INC 5000 in 2018 (#2,699) as one of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the US. Through his books, podcast, training videos, and Self-Publishing School, he’s helped thousands of people on their journey to writing their first book.