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Marketing Plans Made Easy! by S.R. Johannes

Everyone needs a marketing plan!

Throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks is a waste of time. Some of this information will also tie into your business plan that Denise talked about yesterday.??

Here are some basic steps on how to get started on creating the right plan for your book???

1) What is your overall goal? ?

You need to set a goal for yourself and your book. It gives you something specific to focus on and everything you do in your plan should target that goal.??? 

This can be in the # of books you sell? Or the * of responses you get on a mailing? Or your book's ranking? 

Whatever it is – what do you want to accomplish?

2) What is your marketing budget? 

?You HAVE to invest in marketing. Even if you have a publishing house.

That does not mean you have to go bankrupt doing it. Maybe it is 10 or 20% of your signing bonus. Maybe it's a percentage of your sales as a self-pubbed author. Maybe it is a set amount you can afford.

Whatever it is – use it wisely. 

You can be smart about it and there is a lot you can do on your own – calling, mailing, making connections, ezine interviews, bookmarkers, business cards, stationary, articles, press releases, blogs Facebook and MySpace. There are many templates to help with these.

You can even do book blog tours yourself. It just takes time.

Save your money for things that matter- things you need help with like high-quality brochures, business cards, professional web sites, and ads, book trailers, podcasts, audio books, contest fees, conference fees, etc

?3) Who is your target audience(s)?

?Think about your market. Don't just think of kids as by age. That is over 70 million people. You need to think in segments. Break it down.

There are many categories you can target with your marketing if you know how to break it down. Smaller chunks are easier to hit.

Try and choose 3-5 categories. You will market to them differently.??For example: lets say you have a YA historical mystery book that is set in NYC in the 1920s. Your target audiences could be:??
  • teens who love mysteries
  • regional NYC
  • regional where you live (always do this one – local places love local authors)
  • any group that promotes anything in the 20s – retro groups etc.
  • historical places (museums/societies/clubs ect)

For Untraceable, I have it separated into: 

  • teens who love mysteries, 
  • teens who love nature/environment/green teens, 
  • teens who love outdoor sports (hiking, climbing etc)
  • librarians and schools – teachers in biology or geology specifically
  • nature groups
  • then I go regional with Smoky Mountains area, North Carolina (where book is set) and Georgia (where I live)

?4) What are the channels for each? How do you reach these targets? Track them?

?Different markets use different channels to communicate. Think about that for each audience. It might be print advertising, Public Relations, publicity, direct marketing, direct mail, or trade show exhibiting.??

To start compiling your information:
  1. Create a excel spreadsheet that has a worksheet for each and every target audience you identify (remember 3-5 to start with)
  2. Then Google, Google Google that subject (ie historical societies, history clubs, retro clubs, retro teens etc) and list all the contacts you can come up with in contests, forums, web sites, meetings, ezines, websites, clubs, organizations…anything you can find on them – where they hang out or how they get information.
  3. Discover their basic need. Find out how can YOU help THEM? Find out how to utilize them in your plan. (esp conferences or contests)
  4. Then rank each channel for each target 1 – 5 with 1 being the best mediums and 5 being the lowest.
  5. Some of this is gut feel. Some of it depends on following and influence.
5) Where do you start your research?

Start researching the most obvious and largest target segment.Then dive into each segment sequentially.

I always create a spreadsheet in excel for each and a worksheet for every target audience. Then I line them up in biggest to smallest. There I track channels, contact information, and any contact I have (email, mail phone etc) and move through the worksheets.

6) Come up with a Pitch

Always pitch directly to target. So if i was pitching to a nature organization -the pitch would highlight different things than if I was pitching to a writing class at a high school.

Come up with a Unique Selling Proposition (in other words – what do you offer them?). 

Please do not call to discuss your book (zzzzzzzz boring!). Think about what would benefit them! Maybe an article, a school visit to teach kids about writing, a discount. Whatever it is. Go into it offering benefits – not asking for purchases. 

You will have to tailor your pitch for each audience. ie mystery places – pitch a story on how to write mysteries. a history place – pitch teaching kids about writing on history or research etc. 

You can't pitch the same thing to everyone.

?7) How can you contact all these resources? 

  • ?Start with the biggest group. Use your specific pitch. 
  • Contact personally – either by email or phone. 
  • Touch each contact at least 3 times (NOt literally that woudl be illegal πŸ™‚ I mean by email, phone, and follow-up mailing). 
  • Take it in chunks so you don't spend 10 hours a day calling. 
  • Try and make 5 contacts a day at first and see how it goes. Or only do marketing stuff on friday so you can write the other 4 days. Whatever it is – schedule it on your calendar.
  • Change it up as you go to be sure it is effective. 
  • If you aren't getting any bites – revisit your pitch. Something is off. ??Might be your pitch or might be how you are contacting them. May even be they are not really a target after all.
8) Which market/channel is effective? 

?You will have some hits and some misses. Keep track of what works and what doesn't. Revise your plan every year.??Other tips
  • ?Create a different story for each target audience that will appeal to different markets and channels? 
  • If you ever write an article for any ezine or newsletter (etc), ALWAYS ask for a tagline. Promote your book in the tagline (XXX is author of. you can reach her at www.)? 
  • emarketing should be a huge part of your marketing plan? 
  • Follow up! Never assume the answer is No. Keep following up with contacts. At least 3 times. But don't be annoying.? 
  • Offer discounts and extras. Buy your books and sell them at a discount to beat bookstores. Or offer free bookmarks etc.? 
  • Partner with a charity or organization to cross-promote and give some proceeds to them? 
  • Cross promote with other authors on team tours.??Marketing plans are hard. Expect to fail some and succeed some. Don't be afraid to adjust as you go.

Happy marketing!


S.R. Johannes is the award-winning author of the Amazon bestselling Untraceable (a teen wilderness thriller series) and new tween paranormal, On The Bright Side. She has also published short novelettes as well as a teen romance anthology with 16 other authors titled, In His Eyes. Uncontrollable is the sequel to Untraceable, and Unstoppable (book 3) is scheduled for Summer 2013.

S.R. Johannes is the YA advisor of ALLi and a winner of the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Awards (Young Adult category). She was also nominated for 2012 Georgia Author of the Year (Young Adult category), a Finalist in The Kindle Book Review's Best Young Adult of 2012, and a YA Finalist in the US Book News best Book of 2012.

After earning an MBA and working in corporate America marketing for over 15 years, S.R. Johannes traded in her expensive suits, high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-flops, and her love of writing. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her dog, English-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess, which she hopes- someday- will change the world.

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This Post Has 22 Comments
  1. Hi Sir, You are really good writer.

    Thank you so much for your opinion about on indierecon.org. About checking emails, It is not what you have said rather just a bad habit developed over the period about on How to buy gold bars are key elements for the sensible trader to take into account before making an investment in gold bullion. The following questions should provide as a common guide when making an investment in gold and other gold and gold.

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  2. Shelli, your tips on how to connect with a target audience are so helpful. Congratulations on the success of your books. And gee, INDIERecon is overwhelmingly incredible. THANK YOU!!!!!

  3. Thank you so much for this! I had heard before about marketing and finding local groups or groups on topics related to your book, but I never knew what exactly to do or offer them once I had these contacts. This is great information!

  4. I am going to use this plan, as my own for the book I am working on, and honestly answer all of the questions that are asked then take the action steps to provide me actionable elements.

    Thank you very much.
    To me this is the hardest part of the process.

  5. Which do you advise: DIY business cards or puchased ones? You have it listed in both the things yucan do yourself and the things to get help on.
    Also, how do you figure out who your target audience is? I have the hardest time with this. I write mysteries, and it seems like such a huge genre. Other than mystery lovers, what aspects of my story should I look at to find the target audience?

    1. it depends on what tech skills you have! if you can design – do them yourself. If you cant find a online site to do them. I dont think they should EVER be printed out at home!

      you need to find out what kind of mysteries – list the top 50 topics your books covers and go from there

  6. Shelli, I didn’t realize your books were nature-related! I’m a zoology major with a love of the environment and conservation, so all my YA books incorporate nature somehow. Can’t wait to read your books! And thanks for so much for the excellent marketing info–I desperately needed it! πŸ™‚

  7. Great post. I like how you broke it down to bite sizes that are more workable. Using a worksheet to track also great idea. I like to put data into graphs to see the trends. Marketing a book can use the same processes as other businesses.

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