Read How to Self-Publish Your Books
A key part of self-publishing is getting your books to the hands of your customers, and this involves expertise and know-how in distribution and marketing. You do not want to print 2,000 copies of a book you consider to be groundbreaking, only for the books to languish in your basement! You need to do a lot of market analysis, careful planning, budgeting and persistence to recoup your investment and profit from it.
Analyzing the Market for Your Self-Published Books
To help you shape your marketing and distribution strategies, the first step is to know the consumers’ book buying behavior: what makes them buy a book, where do they usually buy books, and what attracts them to a particular book.
Check out the publications offered by the Book Industry Study Group at http://www.bisg.org , particularly their Book Industry Trends (prepared by BISG and the Fordham University’s Graduate School of Business Administration), and the Consumer Research Study on Book Purchasing (prepared by the NPD Group). One interesting result of the of the latter study showed that over 44 percent of adults purchasing books base their decision on subject, and approximately 24 percent on author’s reputation. Price (2%), cover art or endorsements (2%), and having a book on the bestseller list (less than 1 %) are considered marginally important.
Another publication worth reading is the American Book Buyers Study, sponsored by Publishers Weekly and the Book Industry Study Group. Their study showed that 59 percent of their respondents planned their purchases before they went into the store, while 40 percent made impulse buys. Confirming the findings of other studies, the study showed that 63 percent of respondents found bestseller lists to be of little importance to them in making a buying decision; only 23 percent said the book jacket or cover was important; but 66 percent thought the information and copy on the inside flaps and back cover was important.
You may also want to check out the American Booksellers Association at http://www.bookweb.com for bookselling news and research statistics. One of the charts they present is that of the Category Share of Consumer Purchases of Adult Books, where they find that religious books grew by 173 percent from the period 1991 to 1998, compared to the 4 percent growth of general non-fiction (biography/autobiography, non-fiction crime/true adventure, humor/jokes, military/war & history). Knowing how particular subjects fare can give you a realistic view of the sales potential of your publications.
Marketing Strategies for Your Self-Published Books
There are hundreds of ways to market your book. The key is to be creative and plan on doing some hard work promoting it. According to industry insiders, marketing (including selling expenses and promotion) should be about 13 to 16 percent of net sales. You therefore have to choose which marketing strategy will yield greater immediate visibility and sales with less cost.
The first step is to create a detailed and realistic marketing plan for the book. Your plan should include strategies to get your books into the hands of buyers – whether wholesale buyers, retail account buyers, or consumers. According to Thomas Woll in his book Publishing for Profit: Successful Bottom-Line Management for Book Publishersyour marketing plan should contain the following details:
- Marketing budget
- Sales goals for year 1 and 2
- Specific marketing targets for this book
- Marketing strategies (including direct response mailings)
- Publicity strategies (i.e. bound galleys to pre-reviewers; review copy plans; publicity releases; author tours and interviews planned; feature stories planned; press/publication parties)
- Author questionnaires
- Book exhibits
- Advertising plans (trade advertising such as booklists and library journals; consumer advertising in magazines, catalogs, and newspapers; support advertising in bookstores such as Borders and Barnes and Nobles)
- Author seminars, lectures, speaking engagements
- In-store promotions (brochures, counter packs, posters, etc)
- Library promotions
- Wholesaler promotions
- Textbook and/or school adoptions
- Special sales prospects
- Sub-rights sales prospects (book club sales, reprint sales, foreign rights, audio rights, serial rights and other rights)
- Premium sales prospects
- Mail order catalogs
- Specialty outlets
Of the above strategies, getting publicity for your book should be your first step in marketing your book. Publicity is the most effective but relatively inexpensive way you can promote your material. The media is always on the lookout for fresh content, and you as a self-publisher and author are in the best position to offer that content. Establish and build on your relationships with the media: it is important that they see you as an expert in your field that they can use for their stories or article contributions.
Getting publicity entails three main approaches:
- Sending book to book reviewers for review in various newspapers, magazines, journals and online publications
- Writing feature stories about your book, and sending them to newspapers, magazines and online publications
- Going on book tours, book fair appearances, in-store book related events, radio and TV interviews.
Another key component of your marketing plan should be Internet marketing. With the increasing number of customers buying and discovering books online, you need to map out your online strategies. You can list your book at various Internet bookstores for wider visibility and exposure. You can also follow the lead of many authors and self-publishers who create their own web sites to promote themselves and their books. Create a website for the book or you as the author. Get the help of bloggers to review your book or to help you promote it. You can also spread the word using social media, newsgroups, listserves, chatrooms, and discussion forums, as well as opt-in email newsletters.
Publishing yourself can be a rewarding experience and can launch a whole new career for you. If you like to write, book publishing can be a worthy goal.
Recommended Books on How to Market Your Self-Published Books:
- The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published: How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It . . . Successfully
- Self Publishing Books 101: Helping You Get Published and Noticed!
- Book Marketing DeMystified: Enjoy Discovering the Optimal Way to Sell Your Self-Published Book, Practical advice from the inventor of print-on-demand (POD) publishing
- Marketing Strategies for Self-Published Books: Everything you need to know about local, online and nationwide marketing strategies as well as self-employment taxes. (Volume 1)
- 77 Ways to Find New Readers for Your Self Published Book!