Marketing Plan Part 1:
Defining Objectives for Your Novel
Most of you know by now that my educational background is in marketing. Currently, I’ve just completed my marketing class that was specifically garnered to relationship marketing, which is very important in terms of developing a relationship in publishing with your reader. There are other more basic (not to say they aren’t complex, they are just more well known) marketing fundamentals that are also important in the publishing world. These fundamentals are especially crucial if you choose the route of indie or self-publishing. In the world of indie and self-publishing you will run much of your own publishing world–this is to say that you will need to be the one to develop your own marketing plan or strategy. The traditional marketing process of creating a marketing plan can easily be adapted to your novel, and I am going to do a five part series where we talk about the steps in your process. The first step in any solid marketing plan is to define the objectives.
Defining objectives means that you decide what you are going to promote, what your goals are, how profits will be measured, and finally how failures will be measured–yes, I just said failures. We won’t be sugar coating anything here. A good marketing plan is unbiased and truthful. You need these two things to ensure your own integrity and success.
1. What are we going to promote?
This may seem obvious–your book of course, but is it really that obvious? You have two roads to go down–promoting yourself and your book. Your book is a part of you, is it not? So, when you are promoting the book you should also be promoting yourself. You can do this through author interviews that focus on you just as much as they do the book. You can take an even more basic route–make these plans separate, as I do. Promoting myself is done via the same channels, but in slightly different ways. Promoting yourself doesn’t mean spamming (AKA painting yourself across the internet heedlessly, which looks much like bragging. It’s annoying. Don’t. Do. It.). What this means is adding value with your presence–let your readership get to know you on a professional writer level, with some personal stuff put in there. Be real, just not so real that people cock their heads and go, huh, and why are you telling me this? I’ll reference this in a different post where we discuss the difference between professionalism, coldness and sharing too much information at a later date. Keep tuned! For the sake of this post series I am going to use my newest novel, Just One Cup.
I am going to promote Just One Cup.
We need to know the product that we are promoting to do it properly. What is Just One Cup? It’s a New Adult Contemporary Romance Novella. Great, now that we know what we are promoting we can move onto the next step:
2. What are the goals of the promotion and the product?
We’ve talked about goals before in Sales Saturday: Setting Goals. Goals need to be specific, challenging and measurable.
- What do we mean by specific? The goal needs to be see-through. It can’t be vague. The best goals are set with numbers, this makes them both specific and measurable.
- What is a challenging goal? It’s one that’s still realistic, but stretches the limits. Goals need to be made to be achieved, if they are unrealistic they end up working adversely; instead of being enthused to continue, you end up burnt out, upset and off track.
- What do we mean by measurable? Either you get there or you don’t, period. You reach 100 or you don’t. You break Kindle ranking at 50,000 or you don’t. Simple.
Goals for Just One Cup:
- Release book in Spring 2013.
- Organize cover reveal for April 30th, 2013.
- Begin marketing the novel heavily 15 days before release. This will require advertisements to be running on at least 30 blogs.
- Run a month long blog tour.
- Reach 75 reviewing readers via sales channels, giveaways and R2R or ARR.
- Sell 150 copies by the end of the year. To keep on goal we must sell approximately 22 novels per month, unlike before this goal will be separate from giveaways. This means this goal is very high because I don’t usually sell more than 10 novels a month–on a good month.
- Break the 25,000 rank on Kindle e-book sales for three consecutive days.
3. How will profits be measured?
You will need to reach a number that is based off of your targeted reach, your price point and, for myself, that includes paperback and e-book sales. For me paperback sales that are done directly through myself and my website are the most profitable. You need to know your sales channels to correctly measure profits. You need to know your royalty numbers and what your own mark-ups will be for paperbacks. As an emerging indie or self-published author your goal may just be to break even. You must, though, as some point measure the profitability of your time and efforts that go not only into writing and editing, but also into marketing, promotion and material costs. If you break even forever you will not feel accomplished, you will get burnt out, and you won’t end up feeling successful. Please don’t misunderstand me–making a dollar is better than making nothing. A part of running a business is reaping rewards both material, monetary and emotional. Writing, publishing, marketing and promotion are draining activities. It’s not all fun and games, so if you never see a dime from all that effort you will end up stopping at some point. If you don’t–kudos to you, you’re amazing.
Just One Cup is a novella length book, so the price point must take this into account. Thus, the price point will be $1.99 for the e-book. This will mean that no matter the sales channels I choose, the royalties will be set at 45%. That means I will make $.90 for each e-book sale. I would say 90% of my sales will end up being e-books. Our goal is 150, so if we do the math we stand to make at goal $121.50. The built in failure rate that I have is accomplishing only 75% of my goal. Thus, this puts us at 112 books, profit being $100.80. Unfortunately, at this point the length of Just One Cup is still in progress. This being said I don’t have any hard numbers for paperback sales, but when I go through Amazon I make 45%. If I sell them myself I make much more than that because I price at the same point as Amazon, except I collect all profits and Amazon gets nothing. It’s nice to say that, but then again paperback sales are almost non-existent and are better used as incentives to drive interest in the product during blog tours as giveaways. They do come in handy for book expos, though, and knowing your profit margin will help you greatly. If you will be selling in book stores, you really need to take the time to get your numbers for your paperbacks correctly. I didn’t do this for In Between Seasons, and because of this I lose money when I sell this novel through the bookstore. Bookstores work on consignment, typically 40-60. This means you make 40% of the price point. That doesn’t seem bad because at Amazon it’s 45%, right? NO, you have costs that are associated with selling at the bookstore that you don’t have when selling on Amazon. When Amazon takes their 45% cut it’s after printing costs. When you sell in a bookstore you front the cost of the book. Let’s use In Between Seasons as an example. The book is priced at $9.99, and it costs me about $5.00 to get it printed and at my door. The potential profit is then reduced by approximately 50%. Now figure what you will make from the sale at the bookstore, $3.99. It’s easy to see that I’ve lost money on this one. This is why when you look at the back of Walking in the Shadows the price tag is $14.99. In order to break even at the bookstore this is the price point I must get. If you look on Amazon it’s less on there, because I don’t have over head and consignment to pay, BUT getting it from me is even better because I sign it for you 😉
*Note: If you are going to take on the expenses of marketing materials such as swag, advertising, etc., you will need to reduce your profit by the amount spent. The way I take this into account is by keeping these costs at a minimum. I make all my own swag, so I don’t pay someone else for it, and I buy most materials at wholesaler prices. Being price savvy with marketing materials will help you a lot in the long run. Vistaprint is an amazing site for promotional items because they run a boat load of sales–purchase during sales and you will be golden and always search for a coupon!
3. How are we going to measure failures or losses?
This is were that built in failure rate comes in; most likely, not all goals will be accomplished. These goals are often monetary goals. What are you going to do when you fail? How will you rank failures, and how will you build them into your plan? In book sales, this is really a much easier process than say with loans (with loans this would be a maximum acceptable default rate–you keep money in your reserves to cover this). The reason that this is easier because it’s simple–do you feel your time was well spent for whatever profit you did make? Unless you never sell one book, you don’t lose a ton of money–time yes, but not money. This is the point where you need to step back and reassess what you are doing in the other areas of your marketing plan–specifically PART 3, Implementing the Plan. If you aren’t making your expected profits than you will need to reassess your implementation of your plan, you may also need to take another look at PART 2, Selecting a Target Market.
Failure rate would be on the goals of not reaching enough readers, and only meeting 50% sales target. At this point I need to look at my target market and what is not working in the implementation of the plan.
That’s it, you know your product, your goals for the product, how you will measure profits and failures. Part 1 is complete. Sit back and relax. You’ve done a great job, and you’re that much closer to success!
- Why Authors Need a Book Marketing Plan (terrywhalin.blogspot.com)
- 2013 Marketing Plan Template (demandmetric.com)