Thursday, December 11, 2008

Monthly Marketing To-Do List for Authors

A common fear that I find with authors is concern over what marketing activities to do on a regular basis. This anxiety hits everyone, from beginner to bestseller and fiction to non-fiction. Either information overload sends authors in all directions, or analysis-paralysis shuts down their marketing efforts altogether.

Sure, there are thousands of ways to promote your books. But, trying everything won't necessarily make you successful. Usually, you're better off sticking with a consistent plan that keeps you focused on the right priorities. So, for the betterment of worldwide author sanity, I've created the following monthly book marketing checklist. This list is in addition to any weekly activities you may engage, such as blogging or participation in social networks.

1. Create a Free Resource
Every month, you should take time to create at least one free resource of value for your target audience. Your resource doesn't have to be extravagant. The important distinction is that provides real benefit to your readers. Good examples include brief helpful articles, resource listings, teaching videos, booklets, study guides, humor compilations, short stories, travel guides, etc.

Occasionally, I hear authors complain about taking time out every month to create a new resource. But, if you want to be a professional, then you must invest in the growth of your career. Creating a free resource every 30 days is the least you can do to connect with your book buyers.

2. Send Out a Newsletter
Current marketing research reveals that the average American receives over 3,500 buying impressions per day. Since our finite brains can't contain all this information, we easily forget about products and services. So, if you want people to remember your book, you must remind them that you exist. Sending out a newsletter via print or email newsletter is one of the most effective, yet overlooked, tools available.

Unfortunately, many authors shoot themselves in the foot by sending self-focused, rambling newsletters that never benefit the reader. So, I recommend making at least 75% of your content helpful to the reader, and the other 25% used for promotional text.
Click here for a list of seven key elements every author newsletter needs to include. And, don't forget that newsletters make a great vehicle to share the free resource we just discussed.

3. Look for Media Opportunities
At least once a month, ask yourself if there are any current headlines, trends, holidays, or stories that tie-in with your book's message, including fiction or non-fiction. Too many authors blow great opportunities for media coverage by failing to look for media connections.

I recommend creating a Media Calendar for your book that lists any possible tie-in for each month of the year. For example, if you write books on marriage, you know that Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, and Father's Day will open regular doors to get media coverage. Know this ahead of time and send a press release to radio, newspaper, and TV producers. If you write fiction stories for children, then back-to-school, Christmas, or summer break periods may provide natural ways to get more exposure. In addition, don't forget to monitor the headlines, and offer yourself as an expert to comment on national stories.

4. Update Your Website
Nothing says "forgotten author like a static website that never changes. Your website is your most important marketing tool. Don't let it sit there and gather dust. Keep it fresh by updating your Home, Latest News, and Free Resource pages every month.

You can add new items as free resources discussed earlier. Plus, update your latest news and events calendar with upcoming media or speaking engagements. List new products in your website store. Post a recent testimonial from a leader or book review from a fan. There's usually more happening with your message than you may think. Pay attention to your activity and keep people updated.

5. Pursue Speaking Engagements
The best way to sell books and grow your author platform is to get out and speak. No other marketing activity lets you simultaneously connect emotionally with readers, generate word-of-mouth, and sell books on the spot. So, increasing your speaking opportunities needs to be a priority.

To get more bookings, devote some monthly time to these three activities. First, research who and where the leaders are that could book you. Build a leader database, and find out which conferences they attend. Second, send leaders your helpful print newsletter (not email, or it's spam), and visit key conferences for networking opportunities. Third, ask leaders you already know for referrals and testimonials that will draw other leaders to you. Conducting these three steps each month should help open new doors.

Reduce your fear of book marketing by enacting this monthly plan. This isn't the exhaustive list, but it's a good foundation to build upon. Don't worry, writing success isn't based on some mysterious lottery system. Instead, you will sell more books when you regularly remind readers your message is valuable.

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