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3 Book Marketing Projects to Tackle in 2014

Photo: vanhookc | FlickrThis is my year.

No more excuses.

2014, I will OWN you!

Sound familiar?

The ringing in of a new year forces us to think about what we’ve achieved in the past twelve months — and how we can do things a bit better this time around.

After the fireworks die down and the champagne stops bubbling, we sit down and make those dreaded…you guessed it: New Year’s Resolutions.

The funny thing about resolutions, though? Their success could be determined by a simple coin flip!

That’s right, less than half of us will actually stick to our resolutions — and that means half of our author friends will end the year no better where they started, which makes us mega-sad. But why does this happen?

You start out with good intentions, right? January 1st brings with it plenty of motivation, but it is darn near impossible to keep up that drive for twelve months. To actually accomplish our goals, we need to add something else to our awesome motivation:

Motivation + [Focus] = WIN!

That’s right, Focus. Motivation without focus is like deciding to go on a road trip, but accidentally leaving the map and smartphone at home. You might eventually reach something really cool, like the Jimmy Carter Peanut Statue…but, without a plan, you’re likely to turn around after an hour or so when your trip starts feeling like a waste of time and gas.

Let’s be real: choosing where to focus your marketing attention is hard. Wouldn’t it be nice if someone just told you what you should do to promote our work?

Ta-da!

3 Book Marketing Projects to Tackle in 2014

Note: These projects could each take you a day, a week, a month or they could take you all year. But, complete each one (at your own pace) and your author career *will* be better off when the clock strikes 2015!

Project #1: Get to Know Your Readers

What’s the Project Goal?

To get to know the readers who will love your books and how best to reach them, using something like a character profile.

Why This Project Rocks!

Knowing your readers helps you sell more books by:

  • Making marketing decisions and/or choosing a promotion focus easier
  • Ensuring you’re spending your marketing time effectively and efficiently
  • Helping your promotional messages sound more personal

Once you have a clear idea of who your readers are, finding them and engaging them is wayyy less challenging!

Tackle This Project:

You have two options to complete the project:

  1. Find a mega-fan or enthusiastic reader (the more dedicated, the better) and grill them about why they like your work, where they found your book and where else they hang out online (and off). Be sure to write down their responses!
  2. Download our Reader Profile (PDF) and use it interview that dedicated reader. If you don’t yet have any readers, fill it out as you imagine your biggest fan would. I know it sounds scary, but trust me: you can’t do this wrong!

What you’re really doing in this step is giving your marketing the gift of focus, which, as we talked about with resolutions, is a fabulous thing!

Project #2: Set Up Your Author Abode

What’s the Project Goal?

To create a “home base” (a website) where readers can find information about you, your work and how to connect with you.

Why This Project Rocks!

The benefits to having a dedicated Author Abode are endless! Your website will:

  • Make you look more serious and professional about your work (which could help you land that media interview or publishing deal)
  • Help you connect with new readers (always a good thing, right?)
  • Allow you to keep in touch with the readers you already have (maybe turn them into mega-fans?)
  • Give you one place to house everything someone could be looking for about you and your work.

Plus, if your website runs on WordPress (or another content management system), it allows you to make updates whenever you want — easy as pie!

Tackle This Project:

  1. Decide on a budget. Booooring, but necessary. If you can handle $20 a month, check out OutstandingSetup for an all-in-one easy-peasy web hosting solution. Pairing it with the fab Authorlicious theme makes it even better! If Free is more your speed, try out Weebly or WordPress.com, but note that you won’t have as many options in terms of customization.
  2. Create your content. Lucky you — I totally made a checklist for this awhile back (PDF)! At a minimum, your website should have the following pages: About the Author, Books (including links to purchase on Amazon!) and Contact (with your email address or a contact form for less spam).
  3. Go social. Link to any social networks you use (Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads, etc.) in your website’s sidebar (that spot to the right of your content with all the extra stuff in it) or on your contact page.
  4. Build your following. This step is optional, but highly recommended. Add a mailing list, blog or both to your website for a way to directly interact with your fans (that isn’t subject to the daily-changing whims of something like Facebook’s crazy “I will show your posts to NO ONE!” algorithm).

Project #3: Make a Writing Plan

What’s The Project Goal?

To create a plan allowing you to release a new piece of work (novel, novella, vignette) before the end of the year.

Why This Project Rocks!

With few exceptions, folks who write more books make more money. Plus, if you hate the idea of marketing and have the basics in place (Project #1 and #2 above), you’re free to spend the rest of 2014 doing what you love: writing. Sometimes, those extra books are your best marketing tool!

Tackle This Project:

  1. Grab a calendar, writing utensil, journal or blank Word document — whatever you use to plan!
  2. Bring to mind the project ideas you’ve been itching to write (I know you have more than one!)
  3. Choose one project to release before the end of this year. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a full-length novel. In this age of eBooks, consider something shorter like a novella or series of vignettes — much easier to tackle, right? You could even use this project to introduce characters or settings you plan to use in a full-length work down the road.
  4. Figure out a release date for your new project and work backwards to set other important milestones: finish first draft, complete revisions, send to editor, contact designer, etc.

Bonus Project: Take a Weekend Marketing Bootcamp!

Are you the kind of person who loves those makeover shows on TV (RIP, What Not to Wear)? Or maybe you just love the idea of forgetting everything you think you know about book promotion and starting from scratch?

If you can’t imagine how you’ll fit in book marketing among writing, sleeping, working and everything else you do everyday, check out the totally-free Weekend Book Marketing Makeover. In just two days, we’ll guide you through creating a marketing plan you will stick to — because you’ll actually LOVE it!

What’s your resolution for 2014?

We make fun of them, but I know you’ve set some of your own: what are your author resolutions for this year? Will you tackle any of the projects above? Let me know in the comments!

  • Michel King

    Actually, my resolutions are pretty much on track with what you have here. I have one release scheduled for February and am looking at two more by December. My biggest task is going to be finding, and utilizing, that crazed mega-fan. She appears a bit allusive at the moment. LOL

    • Awesome job, Michel, I have no doubts that getting those new books out into the world will help you track down that mega-fan :-)

  • KD McAdams

    I kinda sorta came up with a similar resolution but could not communicate it as clearly. Thanks for just the right amount of detail and the information under #2 is priceless!

    • Woo-hoo! Thank you for the compliment, KD :-) Good luck tackling that author abode.

  • Amy Morse

    Last year I did a 365 day art project on books (https://www.facebook.com/ProjectBook365) – this year I’m cranking it up a notch – ‘Operation Author: Succeeding as an Author in 365 Actions’ (http://ideaism.blogspot.co.uk/) – These tips will really help, thanks

    • Holy moly, Amy, you are a rockstar! I’m going to follow your project with interest :-)

    • Amy Morse

      Cool – hope you like it! Already getting some feedback and was interviewed on the back of one of my actions. Check it out: http://bit.ly/1eA3EbS

  • These are really fantastic projects to undertake (if you haven’t already done so. I’m definitely going to take on the reader profile! Thanks for the PDF!

    • You’re welcome, April! That reader profile is absolute gold in deciding your promotional direction. I’d love to see it :-)

  • Hospitable Scots Bachelor

    Have set myself an ambitious writing schedule. Won’t meet it but hopefully even if I get half way there I am ahead of the game

    • There’s nothing wrong with a bit of ambition! Making *any* progress is always better than none, right?

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