Actually writing a book may be “the hard part,” but Book Marketing probably comes in a very close second, in time and money — even creativity — if not in raw talent.

  • First, you have to decide your budget for both time and money. Marketing can very quickly eat up both. Determine a maximum investment and maximum level of effort and stick to it. The little voices of the “one more thing” that you could have done will kill you otherwise.
  • Second, do your research. Who, what, where? What is my book category? What is the audience? Where do they look for information? Do I want to be in libraries, in “bricks and mortar” stores? Online only?
  • Long before you have a finished product, you need to decide if you want to submit it to the powerhouses (Publisher’s Weekly, BookList, Foreword Reviews, etc.). They usually require a 4-5 month lead time for the review before the “on sale” date. They also have very specific requirements: will they accept a self-published book, do they work well with indie publishers, what kind of an audience do they get.  Is the fit right?  They accept only a small fraction of the submissions they get… Is your book good enough to compete?
  • Do you want to purchase reviews?  They can be expensive.  What reviews make sense for your book, your topic, your target audience?  How can you get the most bang for your buck?
  • Do you have people lined up to do reviews for Amazon, B&N, Good Reads?  Make sure you comply with their rules (they want objective reviews, and generally discourage or don’t allow family members, or multiple reviews from the same IP address).
  • Do you want to buy ads?  Again, they can be expensive and will the ad you buy get your book noticed?  Do some research before you buy — look at what is out there, how much notice are you buying? Who will see it?
  • Do you want to direct market to bookstores, newspapers, radio stations, TV stations? Can you write a good press release, tip sheet, marketing package? How likely is your topic to be of interest in the locales you are targeting? How much time are you willing to spend making appointments, phone calls, doing signings? How much is too much to accommodate considering your other time commitments?
  • Do you want to enter book competitions? How many? Which ones? Again, these can be great marketing tools, but they can be pricey.  What makes sense for your title?

Keep good track of all your activities, time and costs. Make careful note of deadlines, lead times, requirements. It’s better to do a few things well than target a bunch of options with an inferior product.