A Plan: Yes You Can, Part 1


I hear all your pantsers out there screaming, “Nooooo! We cannot plan! It is against our infallible (or at least highly quirky and charming) personalities to plan! We refuse!” To you I say: Marketing ain’t like dustin’ crops, boy. You gotta have a plan.

Your plan should include the following:

Goals: You need long term and short term goals, beyond, of course, “sell my book.” How many copies do you want to sell? What kind of a readership do you want to build? Is your eBook your foot-in-the-door for a brick and mortar press, or are you planning to continue publishing in the eBook format? You need to think about all this stuff when you’re thinking about your goals.

Got some goals? Good. Write them down. It’s not a plan if it’s not written down.

Brand: Brand is a word that generally makes authors run away screaming. I feel your pain. I was once one of the run-away-screaming unwashed masses. I’m going to simplify for you. Your brand is what you are, or what your book is. Simple as that. It is what you are selling. If I am selling my newest book, “Love In Shadow” (see me promoting right there? see? now you know why I’m called the promo ho?), then my brand is “Love In Shadow.” Done. That’s it. If you’re not yet published, your brand is you. So before I was published, my brand was Sonja Foust. That’s all. Don’t make a slogan yet. Don’t think of a color scheme yet. Focus. Brand. Good.

Write it down. It’s not a plan if it’s not written down.

Slogan: Now we’re expanding on your brand. We’re defining your brand. Here’s a simple example of a slogan: WRAL, the local news station where I live, uses the slogan, “coverage you can count on.” Their brand is WRAL. Their slogan is “coverage you can count on.” Clear as mud? Good. Come up with a slogan.

Easier said than done, right? I know. So here’s how you start. Get a sheet of scrap paper. Get a big one if you’re good at brainstorming. Hell, get a big one even if you’re not good at brainstorming. Maybe it will inspire you. Now fill the page with all the words that describe what you write. I’ll admit that this part isn’t easy, especially if you’re not quite sure of yourself yet or you haven’t had much feedback or, like in my case, you write across a lot of different genres. You have my sympathy. Do it anyway.

In my case, I ended up with a whole lot of different words, some of them actually opposites of each other. Instead of despairing, I came up with a slogan to actually use the opposites: “Sometimes tender, sometimes tense… always true love!”

You can’t steal my slogan, but I know that you great creative minds will come up with something from that big list of words you made. Circle them, draw lines between them, whatever. Do what you gotta do.

Write it down because (repeat after me) it’s not a plan if it’s not written down.

Colors and theme: Now you artsy fartsy people get to do what you love best: play with colors. Go with your gut, within reason. I mean, come on people. If you write super steamy bondage threesome love-in-an-elevator stuff, don’t use pretty pink rose petals. Use red rose petals on black satin sheets with, like, handcuffs on top. Get my drift? Don’t be afraid to go with the cliche. The cliche is there because it helps people define that thing. Handcuffs and black satin sheets make people think of a certain style, and if that’s you, go for it! No need to beat around the bush.

Got some ideas? Good. Write them down. It’s not a plan if it’s not written down.

Congratulations, you’ve got a pretty darn good start on a marketing plan. Oh no, we’re not done yet, my leetle pigeons. A Plan: Yes You Can, Part 2 will cover your target audience and your budget. So take a break, watch some TV, note the marketing tactics, and come back ready to Expand That Plan!