A Plan: Yes You Can, Part 2

In part 1, we covered some touchy-feelies of marketing: goals, brand, slogan, and pretty colors. Now we’re going to get into the nitty gritty: your audience and your budget.

Target audience: Without even meaning to, you’ve already begun to think about your target audience. Don’t act all incredulous. It’s true. When you mentally stuck your book into a genre, you picked a target audience. When you wrote about a horse trainer, you picked a target audience. I’m just here to help you tease all that out.

Let’s start really basic. I mean reeeeally basic. Your first and largest potential audience is the most general: readers. Nothing earth-shattering there, but, lest ye refer to me sarcastically as Sherlock or Captain Obvious, we’ll get deeper eventually. Next level would depend on the format, so if you have chosen the eBook format, for example, your audience is eBook readers. So now we have:

–>eBook readers

Now we can start getting into the specifics. Think about your genre. Think about subcategories within your genre. Think about specific plot items or characters in your book. Do you really have a horse trainer in your book? Then horse trainers might get a kick out of it. They’re a potential audience. To give you an idea of how this works, I’m going to give you my target audiences for “Love In Shadow,” available from The Wild Rose Press:

–>eBook readers
—->Fiction readers
——>Romance readers
——–>Fantasy readers
——–> Western readers
——–> Historical readers
——> Women
——–> Wives of widowers
——–> Mothers of twins

Now my story, “Love In Shadow,” is a whopping 6,500 words and has, seriously, two characters. If I can come up with that many potential audiences for my little bitty story, you can certainly come up with at least that many for your novel of epic proportions. Go make your target audience list. Write it down. It’s not a plan if it’s not written down.

Reaching your target audience: Here comes the fun part. Now that you’ve got your list of target audiences, you have to come up with ways to reach those audiences. Some of them will be easy, others won’t. Here’s a hard one: How do you reach the entire book-reading audience? Hopefully your publisher will provide some help in those tough areas, and we’ll cover more ways to reach general audiences in the future, but for now, think mostly about those niche groups you listed. Staying with the horse trainer example, do you participate on horse message boards? Can you put up a flier at the barn? Be creative, and think like a marketer. There’s a website for just about anything anymore, so chances are if you’ve got the audience, the audience already has a web community somewhere. Find it and infiltrate it.

Brainstorm, and write down your ideas. It’s not a plan if it’s NOT WRITTEN DOWN.

Budget: Think long and hard about how much time and money you are willing to spend promoting yourself. I can’t tell you how to do this, since it’s a very personal thing, but let me give you some pitfalls to avoid:

Do not spend more money than you will recoup. This might require some math. Sorry.

Get the most bang from your buck. Here’s a hint: If it’s free and doesn’t take much time, do it! So few things in life are free, so take advantage of what there is.

Don’t spend so much time marketing that you lose sight of writing. The best way to market yourself is to keep writing things that people want to read, and the only way to do that is to dedicate yourself to your craft, not to whoring yourself twenty-four hours a day (although no one said you couldn’t whore yourself for a little while every day).

I know I said I wouldn’t tell you specifics about what to do with your budget, but here’s one I just can’t shut up about: websites. You neeeeeeeed a good website, and by good, I do not mean the website your 8-year-old son set up for you on Angelfire. Nothing against your 8-year-old son, but, repeat after me, “publishing is a business.” Would you let your 8-year-old son design your company’s website? I think not. So if you’re going to spend money, spend it on your website. There. That’s all I’ll say about your highly personal budget.

Make a budget for your time and your money. Write it down. (It’s not a plan if it’s not blah blah blah.) Stick to it.

Look up. Take a breath. You’re done. You now have a beautiful and detailed marketing plan. You are stupendously awesome, and I’m not just saying that cuz you read my blog.

Now go out there and sell sell sell!