I've decided to self-publish my novel and while I'm super-excited about it, I'm also really nervous because I've never done any marketing. Are there any essential things I need to know about marketing and publicity before I start making plans?
You've gone and opened a can of worms with this one. It's not a small topic and I probably can't answer it in full in a single post.
But let's look at the basics.
Marketing and publicity are actually two different things, but they do go hand in hand. Marketing is about how you reach your potential customers, while publicity is about how you raise awareness of your product to the public.
So the first thing you need to do is identify who your market is. Not every person likes every book, so you need to break down the population to find the people who are most likely to love it. Anyone who presents a marketing plan saying their book will appeal to men and women between nine and 90 is deluded.
Demographics are one way to do this. For example, if your main character is an older woman, your first target demographic might be women 40 or 50+. Then you need to break down that large demographic even further. If your book is a murder mystery, you add murder mystery-readers to your breakdown. And maybe your book is set in a rural town, so you can then add rural-town dwellers/lovers to your list.
Eventually you will find exactly who your primary audience is. And probably, along the way, a few subsets you can define as your secondary and tertiary audiences.
One thing you need to have very clear in your mind before you start any kind of publicity or marketing is why someone should pick your book over any other book. What makes your story unique? What makes it special? Why will it stand out from other books in its genre or category?
To figure this out, you will need to be familiar with other books in your genre. It's useful to be able to compare your book with other recent titles. And by recent I mean books published in the last two or three years. There is no point comparing your story to something published 10 or 100 years ago because trends change, and what worked in 1990 or even 2015, may not work in today's climate.
Another thing you need to have clear in your own head before you start is the core ideas and themes in your book. This is not what happens in the book, or details of the characters, but the broader ideas and themes on which the story is built. There should not be more than three or four things in this list, so you will need to drill deep to find these. Your campaigns will be built on these underlying themes and ideas as the people who respond to them will be your core readers.
That's about all we have time for this week and is probably enough to get your head around to begin with anyway!
Next week I'll follow up with some of the essential materials you need to have to create a successful marketing campaign.
If anyone has questions, please post them in the comments and I will endeavor to answer them either there, or in a future post if they are more complex.