One of the major areas that most ‘How to write your book’, ‘how to publish and market your book’ sites and program don’t deal with in what I regard as significant detail is the whole area of the costs, both in time and money, of creating a platform to market, promote and sell your book. That’s what I am covering in this post and it’s the biggest hidden cost of the self-publishing space.

4 must-have components to market and sell your book effectively

If you’re planning to write and publish your own book here are the four MUST HAVE components you need to develop.

1. A clear, actionable and affordable marketing and promotion plan.

Treat your book project like any other business investment. To achieve your goal you need a plan to sell your book. You need to know your target audiences, understand where they are on social and traditional print media, what organisations, associations, companies they are involved with and work out how you’re going to let them know about your book.

If you’re a marketer, great you can create this. If not, I’d recommend you find one who specialises in book marketing. You’ll have to pay them, but it’s worth it. I am not talking about a publicist here, I’m suggesting you engage a marketing professional with a track record in book promotion.

It’s a challenge to find these people, the ones who deliver and even if you do, you’ll be doing most of the legwork.

Make sure you, or they, create a specific plan for marketing and promotion of your book with a schedule and costs as well as projected book sales that way you can see what the most profitable options are in terms of the quantity of books you see and the profit you make.

Some activities might be good for profile building but not book sales. Be really clear on what you want to achieve with each opportunity.

2. A website and social media presence

If you are serious about marketing and selling your book you need a website, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, Twitter, Instagram and possibly other social media profiles/accounts.

These are your key marketing tools and they all need to link together and you need to work them in a seamless, smart and tactical way to get the best out of them.

I am (was) colloquially known as Luddite Lane as I was late to social media and terrified at the thought of ‘all this social media stuff’. Well that’s changed. Actually, I’ve change. I simply had to learn to master these channels to develop my business, my profile and better advise my clients. I am not an expert by any means, I contract experts and they support me. But I can now update websites based on WordPress and Modex, work across the social media channels that my target audiences are and influencers are.

So how much does is cost to set up a good, dynamic, website and social media presence that a non-social media savvy person can get to grips with and learn? In my experience the actual cost is about $1,500-$3,000. The price will vary from country to country and how savvy you are at the backend of websites (i.e updating the site yourself).

You’ll also need to consider eCommerce facilities, subscriber options etc

Yes, there are lots of DIY website offers out there (and providers) and some are really good, but I am a writer not a website creator. I need to focus on what I’m great at and my attempts at DIY were ordinary at best and took days.

  • The absolute first thing you need to do is secure the domain name you want to use. EVERYTHING else depends on this. And ‘bracket’ the name . . . secure domain names that are similar to yours in the country you operate from and in other countries. It’s not that expensive and it’ll protect you/your site/your brand/business in the long run. Depending on where you are bracketing 8-12 names might cost you $300-$500. Of course it depends on the name.
  • It’s really important to know that your website will need both written and visual (photograph) content. If you can’t provide these you’ll need to pay someone to do this and purchase the rights to use photographs or source these from royalty free websites. This takes time and if you’re a novice you’re better off paying a good website developer to work with you on this.
  • Of course, you can always build your own website using any one of the number of free, ‘build your own’ site offers available. If you are not that computer literate I would not recommend this unless you have lots of time to learn. I always pay a professional to build my sites and have learnt how to update them myself.
  • Search engine optimisation (SEO) is mission critical. You either need to read up and learn about this or hire someone to build your site who knows about this. Getting site built without ensuring you can harness the power of SEO is like building an offshore racing boat and putting a small outboard motor on it. This is worth paying for.
  • On-going work and maintenance. This is another hidden cost. All sites need looking after when links don’t work, something happens or you want to add a feature, tweak things, change things. Again, if you’re not savvy at this I’d recommend you arrange with the person who built your website to manage it for you for a modest monthly fee. I pay my website person $100 a month and it’s well worth it. We have an agreed turnaround time on queries/changes and a simple, online job management system.

3. A content marketing plan, writing content, social media engagement

You are probably getting to understand me a bit more by now. Most of my insights start with ‘you need to create a plan’. This is really true if you are going to market and sell your book effectively. Unless you have a clear, do-able and consistent content marketing plan you might as well not start.

Again, there’s a huge number of online, free resources to help you in this space.The best one by far is the Content Marketing Institute. I’ve learnt an enormous amount from this free source of information and utilised a number of their free templates and guidelines. In fact I’ve got three binders of articles I’ve printed out that I refer to often. But this has taken years to read through, digest and absorb.

At its essence a content marketing plan is a list of the places you want to post comments, articles, engage and post to reach your target audiences on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. (Yet another reason why I focus so much on target audiences and key messages in the first stages of planning your book). Hubspot, is also a great resource.

The cost of this? If you’re ready to do this yourself it’ll take 12-15 hours to get a great content marketing plan. Then, you have to work out how much time you’ll need to allocate each week to actually write the content, posts, white papers etc, engage others on the social media channels you’re connected with. I’d recommend that you allocate 4 hours a week to start with and then 2 hours a week once you’ve got the hang of it.

And, there’s a whole range of services that can automate the posting of your blogs. Just a few include Buffer, Quuu, SumoRank from Buzzsumo. 7 content tool marketers should try is a good article if you want to know more.

You’ll also need to understand about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) as well. WordPress is really good for this as they have add-ons such as Yoast, that actually prompt you and help guide you on how to slightly rework your headings, keywords, metatags and the like.

If you don’t have the time, you’ll need to pay someone to do this. Budget for 3-4 hours a week over a year.

If you’re not prepared to put the time to market and sell your book yourself, or pay someone else to do it, don’t start.

4. A targeted network of partners and relationship

Everyone has networks of people that can be harnessed for the promotion and marketing of their book. Depending on what your book is about your network of friends may or may not be interested in it.

Start communicating early

For most business people writing and marketing their book, you’ll be in a range of networks that you can harness for your book. The key thing here is to identify these networks, start communicating with them early and get them to sign up to your website as a subscriber or LIKE your book Facebook profile page. And do this early.

Why, you say? Because if you engage people early in your book writing and publishing journey they’ll be there, interested and excited about it when you come to launch it. Unless you’re pitching for a major defence contract your book project shouldn’t be a secret to the communities you live, work and engage with.

Yes, it’s scary . . . it’s part of the commitment of writing your book. Telling everyone that you are because then you have to.

What’s the cost of this? In dollar terms, the cost rolls into the cost of having someone handling all your social media (4-5 hours per week) or the opportunity cost of doing this yourself.

The ego cost? Incalculable. You put it out there, you have to deliver. If you don’t . . . well, the cost will depend.

Build relationships don’t think about a book sale transacton

The time cost? Meeting key people, organisations in person or online who can partner with you to promote your book, your content, you. I’d invest 2-3 hours per week on this as it’s vital to create and build relationships in advance of your book coming out. Gone are the days of writing and sending out a press release and hoping for some coverage. Self-publishing requires a commitment to building relationships.

In summary, the Four things you need to be prepared to do or pay for to market and sell your book effectively are:

1. A clear, actionable and affordable marketing and promotion plan.

2. A website and social media presence

3. A content marketing plan, writing content, social media engagement

4. A targeted network of partners and relationship.

If you plan ahead and are realistic about what you can and can’t do and afford you’ll create a book marketing and sales plan you can execute. Let me know if U can be of help.