I was going to title this page, “Seven Reasons to Start Two Years Ago.”
Not to begin on a discouraging note, but you have heard the old joke about marketing, right?
Q: When’s the best time to start marketing my product?
A: Two years ago!
A big part of launching your book is marketing it, and marketing takes time. The earlier you start, the more readers you can build a relationship with, and the stronger your relationships will be. There are other aspects of preparation that also require long lead times.
Here are the seven things you should be doing now, no matter when you’re planning to launch:
- Build your platform. There are lots of definitions of a marketing platform, but basically it’s the infrastructure you use to get the word out. So your platform might consist of your website, your newsletter mailing list, and your loyal Facebook fans. Or it might be based on your blog in the Huffington Post and your Twitter followers. Building it will take time — a long time — so start now, even if you have to start small. (Pretty much everyone starts small.)
- Launch your website. Every author needs a website that serves as his or her “home” on the Internet. It’s a site you control, and is a central location where you can post information about yourself, your book(s), upcoming events, etc. Here’s a list of things that should be on your author’s website.
- Develop your social media presence. Whether you use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other platforms, your social media presence will be important for getting the word out. It’s fine to limit yourself to one or two platforms, but you do need to choose one and use it. If you’re intimidated about getting started, find a social media specialist to help.
- Expand your mailing list. Get set up with a mailing list management system so you can consolidate your contact lists in one place, expand your reach, and easily communicate with your audience.
- Develop a relationship with your audience. There are lots of ways to do this, and your job will be to choose the ones that are the best fit for you. (Which is one reason it’s important to know yourself.)
You might want to use social media, or set up an author event at your local coffee shop, or write articles about your topic for newspapers or magazines. If you’re unsure about how to proceed, a marketing or PR consultant can help.
- Get press training. If you’re timid about speaking in public, give yourself some time to develop and get comfortable with this skill. I was terrified(!) of public speaking when I began, but with a little training and a lot of practice I got pretty good at reading in public.
- Educate yourself: Join organizations of readers, writers, and publishers. When I launched, I had been a longtime active member of both Left Coast Writers and Bay Area Travel Writers, and I not only learned a lot from participating, but had made many friends there who were interested in my book and supportive of my efforts.
I’ve learned a huge amount about publishing and marketing at Bay Area Independent Publishers Association; I wish I’d been a member for at least a couple of years before my book launched.