Creating a Marketing Plan for Your Christian Book
So you’ve written a book. Now what? What are you going to do with your book? How will you tell people it is available and why they should read it? You may be hoping that your book will become a bestseller overnight without you having to do anything. Unfortunately, that is very rarely the case and in reality you will need to do some work if you want anyone to buy and read your book.
The work of marketing your book begins with a solid marketing plan. Don’t fall into the trap stated in this classic saying, “those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” You must plan out how you want to market your book or you will have a hard time moving it anywhere. An important thing to remember when creating a marketing plan is that it must work for you within your time, energy and budget constraints. Just because something worked for your best friend doesn’t mean it will automatically work for you. You and your book are unique and it will take a unique plan to put your message out into the world.
Set aside some time to work on your marketing plan following these four basic steps:
- Write down your goals. What are you trying to accomplish with this book? Perhaps your goals are as simple as selling your book to family and friends. Or maybe they are as lofty as becoming the next Karen Kingsbury and selling thousands of books every year. Whatever your goals are, be honest with yourself and make sure they are realistic and achievable. If your goals are too high you will become frustrated and sabotage your own marketing plan.
- Determine who your target audience is. The Christian genre is wide and far-reaching so just saying “Christians” is not enough. Define other demographic information such as gender and age as well as more specific characteristics about your target audience. For example, if you’re writing historical fiction you wouldn’t want to make young children part of your target audience. Knowing details about your target audience will help you decide where and how to sell your book to readers.
- Do your homework. The Christian book market is huge and therefore competitive. It is crucial for you to understand who your competition is and where their strengths and weaknesses lie. Study the price, cover design, layout and other details of well-known writers within the Christian genre. In addition to looking at other Christian authors, it would be wise for you to visit several bookstores, secular and Christian, and notice how they market your genre in their stores. Take notice of the most popular books a bookstore is pushing. How does your book compare? Knowing the industry will give you a leg up on the competition and will give you an idea about how your book will fare if it does end up in a bookstore. Another part of your homework is understanding what makes your book different from all the others. Spend some time thinking about what makes your book stand out. You want to be able to sum up your book in a few short sentences to someone who may be interested in reading it. Ask friends who have read your book how it differs from other books they have read, even within the same genre.
- Build a following of readers. Part of your plan is figuring out how you will reach your target audience. In today’s busy digital world the Internet is an obvious place to start because of its global reach and free to inexpensive programs. If thinking about marketing your book online seems overwhelming, start small and incorporate some traditional face to face or print media into your marketing plan. Research applications like Twitter, Facebook, Web sites, blogs and e-mail newsletters to see which or all may work for you. Some of those programs are simpler than others so you need to decide which is best to help you meet your goals. The two keys to successfully building a following of readers no matter if you use the Internet or more traditional media are repeated contact with readers and keeping the information you share with them relevant and timely.
Sometimes it is hard for Christians to sit down and write a marketing plan because they think it is self-serving and prideful. If you feel that way, take a step back and look at what you’ve written. Could you have written that by yourself without God’s help? No. He has given you the message and helped make your words come together so why would he want you to solely keep that message to yourself? He wants you to share it. Be a good steward of the resources he has given you and start writing that marketing plan today.
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