How to plot a marketing education into your author goals (#IWSG Blog Hop)

How to plot a marketing education into your author goals #authors #writing #bookmarketing

Imagine you’ve booked a backpacking adventure. You’ve spent months planning your itinerary, plotted every stopover, learned the ins and outs of every location, and now you’re at the airport—dun-dun-dun—sans passport. That’s what marketing is for so many authors, a nasty surprise that could spoil all your plans. Whether you’re on a traditional, hybrid or self-publishing journey, make no mistake, marketing is going to cut into your future writing time—big time.

So how can you learn everything you need to know about marketing prior to publishing your first (or next) book? It’s impossible. I don’t say this lightly. My resume is packed with marketing credentials, and I still don’t know everything. No one can. It’s the nature of the field: evolving.

Once you accept that it’s not possible to be an expert in every tributary of marketing, the better question becomes tangible: how can you develop a self-guided marketing curriculum that A) is reasonable in terms of time commitment; B) involves the most relevant study material; C) teaches you enough to successfully market your books; and D) keeps you on top of marketplace changes?

A) Time commitment
Your marketing education may need a protracted timeline if you’re publishing soon, but let’s say you’re a year out from your expected release, and your marketing education is minimal. You’re the boss, but may I suggest you ease yourself into marketing with a dedicated thirty to sixty minutes a week. This is study time, learning about new author marketing tools, new social media sites and tricks, etc. Implementation of what you learn is in addition to study time.

B) Relevant study material
1. Textbooks: Marketing textbooks contain thousands of marketing terms and concepts, so unless you’re a conglomerate that needs to understand macro-marketing or penetration pricing policy, start with one marketing book that is narrowed to your specialization: selling books. I’m not going to recommend one, because your research will tell you if there is a book that perfectly fits your situation (genre, region of the world, etc.)
2. Targeted blog reading: While books about selling books will teach you the concepts and terms you need to know, they share an inherent flaw—they’re dated the moment they’re published, because of that pesky flaw of the marketing field: that it’s evolving. This is where blog posts become advantageous: try setting your search parameters to what’s been posted within the past year (or month, situation dependent.) The other reason blog posts are fantastic is because they’re accessible; you can find and read several reviews and how-tos on a particular marketing tool within minutes.

C) Learning enough to successfully market your book
There is some relativity involved in this point. Let’s say two authors write the exact same book, word for word. The only difference is the title. If, over the course of a year, Author 1 invests sixty minutes a week into learning about marketing and Author 2 invests thirty minutes every other week, assuming all other variables remain constant (budget, etc.), Author 1 will likely sell more books. Yes, there’s a tiny possibility that Author 2 will luck out because she has a connection and gets reviewed by the Times, but hoping to get lucky is not a sound marketing strategy. The better path is to plan for the level of success you think is achievable given the time and budget you can reasonably allocate to marketing, and any luck that boosts your sales is a bonus. This said, it’s important to remember that marketing is a holistic field that encompasses the quality of the product. Someone with a doctorate in marketing and a terribly written book may not sell many copies.

D) Staying on top of marketplace changesHow to plot a marketing education into your author goals #authors #writing #bookmarketing
The good news is that staying on top of marketplace changes becomes an organic part of the marketing process. Take Pinterest for instance. You’ll invest an initial thirty to sixty minutes in learning about this medium per point B-2, then you’ll set up an account and play around, and over time, you’ll become familiar with how to gain a following and see successes toward this goal. While you’re building your following, questions will come up, which you’ll research and find answers to. Then one day, you’ll wake up and realize you’re one of the most proficient Pinterest users you know.

I wrote this post for the monthly Insecure Writers Support Group blog hop. To continue hopping or to join the hop, click here. (There are more than 200 of us, and it’s fun!)

How much time do you devote to marketing per week? Do you set aside time for studying marketing or learning about marketing tools? Can you recommend a particular marketing resource for authors?

Thank you to Freepik for the photo I used in this post.

31 thoughts on “How to plot a marketing education into your author goals (#IWSG Blog Hop)

  1. Thanks for the great tips because marketing is such an overwhelming part of being a writer. I love your idea of devoting a set time period each week starting at least a year out from release of your book date.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, and I’m inspired to go out and update my skills!
    Working in a small business was great for me in terms of marketing. The company I worked for made their own brand dog food, and I was present from concept to launch. It was so interesting to work on product labels and marketing material, and I learned a lot of transferable skills 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You raise an interesting point: that we know more about marketing than we think we do. We’re exposed to it all the time, some more than most like yourself, and we can’t help but absorb that knowledge.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Marketing still scares me. I didn’t do much the first time, but want to change that this time around. I’ve started researching in the last year so that I’m better prepared. Last time I was totally winging it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Just thinking about spending time each day to learn marketing makes me feel bad about how it would take time away from writing. I make up for it by reading blog posts (like yours) and listening to podcasts on marketing when I’m somewhere I can’t write–like when I’m in the car.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting post, with to-the-point info and manageable goals. Since I’m still in the beginning stages of writing my memoir – which is overwhelming enough – I have not learned much about marketing yet. I will when the time is right. That being said, I’m keeping people informed about my progress every month (IWSG) and I’m being active engaging in other blogs, growing a social media presence. It is very time-consuming and should, maybe, be better spend on writing right now. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post! I do spend some time each week on some Facebook author groups where they talk about marketing and what has worked for them and what hasn’t, but I haven’t done much in practice when it comes to marketing. Yet. And I’m still hoping to one day figure out what to say on social media. I can handle my blog fine, but on social media, I freeze.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m not sure if you’re following comments on this post, but if you are, I’d love to know the name of one or several of the Facebook groups you belong to that discuss marketing. I haven’t found any yet. Mind you, I haven’t started looking yet. 🙂


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