One of my business coaching clients works with musicians, showing them how to make a full-time living as a musician, usually in non-traditional ways. We were talking the other day and he gave a heavy sigh.
“I just had a guy on my list contact me. He has finished recording his album and now he wants to know how to market it.”
Whether it’s an album, a book, a new magazine, a live event—I don’t care—you need to start marketing well in advance because your audience will never have as much reason or urgency to buy as they do when a product is first launched. It is the very best time to generate interest and excitement (which is why companies “re-launch” products so often).
How do you start marketing your book when it doesn’t yet exist?
Find Your People
Think about what your book will do for the reader. Who will it help? What will it help them do? What is the transformation (the result) they will get?
Now ask yourself, “Where do these people hang out, online and offline?”
Look for Meetup groups, business networking groups, online groups and forums, seminars and workshops, spiritual centers—heck, even garden centers if that’s what your book is on—anywhere your people might be. Join the group. Be helpful. Don’t be a know it all.
You want to find those people, get to know them, and start adding value to their lives BEFORE you try to sell them anything.
Build Your List Before You Start Marketing Your Book
You also want to start building your list. The key to marketing ANYTHING online is having a list of people who have an interest in or a need for what you do. The faster you grow your list, the faster it gets to that critical point where people just seem to join daily. (And no, they don’t “just join”—you have pieces in place to bring them to you.)
Once they are on your list, you need to nurture them. Give them helpful information, grow the relationship. Don’t stick people on your list and only contact them when you’re selling something. And don’t bug them to death, either. There’s a school of thought that says to contact your list every day. Another school of thought says three times a week. Sometimes you just don’t have that much to say. If you’re on my list, for the most part you get a once a week blog post. Yes, I should do at least one other send out per week. But the blog post is what I can do consistently so that is what I do. (Not on my list? WHAAAAT? There’s an opt-in box in the sidebar just for you!)
How Many People Do You Need?
That depends. (Don’t you hate that answer?) I’ve mentioned Kevin Kelly’s philosophy in a previous blog post and it has stuck with me. He says you can make a fairly decent (not outrageous) living with 1,000 devoted fans. For a musician or author, these are people who will buy every album or book you put out. For a business owner, these are people who will sign up for every workshop or seminar that you hold, or buy your services on a regular basis. Back in the day (ten or so years ago), the prevailing wisdom said you should be able to make $1 per person per month off your email list. That is providing you were building the relationship and putting offers in front of them.
How many people you need on your list is determined by your goals and your offer. If you have high end services, you need fewer, more tightly targeted people. If you have a lower priced, more generic offer, you need more people, but not as targeted. If you have a recurring income business model (subscription or retainer, for example), you might do well with a smaller number of very loyal followers. You’d do even better with bigger numbers, of course.
If you want consistent income and steady business, you need to find your own number. Shooting for 500 names, then 1,000 is a good start. (Warning: Not as easy as it sounds.) You really can’t make a living with fewer than 500 people on your list. If you’re launching a course or book and you have a mailing list of less than 300, you’re wasting your time. You might pick up a few sales, but not nearly in the numbers you need.
Once again, for the record, social media followers and connections do not translate into sales. You need to move those people onto your list. Until people have raised their hands and opted into your list, they don’t exist as far as potential income. Yeah, that’s arbitrary. But it’s better to knock them off your optimism spectrum now rather than after you launch and face bitter disappointment.
Talk It Up
As you get closer to the launch date of your book, start telling people about it. Put excerpts from the book (or a whole chapter if you like) on your blog or use as social media posts. Start lining up podcasts and guest posts and speaking gigs for your launch date. Let friends and business associates know that the book is coming and you would love their help getting the word out. Give them plenty of time.
You’re also giving yourself plenty of time to gather together your marketing strategy, materials, create email sequences, and all the other fun stuff that you need to have ready to GO when you start marketing your book.
To start marketing your book follow these 3 steps:
1. Start early.
2. Have a plan.
3. Work it consistently.
Need a plan? Contact me: Barbara@BarbaraGrassey.com