Marketing Books

All publishing should satisfy a need in the market,” Kelvin Smith, The Publishing Business.

This session on marketing books was facilitated by Crystal B. Rutangye, founder of Scribe House Uganda. She is a publishing consultant majorly helping self-publishing authors/firms to produce and sell standard publications.

As a writer, you need to know why you are writing. Is it to express yourself? Or to sell books? Having this knowledge determines how you approach each stage of the book cycle, including marketing your book. As an author, you need to realize that you are the first person to market your work.

Before you publish, do some market research. Think about the market that you are entering and whether the story you are writing is going to make it in the market. Do some market research about your manuscript’s genre. What other titles exist on the national, regional and international market in that same genre you are writing in? What are bloggers and book reviewers saying about those titles? Have any of those titles won awards? Have you read other books in your genre? How are these titles different from your own story?

Determine who you are writing for, determine your audience. Are there people you can sell your book to? In your network, do you have at least 200 people you can sell your book to? Think about their book buying habits, the age group, and language preferences (Slang? ‘Old School’ English? Other languages?). How many people are likely to buy your book? Where are they located? What marketing channels do they have access to? (Newspapers? Social media? School libraries? Online bookshops?)

Keep your readership in mind at each step of the publishing process. Write knowing who you are writing for. Layout and design the book in line with your readers’ preferences. Produce a format your readers would like. Think about book size, eBook vs print book, etc.

As an exercise, the participants were asked to write the marketing strategy for their books using the guide listed below.

  1. Cost each phase of your publishing process. Determine a percentage of your projected net sales revenue that can be allocated to marketing.
  2. Describe your target market. Use established research.
  3. Establish your competitive edge.
  4. Describe your marketing mix
    – How does your book meet your readers’ needs AND expectations? (product)
    – How much will each book cost? (price)
    – Where will you sell your book? (place)
    – What promotional tools/activities will you employ? Cost them. (Promotion)

5.Draw a schedule/timeline for your marketing activities.

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