I picked up a copy of Jacqueline Deval’s PUBLICIZE YOUR BOOK! while my novel was on submission. Deval’s book ended up being exactly what I needed at the time: an intentional way to think through my book. I spent a few days applying Deval’s suggestions to my novel, and once the book sold, I had a framework for the all-important Author Questionnaire, a key document used to market books.
With Jacqueline Deval’s permission, I’ve created an overview of a marketing plan.
"A marketing plan tells the publishing staff what's interesting, unusual, and special about you and your book and how you think the book can be promoted."
There is no one way to write a marketing plan. Here are some things Deval suggests you include:
Target Audience: Remember to think beyond your initial audience (the reader typical to your genre). Brainstorm a list to broaden your thinking about those who might find your book appealing.
Positioning Statement (or Pitch): “The positioning statement is one or two appealing sentences that make the listener highly curious about the book…[It]will become the basis of how everyone in your publishing house can talk about the book…Why should we care about the book? The positioning statement answers this question.”
The Background Story: “A short background piece – a couple of paragraphs to a couple of pages long – about how and why you wrote the book.” This can include your publication journey, “any unusual events in the research and writing of the book or specific influences on your work.”
This is the story of your story. It’s a chance for publicists (and hopefully readers!) to talk about your book.
The Marketing Strategy and Campaign: “The marketing plan addresses how you or your publisher will reach your readership, and will probably require the most time and thought and continual refinement on your part. This section is really the heart of your campaign – the blueprint for how you will reach your target audience.”
Here’s a list of some of the things Deval suggests “to stimulate the marketing side of your brain”:
• “Can your book tie in with a local or national event?”
• Does your book have “a strong spiritual or social message” that might interest religious or community groups?
• If you have a niche readership, “what media vehicles reach that readership?”
• “Can you team up with other writers in your genre?”
• Does your book tie in to a holiday or anniversary? (For example, last year was the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. I remember several wonderful picture book and mid-grade titles released to correspond with President’s Day.)
• “Does your book tie into current social trends and concerns?
- “Can you host a fund-raiser or other charity event” that connects to your topic?
Sales Handles and Media Angles: “Sales handles are the specific facts that prove the book’s appeal to its market and why the book will do well.”
“Sales convey what’s new and different about your book – your authority as the writer, the marketplace for your book’s topic, its advantages over the competition, and its marketability.”
Books That Compete or Compare With Yours (Comp Titles): “What books are similar to yours, in terms of shared audience or similar literary quality or subject matter?...Comparative titles…help your publicist frame a pitch for the book.”
Your in-house publicist might want to take your book on a different route than what you've planned. Maybe the only thing to come out of your marketing plan will be a way to answer the questions: "You're an author? So what do you write?"
Whatever happens, the process is a wonderful way to re-learn your story, your audience, and your book's appeal.