How Long Is Too Long To Market A Book?
by: Penny Sansevieri
So how long is too long to market a book? According to some studies (both formal and informal) marketing (and seeing the results in the form of book sales) can take anywhere from six months to two years, it all depends on what you want to get out of it.
Ideally though, you should plan to market your book ongoing — if, that is, being an author is a career choice and not a hobby. If it’s a hobby then don’t put any more time into it than you have to, or you might not choose to market it at all. For some, having the finished book is sufficient. But generally authors don’t write and publish a book just to see it “done;” they publish it to further dreams of seeing their careers flourish. If that’s the case then your marketing plan should last as long as your career does and hopefully, that’s a really long time.
But how long should you stick to marketing one book before moving onto the next? The answer depends on a lot of things. Topic, for one, will often drive the wheels of a campaign and it’s often said that the best way to market your first book is with your second and third and forth and well, you get the idea. But now comes the most challenging question: if you’re extending a marketing campaign beyond what you originally had on your marketing outline, what on earth will you do to promote it?
If your book is new and your promotional wheels are just hitting full steam the answer to how you might promote your book should be easy. But if it’s a year down the road and you feel you’ve done everything you can do to market your book you might be asking yourself: what’s next? This is a great time to assess what you’ve done, what’s worked and what hasn’t. It’s often in our nature to stare at a closed door begging for it to open, but if the doors you’re knocking on still aren’t opening, then perhaps it’s time to move on to marketing items better suited to your book.
By this I mean that when you go through and evaluate all you’ve done, it might be easy to say, “You know, I spent a lot of time on this and it’s still not doing anything for me, I’ll think I’ll invest more time on it and see what happens.” This might seem like a good idea. Certainly the folks at Oprah might not want to hear from you the first 20 times you pitched but on 21, you could strike gold. The likelihood is, however, that you’re just barking up the wrong tree and need to move onto greener pastures.
For example, let’s say you’ve done some speaking engagements in the past year and every time you do them you get tons of new sign-ups for your newsletter, you sell lots of books and best of all, you get asked back! So why don’t you do more of them? Well, probably because the rest of your book marketing is taking up so much time that you’re unable to devote as much time to this as you can. Now you’re in a perfect position. Why? Because you can dump the stuff that’s not working so well and focus on the things that are working well, like your speaking engagements. The same is true for media, if you get a lot of it when you’re pitching it, then why not pitch more?
For many of us, deciding what to do and when to do it can be confusing, but after you’ve spent months doing everything you’ve ever read or heard about, the obvious successes start to clarify themselves and then, what you need to do becomes crystal clear.
If you’ve only got one book to promote, here are a few tips that might help extend the life of a campaign and give you more ways to market:
- Creating spin-off products: special reports, eBooks and audio product are a all a great way to get some additional mileage out of your book. Creating products that lead to a product line can help leverage more sales. Often when consumers buy one product in a line, they’ll buy all of them.
- Speaking events: speaking on your book’s topic can really lengthen a campaign. By setting up speaking engagements you’re getting the message out there on your book, selling books to the audience and keeping the wheels on your campaign turning.
- Gather your evergreens: an “evergreen” is a topic that’s consistently viable from year to year. This means that if you have a news peg on the topic of Labor Day, you can trot this pitch out year after year and the media will love it. Understanding and building these evergreens into your campaign will greatly help extend your marketing campaign.
- Updating your book: with the exception of fiction, most books could stand a refresher every so often. For some books it’s yearly, while others can wait a bit longer. The updated version is a great way to capture additional promotion. I update my books yearly and provided that I’ve added new content (and not just changed a few URL‘s) I will re-promote each of these as they come out — just like I would a new title.
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