Setting Realistic Goals for Marketing Your Book: Part 2 – Realistic Expectations

In a recent post, I wrote about how treating yourself as a business can positively impact the way you market your DIY book.  While changing your perspective, researching what works with other companies, and coming up with a plan that you can follow through with are all huge steps towards reaching more readers and selling more books – that’s only part of coming up with a successful marketing strategy.

By completing your book, you’ve done something remarkable.  You’ve put so much hard work and energy into, it can be difficult not to be emotionally attached to your work.  But the key now, is to take a step back and start setting realistic expectations to go along with each of above steps. Otherwise, you may become frustrated or disappointed if you don’t think your book is gaining a large enough readership as quickly as you’d like.

Build a Genre, Build a Brand

All successful writers had to start somewhere.  Authors like Stephen King and Dan Brown are continually at the top of The New York Times Bestseller list because after years of work, they have figured out the formula for attracting their readers.  Part of their formula is knowing what their genre is and sticking to it.  In that way, these authors have created a brand for themselves.  Everyone knows you read a Stephen King book if you want to be scared, you read Dan Brown if you want to figure out a mystery.  Obviously, some genres are going to sell better than others based on how reader-friendly they are.  It isn’t realistic to expect a niche-oriented book about nanotechnology to sell as much as a young adult title about sexy vampires, no matter how cutting edge and revolutionary it is.  You must determine what genre you’re trying to fit into and go after the readers that are interested in that genre.  Creating a solid personal brand will greatly help you gain momentum as you build your readership.

Find the Right Audience

Many of the books on Lulu are written with a very specific audience in mind.  And are great because they offer knowledge on topics that can’t be found anywhere else.  In fact, some of our bestsellers are books from these niche genres.  What makes these books bestsellers is that the authors took the time to zero-in on the right audience – the readers that their content matters to.  As much as you want your book to sell millions of copies, you must realize that you’re not writing for everyone – not yet at least.  At first, you’re writing for a very specific and small group of readers – maybe just family, friends, and colleagues. Building a loyal following is something that comes with a lot of time, patience, and research.  You must constantly be in the habit of self-promoting your work.  The good news is that with the internet, it is easier than ever to find your audience and promote your work. For example, if you write a book on photography, start spending time on all of the top photography blogs. Network and become a part of the conversations and prove to those communities that you are a reputable and reliable source of information, then begin to introduce you work.  Be sure to play by the rules too, no one likes a spammer that sends a link of their book out hundreds of time a day.

Publicize with Passion

If a bookstore sells a biology book that is a bestseller, but you have written a biology book that you want them to sell instead, even if you know its better, you’re going to find it pretty hard to convince them to stop selling that bestseller if you can’t stand by your product.  Who else understands the topic of your book better than you, the person that wrote it?  Even if you have an army of publicists, no one can represent and promote your content better than you can. When you’re starting out, your name and your book’s title should always be mentioned in the same sentence. You are the authority and you must show conviction in your work.  Do not expect to sell anything if you’re not willing to put in the effort, time, and energy required to convince readers that your book is the only one they need in their hands.  Your personality and passion play a large role in this, but you should always make sure to list your credentials, experience, or qualifications whenever you’re publicizing your work.  You must also be willing to attend book fairs, trade shows, signings, lectures, and publicity events.  Once you have determined how much time and money you are willing to invest the publicity of your book, you can begin to set realistic expectations for how successful your book will be.  The most important part however, is to always give it your best.

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3 Comments

  1. For someone who is starting out, building a brand and genre will take some time unless the person is sure before they start. Not everyone is.

    Thanks for an informative post, AJ.

  2. great perspective. thanks. give it your best a good mantra. when the book project is a sideline to work, parenthood, life etc – and maybe even if it’s not, another good mantra is to remember it’s a marathon not a sprint. good to have a plan and stick to it, but know there will be bends in the road and the journey to bestellerdom (though there are some stories of diamond in the rough, out of the blue hits) usually takes a lot a lot of persistence and patience

  3. I love to write very much, and long-term wise, my goal is to be able to write novels and short stories as a career. My question is, what is a good, realistic goal to set for myself everyday to ensure I make good progress with my writing? And should I set seperate daily goals for both my short stories and my novels?

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