WestBow Press - FAQ Book Marketing Strategies

Book Marketing Strategies FAQ

What happens after I self-publish my book?
What is distribution?
I cancelled my book with distribution, but my book is still listed on Web sites like Amazon. Does this mean it is still available through retailers?
How do I get started marketing my book to increase book sales?
What should be considered when creating a marketing plan?
Are there any tips or guidelines to follow when contacting the media?
How can I market my book so that brick-and-mortar bookstores will shelve the book?
How can I market my book using the Internet?
What are some basic tips for setting up a Web site?
Can I get involved in large marketing events, such as trade shows and conventions?

What happens after I publish my book?

After you have finished the production process through WestBow Press, your book will be available for purchase through our Bookstore on our Web site. You, or anyone else, can purchase copies of your book directly through our Bookstore or through the 25,000 retailers world-wide who use the Ingram Book Network. Additionally, your book will be formatted into an E-book and will be distributed through various retail channels such as Barnes & Noble, iBooks Store and more.

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What is distribution?

Distribution means that your book will be made available to purchase to retail outlets through the Ingram Book Network. Thousands of retailers world-wide will be able to place an order for your book.

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I cancelled my book, but my book is still listed on Web sites like Amazon. Does this mean it is still available through retailers?

No. We do not have direct control over other retail Web sites, and it is up to those retailers to update their Web sites. If a customer attempted to purchase the book after the title is expired, the order will not be filled and would be rejected. In rare cases, there will sometimes be one or two physical, printed copies of your book in storage. In this case, a customer could technically order the book after the title is expired. If you are concerned and wish to prevent this, you can order the book after the book's distribution is cancelled to ensure that any printed copies are sold out so that it truly is inaccessible.

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How do I get started marketing my book to increase book sales?

You can start putting your marketing plan together before you even write the first word of your book, but if you've already finished your manuscript, you still have plenty of time. First create your marketing plan, a document that records the actions necessary to achieve your marketing goals by defining your market, identifying your customers or target audience, identifying your competitors and outlining a strategy to attract customers.

There are a few basic decisions that must be clarified and defined regarding your book:

1. First, clearly identify your target audience, or the people who are most likely going to purchase your book. Some aspects to consider about this group include: age, sex, career, income, residence/location and education.
2. Second, identify the competition. The book market is a large and highly competitive market, but you can use this to your advantage. Find out what books are selling the most within your genre, experts in the field, your competitors' strengths and weaknesses, the selling price and market demand.
3. Third, find out how best to reach your targeted audience, whether it is through a particular magazine, Web site or geographic location.
4. Fourth, develop a statement to position your book within your targeted audience. This statement should highlight what separates your book from the crowd in a bustling book market.
5. Fifth, develop a budget for your marketing plan. How much can you realistically spend on marketing over the next year? Over the next two years? Consider the type of media you will use, promotional services and all other costs associated with marketing.

Once you have examined these important questions, the next step is to develop your marketing strategy based on theses fundamental distinctions.

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What should be considered when creating a marketing plan?

A marketing strategy is the way in which you will accomplish your marketing goals and address the "Three 'Ps' of Marketing": product, place and promotion.

PRODUCT:
First, when thinking about "product," construct a persuasive and impressive product description to emphasize the special features, selling points and uniqueness of your book. How do you wish to position your book within the targeted market? Try to shape how the customer will view your book. How will the front cover look? Remember, a book's cover is like the packaging of any other product and highly impacts how customers perceive a product. WestBow Press has professional cover designers and illustrators ready to help you will this extremely important decision.

PLACE:
"Place" is the second "P" in marketing. Consider where the best locations are to reach your targeted audience. This includes cities and the types of selling channels. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of the locations you choose. For example, choosing New York City might be advantageous if it's your hometown because of your local connection. However, it is disadvantageous because the area is overly saturated with publications and releases, so your efforts could be lost in the crowd. Also remember your targeted audience and where to find them when choosing locations. Consider if you want to reach customers through WestBow Press' Bookstore channel only, online channels only, or brick-and-mortar retail sales. WestBow Press offers an ISBN and Channel Distribution through the Ingram Book Network, which will allow your book to be available through thousands of online and brick-and-mortar retail outlets. We also offer the Booksellers Return Program, which is extremely beneficial if you desire to sell your book through physical bookstores. It enables retailers to return your book if it doesn't sell, so they feel more comfortable taking a chance on a lesser known title or author.

PROMOTION:
"Promotion" is the third "P", and involves specifying the advertising platforms, forms of media, promotional efforts, marketing products and networking that you will use to spread the word about your book. Your promotional efforts should encompass various forms of media utilizing all kinds of avenues and efforts. There are tons of different options to consider. You could run an ad in a local newspaper, magazine or newsletter, or convince the media to print a review of your book or an interview with you. WestBow Press offers various services that can help you get more review and interview requests.You can even hire a personal publicist through WestBow Press for maximum results. Try networking with leaders or other experts in the field or fellow authors in order to gain endorsements for use on promotional items, such as Web sites, posters, flyers and postcards.

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Are there any tips or guidelines to follow when contacting the media?

When dealing with media, retailers and anyone else in the market, always remember to be professional, polite and direct. Also, you should always follow-up with your contacts. If you distribute a press release to the media, contact them within a week or two. Do not expect results without a follow-up effort.

When you do follow up with an editor or reporter to whom you've directed your press release, do not ask whether he or she received your news release because the answer will mostly like be "no," followed by the person hanging up. Instead, tell the editor who you are and that you sent him or her a news release related to your book. Explain that you are calling to provide further information in writing a story, review, or scheduling an interview. Also reiterate that you can send him or her a free review copy of your book. Mention any recent scheduled appearances, book signings, or other events that have occurred since you sent the release.

Be considerate of an organization's right to turn you down, and simply move on to the next one. You can consider following up 90 days later, unless told otherwise, with those who initially were not interested in an interview, book signing or review.

If you are scheduled for an interview, there are a few tips to prepare before the date. Some questions to consider are: How did you come up with the idea for the book? What is your background, education, and/or other interests? Is there anything interesting about research you conducted for your book, such as interesting facts, or the mode of research collection? How does your book connect with local interests in the area your interview will be broadcast? What other works or authors have inspired you? Practice answering these and other questions with confidence. If the interview is actually in person (not over the phone), practice speaking in front of a mirror to express confident and relaxed gestures and body language.

You should also have promotional material at your finger tips when networking. Personalized material adds a professional touch to mailings or invitations to book signings and events. You can customize letterhead and envelopes, business cards and postcards through WestBow Press. We also offer a ready-to-go kit for book signings or events, including full-color posters to put up in the store, flyers to raise awareness and postcards to mail out.

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How can I market my book so that brick-and-mortar bookstores will shelve the book?

When marketing your book to a physical bookstore, first make sure to include necessary book features during the publication of your book, such as a well designed cover and interior, edited content, retail distribution through Ingram, and a WestBow Press ISBN. These features are necessary for your book to be seriously considered by a retailer. You should also consider the Retail Returns Insurance so that retailers will be more likely to purchase copies of your book knowing they can be refunded if the book does not sell.

Once your book is published, start by contacting the manager to set up a book signing, speaking event, reading at a local store and/or library or any other venue to build local interest. This will help book sales once your book is on the shelf. Next, try to organize a book selling event with a smaller, independent book store to gain experience and local interest. By the time you move on to approach the larger chains, you can provide examples of your success and will have more local support. Always be courteous to the managers you encounter, have business cards, a sample copy of the book and a press kit on hand you can leave with the manager. Always follow up if they cannot give you a concrete answer right away.

It's important to understand that some retail bookstores, especially chains, have a policy against ordering books that they cannot return for a refund. By having the Booksellers Return Program, you can side-step this obstacle common to many self-published authors.

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How can I market my book using the Internet?

A growing number of authors use the Internet to help market their book. Setting up a Web page is a simple way to stake your claim online. After establishing your own personal Web site, or using the Web page provided on our WestBow Press Bookstore, you can include your domain name on all of our marketing material to spread the word about your site. Adding a Web address to business cards, posters, postcards, flyers, and letterheads is an excellent way to direct more traffic to your Web site.

It is extremely helpful to spread your book to all of the various popular retail sites, such as amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and more. Many customers are loyal to a particular retail Web sites because they prefer it over others or simply out of habit.

Utilizing the search programs already supplied by popular search engines, such as Google and Amazon, will help increase Internet visibility.

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What are some basic tips for setting up a Web site?

A basic outline of pages to consider including in your Web site are a home page, book-detail page (one for each title), book reviews or other media appearances, events calendar, blog or diary, and a links page.

Choose your domain name wisely. First, choose a name that is logical, such as the title of your book or your name. It should also be short, so if the title is long, do not use the entire title. Second, use words that are easy and simple to spell. Don't use your last name if you usually have to tell people how to spell it, or if it's an uncommon spelling; just use an initial instead. Third, consider registering more than one domain name with different suffixes (.com or .net) and different spellings if there are multiple for a word you are using (such as grey and gray) or if the word is commonly misspelled (in which case, you may want to reconsider your choice). Lastly, your choice must be available. If someone else already registered your top pick, unfortunately, you're out of luck.

Use keywords to ensure your Web site is found through common searches. Pack the opening homepage and the first paragraph on each page with words that represent you and your book effectively. Try to think from an Internet users' perspective and speak the language of your targeted audience. What keywords would someone search for if they were looking for a book like yours?  Advanced users can utilize the metadata, or keywords about your Web site, on each Web page, which search engines use to organize their search results.

Make sure your Web site is easy to navigate, edited, and contains current information. Update your site on a regular basis to avoid outdated material and keep your viewers informed by posting upcoming events, appearances and signings. Get your audience involved by posting an interactive blog. Help them get to know you with an online diary relating to your book, events, or personal stories. Never post anything that you are not comfortable disclosing to the general public.

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Can I get involved in large marketing events, such as trade shows and conventions?

Yes, you can get involved in large marketing events such as book trade shows and fairs, conferences and conventions, and book festivals by researching upcoming events and personally contacting their organizers. However, before you sign up, make sure you have plenty of information about the event. Determine if the event is right for you by analyzing the cost/benefit balance. What are your goals? How much exposure or book sales can you gain? What will the total cost be for reserving a selling booth, creating an attractive display, plus the cost of food and travel? Also, find out if you will able to reach your specific targeted audience. Once you've fully researched an event, you'll be able to make an informed decision whether or not to get involved.  

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