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Looking to market yourself as an author? For beginners and professionals alike, getting your name out there is often difficult. Dave Chesson dives into the four Ps of marketing and how they can influence success. Especially if you plan to jump into self-publishing.
Learning how to market their work effectively is the toughest challenge for many authors.
After all, carving out enough time to hit our word count targets is often tricky enough.
Committing to learning and applying something as seemingly complex as marketing can seem impossible.
This is often due to authors holding the limiting belief ‘I am not a marketing kind of person’.
Even when authors are open to learning marketing, it’s difficult to know exactly what to learn.
Anyone learning marketing in a formal context, such as business school, will come across fundamental principles and frameworks. These are often sadly absent from the author world.
One such framework is the Four Ps of Marketing. Every business student is familiar with it.
Read on to discover how this fundamental marketing principle applies to authors.
The first ‘P’ stands for price.
It might seem simple, but price is important. The price of your book has a direct impact on your profit margin, your sales, and how people perceive you as an author.
Thankfully, price doesn’t need to be complicated. Some of the considerations to keep in mind when pricing your book include:
- Royalties. Often, different book markets offer different rates of royalties depending on the price your book sells for. Be sure to know how the price of your book will impact the royalty you receive. You may need to set different price points for different markets.
- Market norms. How are other authors in your genre or niche pricing their work? Unless you have a very good reason not to, you should consider pricing your work within the typical range.
- Objectives. How does your book price fit with your marketing objectives? For example, you may wish to price your book lower closer to launch to build momentum in terms of sales and reviews. Ensure your book’s price matches your overall objectives.
You should also factor in price when calculating your break even point. Knowing exactly how many copies you need to sell to see a return on your investment can help you market with greater clarity.
This one might rankle for a lot of authors. But I won’t sugarcoat it. Your book is your product. Want to get even more upset? You are also the product!
Please don’t misunderstand me. Books are art. Authors are creative souls. The term ‘product’ is not used to cheapen either.
So how do we apply the concept of ‘product’ to our art and ourselves?
- Think in terms of ‘feeling’, rather than ‘fact’. When someone buys the latest literary masterpiece, they are buying more than ink and paper. They are buying ideas, emotions, and a reinforcement of the psychological self-image they hold. By honing in on the deeper reason a reader chooses a particular book, you unlock the key to psychologically potent marketing.
- Don’t overlook the obvious. It’s still important to cover the basics, such as an attractive book cover, an enticing description, a well formatted book.
- Author as product. Often, readers will form an emotional connection with their favorite authors. By taking the time to understand and hone your author brand, you give yourself the best chance of turning readers to fans.
Understand that both your book and yourself are your product. Think in terms of competitive advantage. Why should a reader choose your book over another? What makes you interesting as an author?
At first, it might seem a little unclear as to the difference between ‘marketing’ and ‘promotion’. Basically, think of promotion as the ‘communication’ aspect of book marketing. This includes activities such as advertising.
So what are some of the core principles and practices behind promotion for authors?
- Message. Often, authors get weighed down with factual information. Examples include exhaustive author biographies or synopsis style taglines. Instead, cut your message down to its fundamental core. What will a reader feel when reading your fiction? Which problem will your nonfiction book solve?
- Channel. Not all promotion is created equal. Don’t get suckered in by grand promises made by unscrupulous marketing agencies. Consider a promotional channel in terms of whether it can reach the right people, how many of them it can reach, and how much it will cost you to do so.
- Results. Often, authors simply tick boxes and blindly chase trends when it comes to promotion. Just because everyone else is doing something, it doesn’t mean you need to. And if you do choose to engage in a particular promotional approach, you should see tangible benefits as a result of your time and energy.
Ultimately, authors should avoid shiny object syndrome. Don’t dabble in each and every promotional trend that comes your way. Instead, take the time to master the few promotional activities that produce tangible, consistent results.
Place simply refers to the location where customers can buy your book.
In the modern publishing context, there are lower barriers to entry in terms of place than ever before. Anyone is able to place their work in the world’s largest book marketplace with a few clicks of their mouse.
However, we can’t disregard the place aspect of the 4 Ps entirely. Some essential considerations for today’s authors include:
- What’s on offer. Taking the time to upload your books to a particular marketplace and optimize their performance requires your effort. What will you get in return? Think in terms of the royalties on offer, the promotional help offered by a particular marketplace, and the popularity of your type of book within that specific marketplace.
- What your readers want. Is it important to offer an audiobook version? A physical copy as well as an ebook? Make sure a particular bookseller is able to meet your requirements.
- Think outside the box. If everyone is on Amazon, broaden your horizons. Can you get your book in libraries? What about traditional brick and mortar bookstores? There are often valuable opportunities in terms of place that your fellow authors will mostly overlook.
Your readers won’t discover your book by magic. Ensure it is in the places they are looking, and ensure those places are suitable for your author expectations.
The Four P’s For Authors – Final Thoughts
Hopefully one of marketing’s core frameworks is now understandable and applicable for you as an author.
- Price should be set in accordance with market norms and your personal financial aims.
- Product refers to both you as an author, in addition to your work, and the psychological aspects are just as important as the physical.
- Promotion. This is the message you are conveying to potential customers, and the channel through which you convey it.
- Place. The locations, both online and offline, where readers can buy your work.
Which of the 4 Ps do you think is most important to authors? How have you personally applied any of the above ideas? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Dave Chesson is a book marketing nerd who runs Kindlepreneur.com. He is a consultant for bestselling authors and the creator of KDP Rocket.