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Why you should write a marketing plan before you write your book

Publish Your Book: Proven Strategies and Resources for the Enterprising Author by Patricia Fry is a must-read for authors. It addresses a challenge we all have: How to write a marketable book that attracts readers. Fry’s book recommends that you write a book proposal and query letter before you start writing.

A book proposal is a must for non-fiction, but it is also beneficial for fiction and self-published books. It provides you with a marketing plan, and it helps you organize your book so it meets the needs of your readers. It helps you prepare for the long marketing efforts ahead of you. It can even save you from wasting months or years writing a book no one wants to read.

Here are several ways writing a marketing plan can help you.

You can identify your target audience.

Who is your audience? This is the basic rule of communication. You need to identify who will want to read your book. What do those readers want and expect? What need can your book fill for that audience?

Another thing to consider is the size of your readership. Although we all dream of writing books that sell millions, our book may only appeal to a small and specific market. That’s OK. You can write a book that becomes the definitive work for that field and generates a steady stream of income for years.

You can find the right publisher (or decide to publish the book yourself).

Writers typically look for publishers after they write the book. (They might even look at the publisher’s submission guidelines before submitting it.) Fry recommends looking for publishers before you write. Why? You can see what types of books they are looking for. If you’re planning on writing a Christian-themed novel, you might want to check out publishers who produce those types of books. You can also find out what types of books publishers don’t want. I noticed that a number of publishers won’t take zombie or vampire books because those subjects are oversaturated.

You may decide that you are better off publishing the book yourself, especially if your target market is too small or specialized to appeal to a publisher.

You can find ways to reach your readers.

We all dream of getting our book on the front shelf of a major bookstore. (I’ve done it, and my novel was independently published.) Bookstores might not be the best place to sell your particular book. If you’re writing a fitness book, gyms and health food stores may be better places to sell it. Writing a book about maintaining classic cars? Consider asking auto parts stores to carry it or set up a booth to sell your book at classic car shows. Look for places where your target readers are more likely to find your book.

You can write a better book.

The idea of writing a marketable book may turn off writers. “Why can’t I write the book I feel like writing?” We do need to write from our passion. One way to stir that passion is to know there are readers out there who want and need our book. We write to connect with people. Marketing helps us build that connection.

This approach helps us see our book from our readers’ eyes. Is this a book they would benefit from and enjoy? Are there sections they would find unclear or distracting? Where are the errors that can undermine how they see the book? Is this a book they could recommend to others?

By considering marketing, you’re not “selling out” or “focusing too much on the bottom line.” You are creating a better experience for your readers.

Ultimately, the most important marketing tool you have is a quality book. By creating a book proposal before writing, you have the best chance to produce a quality book your target audience will want to read. It will also help you develop a plan to get your book in the hands of people who would want it.