In this second article on making a Promo Plan in a Month, I'm formulating my plan for getting my book into the hands of readers. (If this is your first visit to the Promo Series or you just want to refresh where we left off, here are the other posts: Can I do It? and Step #1: Know My Goals
To recap, I figured out my goals into two sections: Book goals (Get it into the hands of readers and pursue avenues to get my book onto shelves – whether in local or independent bookstores, larger chains, libraries, etc. Know my options.) and Career Goals (Increase name recognition and Further establish a brand (ie what should readers expect from me and my work).
Now, putting my focus entirely on my target audience, the first thing I have to do is understand my readers. Who would be interested in my book? Who is my audience? I also have to understand where I am in relation to them… do I know them? How do I find them? How do I reach them?
My book is a historical, regency-set single title romance novel. That already makes it easier to separate my target audience: romance readers who enjoy historical romances. While this may seem obvious to you, it's important to make sure you know the facts, that you have them written down and that every step you take considers your target audience in mind.
Who Is My Audience?
Who are these readers? Let's look at the stats RWA offers on their website. This survey was last taken on 2005, so it's likely some of these numbers have shifted…but the general basis of it should be the same. (http://www.rwanational.org/cs/the_romance_genre/romance_literature_statistics/readership_statistics)
- 64.6 million Americans read a romance novel at least once this past year.
- 78% of those readers are female.
- 50% of those readers are married and 37% are single (the remaining numbers being widowed, divorced, or separated.)
- 70% of these readers are between the ages of 25 and 64. (The top percentage being 22% at ages 35-44.)
- 42% have a bachelor's degree or higher
- 71% read anywhere from 1 to 10 romance books this past year.
This is my audience: American females, married or single, with an average college education in the age range of 25-64. This is a pretty broad group of people. To break that down even further into my core audience: A much smaller percentage of that group reads historical romances, and only a portion of those people will purchase books online.
I won't reach every single person in this broad spectrum, but I can choose a few segments to focus my efforts. By doing this, I have a better chance of gaining readers.
How Visible Do I Need to Be?
I read somewhere (and I can't recall who said this) that it takes 15 impressions for a book to make a sale. This means that someone needs to see or read about your book 15 times before they'll buy.
Since I fall smack dap into my target audience (36, married, with a college degree), I can take my own buying habits as an example here. It does take me some time and consideration to buy a new author or a new book.
I will probably visit Amazon or the author's website a couple of times and take a trip to the bookstore to pick it up, read the back blurb, a page or two…and maybe still set it down. I'm a mood reader, so while the book might interest me, I might not buy it until I'm in the mood for that story. However, when that mood hits me, that book will be the first thing I go for.
So do I buy that it could potentially take 10 or 15 times for someone to see my book before they'll pick it up? Absolutely.
THAT is the goal in my marketing and publishing – to be visible, to be remembered when they are ready to buy (and to be easy to find, but we'll get to that later). If you consider the other statistic from RWA's survey, the average romance reader reads from 1 to 10 romances a year. That's less than one a month… Those are some high odds to beat.
How Do I Get in Front of the Reader 15 times?
Yikes! 15 times? That seems like a really daunting number, doesn't it? It will take some work, that's for sure, but it's not all about money. It's about getting my book cover out there, getting my name into someone's head. It's about VISIBILITY. To fully understand this, I have to get into the mind of my ideal reader and understand where they will go, what they will look for.
Fortunately, I am an avid reader of the genre I write in…so for this, I can consider my own purchase patterns. What catches my eye? What makes me purchase?
To do this, I'm going to use the book, Courting Trouble, authored by one of our blog guests, Renee Knowles, as example here because my direction toward purchasing her book is exactly the same one I go through with ANY author.
From Introduction to Purchase
- I first saw Renee's signature line in a yahoo loop. Her title caught my eye. This was my introduction to her as an author, and it was positive. I liked the title. 1 point.
- I saw the title again in another post, with a blurb I believe, and learned it was a regency historical. Right up my alley. 1 point.
- Again, I loved (okay, I'll say it, coveted) the title and wished I'd come up with it first. 1 point.
- I saw her announcement of the book cover. Very pretty. It spoke romance and historical to me. 1 point.
- I saw mention of a good review for Courting Trouble on the Wild Rose Press loops. 2 points.
- Eventually, I clicked on her website and read up on her book. I liked her site, it was fun and flirty and professional. 2 points. I liked what I read for the excerpt for the book, as well. 2 points.
- I saw another good review mention and learned the book was out now. 1 point.
- I had an interaction with Renee via email and enjoyed getting to know her. 4 points
That's 15 points. If I equate points to impressions, Renee and her book has made 15 positive impressions on me by doing, in actuality, very little. It was shortly after that last interaction that I remembered her book was out in print (I prefer reading a book in my hands) and I went to purchase it.
What did she do to snag this reader? First off, she writes what I enjoy, so once I knew that, I was more inclined to pay attention. Second, Renee's book was visible over a period of time. And third, but just as –if not more–important, Renee sold me on her. She secured my trust, that I could know what to expect from her, that I could trust what she was "selling." And she did that by all of the things I mentioned above.
To flip this around to my OWN marketing and promo plan, I know that visiblity is key. I want to build a relationship with my readers, and I'm doing that, even before I realize it. I think THAT is the key…realizing that eve
rything you do and say can be related to a point (plus or minus) in getting your readers closer to purchase. I have to get my book and my name in front of the readers consistently over time. Each impression should add upon the previous, so I'm building points with this reader every time until ultimately, they like me and the book enough to trust me with their money.
I think it's less likely to find impulse buyers online than it is in the bookstore. We have time to consider, we have to go through the process of checking out, actually TYPING in our credit card, which gives us time to reconsider any impulse buy. If I'm focusing my efforts on selling online (for the most part), I need to be cognizant of that — I need to realize that people who buy my book will have considered it before purchase. I'm selling to romance readers who know what they like, have considered where to spend their money and are willing to trust me to make that money well-spent.
Knowing My Audience
After understanding my audience, recognizing who they are and making some educated guesses on their buying patterns, I can start to formulate my plan. Where will I be most visible? What does my budget allow? Where is the best bang for my buck?
And also, in consideration with these questions, is the timing. Being visible isn't about one day, it's about months. It's about getting my name and my book out there before it's available, so people recognize the title. Then becoming more visible as I approach the release date with reviews, blurbs, excerpts and perhaps some goodies. Then I have to add upon that to create a presence once the book is available — not just in one place, but in more than one. Consistently.
Plotting out my marketing plan is looking rather like a plot my books. I'm going to need a blank calendar, a pen, and all my research at hand to figure out how to put the pieces together.
Next time, I'll share that process with you – Plotting My Attack Plan
Are you entered to win?
Don't forget, this series offers a bonus prize at the end! For anyone who comments on EACH post of the Promo series, you'll be entered to win an ad from Romance Junkies, paid for and designed (if you so choose) by yours truly!
Currently, we've got one candidate: Debra St. John
If you want to be entered to win this prize, be sure to comment on each post in this series. Plenty of posts to go, and you can comment at ANY time during the month of November.