Key Idea: Marketing starts the day you decide to write a book.
I started marketing my book late. As of this writing, City Farming: A How-To Guide to Growing Crops and Raising Livestock in Urban Spaces is complete and scheduled for release by 5m Publishing on November 30, 2017. It has been a long time coming, more than a 2-year project, of which we are in the final phase: marketing.
From the perspective of a publisher, the time to market is after the project is completed.
From an author's perspective, marketing starts much earlier. Ideally, it starts the day the idea for a book is born. I am definitely coming late to the party. My efforts to market started in June, when the publisher connected me with the 5m marketing team. I was sent a very long and detailed marketing form, for which I had to do some serious research and report back to the team.
Research for 5m led me to self-publishing sites, and I became keenly aware that if I am to market the book effectively, I can't depend on 5m's team to do all of the work. Otherwise, 5m builds its own audience on my efforts; and once the book has had its heyday, I gain nothing for the future. While I am extremely grateful to 5m for the opportunity, I must be responsible to build my own platform for the long-term.
Here are 3 reason why I should have started marketing before I wrote my book proposal.
1. Marketing would have helped me to discover what my audience wants and needs the most. I could have started by creating some free content and collecting feedback to hone in on what people want to learn and how they want to learn it. I am starting now to offer free content to gain feedback for future book projects.
2. Offering free content early would have built a larger following of people who like what I do. I am reaching out to them purposefully now. These will be the people who are most likely to buy the book when it is available. Had I started two years ago, I could have had a much wider audience than I do today.
3. I would be a lot more knowledgeable and better equipped for the book launch. I regret that I did not start learning and practicing sooner. Early marketing efforts would have made my current efforts more skillful and effective.
Since I can't go back in time, I am making the most of today.
5m is totally on board and encouraging when it comes to building my audience. One of the reasons that I landed the book contract in the first place was because I already had a decent following and lots of content on my blog. There are so many more people out there who want to grow food and be urban farmers, and I can serve them if I can find them (or help them to find me.)
It's time to connect with my audience. Now that the writing/proofreading/market research are complete, I am focusing my energy on reaching more people. The larger the audience, the more books will potentially sell; a win-win situation for me, for my followers and for 5m.
If you are even considering writing a book or creating an online course, start developing an audience today. Give away free content to draw followers and to refine ideas. This will help you to better meet the needs of your audience and to gain greater financial reward when your project goes to market.
Later in the blog, I will share specific techniques and resources that I am using to to reach my audience. Stay tuned!