As promised, here’s the continuation of that great piece by Penny Sansevieri.

3) Don’t fall in love with your own ideas. This is a big one. It’s
great to love your work; in fact, you should love it. You should be passionate
about it. But don’t love it so much that you aren’t open to feedback. Feedback
is critical to any successful book launch campaign. Further, if you aren’t open
to feedback, you might miss some advice that could save your book and you from
spending thousands of dollars pushing something that isn’t quite ready for the
mainstream – or worse, a book that’s missed its mark only slightly. Be open to
feedback and then seek that feedback from professionals you trust and respect.
Do you know how to compete with major publishers? If you’re
self-publishing your book, or even trying to find a major NY publisher for your
book, why would this matter? Because, as much as some folks like to say that NY
publishers are doing it wrong, they are still the driving force behind the
industry. Knowing when they typically release a majority of their titles and
what their strengths and weaknesses are is important. Why? Because you need to
understand what the competitive landscape looks like. It’s important to note,
for example, that major publishers don’t generally publish to the niches. Why is
that? Because they are focused (and must focus) on bigger areas: celebrity
titles, trends, etc. Even the things (like the Snooki book) that might turn our
stomachs. In an upcoming piece, I will spend some time discussing how NY
Publishers work, as well as how you might compete with some of these giants.

What’s the “look” of your work? I’m speaking specifically about
branding and book cover design. I would never trust my book cover to anyone less
than a professional designer. Why? Because there are certain things you don’t
want to leave to chance. This is another reason why you don’t want to get too
close to your work. You might love a book cover that’s totally wrong for your
book. Now, don’t misunderstand me. You should love your final cover, absolutely.
But don’t love something that many professionals advise against. This could mean
trouble. Further, you should do your research. Look at other covers; see what
appeals to you and what does not. Make sure the cover is simple and powerful in
design. If you have a brand aligned with your business, make sure there’s a
synergy between them. Also, your cover shouldn’t be too complicated. If you have
to explain the cover (or book title) you need to keep searching for a simpler
message. Remember: you aren’t going to be able to be everywhere and speak to
every consumer interested in your book about what the cover or title means. It
should pique their interest without confusing them.

What other titles are competing with you? Knowing your competitive
space is not only important, it’s mandatory. As I mentioned in #1, you want to
identify your market and know that there’s an audience for your book. Once you
do, however, you’ll want to get to know that market even better. You should read
most (if not all) of the top books in your category (to the degree that time
allows, of course). You should know the authors who write them and if possible,
network with them via email, their blogs or (if you’re lucky) in person. Why is
this crucial? Two reasons: The first is that you want to know what other titles
are out there because your book needs to somehow align with the market. Also,
what happens if you do research and find that there’s another book exactly like
yours? Glad you found out now, aren’t you? Now you can change your book slightly
to support a similar, but unique, message. Second, networking with other
like-minded authors is always a win-win. It’s great if you can get to know them,
share information, helpful tips, maybe even some upcoming networking events.
Knowing your “neighbors” in publishing is never a wasted effort.

Who is your target audience and how will you reach them? Who are you writing for? Who is your audience? If  you aren’t sure, now is the time to find out. Specifically, you want to make sure there’s an audience for your book and you want to know how to reach them.
By reaching them I mean selling to them. If you’re unsure, a professional can help you identify this. The reason you want to do this early on is so that if needed, you can incorporate elements into your book that matter to your reader and make it more appealing to your audience. Identifying your target market and how you will access them is important because this could help you align with them before your book comes out. Let’s say that your audience is heavily into associations. This could be a great outlet for you to market to and even, if  you’re so inclined, to position yourself as a speaker. If you’ve written fiction, this is important as well. Key associations in your market can be very helpful to your success both through promotion and networking. Authors have a tendency to isolate themselves. Yes, I know this is a stereotypical way of describing an author, but let’s face it, between writing, research, and promotion we’re clocking a lot of computer hours at our desk. It’s important to allocate some time to step out of your comfort zone and get to know the audience you are writing for.

Reprinted from “The Book Marketing Expert newsletter,” a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques.

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