Whether you’re self or traditionally published, writing fiction or non-fiction, published or about to publish, your author marketing will benefit from stepping back to look at the questions publishers ask of a typical book proposal.
Why? Because approaching your book the way a publishing company would will give you insights about your book market and your author marketing plan you may have overlooked!
Warning: This may seem like an exercise that’s not, well, fun. Yes, like homework. When I first had to do a book proposal my eyes crossed and then glazed over. I thought I had a pretty good idea of who my market was and how to reach them and this seemed like a bunch of time-wasting nonsense. But it was required by the publisher and so I plunked myself down at the desk and dug into the worksheet.
I was surprised to learn that I didn’t know my market as well as I thought I did. Answering the questions forced me to look up other books in the same category and learn what was good and not-so-good about each. I learned who was getting shelf space and who wasn’t and the average size of books in different genres. And, the exercise forced me to define how my book was going to be unique, how I was uniquely qualified to write it, and how I’d use that information to make sure it got to its intended audience.
Bottom line: This exercise got me thinking like a publisher, rather than just as an author. And it made me think harder about my contract with the reader, too – to think about their needs and expectations. Fifteen years later and over 100,000 books sold, I can safely say I’m happy I did my homework!
Print these questions on a sheet of paper, or paste them into a blank document, and give it a whirl.
About the Book
- A clear statement of purpose (who the book is written for, the need for it, and how your book meets this need)
- The scope of the book (both the breadth and depth of content)
- An explanation of how and why the book is organized as it is
- The benefits of the book to the reader
- How is your book different/unique from the competition?
- Does your format (book size, number of pages, color versus black and white) differ from books sold in the same category?
About the Author
- How are you uniquely qualified to write this book?
- Offer up experiences that give you the insight to produce this unique work.
- Do you interact with the audience this book is written for?
About the Book’s Market
- How will you draw attention to your book?
- How will you reach YOUR audience of readers?
- How motivated will your audience be to find a book on this topic?
- How well does the category sell as a whole? How much space do these books get in bookstores?
- Who might the top five retailers of your book be OUTSIDE of the traditional bookseller?
- What are the demographics of your target audience, including gender, age, geographic location?
Then tell us – did answering any of the questions help better define the market for YOUR book?
Creator of Where Writers Win, Shari Stauch has been involved in publishing, marketing and PR for 30 years. She is also the principal author of the WWW blog, and speaks at conferences around the country. The Where Writers Win team’s newest collaboration is The Winner Circle – vetted book review directories, book clubs and other cultivated resources for emerging authors.