Prior to this year, I had not produced an entire marketing plan. I had created parts here and bits there. After going through the entire process, I believe anyone so determined can complete that daunting task.
By way of introduction to establish my credibility, I am an English composition instructor at a college and also teach English literature to high school seniors. In effect, by teaching at the college level as well, I am catching students at critical points in their secondary and post-secondary journeys. Prior to that, I taught public speaking at Kennesaw State University and University of West Georgia. Also, I taught grammar and an assortment of courses to gifted middle school students.
Additionally, I am an authorpreneur, the convergence of my creative side (writing) and the business aspect of my creative side. Evidence of my creative side is that I have written extensively and have been published in several media outlets. As part of that business aspect of my creative side, I own a publishing company.
[Incidentally, the term, “authorpreneur,” was coined by and made famous by Australian author, Hazel Edwards, as recently as 2011 (Morris, n.p.).]
I cannot over-emphasize the importance of the marketing plan. Everyone who is considering publication needs to become familiar with this process and engage in it. Of course, it takes trial and error to become confident and competent in it. In its entirety, the book proposal is the marketing plan that entices a publisher and/or an agent. It puts a book (figuratively) in the palms of the agent or the traditional publisher.
Drs. Gregory Fraser and Chad Davidson of University of West Georgia call the marketing plan “a close analysis of cultural signs and a set of informed recommendations” (Frasier & Davidson 11). They urge all students to undergo the process of creating the documents that make up the marketing plan: “Outside the academic environment, however, students will need to take part in this activity no matter what goals they hope to achieve” (Fraser and Davidson 11).
The advice is not to be taken lightly. Every agent and traditional publisher demand it, and it is as the professors indicate: a cultural sign agreed upon by all in the book business and a set of informed recommendations expected for submission by all in the book publishing business. The advice is not only for students but also for anyone who hopes to submit a book (fiction or non) for agent representation or for publication (if choosing to bypass the agent, which traditional publishers will not tolerate).
As I indicated earlier, completing this process is a trial-and-error exercise. I have, at one time or another, written many query letters, pitched my novels and children’s books, written aspects of a book proposal, composed synopses of my novels for jackets and possible plugs in the right places should I be fortunate to be required, written my author resume (a.k.a, author profile) and the accompanying cover letters, crafted book descriptions, and provided a chapter-by-chapter explanation of one of my books.
I must not have followed the protocol: I queried and solicited traditional publishers directly, a cardinal sin. Rejections abound daily, and they can break a budding author, but resilience is key. Referring to the rejection of his first novel by 31 publishers, James Patterson indicated in Chapter 2 of his Masterclass Online Course, “I have the scars. The scars don’t go away.”
He called the rejections “31 wrong opinions.” That rejected first novel, The Thomas Berryman Number, won the Edgar Award for the ‘Best First Novel by an American Author’! Again, resilience is key. Alternatively, independent publishers have become quite lucrative as Plan A (where authors ignore the highly recommended but frustrating road of traditional publishing) or Plan B (where authors fall back on independent publishers after rejections by traditional publishers).
I have listed the components of a marketing plan. Of course, marketing plans vary. Before a writer submits the items listed below, he/she is urged to research publishers to ensure they publish his/her genre and whether or not they accept unsolicited manuscripts.
Marketing Plan Parts and Pieces:
- Pitch: a one-sentence explanation of the book’s content or theme. Condense the 100,000+-word novel/book into one sentence.
- Query letter: a semi-business letter that introduces the project and writer to an agent and/or publisher. It should be single-spaced.
- Book proposal: the plan for the book and should contain
- A longer synopsis of the book (500–1,000 words)
- Table of contents
- Marketing plan
- Author biography/resume (with professional credentials)
- Sample chapters, and (if requested)
- A chapter-by-chapter synopsis of all the chapters
A writer must start the journey over every day. The writer must be passionate and must be willing to learn and to grow daily. At the urgings of Doctors Fraser and Davidson, every student/aspiring author needs a marketing plan and must create one or several.
“Book Proposal Boot Camp” Southern New Hampshire University. 19 November 2015. Web. December 2, 2015.
Fraser, Gregory and Davidson, Chad. Analyze Anything: A Guide to Critical Reading and Writing. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2012. Print.
Morris, Linda. “Becoming ‘Authorpreneurial’ Online.” 22 November 2011. Web. November 28, 2015.
Patterson, James. “Passion + Habit.” Masterclass. 2015. Web. December 28, 2015.