I don’t know about you, but I look forward to the New Year. There’s something invigorating about a new planner, a fresh perspective and 365 days of opportunity. Even though there is only a day difference between December 31 and January 1, it feels like a massive life change when the ball drops and the world gifts us with a new year to try to remember (or am I the only one who will still be using last year’s date for the next three months on accident?!).
The New Year poses opportunities in a variety of ways. Health, for one, is what most people sign up to change. (Myself included! I’m pretty proud that I got up and did yoga at 5 a.m. this morning! Check back in with me in a few weeks to see if I’ve kept up that resolution.)
Success is another that many people seek and push themselves to attain in the New Year. I spent the last month creating plans, laying out strategies and all the tactics possible to achieve the goals I’ve set out. And while success looks and feels different for everyone – for some, it’s monetary and others it’s something else altogether – the push to do better, to be better, and to make this year count is something we can all raise our hands in agreement for.
As someone who is planning on writing and publishing a book this year (yes, I’m putting it out there so you all can hold me accountable!), I’ve been reflecting a lot on success as well as the marketing strategies to align accordingly. As you plan out your upcoming year (or your strategies to attain your book, your message or your business’ success), I’d love to offer up the strategy we use to ensure every author we work with is poised to achieve the success they seek most.
Always start with the end in mind.
The first place I always start when identifying what success could or should look like is at the end. Where do I want my efforts to take me? When will I know that I’ve reached the peak of success? What metrics am I tracking to ensure that I get there?
When we work with authors, we always start by understanding the “why” in the first place (because that takes us to understanding what success looks like). In a sea of endless options for sharing a skill, a message or a passion, you’ve picked writing a book. Why? Have you ever given yourself a moment to reflect on that simple, one-word question?
There are loads of reasons to write a book, both personally and professionally.
On the personal front …
- Writing a book may be a bucket list item for you. It’s something you’ve always wanted to accomplish; a dream that you’ve never been able to shake. I had the pleasure of working with a cookbook author to bring her dream to life and watching her joy in every step of the process brought me joy. And, in return, she had high book sales (and ongoing ones, too) because she was so passionate about her accomplishment.
- You may opt to write a book because you feel like you have a message that the world – or even one person – needs to hear. Let me tell you, the world does need to hear it! Your story matters and in sharing it, you will likely inspire another person to share theirs, too. I like to say that books build bridges, not walls. In fact, they are powerful at breaking them down. Books give others a glimpse into the life of another in a way that any other platform just can’t. And your story could change a life. Now that’s powerful (and that’s success in my figurative book).
- You feel called to leave a legacy. There is something beautiful about the fact that your book – and your story – has the opportunity to outlive you. It can change lives that you will never meet for years and years and years. I’ve watched my grandfather, late in his life, publish a book about his life experiences because he wanted to leave a lasting legacy. (In fact, I just had a person last week who was installing some bookshelves in my house tell me how much he enjoyed my grandpa’s book. I didn’t realize he gave it out to any and everyone he knew!) Knowing that my children will know him long after his life here is concluded warms my heart.
On the professional front …
- Writing a book can help you make money. The book itself can bring in income (I dare not say passive income because every dollar made from a book is a hard earned dollar.). But the book can also do even more. It can help you form a business (and I actually believe that, whether you meant to form a business or not, the moment you publish a book you become an authorpreneur). It also can inspire derivative offerings such as speaking engagements, workbooks, etc.
- A book can position you as a thought leader. No longer are you just the person who said it; now you are the person who wrote the book about it. There’s something sparkly about that, am I right?! While you may be a thought leader already, having a book to backup your message has weight. People notice. It elevates you and your message.
- A book can help you start or grow a business. The emPower PR Group is living proof of that! (In fact, it was in publishing my first book, Color Today Pretty: An Inspirational Guide to Living a Life in Perspective, that I realized I could merge all of my loves to help make a difference in the lives of authors!). The book can become a business card for additional business opportunities. It can give you a tool to market yourself and your business. It opens doors for people to better understand how and why to work with you. And it increases your credibility and visibility.
I’m a big believer that before you can identify what your book’s success will look like (and, in turn, how book marketing can support that), you need clarity on why you wanted to write it in the first place. Understanding your why will help you ensure that you are writing the best book to accomplish your personal or professional mission and identify the success metrics to make it happen.
Success, what does that mean anyway?
The second thing to consider, and in my opinion, probably the most important is understanding what success will look like to you. In working with dozens of authors, I’ve realized that success comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some authors equate success with the number of books sold or amount of royalties made. Others see success as impact made, the reach of their message, and the power of their message to change lives. Still others see success as leveraging the book as a calling card for something bigger – a budding business, perhaps. If I’ve learned anything it’s that success, while having a standard definition, can only be defined by the person seeking it.
So, as you reflect on where you want to be a year from now … 6 months from now … even a week from now … what will success look like for you? This isn’t meant to be a rhetorical question. Seriously, ask yourself this and jot down your answer.
Having crystal clarity on what success – for you – will look like, my author friend, will help you identify your marketing goals and success metrics that accompany them.
Goals. Isn’t that just a buzzword?
Quite possibly, but since I’ve been methodical and intentional about setting goals, something crazy has happened. I achieve them! Just like you would set exercise goals or nutrition goals … goals to get out of debt and goals to grow your family … just like you would strategize over any other goals in life, you should be just as diligent in setting goals for your book’s success.
I encourage authors to articulate their book goals early in our collaborative process. In fact, it’s baked into every program we have and it’s the foundation of our work together. How in the world can our team support a book’s marketing efforts without knowing which approaches to take that align best with their goals?! (Pro Tip … if a book marketing company is willing to sell you on a marketing tactic without aligning it with your goals and overarching marketing goals, run … and fast!).
You don’t need a slew of goals. Between 1-3 strong goals for your book is the perfect amount to start with. Your book’s goals will (and should) inform your marketing strategies and success metrics.
For instance, let’s say that you have a goal of selling 500 books a quarter. That’s a lofty goal (as some authors, sadly, never reach that in their lifetime!), but like I mentioned earlier … without a goal, how will you achieve it? With that goal in place, you want to then focus on what movement CAN you do to help position you to attain that. You can’t strong arm people into buying it, but there are metrics you can put into place to help you make incremental movement. For instance, you could:
- Identify 3 companies a week that could benefit from your book’s message and reach out about offering a bulk discount for them to purchase and share with their employees.
- Create meaningful tools to inspire leadership groups, masterminds, book clubs, etc. to leverage your book for deeper learning.
- Work with fabulous marketing agencies like us to identify a marketing strategy to get your book’s message in front of the right target audiences through social media advertising, book marketing platforms or earned media.
Notice how the metrics inspire movement and can turn a lofty goal into tangible action steps to achieve it? That’s our secret sauce here at the emPower PR Group, and it’s honestly one of our favorite things to help authors with. We’ve captured some additional ideas and sample goals and metrics in this episode of The emPowered Author Podcast: 3.1 Book Marketing Success: Your Why, Metrics and Goals.
Author friends, here’s to your success!
For whatever reason, people are enamored with books — reading them and writing them! And even in the digital age and a world with less bookstores, I don’t see books themselves going away. We now have audiobooks, too, which help reach new and different audiences. If writing a book is something you’ve always wanted to do, then do it! If your book deserves more success than it has achieved to date, then make it happen. Stop making excuses and take action. But before you do, ensure that you make movement with strategy in mind. Understand your why and gain clarity on your book (and your marketing) goals. And then clearly articulate what success will look like and create actionable steps to achieve it.
Writing a book can change lives. I’ve seen it happen for others. And, I’m proof of it too, as it’s happened for me.