In many parts of America, it’s already Fall. Oh, maybe pumpkin spice mochas haven’t quite hit the menu yet, but school is back in session or just about to return to session, and many of us are starting to plan ahead for the coming seasons: Fall means back-to-school and back-to-daily-routine planning and the comedown from summer vacations; Winter means the holidays have well and truly arrive, and all the reunions and trips and expenses that come with them; Spring means the winter doldrums are over and it’s time to lay the groundwork for the new year. This transition time, between Summer and Fall, is our last best chance to plan ahead before things get well and truly busy.
It’s time to prepare the soil and plant the seeds for your next marketing plan.
Technically, when it comes to marketing, including marketing for your own self-published book or books, it’s always time to plant these seeds. After all, the best marketing plan is a robust one with a whole stable of ideas running simultaneously, from attending book fairs to scheduling book readings to participating in a book blog tour to reaching out to your local radio stations to creating meaningful content for your social media posts. But since we’re human beings, we need things broken down into manageable bits and bytes for us to move forward without falling over our own feet. Or at least, this is a common enough necessity that I too have experienced it: We all need to hit the “reset” button every now and then, whether our plans grew so messy in the previous season as to drive us to exhaustion, or because they fizzled out and we need to relaunch them with fresh vim and vigor.
So … if resetting one’s marketing plan is equivalent to laying the groundwork for your next harvest, what does resetting actually look like?
- First off, resetting doesn’t mean “stop everything you’re doing and burn it all down.” That would be a crying shame, given that even the slimmest of strategies, even the ones which tapered off sooner than you would have liked or that never really got off the ground, did some important work–work like getting you registered on your social media platforms of choice, or acquiring some followers on your blog.
- Resetting does mean taking stock. It’s time to make an inventory of all the marketing strategies you’ve tried, and running some numbers. What kind of engagement did you see on this or that social media platform? Did you see more success with Twitter or Instagram? Your blog or your Facebook page? And this is just as important: How much time did you spend, on average, marketing through each of these avenues? Get that down on paper (or pixels), too. Don’t cast any judgments or make any emotional calls until you’ve had a chance to actually run these numbers and put them all on one page.
- Then you get to make some judgment calls. And yes, your emotions about these things totally matter! If you had a negative personal experience with a social media platform, Twitter for example, you may not feel comfortable returning to it for marketing reasons. And that’s okay. That would make for a great reason to try out an alternate platform, if it leaves you with a gap. If you’re quitting Facebook, try Goodreads. If you’re quitting Twitter, try Instagram. If you’re quitting Snapchat, try YouTube. There are so many choices to choose from! But keeping it manageable is the real trick here.
- Keeping it manageable applies to all aspects of your marketing. If your original marketing plan fizzled out without much success, it’s usually because either the original plan was A) too ambitious, or B) not ambitious enough. You’ll know instinctively which of these was your struggle simply by looking at your inventory of time spent marketing. And if your original marketing plan stalled out because you were exhausted from trying to keep all the balls in the air, very likely you’d be in the former category, not the latter. If you were in camp B), it’s time to experiment a little. I can’t force you to, and it’s very likely I can’t even entice you to, but I will certainly encourage you to pick up one or two new marketing strategies this year–and to go back to the beginning, as if you’ve never marketed your book before. (Just be sure to hang on to those followers and strategies which you’ve already established.) If you’re camp A), your reset must include scaling back. This doesn’t mean burning bridges or quitting social media platforms altogether, however; I suggest announcing your new plans on all of your platforms, even to the point where you announce you’re scaling back on your engagement in some areas so that you can focus on others. This gives you a chance to direct your followers to those platforms where you saw the most return on your time and energy. while still giving those followers on less-high-return platforms something to remind them that your book exists and you care about them as readers. But you do need to scale back the time and energy you’re spending on marketing if you find yourself burnt out. You need to feel free to experiment and play and enjoy yourself, too!
- Resetting means returning to the things which bring you joy. Resetting is about recovery, and rejuvenation, and starting afresh. You can’t start afresh if the very thought of marketing, or of doing more, depresses you! Worse still, your potential readers can totally pick up on a lack of enthusiasm, given their skill at … oh, reading between the lines. So focus on those things which bring you joy. What platforms, marketing strategies, and daily marketing habits were the least intrusive? Which ones made you smile? Focus your energy there for a while. It’s okay to pull back, take stock, and re-center on those things. I give you permission. The world gives you permission. Your book gives you permission! And once you’re in a good place, you’re in the perfect place to craft the architecture of your next marketing plan–and to start growing those strategies which will bring in your next harvest.
You are not alone. ♣︎