A Marketing Plan for Fiction?
By Bill Stephens - Feb 11 , 2008
These days, a requirement for any nonfiction book proposal is a marketing plan.
In your plan, you, the author, must convince an editor there is an eager audience ready to pounce on your book idea once published. Additionally, you must show how you will market the book to this audience. Trust me—proposing review copies and a book tour featuring readings and signings will not get it done these days.
My agent is currently pitching my novel, Vamonos!, and she hit on the idea of offering a marketing plan for fiction editor presentations—a fairly unique idea. She perceives the fiction market to be squeezed and difficult for manuscript sales, and she is constantly looking for new ideas to penetrate that market. She has had some success with this “marketing plan” idea, recently.
My Vamonos! manuscript deals with two displaced and unsuccessful Country & Western musicians from Austin, Texas, who ride their Harley motorcycles into the Mexican Desert on a journey of redemption. It’s humorous adventure fiction.
The novel combines Harley Davidson Motorcycles, Texas/Mexico cross-border adventures, humorous camaraderie, Mexican cultural and illegal immigration insights, college campus settings, Country & Western music, and hilarious cognitive critters into a montage of cultural diversity.
To prepare the novel’s marketing plan, I first had to break down the cultural interests of the various demographics addressed in the book. It took a lot of work, but I came up with a diverse marketing plan showing who the readership is and how to focus on each segment.
I divided the readership into General Groups composed primarily of readers of adventure and humor – genre examples: Christopher Moore, Tom Robbins, and Carl Hiaasen; and Special Groups composed of Texans, The Cross Border Hispanic Culture, College Students, Motorcycle riders, and Country & Western music lovers.
I then explained a very specific, detailed marketing plan, including lists of email addresses already developed to exploit each of these groups. The actual marketing plan for Vamonos! is over thirty double-spaced pages and is very detailed. My marketing plan also included statistical information exploding the publisher’s myth that Hispanics, motorcycle riders, and C&W music lovers don’t buy books.
One early recipient of my Vamonos! presentation that included my marleting plan said, “I really appreciate receiving the Marketing Plan. We never get one for novels, and it really helps evaluate the commercial viability of a manuscript.”
Showing editors and publishers your marketing expertise and the extent to which you are willing to participate in your novel’s marketing program will have a positive effect. Fiction manuscripts are hard to sell these days, but showing publishers the market for your novel and how you propose to develop that market will help you get your novel accepted by publishing houses.