Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

Riehlife Back of the Envelope Book Marketing Plan for “Pen to Print” Panel at SCN National Memoir Conference, Austin, Texas

In 2006 I published my book "Sightlines: A Poet's Diary"with iUniverse. While my first-line audience was friends and family, I quickly found there were second-third-and-fourth-line audiences rippling out there who were interested in my book, my topic, and by extension, in me and what I thought and had to say. I marketed "Sightlines" by every means I knew how. I loved my book. Here, at the conference, you can read my essay "The Book Just Loved Me" on the Story Wall and pick up the sell sheet for "Sightlines" and my Woman of Letters card at the Heart to Heart taable.

You can learn more about "Sightlines: a Poet's Diary" on the sidebar of Riehlife...sample poems, talks at readings, the story behind the 25 archival photos of this downhome family love story beyond death told in accessible story poems. In 2007, "Sightlines: A Poet's Diary" won a DIY (Do It Yourself) award in the Hollywood Book Festival.

Sightlines:A Poet’s Diary by Janet Grace Riehl (cover)

Onto the BACK OF THE ENVELOPE BOOK MARKETING PLAN which has three parts. 1) Inventory 2) Action 3) Perspective.


Every choice you make in marketing your book witll flow from your answers to these questions in the inventory section.

1) Motivation. Why are you writing/or why did you write THIS book?

2) Audience. Who are you writing to? Who are you writing for?

3) Results. What do you want to get out of your marketing campaign? Sales? Platform? Social life? Friends? To feel like a real author? What results do you want to see? What do you want to happen? What benchmarks can you use to set up achievable goals and timebound, measurable results?

4) Resource Inventory. How much time, money, and support do you have to carry out your book marketing campaign? Who is there to help you? How much time and energy do you have to swap out for low-cost/no-cost resources?

5) Strength & Preference Inventory.

a) Do you like to speak? Teach?
b) Do you enjoy being on the Internet? Are you a technophobe? What's your learning quotient?

The best marketing strategy blends the introvert's and the extrovert's way. Blends public and private. Out in the world sometimes and in your own space at others.


6) Research.
For speaking and teaching, find out what clubs and organizations in your area want to hear about and know more about your work and the topic related to your work. This is your niche.

On the Internet find out what websites and blogs are aligned with your interests and missions. Consider doing a blog book tour or other systematic internet promotion.

7) Marketing Materials/Platform
--Prepare a sell sheet, or sometimes called "one-sheet."

--Prepare a one-sentence quick description for your book that you can say when folks ask you about what you've written. This is sometimes called "the elevator speech" and sometimes called "the hook."

Mine came from a fan of "Sightlines: A Poet's Diary." Hal Manogue featured my book on his Short Sleeves website and called it "a downhome family love story beyond death" I picked up on this, thankfully, and added "told in accessible story poems and 25 archival photos."

--If you were running for president of your niche, what would be your election platform?

8) Approach
Call, email, and write personal notes to people on your list you want to be aligned with. Enclose your sell sheet.

9) Action, action, action.

Put on your Nike's and just get out there and DO IT.

Speak, teach, talk about your book, give your book away to strangers on the plane.

Your book is a gift of love to the world.

For "Sightlines: A Poet's Diary" I resolved that I would do my best that my book remain a source of happiness in the world...for others and for myself. So, I leave you with that thought, that wish, that prayer.

May your book and all our books be a source of happiness to readers and the wider world. May we continue writing. May the books we write continue to be read. And, may there be life after book, after book, after book.

Resource Note: To help make that a reality, also read Daniel Barth's excellent article in the "Redwood Coast Review" titled "Staying Afloat: The Poor Devil Author in the 21st Century." Dan interviewed three authors in Northern California for this article, including myself. He'd seen me at the Poets and Writers sponsored talk "Story Poems: Of and For the Families of the World" (see sidebar for complete text). I used this article as a handout for my panel "Pen to Print" presentation. It contains excellent big picture perspective, a good spread of strategies and situations, and is packed full of specific information authors publishing and promoting their own books can use.

My six-column inches is on page 10, plus this pull quote:

“First you have to write the book, then you have to promote the book, but there’s another piece that really isn’t spoken about, and that is, after you write the book you have to understand what the devil you wrote."

Hope you check out this excellent piece of work by Dan Barth.

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5 Responses »

  1. Janet,
    This is such an excellent piece. Thank you for designing it and putting it out here for us to benefit from...I want more!

  2. Arletta,
    Great idea...we'll talk and figure out how to expand this piece to make it most useful.

  3. Janet,
    You have written very sound advice in a well organized and doable format. Great for both new authors and publishers as well as those who have already published a book, but don't quite know what to do next. I'll be passing your advice on to others by directing them to this blog. From my point of view as both an author and a publisher, I find it very useful.

    Thanks for taking the time to give us this information.

  4. Janet,

    great points. Thanks for sharing them and also for the resources you mention in your article.

    Brigitte Tuller

  5. What an interesting way to get people interested in reading! Book trailers are like movie trailers, but for books! You can find them all over the internet now, but here is a site that's featuring them on YouTube.

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