What Makes a Successful Book Campaign?

One of the absolute best parts of my job is that I get to spend time talking with and meeting authors: amazing people who are truly passionate about their work. And while I work with writers across almost every subject area, one question remains the same, whether they are writing crime fiction or business self-help: What makes for a successful book campaign?

It’s a tough question, but one I’m going to try to answer here.

Obviously success means different things to different campaigns and different people. But almost across the board, I would warn authors, if you think you’re going to make money, you will likely end up disappointed. If your name is John Grisham, Danielle Steel, or Stephen King, you can ignore that warning :)

In thinking about what makes for a successful campaign, I’d encourage every author to think about what success means to them. Come up with 2-3 specific, measurable goals you want to achieve during the publishing process and write them down. These are statements you should go back to again and again during your publishing journey. It will help to center and focus your efforts.

For some people, the ultimate measure of success won’t necessarily be book sales. Perhaps it’s an increase in subscribers to your podcast or mailing list. Or more invitations to speak at conferences or an increase in your speaker’s fees. Or local recognition through a review in a local paper or being named to a regional bestseller list. Or maybe it is truly about book sales. Whatever your goals are, be specific and write them down. Download a free worksheet.

Once you’ve identified your goals, think about the specific ways you can go about achieving them. It’s important to remember that the tactics won’t be the same for every book, and that you need to think about your book in a unique way. Just because another author saw an increase in book sales after being on a specific podcast doesn’t mean the same thing will happen for you.

I remember a time in book publishing when everyone wanted to be on The Oprah Winfrey Show. “Just get your book on Oprah, and you’ll hit the bestseller list.” At the time, this was supposed to be the magic formula. Never mind that it was VERY difficult to get an author booked on the show. But guess what? Sometimes an author would get on Oprah…and it would do absolutely nothing for the book’s sales.

This is something that I think is truly important and that the team at FSB always stresses: Every book has a different sales trajectory and what works for one campaign won’t necessarily work for another. For some campaigns, social media will make all the difference in the world. For others, social media doesn’t really matter at all.

At the end of the day, none of us really know what will make a book sell. If we did, we would do it over and over, replicating the same campaign again and again. So try to judge your success by other measures in addition to sales.

Personally, my feeling is that reaching as wide an audience as possible for a book is a success. And if the book happens to sell millions of copies as a result, well then that’s just the icing on the cake.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, please join the discussion on my Facebook page

© 2020 Fauzia Burke. All Rights Reserved.