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The 5 P’s of Planning a 5K – or Marketing a Book

I just completed my first 5K in more than 15 years. Actually, it was my first organized 5K ever, but once upon a time, I used to run 10 to 15 miles a week. Then life happened, and I stopped running. Or exercising. Or walking much past what the day-to-day effort called for.

In 2011, I got married – and I gained a lot of weight over the last six years. A couple years ago, my husband and I began talking about working out, getting in shape, doing things differently. And we made some minor changes that didn’t really produce much of a result.

Then, last May, I met a trainer in my marketing mastermind group. La-di-da. I’d met lots of trainers. Even had a trainer back when I was doing all that running. But something about this guy spoke to me. He seemed to know what he was doing – and I was truly ready for a real change. So we hired Miles Beccia, of Mind Muscle Memory, and it was the smartest decision we ever made. Besides being good at the physiology and psychology of training, Miles is great at meeting us right where we are. Whatever we want to achieve – or have going on in our lives – he knows just the proper exercises to get us there.

My husband wanted to get fit enough to hike again – so that became a large part of our early training focus. Now John hikes four or five times a week. I do a lot of festivals and events with authors that require lifting and hefting and standing. Never came out of one of those events without feeling major stress to my lower back and needing to take a handful of ibuprofen. Until Miles helped me train to lift and heft and stand. The last event I did (in  December 2016) was the first one where I wasn’t sore after.

So a few weeks ago, my husband signed us up to take part in this 5K race. He’s been pushing the training pretty hard and got to where he could run part of it. I’m still just six weeks clear of a very severe bout of pneumonia. So although I’m just about back to full lung capacity, I didn’t want to push as hard as I might down the road, and I walked the 5K. But we both did it and we both completed it in what, for us, were record times, particularly given that even participating would have been a pipe dream just a year ago.

So what goes into planning a 5K?
Turns out, it’s the same things that go into marketing a book.

PEOPLE. If you want to hold a 5K, you’ve got to figure out who the players are. Who’s the team that will help you organize the race? Where do you find the people who will take part in the race? Same with marketing a book. You can try to do it all on your own, but you won’t have nearly the success that you could if you were to get some others involved to help you (e.g., web designer, book launch expert, ad words expert, etc.). By the way – I posted that picture of John and me on my FB page after the race, and so far, more than 80 people have liked and/or commented on it. Those are my people. Who are yours?

PRODUCT. When it comes to the 5K, your product is the race itself. That’s what you’re selling – to the sponsoring organization, to the community, to the participants. When it comes to publishing, your book is the product. So you want to make the best book you can. The best way to do that is to budget for a professional cover/interior designer, a professional editor, and pros to do the typesetting and proofreading.

PLACE. The place for the race is where you will hold it. A community college track? A path through your city or town? What kinds of permits and fees will be involved? The place, in terms of your book, is where you will find your readers. You can’t know this unless and until you know who your readers are. That’s the crux of book marketing – identifying your ideal reader and then reaching them with information about your really amazing book.

PRICE. Maybe you didn’t know this, but the participants pay to run (or walk) in a 5K, 10K, or marathon. How much? Depends on the race. If it’s a new event, hosted by an unknown sponsor that is using the race to create awareness in the community, it will cost a lot less to participate than, say, it would to run in the Boston or NYC marathons. Pricing for your book should work similarly. If you’re a brand new author with no track record to speak of, readers are understandably going to be hesitant to pay a premium for your book – particularly fiction – if there are other similar books available in your genre. Price your book realistically. Pricing it lower may sound counterintuitive – you want to get compensated for all your hard work! But studies are showing that lower pricing amounts to notably increased sales and, as a result, more income for the author.

PROMOTION. Whether it’s a race or a book – no one will buy in if they don’t know about it. So you’ve got to have a marketing and promotion plan. Winging your marketing might help you sign up a few runners – or make a handful of book sales. But if you really want to go places, you’ve got to be strategic. What kind of resources do you have, in terms of your email list, your social media contacts, and the influencers in your inner circle? How much money can you afford to put into your launch? How informed are you about online ads and paid promotions? How big is your blog following? How good are you at writing copy? These are just a few of the things to consider when planning a promotion for a new book.

If you’ve been sitting on the sidelines for a while now – whether in terms of writing/finishing your book or ramping up your book marketing efforts – the good news is that it’s never too late to get started. Put your Savvy Book Marketer hat on, and start thinking about YOUR 5P’s: People, Product, Place, Price, Promotion.

People are waiting for your book. What are YOU waiting for?

Laura

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