I’ve been getting a lot of emails lately about book marketing. Authors feel frustrated that they haven’t figured out how to “get the word out” about their books as one reader put it. Many don’t have a whole lot of money to spend on promoting their books and they don’t know how to invest their time wisely.

I’ve worked with a few authors over the past year or so on their book marketing strategies. There are three main questions I always want to find out before we get started. These questions form the basis of how successful an author will be and which direction they need to go to find that success.

Hopefully sharing these questions with you will help provide direction in your own book marketing efforts.

1. How dedicated are you?

“How dedicated are you to making this book and your career as an author successful?”

Now this may sound like a simple question but it’s profound. People cringe at the idea of being dedicated. It means doing even MORE work.

The usual response: “I wrote the book, isn’t that enough?” Unfortunately it’s not.

A successful author has full control over their brand and puts themselves out there on a regular basis. Think of Cory Doctorow or Chuck Wendig. They don’t sell books by lazily tweeting “BUY MY BOOK” twenty times a day.

They’ve become a voice for their readers. They interact with their audience. They’re endlessly trying to get their ideas out into the world, help other writers, and provide useful & interesting information to readers. Their books sell as a byproduct of this.

Unfortunately if you can’t treat marketing your book and yourself as an author like it’s a full time job (even if you have another one already), you’ve already failed.

2. What is your definition of success?

“Does success mean being #1 on the New York Times or does it mean finding a dedicated audience of 10?”

I’m always surprised by the number of people who don’t know what success looks like for them. Success is a relative thing after all and there’s that old saying, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.”

The truth is you’ll probably end up somewhere else anyway, but having an idea of the path you want to take will at least get you somewhere.

If you currently have zero readers, shooting for the New York Times bestsellers list is a bit of a stretch (though not impossible). If you plan on selling 10 books or getting your book into the hands of 100 readers, it’ll actually be much easier to reach the top.

The most successful authors are always asking themselves this question and adjusting their goals and strategies based on the answer.

3. How far are you willing to push the boundaries?

“Are you willing to get out of your comfort zone and try new things?”

There are two things that will help any author on the path to success: education and networking.

Absorb as much as you can about marketing online. Subscribe to newsletters and read articles regularly. Join a few webinars and attend a writers’ or publishers’ conference.

I know, I know. That last one sounds a bit scary. Most writers are naturally introverted (I know I am). But that doesn’t mean anything to the big wide world. If you want to be successful, you’ll need to get out of your comfort zone.

Meeting other people who can help you become successful is crucial. Finding readers is important, but finding advocates is make it or break it.

Take it a step further though. Really put yourself into unchartered territory.

Offer to speak at a local library about your experiences. Teach a class at a nearby community college about writing.

These will lead to greater opportunities. Maybe you’ll be invited to speak at a conference yourself. No matter what, I bet you’ll see your readership increase.

The point is, you’ve got to be willing to try new things and try them often. The time for fear is over. Be bold.