Having anxiety about creating a book marketing plan? I did, and I’m a marketer.
Going through that period of freak-out on my own novel project helped me understand, for the first time, how creating a marketing plan could be overwhelming. So what did I do about it? This article peels back the curtain so you can see behind-the-scenes of my personal marketing plan. Find out what I do that might work for you.
#1: Decide what you love to do and what you hate.
Do more of what you love and either ignore the stuff you hate, or hire it out.
Half of the people reading this [aka: the skeptics]: *recoil in horror* But, but, but … Facebook Live videos get the best engagement. How can I not do them?!
Me: Are you doing them now?
Skeptics: No! I hate being on camera.
Me: Stop beating yourself up and do something else without your face on camera. Do an “unboxing,” or show your fans your writing space. Or do a pre-recorded video. (Yay for editing!) Or create videos using stock photography [that you have permission to use, of course].
– Start a blank document (Google doc, WordPress, or physical notebook.) Put this in a place where you’ll easily find it later.
– Write down the things you enjoy doing. For example: networking, speaking, or creating images. Add to this document over time.
#2: Time is Your friend.
Many pro writers start a marketing list a year before their novel publishes. Here are three reasons you need start your marketing list asap.
– More time to percolate and add ideas to your list.
– Many influencers are booked several months in advance.
– You’ll be more calm, cool, and collected during your publishing week. Instead of freaking out about your marketing, you’ll be able to connect with your readers in a meaningful way.
Real World Example:
Fantasy author, Emily R. King, completed her Before the Broken Star cover reveal seven months before it was available for purchase. That means even before the reveal, her publisher contacted bloggers and “bookstagrammers.” Since many of the reader influencers are 3 months out, they started at least ten months before their book published.
– Pull out the document you started from item #1 above. This is the beginning of your marketing plan. It already has areas you want to focus on, which is great because no one has time to implement every promo idea.
– Brainstorming time! Jot down all marketing ideas (at this point, there are no bad ideas––just write them down.)
#3: Learn From Other Bestselling Authors in Your Genre
– Watch other authors who slay. Celebrate other authors’ successes, and then look closer at what’s working for them. You only have a fraction of their budget? No problem. You’re analyzing the why of what’s working.
– Listen to Other Writers. Writers often talk about what’s working for them and what … fizzled. What’s working for another writer might not work for your audience. But generally, you’ll pick up a few gems. Test, analyze, tweak, and then try again. If the idea isn’t working, dump it and try something else.
– Listen to podcasts. Oftentimes podcasters sit down with the pros and share their insights at no cost to you! Like this podcast interview with “Kindlepreneur,” Dave Chesson.
Read World Example:
I’ve learned that authors, like Emily R. King mentioned above, reveal their covers well in advance for a reason. Cover reveals get amazing buzz, reach, and engagement. So leveraging the cover reveal is critical. Strategically, my novel timing needs to be different from a more established author; I’ll probably want far less time between my cover reveal and book publishing date. But just like a more established author, I’ll carefully consider the calendar, time of day, and surrounding/supportive posts.
– Add ideas from podcasts, conferences, etc., to your marketing plan document.
– Start grouping ideas together. For example, cut and paste all your ideas for creating a killer street team together in a “street team” section.
– Emphasize marketing ideas that take advantage of the things you enjoy doing (see #1).
#4: Leveraging “Free” Marketing
I use quotes because “free” still has a cost: your time and energy.
– Newsletter: Get one. There are several articles on newsletters, like this one from Hubspot.
– Social Media: Review your accounts. If you’re overwhelmed by social media, only keep your two strongest accounts. For questions on general social media, search on reputable websites, like Social Media Examiner.
– Amazon Author page: This is relatively easy and often overlooked. Listen to the 10-min podcast on Amazon author page basics.
– Author Swaps: Reach out to your author friends! Do newsletter (NL) swaps, social media boosts/shares, or anything they’re willing/able to do. Then offer to return the favor.
– Amazon Blurb: This is one of the “big four” marketing elements––so make sure it’s polished! Research other bestselling novel blurbs in your genre. Is your blurb hitting the points your readers care about? Have your writer friends check it over. Then send it to a proofreader.
– Add these above five items to your list.
#5: Paid Marketing
– Book Cover: This is another one of the “big four” marketing elements. For authors who traditionally publish, the publisher does this for you. Indie pub authors should purchase a professional book cover. This is considered your novel’s #1 marketing tool. Make it good!
– Website: Find out what you need. Be prepared to overhaul your website’s look and feel every five years to keep it current.
Other ideas to consider:
• book tours
• paid social media ads
• AMS ads (aka: Amazon ads)
Each of these could be their own article, so I’m just mentioning them here as options for your marketing plan.
– Add paid elements you’re interested in trying to your marketing plan.
– Review the list. Some things you’ll realize you don’t have time for, or you’ll have a different, stronger avenue you want to pursue. Select your best marketing options to put into action.
#6: Create a Timeline
Now that you have your list grouped by category and have selected what you want to implement, create a timeline for each item. Break down items sensibly so you can do a few things each week, though there will be weeks that are slammed … that’s the nature of the book promotion ebb and flow. Plan to drip out reveals and other goodies for your fans leading up to publishing date.
Now take a breath and start implementing your fantastic plan!
Kristin J. Dawson lives on the edge of a forest in the Pacific Northwest. She’s the author of THE LILAC PLAGUE, the HowDoesShe.com Literary Contributor, and a Deep Magic E-zine Board Member.