Sandra Beckwith - September 22, 2022 - 6 min. read
What’s the Easiest Way to Create a Powerful Book Marketing Plan? Answer These 7 Questions
Most authors I know are people with a story to tell or who are passionate about sharing what they’ve learned with others who need to learn it. They have no marketing background. They’ve never worked at an advertising agency or for the media. They can’t tell ICP from KPI or TOFU. But they don’t need to.
All authors like you really need to know is who will love your book and how to let those people know the book exists so they can buy, read, and recommend it.
That takes some thought and planning, but it doesn’t require a marketing degree or a pricey consultant. You simply need to answer some questions, then document those answers in what will become your book marketing blueprint: a book marketing plan.
Here’s how to do that.
What’s a Book Marketing Plan?
A book marketing plan is a document that outlines what you want to accomplish with your book, how you’ll do it, what you can afford to spend, and when you’ll do the work involved.
If you want to sell books, creating a book marketing plan isn’t optional – it’s essential.
As Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”
And, that “someplace else” is likely to be a place with disappointing book sales…and no lives changed by your book.
Creating a book marketing plan isn’t difficult. You’ll need to be thoughtful and perhaps do a little research into some of the tactics you’re interested in using, but you’re a writer, so you know how to do that. It’s really just a matter of answering the right questions.
Here are the seven questions you want to answer.
1. What’s your book and book publishing situation?
Briefly describe your book and what makes it different from the competition.
Include what makes both you and the book marketable. Perhaps your book is on a timely topic (a war in Europe or a political crisis just about anywhere, for example) or uses a new way to tell a story.
You might have unique credentials that qualify you to write the book, including professional experience. Maybe you’ve won relevant awards.
Make note of your publishing model (traditional publisher, self-published, hybrid, and so on) and publication date. The latter is particularly important because it helps determine what tactics are available.
For example, if your book is already published, certain tactics – getting reader input on your cover design, for example – aren’t an option.
2. Who is in your target audience?
Your target audience is your ideal readers. It’s who you wrote your book for and therefore who will buy it.
It’s especially important to understand your target audience because the more you know about who will love your book, the better able you will be to reach them online and in the real world.
When you know exactly who they are, you can research the social networks they use, the media outlets they pay attention to, even the types of activities they prefer.
You can have more than one target audience, but one will probably rise to the top as the most interested in your topic or genre.
3. What are your book marketing goals?
A goal is a broad statement of direction that is determined by your needs. In this case, your goals are related to marketing your book.
With good goals in place, you can look at each marketing tactic and ask, “Does this step help me achieve my goals?” If the answer isn’t “yes,” the tactic should be removed from the plan.
Goals are well-defined. They tell you which direction you want to go. Examples include:
To develop a fan base that will lead to increased sales of subsequent books in my fiction series.
To help position me as an expert in a way that will generate more clients.
4. What’s your book marketing strategy?
A strategy is your over-arching approach to promoting your book. It’s a “big picture” view that summarizes the thinking behind your marketing efforts.
- To spend most of my time for the 90 days surrounding publication to generate honest reader reviews because I’ll need them for tactics I’ll use going forward.
- To focus on public speaking because I’ve learned that I sell a lot of books when people hear me speak.
Your strategy helps determine what you’ll do to market your book, and when you’ll do it.
5. What tactics will you use to reach your goals?
Tactics are the things you’re going to do to get exposure for your book.
Tactics vary from book to book – it’s not a “one-size-fits-all” situation – but tactics to consider (among others!) include:
- Soliciting reader reviews
- Doing podcast interviews
- Going on a virtual book tour
- Creating an image quote campaign
If you’re new to book marketing, don’t try to implement too many tactics. Start with two or three that will help you reach your target audience and learn to do them really well. When you’ve mastered them, add another tactic.
6. How much can you afford to spend?
What will you budget for book marketing success?
Your tactics can determine your budget, or your budget can determine your tactics.
A typical book marketing budget might include training program fees, website design and hosting, and advertising costs.
7. What’s your book marketing timeline?
Think of this in terms of a calendar. When will you start marketing, how long do you plan to continue, and when will you implement each tactic in your plan? Consider the reverse calendar approach, where you plan backwards from a specific date.
As an example, if you want to get reader reviews onto your Amazon sales page immediately after your publication date, get those review copies out to readers several weeks before the book is available for purchase there and elsewhere.
If you’re planning a virtual book tour, start building relationships with key bloggers at least six months before your anticipated tour dates. You want them to be familiar with you and your work before you ask them to participate.
Creating Your Book Marketing Plan
You can answer these seven questions with bullet points or paragraphs – whatever works for you. What matters more than word choice or format is that you capture this important information on paper or in a digital file.
When you’re clear on what you want to do to reach your book marketing goals, determine how you’ll get the work done. Can you do it yourself? Do you need to outsource any of it?
Remember to create a calendar that includes who will do what and when, complete with deadlines. If you don’t schedule the activities, they might not happen. (Voice of experience talking here ….)
Download This Free Book Marketing Plan Template
To make it easy for you, I’ve created a free book marketing plan template that you can download and use immediately. It includes instructions, examples, links to how-to information online, and a fill-in-the-blanks form.
Once you complete that template and start implementing your tactics, track your book marketing activities and outcomes.
Monitor your Amazon KDP dashboard so you can see how many copies you’ve sold and when they were purchased. Do more of what works, less of what doesn’t.
Use your book marketing plan – your blueprint – as an evolving document that changes as you learn more about book marketing, your ideal readers, and how to reach them.
Finally, remember that everything takes time. Most books don’t become best-sellers as soon as they’re launched. They succeed over time because the author created, followed, and adjusted their book marketing plan.
That’s what you need to do, too.
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