The most common question I see from new authors is: I published a book, what do I do next? They spent plenty of time working to get their book completed but never thought about what would happen once the book was released.

The silence can be deafening.

However, whether you’re already published, or working on your book, it’s never too late to develop a marketing plan to help you determine how you will reach your audience, and when, so you can achieve you goals step by step and not miss any promotional opportunities. This applies to authors whether they self-publish or seek an agent or publisher.

A marketing plan is a tool that provides agents, publishers, distributors and others with important information about your book, your market, and your goals.

Ideally you’ll develop a marketing plan months before your book is published so you’ll have it ready to guide you – and some marketing occurs pre-publication, such as getting reviews from industry publications. They typically want advance review copies three months before publication.


While there is no one boilerplate for a good marketing plan, these are some KEY ELEMENTS to include:


Begin with an overview of your book and describe what makes your book unique

This is where research helps. Check out your competition, and then you can explain how your book offers something the other books in your genre don’t provide.

If you’ve have reviews, offer some excerpts. If you’ve hired anyone to help you market your book list them, too.

List your website, blog, and any social media you use as they are all part of your marketing. Include your website statistics (how many visitors to your site), and the number of fans you have on the social media sites you use. If you have a newsletter, indicate the number of subscribers you have.


Now it’s time to describe your marketing strategies

Who will you market your book to, and how?

You’ve got a lot of options, and you’ll want to include each demographic you target including the ways you’ll reach them. If you target book clubs, you would indicate which clubs you’ll pitch, or if you plan on library events you’ll list the libraries you intend to contact.

Consider who your book appeals to (“everyone” is not a demographic). Then list the ways you can reach your target audience. This can include publications, websites, blogs, social media, radio, and TV. (AARP magazine for seniors, veteran’s organizations for military, mom blogs and parenting publications/websites for moms and so forth).

Don’t forget about Goodreads and Library Thing. Both sites have become vital promotional tools for authors and reach large audiences. Library Thing allows authors to run book giveaways and participate in author’s groups and chats. For authors who become Goodreads Authors, there are podcasts, teleseminars and videos, giveaways, Q&A discussions, and book groups in your genre.


Are speaking engagements, book signings, or other events part of your promotions?

Remember that you can do more than bookstore events. The setting of your book may offer clues – consider spas, wine sellers, coffee shops, video stores, flea markets, fairs, gift shops… use your imagination! When you have events set up you should notify your local media, and you’ll want to include a list of the media outlets you will contact in your plan.


Book reviews and beyond

There can be several steps to this process depending on your goals. Professional journals such as Library Journal, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly tend to review books pre-publication. Also look for media in your genre or area of expertise. It’s not too late to seek reviews when your book is out, but consider additional opportunities including book giveaways and blog tours. Blog tours do need to be scheduled a few months in advance.

Consider whether you can write articles on your topic (or on publishing or writing) for blogs, magazines, periodicals and other publications. Internet radio also offers a lot of opportunity; Blog Talk Radio is a huge network with shows on every topic imaginable.


Where will you sell your book?

If you’re self-published bookstores might not be an option. Also, bookstores online and offline may not stock your book if you don’t have a distributor (that’s why you should have a marketing plan ready pre-publication so you can supply it to prospective distributors).

You’ve also got options beyond the bookstore: gift shops, specialty stores, salons, etc. These venues may be willing to sell your book on consignment. When you pitch them, have a press kit available with a release about you and your book, plus a sell sheet. And don’t forget about mail order or online sales, and include your website and any etailers who might also carry your book.

A sell sheet should include the following:

  • Title

  • Author

  • Category: (such as science fiction, romance, business)

  • ISBN: The standard book number assigned to your book

  • Format(s): (hardcover, paperback, etc.)

  • Publication Date

  • Pages

  • Price: Include pricing for different formats, if applicable

  • Trim: The width and the height

  • Available from: Where can people purchase your book?

  • First Print Run: If your book is self-published you can list on demand

A sound marketing plan does require some work on your part

However, having a list of goals to guide you from beginning to end ensures you don’t miss any valuable opportunities, and it also keeps you on track. With all the competition out there, a marketing plan is one way to help your book stand out from the rest.