By Sandra Beckwith
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 Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
Even so, if you have no marketing experience, you might find the idea of creating a book marketing plan intimidating.
It’s not as hard as you might expect, though. It takes thought and effort, for sure, but 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?
Answer this by briefly describing 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 (life during a pandemic, anyone?) 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.
Your publishing situation addresses your publishing model 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. What’s your target audience?
Your target audience is your ideal readers. It’s who will buy your book – who you wrote it for.
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 use my large fan base to generate massive buzz during the first few weeks of my book launch.
- 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
- Creating a Facebook group
- 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. What’s your book marketing budget?
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?
For 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 goes “live.”
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 in writing.
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 that calendar detailing who will do what and when, complete with deadlines. If you don’t schedule the activities in whatever time management system you use, they might not happen. (Voice of experience talking here . . . .)
Your Plan is Your Marketing Blueprint
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 activities and outcomes.
Monitor your Amazon KDP dashboard so you can see how many copies you’ve sold and when they were purchased. Use that information to guide your activities. 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 the book marketing plan.
And that’s what you need to do, too.
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