Do you have a book marketing plan? If you’re like most authors, the thought of marketing your book is daunting. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all of the different strategies and methods for getting your work out there. But don’t worry! I’ve got you covered with this blog post on how to create a solid book marketing plan.
Many authors don’t have a plan for how to market their books. They may not know where to start or are overwhelmed by all the options that they don’t know how to choose what to put in and what to leave out of a book marketing plan. As a result, they fail to sell as many copies of their books as they could.
Every author needs a book marketing plan, whether they are self-published or not. If you’re an author who wants to sell more books, then you are in the right place. I wrote this blog post to help you overcome the obstacles of writing a great book marketing plan. It is my sincere intention that it will make your life easier and your books more successful.
By following the steps in this post, you’ll be able to write an effective and actionable book marketing plan that will help boost sales for your book, be it fiction, nonfiction, or anything in between.
Why Should You Write a Book Marketing Plan?
Writing an effective marketing plan is the key to success for any book. When you spend so much time pouring your heart and soul into a project, selling it can be tough! The problem is that most authors leave this task to the last minute and then they often wing it.
All too often, authors spend so much time focusing on getting the book written that they are burned out by the time it comes to market the book. Therefore, they spend a lot of time spinning their wheels and moving from one marketing technique to another. It is one thing to be a “pantser” when you’re writing your book and another altogether when you are marketing it.
Here are three great reasons that you should take the time to write down your book marketing plans in advance of implementing them:
You can use it to measure your progress
When you know what you are shooting for it is much easier to know whether you got there or not. Your plan lays out your goals so that you can measure how your strategies are working, empowering you to course-correct along the way. This can save you a lot of money, time, and heartache, as well.
It will help you stay organized and on task
When you write things down, it is easier to hold yourself accountable for getting things done. Also, when they are written down, it is much easier to organize them so that you can keep track of them and put them in the best order for accomplishing what you want to accomplish.
It will help you stay focused on the goals that are most important for you
Writing down your goals — an important part of a book marketing plan — will help keep them top of mind. This gives you the clarity to say yes to the right opportunities and no to those that won’t take you closer to where you want to go.
Ultimately, your written book marketing plan provides you with a roadmap of what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and how long each task will take. This can take a lot of the pressure off, and help you make better decisions about what to do with your time and money.
What Should You Include in Your Book Marketing Plan?
At this point, you may be wondering what the most important components of a good book marketing plan are. If you want to make sure it’s successful, these are the six sections I would recommend:
- Target Audience: Who should read this book?
- Vision: What larger purpose does this campaign fulfill in the larger scope of your business?
- Mission: What purpose does your book fulfill within your business and for your target audience?
- Objectives: What goals do you want this campaign to achieve?
- Strategies: What strategies will you use to achieve those goals?
- Action Plan: How will you implement those strategies?
These six sections build one upon the other, so their order is important. For the rest of this post I will go into greater detail for each one:
Your Target Audience: The First Important Step
Everything springs forth from your target audience. Understanding who you are writing for helps you write a better and more effective book. And it helps you develop a more targeted and effective plan for marketing that book.
However, just understanding who they are isn’t enough. There is a lot of information online about how to identify your ideal reader and your target audience, so what I want to add here is the idea of the author brand promise.
What is an author brand promise? It is one or two sentences, which internally communicates what the reader can expect from all the author’s books. It aligns all author’s writing efforts and keeps the author from writing something that is out of scope for the author’s brand. It can define the scope of the brand in terms of genre, style, emotional resonance, and values. It is NOT a public statement. And it is different from a Unique Selling Proposition in that it is long-term and business-wide.
The beauty of a brand promise is that you can create one that encompasses multiple genres, as well as both fiction and nonfiction. Or, if you choose to have multiple brands, you can have multiple brand promises, as well.
To help you draft your author brand promise statement, answer these questions:
Why do readers turn to your books instead of going somewhere else?
How do readers see your brand?
What genre do you write in the most?
Which values do you express through your books?
Here is a general template and an example of one from one of my sub-brands to get you started:
[Author name] writes books for/to help [ideal readers] accomplish [a goal] through [genre(s) or topics].
Example: Through Carma’s Cookery, I write and publish books that help home cooks unleash their kitchen creativity through food, entertaining, and seasonal home decor.
Your Book Marketing Campaign Vision Statement
Your book should be a stepping stone to something greater. What is that? Your book marketing campaign vision statement encompasses more than just this book and this campaign. Once you craft it, you can use it for several campaigns in a row — until you decide it is time to update it.
The reason is that a book marketing campaign vision statement describes the long-term purpose of this particular book. What is the big picture for the book? How does it fit into your overall vision for your author business? This statement helps set a defined direction for the planning and execution of your overall book marketing strategies for this particular book.
A good book marketing vision statement has the following qualities:
- Looks toward the future of your author business
- Is motivational and inspirational
- Reflects your core values
Here are a few points to consider as you write the vision statement for your book campaign:
- Consider your book’s purpose and position in the market.
- How does your book help readers get what they want or need?
- What makes your book special?
- Use concrete, simple language, rooted in the every day—no abstract or buzzwords.
- Make your vision statement matches perfectly with your values.
Don’t worry about how you will achieve your vision. The vision statement is a lofty goal. I know this may sound esoteric and possibly even frivolous, but trust me on this process. Completing this step will help you do all the next step much more easily and effectively.
The Mission of Your Book Marketing Campaign
This is where you start to work on some actionable item. Now that you have your target audience, author brand promise, and book marketing vision in mind, you can develop a strong mission statement for this book marketing campaign.
A book marketing campaign mission statement is created specifically for each individual campaign and acts as that campaign’s marching orders. It defines the purpose or main goal of the campaign and the big picture strategy of how it plans to accomplish that purpose.
Here is a general template to get you started:
The mission of the [campaign title] [book title] is to [primary purpose] through [primary strategy].
Example: The mission of the March 2021 launch of the second edition of Home Sweet Home Page is to re-frame the purpose of the book and grow my visibility and recognized expertise in the author marketing space through becoming an Amazon bestseller and media appearances.
Plan Objectives: What Do You Want?
The first thing to do when creating your book marketing plan is to figure out what your goal is. There are many different goals an author can have. Some of the most common goals include:
- Build an email list
- Sell a particular number of books
- Build credibility and authority in their field of expertise
- Gain exposure and visibility with influencers
So what are your objectives? Do a brainstorming exercise to get them all down. Do you have a specific number of books you want to sell in mind? How many interviews do you want to schedule? Where do you want to be interviewed? On the radio? On T.V.? On teleseminars?
After you’ve jotted all your potential goals down, it is time to get picky. You can’t do it all — I’ve tried and it doesn’t work. Choose three to five precise goals you want to achieve with your book marketing efforts.
These are your primary goals for your book marketing campaign. These are the signposts that, once accomplished, will help you gauge how successful the campaign was.
So what do you want to accomplish? A number of books sold? A number of interviews with the media? Money earned due to the campaign? Only you can decide this.
An Overview of Book Marketing Strategies
There are lots of ways to market a book. Which ones will you concentrate on? Your choice will depend on what outcomes you want to achieve, for each strategy helps you move toward a different goal. For example, an Amazon Best Seller campaign can help you sell more books, build a list and get you noticed by the media in a short period of time. Article marketing can help spread the word about your book and your business over a longer time period.
These are the techniques you will focus on to accomplish your goals. Will you host an Amazon Best Seller event? Will you go on a virtual book tour? Will you go on a speaking tour? Will you create a blog?
Although each technique can help you accomplish more than one goal, each one is uniquely suited for specific goals. So you’ll choose your techniques based on the goals you want to reach.
In my post The Ultimate Guide on Content Marketing for Authors, I covered a breadth of strategies involving content marketing, that is email marketing, social media marketing, blogging and article marketing, and video and image marketing. I even touched on public relations. So, I won’t go over those here. What’s left are the paid strategies.
Authors can advertise their books in a wide variety of places, and depending on your book’s audience get varied results. The obvious places are Amazon, BookBub, GoodReads, and Facebook. However, there are myriad other places that you can advertise your book, as well.
Hosting your own event to market your book can either be a cost or it can bring in profit. It depends on how you do it. However, it does take time, effort, planning, and if you really want to do it right, a team. These events can be live or virtual, simple or complex.
Creating an Action Plan
Once you’ve written down your goals and strategies, map out how you will achieve and implement them throughout your campaign. This will help you focus on those activities that will move you closer toward your goal, as well as help you decide when to say, “No, thank you,” as opportunities arise that will bump you off course.
This is where you create your road map for the campaign. What will you do and by what date? Lay this out specifically and you’ll be able to measure your progress as you go and make any needed course corrections.
How to Measure the Success of Your Book Marketing Efforts
Here’s what you’ve done so far:
- Identified your target audience
- Developed your author brand promise
- Drafted a book marketing campaign vision statement
- Created your marching orders with a book marketing campaign mission statement
- Determined your objectives
- Pulled that all together into an action plan
You’re now ready to implement that plan and start selling books, right? Not just yet.
The reason you create an action plan is that you can take this final and most important step: Measure your results. For each objective in your plan, determine how you will measure whether you succeed in reaching it — and how you will know if you are veering off course so that you can course-correct if necessary.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you’ve set the goal to sell 10 books in three days. That means you want to sell about 3-4 books each day. So, To measure your results, check your sales at the end of each day. If you sold 2-3 books on day one, you’re doing O.K. If by the end of day 2, you’re around 6-8 books sold, you’re on target. However, if by the end of day 2, you’re only at 4 books sold, it is time to course-correct and do something to bump those sales to meet your goal.
Basically, you want to set up milestones that you can check along the way to your end goal so that if you need to adjust your strategies to meet your goal, you have the time to do so.
Top 5 Book Marketing Plan Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Here are some of the most common mistakes authors make when creating their own book marketing plans. Hopefully, after reading this post you won’t be making any of these errors in the future.
Mistake #1: Not Having a Book Marketing Plan
I know it’s cliche, but failing to plan is very much like planning to fail. Honestly, it doesn’t take that long to create a book marketing plan. Given the information I’ve provided in this post, as well as other posts on this site, you can whip one up in a matter of hours, at most a weekend. If you need help creating one, I’m here for you. Simply book a no-cost consulting call with me to discuss your needs and options.
Mistake #2: Not Knowing Your Target Audience
All marketing strategies are dependent on knowing the target audience. If you don’t know that, you run the risk of marketing to the wrong people. When you do that, you waste time and money, and you only frustrate yourself and possibly even damage your self-esteem. Get this right and your marketing efforts are much, much easier.
Mistake #3: Being Too Vague with Your Marketing Goals
How do you measure “increased visibility”? That’s a vague goal. You can’t measure it. However, if by “increased visibility” you mean that you added 100 people to your Facebook page, or 200 people to your email list, or got 50 comments on a specific Instagram post — that’s measurable. If you want to know if your book marketing campaign is successful, you need to set measurable goals. That doesn’t mean you can’t want “increased visibility.” It just means you need to define it so that you can measure it.
Mistake #4: Trying to be all things to all people
This is a throwback to mistake number 2. Your book may appeal to more than one target audience. However, marketing campaigns are only successful if they focus on one target market at a time. So, select one. You can run another campaign to target the other audiences at another time.
Mistake #5: Putting all your “eggs” into one book marketing basket
Book marketing is not a one-and-done endeavor. It is an ongoing process. Not only will you need to market your book as long as you want it to continue selling, but you will also need to vary your marketing strategies to reach different target markets and different facets of your target markets.
Pulling It All Together
Now it’s time to get your book marketing plan in order! This document is essential for any author. It’s the blueprint to your success, providing you with a roadmap that can help you reach more readers, sell more books and make the most of every dollar you spend marketing your work. The end result is increased visibility for your author brand, so it’s important that you not skip this step.
If you’d like some advice on which assets you’ll need to get started with marketing your book, I recommend downloading my free report Bare Minimum Book Marketing Essentials. It shares the four assets you need to start marketing your book when you have little time and little cash.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally posted as two separate posts on CarmaSpence.com in July 2009. It has been combined, updated and enhanced for content.