How to map your book marketing plan

Are you ready to plan the marketing process for your next book? If you’re like many authors, you find marketing your book to be more difficult than writing it. That’s understandable. Many of us authors have been dreaming of writing a book for as long as we can remember. Dreaming of marketing it? Not exactly!

Book marketing doesn’t have to be a nightmare. By mapping out your marketing plan, you’ll be in control. All your ducks are in a row and nothing is left to chance.

Of course, there is no one size fits all plan for book marketing. But there are a series of questions that will help you find the right plan for your next book.

What Are My Book Marketing Goals?

Before you start your book marketing plan, it’s important to clarify exactly what your goals are for the marketing campaign. Every author’s situation is different. The following three areas are worth considering when setting your goals:

  • Reach. In some situations, getting your work out there as an author might be more important than making money. This is often the case at the start of your career when you’re looking to build a platform and a name for yourself.
  • Revenue. How much have you spent creating your book? How much will your marketing activities cost? Factoring in the amount of money you want to make from your marketing campaign is crucial to planning it.
  • Knowledge. Sometimes, a key goal for your marketing campaign will be to learn something. Perhaps you’re trying a new type of advert or other marketing activity. You know that the results you get might not be spectacular the first time, but the knowledge you gain will prove invaluable in the future.

Take the time to think about exactly what you want to get from your book marketing campaign. This will inform the rest of your choices.

The next decision to make is to select the appropriate marketing channels for your work.

Which Book Marketing Activities Will I Choose?

There are common mistakes you need to avoid when it comes to choosing book marketing avenues. One is spreading yourself too thin. In an attempt to avoid missing out on anything, you end up dabbling in everything but mastering nothing.

Another mistake you need to avoid is chasing trends, or blindly copying other authors. What works for someone else might not be right for your situation.

So how exactly do you go about choosing the right marketing options? Consider the following points:

  • Skill. While it’s great to dream big, it’s also vital to remain realistic. How easy are your intended marketing activities to execute? Do you feel confident you can pull them off at this stage in your author career? For example, social media is fairly easy to execute, whereas a national PR campaign is less so.
  • Access. Will you be able to tap into your intended channels? Let’s say you want to leverage influencer marketing. Do you have the network for this? Ensure your chosen activities are within reach.
  • Suitability. Does your intended marketing activity work for the type of book you’ve written? You want to make sure other authors with similar books have had success with what you intend.

With those three criteria in mind, it’s time to select the marketing activities you wish to pursue. Consider the following options:

  • Optimizing your book. Will you take the time to research keywords, categories and an effective book description for the bookstores your work will be sold in?
  • Social media marketing. Do you want to promote your book using Facebook groups, Twitter hashtags, and visual content on Instagram?
  • Influencer marketing. Are you looking to leverage the power of influencer marketing for books?
  • Paid book advertising. Could investing in paid advertising, such as Amazon Advertising or Bookbub cost per click be a good choice for your work?
  • Mailing list marketing. Do you have an author mailing list you can promote to? If not, do you have people in your network who might be willing to let you promote to their list?
  • Book promotion sites. There is a wide range of different book promotion sites out there. Could you look into free and paid options to market your book?
  • Offline activities. Are there ways you could promote your book offline? Perhaps reading groups, book festivals, or local library events?

You want to try and find a sweet spot between picking too many activities that you can’t do them all justice, and too few that all your eggs are in one basket.

How Much Time and Money Do I Need?

After you’ve selected the book marketing activities you wish to pursue, it’s essential to realistically and carefully map out the resources needed to execute them.

There are plenty of case studies out there of book marketing plans that weren’t carried out properly due to bad resource planning. Not planning realistically for time and money is one of the fastest ways to fail at book marketing.

  • Sequence. Think about the most logical sequence to carry out your book marketing plan. Are any activities dependent on any others? If so, ensure you have everything planned out in the right order.
  • Cost. It might sound obvious, but it’s easy to overlook issues of cost. Research well in advance how much your book marketing plan will cost, so you can budget accordingly ahead of time.
  • Lead Times. One of the quickest ways for your book marketing plan to fall apart is to neglect lead times. Many of the most effective book marketing activities are in high demand, as are the services of talented freelancers. It’s worth being conservative and factoring in delays to give yourself some breathing room.
  • Fallback plans. They say failing to plan is planning to fail, and that’s the case when it comes to fallback planning. Don’t assume your first choice of marketing activity will be available or work out as intended. Always have plan b (and plan c) ready to go.

By carefully planning out your logistics and resource requirements ahead of time, you give your book marketing campaign the best possible chance of success.

How Will I Measure Success?

The final part of planning your book marketing campaign is measuring its impact.

Of course, your measure of success depends entirely upon the goals you set for yourself before the campaign.

One framework you can use to measure your success is SMART. Here’s an example of how it can be applied to book marketing:

  • Specific. Rather than set a vague goal, such as ‘make money’ or ‘learn lessons’, make it specific. For example, you could target an exact amount of profit or a certain number of actionable ideas to take forward into your next campaign.
  • Measurable. Choose the metrics you will use to measure your campaign. These could be revenue dollars, free copies downloaded, or the number of reviews received.
  • Achievable. While it’s great to dream big, it’s vital to remain realistic. You want to set targets that have a happy medium between being reasonable enough to achieve but significant enough to motivate.
  • Relevant. Ensure that your success criteria meet your intentions for the campaign. For example, if your main motivation is revenue, engagement on social media might not be the most relevant metric to set.
  • Time-bound. Set a deadline for the campaign to conclude, as well as measurement intervals you will use along the way.

Whether you use the SMART framework or another method of measurement, make sure something is in place to allow you to evaluate your campaign.

Useful Tools For Book Marketing Planning

Now that you know the steps needed to map out your book marketing plan, let’s consider the tools that will help you along the way.

  • Social media automation. If you’re planning to use social media as part of your book marketing campaign, automation will be your best friend. Using a scheduler like Hootsuite greatly increases your efficiency.
  • Mailing list software. Want to promote your book via email? Consider the right choice of mailing list tool.
  • Graphics tools. Visual content has a valuable role to play in promoting your book. Tools like Canva and Snapseed can help you produce great-looking visuals without the need for expertise.
  • Project planning tools. To keep everything organized and running efficiently, use a project planning tool. Trello, Wunderlist, Google Calendar or even an old fashioned whiteboard are good for this purpose.

The right mix of tools helps manage the complexity of book marketing campaigns and ensure you stay on top of everything.

Are You Ready To Put Your Plan Together?

Now you have everything you need to plan your next book marketing campaign!

What does your personal marketing process look like? Which tools do you find to be the most useful?

Feel free to comment, and let everyone know what works well for you!


Chandler-Bolt-headshot

Chandler Bolt is the host of the Self Publishing School podcast & the author of 6 bestselling books including his most recent book titled “Published.”. He’s also the founder & CEO of Self-Publishing School, the #1 online resource for writing your first book. Self Publishing School made the INC 5000 in 2018 (#2,699) and in 2019 (#1,483) as one of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the US. Through his books, podcast, training videos, and Self-Publishing School, he’s helped thousands of people on their journey to writing their first book.

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