How to Market a Self Published Book in 2021: Creating a Plan You Can Stick with in the New Year!

by | Jan 13, 2021 | Book Marketing Basics

Reading Time: ( Word Count: )

Here we are at the start of a brand new year, and if you’re already asking how to market a self published book and ready to get serious about your book promotion, you aren’t alone.

Reinvention is a common theme this time of year, and book marketing is no exception. We’re all about revamping and restarting our lives in new and fresh ways, and the best way to accomplish this is to create new habits.

Getting into the habit of marketing your book isn’t hard, though it feels less creative to say it that way. Establishing a routine where you complete one book marketing task a day feels, well, dull.

But let’s look at it another way: every single one of those small tasks can add up to big results.

If you’re like most authors I’ve worked with, your initial push of book promotion was probably pretty solid. You had a checklist of things you did – some worked great, while others worked less well. But you got it done.

When it comes to how to market a self published book in 2021, however, the question is really what will you do to keep moving in the right direction?

Unless they have promotions on the horizon, like an eBook deal or an event, I find that authors often get caught in this in-between phase where the seeds have been planted, but nothing has quite come up yet. It’s tempting to sit and wait for something to grow.

But that’s not how a successful book promotion campaign should be run. Here are some practical tips on how to market a self published book in 2021 and beyond!

Pick Two (or Three) Book Marketing Strategies for the Long-Term

Because it’s early in 2021, I’ve talked a lot about goal setting and establishing a solid foundation for the new year. The same is true for your book marketing strategies.

Ideally you know what your focus is – maybe you want more reviews or more engagement on social media. Maybe you want more speaking.

Remember that every big goal needs to get chunked down into pieces that are more bite-sized and manageable. In an earlier blog post, I talked about creating smart book marketing goals (link below), and now is the time to really dig in and figure out what yours are.

Stay with me here: the best book marketing campaigns include social media AND it is also true that social media doesn’t sell books. Wait, what? Isn’t that a contradiction? You’d think so but here’s the thing: social media is an important key to exposure, and exposure sells books. Let me rephrase that: the right kind of social media sells books. Which is why I always say it’s not about being everywhere, but everywhere that matters. There are a lot of different angles to consider with social media platforms, and you can get deep into which platform is best for your purposes as well as all kinds of analytics that can guide when and where you post. These are all worthy topics for advanced study. Today we’re going back to basics as we consider the best book marketing campaign for you. Today’s post, in fact, is all about helping you answer a question many authors struggle with: what the heck am I supposed to post? Authors often hop on social media sites without any idea of the demographic of the platform’s users, with no knowledge of their own reader demographic, and without the faintest idea of what to say – and then they wonder why social media doesn’t seem to be working for them. That is not the right way to approach social for your best possible book marketing campaign; not only is it wrong, but that approach will cost you a bunch of time and effort that you literally will never get back. Where Does Your Message Live on Social? Most of the time, social media frustration stems from authors struggling with the content they feel they should be posting. In response to the feeling that they should be active on social media, they post something that’s not really relevant to their audience, though maybe it’s top of mind. But the problem actually starts earlier than that because more often than not, authors are on the wrong social media site to begin with. I’m including a link to a social media quiz you can take, to determine the best site for you (see the Resources section below). And if you take the quiz and you’re sitting here thinking “Well great, I’m on all the wrong social media sites, what do I do now?” My answer is: close down what you don’t need. If you keep the account, you’ll be tempted to update it, and that’s not a good use of your time. If you keep the account and don’t update it, it looks like you’ve abandoned your own party, and that’s not a good look either. Creating a Rockin’ Social Media Presence It’s fair to say that each social media site has its own particular “needs” – LinkedIn, for example, is different than Facebook, which is different from Instagram or Twitter. But regardless of where you’re going to spend your time, you’ll want to make sure to do a little bit of prep work before you start posting. Authors with the best book marketing campaigns work on identifying the talking points that will work best for them and for their books. To make this easy, I recommend you find three or four tracks you will speak to. These “tracks” are the conversation funnels you share on social, and the reason I like to limit those tracks is that a narrower course makes it easier for you to figure out what to say and/or share. Generally what happens is authors hop onto social and share whatever comes to mind, which creates a somewhat erratic presence and, invariably, lowers your engagement. What you’re attempting to do here is set your reader expectations by pre-plotting your pathways and the things you share. This doesn’t mean that you’re always tied to just four talking points, but to get started and kick this into high gear, you’re better off staying on track. And, by staying consistent to your messaging and your posting topics and schedule, you’ll build a reader/follower base much more quickly than you would if you just got onto social media in a haphazard way or if you posted too much one day and then nothing at all for a week. Most of what happens on social media falls into one of those two scenarios. So what does this look like in the best book marketing campaigns? Let’s say you’ve written a diet and health book; your tracks might look like this: • Latest health news • Quick daily health tip • Exciting news about your book • Motivational quote around health/wellness/diet If you’ve written a fiction book, let’s say a Sci-Fi novel, your tracks might look like this: • Fun science fiction did-you-know • Throwback to old Sci-Fi novels, shows, or films • Exciting news about your book • Book research you’re doing for future books OR • Some insight into your life: where you write, the playlist you listen to when you write, etc. OR • Your hobbies and what you love to do besides writing We worked with an author who set one of her romance novels in a small town, so she shared recipes from the various restaurants and coffee shops she wrote about, and readers really enjoyed this creative twist. She tried to create an immersive experience because she knew that was what her readers really cared about. So, along those lines you could share cocktail recipes or anything that tethers to the world you’ve created. Here are some other ideas: • Get your followers’ help in naming a pet in your next book. • Even better, get their help naming a character! • Ask questions to get to know your followers better; people love it when you ask about hobbies or movies they love. • Talk about things you like besides books. • Make yourself unique. • Share things that are specific to your genre – for example, if you wrote a book on vampires, you could create a meme with four famous movie vampires and ask readers to pick their favorite. • Celebrate your favorite comfort food or something else that dials into your topic. The idea is to find where readers want to engage – meaning posts that will (in the words of Marie Condo) spark joy with your followers. This may take a while. Start with your three or four discussion tracks but know that you may need to play around a bit and further refine them. The Best Book Marketing Campaigns Create Connections Readers love getting to know the authors of the books they read and love. Often, authors post on social and then wait for folks to engage with them, and yes, a bit of that approach can be part of your social platform mix. But also know that the degree to which you are connected to your posts matters, and it matters a lot. If you’re posting and ditching, you won’t get good engagement – ever. After you post, you need to check back to see if anyone responded; sometimes it just takes one person response, followed by your own, to get the comments rolling. Humans desire social approval; we love to express ourselves on social media in the hope of getting affirmative feedback. Likes and shares give our brains a surefire dopamine rush. We also love contributing and having our opinions heard – keep this in mind even if you’re just posting something funny. For example, I do a lot of “caption this” posts to spark communication. Some of them do really well, garnering upwards of 150 comments, while others only get 20 or so comments. Regardless of how many responses I get, I make sure to acknowledge every single one. People love it when you take the time to get to know them, when you’re really interested and willing to take the time to connect. Inviting followers to share their hobbies and then responding – or even just giving their content a thumbs up – can go a long way in developing reader relationships. Another driver of engagement is nostalgia, though you need to know your audience well enough to make it work for you. Someone who grew up in the 1990s won’t necessarily feel nostalgic for the same post as someone who grew up in the 1970s. People also love humor, especially now. So posting funny things might be one of your tracks. As I said before, you’re going to want to play around with this a bit until you find the right mix. Branded Images The best book marketing campaigns use images that are consistent in color, font, and message. You may share a meme that’s not specifically branded to you, which is fine. But the majority of your images should be consistent with your brand as this helps to create a visual recognition; readers see something and say, “Oh that looks like [insert author name]!” You can create branded images using an online service like Canva. In fact, for AME’s blog images (which get shared on social), we create a series of templates so that we can swap images in and out, but the standard font, spacing, and URL stay the same. Canva is an easy way to quickly create content, too. Create a Posting Calendar The best book marketing campaigns rely on planning. Not everything you do has to be planned ahead of time, but keeping up with your social media obligations will be a lot easier – and quicker! – if you create a posting calendar so you know what you’re sharing and when. Once your plans are in place, you might also spend some time creating images ahead of your posting dates and then scheduling them to post. This allows you to really focus on marketing strategies like book giveaways so you aren’t caught off guard when your chosen date crops up. Staying the Course Social media takes time. You’ll try something and succeed, then try something else and fail. This is how you learn what resonates with your audience, and what does not. Before long, you’ll start to see why social media plays such an important role in the best book marketing campaigns. And you might even start to discover some real joy along the way! Resources and Free Downloads Canva Monthly Book Marketing Planner Book Marketing Kickstart Package QUIZ: How to Market Your Book on Social Media

Create a Simple, Repeatable Process for Success

Your daily book marketing should be easily repeatable; you don’t want to spend each morning figuring out what the day will bring. By repeatable, I don’t mean boring.

Remember, you’re personalizing an approach for how to market a self published book by creating steps you can take each day to get closer to your goal.

Let’s say your goal is to get more reviews for your book. Your daily list might resemble the one below.

  • Find 1-2 new bloggers to pitch my book to this week.
  • Dig through a hashtag appropriate to my topic and find folks who might be interested in reviewing my book (offer them a free copy).
  • Ping my email list (once a month) and ask for reviews!
  • Research other books in my genre to see where they’ve appeared on blogs; those outlets might be good ones to add to my pitch list!

Now you may say: if this is a daily list, why is my newsletter on there? Because you might send your newsletter more frequently, maybe even once a week.

And even if you don’t, newsletters take time. Adding this to a daily list will remind you to find and save interesting tidbits for your next/future issues.

You’ll be glad you added this task to your To Do list when newsletter day arrives and you already have some content to work with!

How to Market a Self Published Book – Smartly: Variety is Key

As you begin to execute your plan for how to market a self published book, you may exhaust reader reviews or feel like you want to move on to something else; that’s fine. You could, in fact, change up your list every week to focus on a new aspect of your marketing.

One week you might focus on reviews, the next on getting more engagement on social media. The week after that, maybe your focus is on media or pitching yourself to podcasts.

The idea behind this approach is that variety will help you push into several different areas – by assigning a week to each focus – without overwhelming yourself with too many To Dos at once.

Setting up small but repeatable strategies that help push your book promotion along is a great way to generate more buzz and start moving the needle on your book.

Most authors come in hot on book launch day but cool off as the days tick by. Not because they aren’t sure what to do, but because they feel overwhelmed.

Chunking your long-term goals into bite-sized, repeatable pieces will not only get you to where you’re going, but it’ll also help you feel less overwhelmed and like you’ve got the secret sauce for how to market a self published book.

Good luck!


Resources and Free Downloads

FREE Monthly Book Marketing Planner

How Can I Sell More Books

How to Promote a Book in 2021: Smart Ways to Plan Your Book Marketing Goals in the New Year

21 Awesome Book Marketing Promotions and Predictions for 2021

AME Book Marketing Podcast on Apple Podcasts

Independent Book Publishers Association




  1. Top Picks Thursday! For Writers & Readers 01-21-2021 | The Author Chronicles - […] hit the bestseller list, Penny Sansevieri explains how to market a self-published book in 2021 by creating a marketing…
  2. The Biggest Mistake Authors Make When Self-Publishing a Book - ESD Cloud Media-Staging - […] How to Market a Self Published Book in 2021: Creating a Plan You Can Stick with in the New…
  3. Unique Author Branding and Content Ideas for April - ESD Cloud Media-Staging - […] How to Market a Self Published Book in 2021: Creating a Plan You Can Stick with in the New…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *