Sometimes marketing feels like it could be a full-time job, doesn’t it? And when it comes to how to market a book – authors often make it an exhausting process by cramming in everything under the sun during launch week. And yes, launch week is important but your book has a longer lifespan than just one week. So it’s not just about planning but also setting a smart pacing schedule you can keep up with.
Why Small Goals Are Better Than Big Ones: Don’t get me wrong, I love big goals. When an author tells me they want their book to be a Netflix series, for example, I think that idea is worth celebrating. But when you’re done reveling in the possibility, it’s time to sit down and strategize how to market a book on the path that’ll get you there. And it should be more than “I know a friend, who knows a friend, who knows a friend.”
I can’t tell you how many times, over the years, I’ve heard of someone who knows someone who knows a producer at a big show, like Oprah. None of those ever panned out by the way. So yes, it’s good to know people, but the book still has to have some momentum behind it.
The steps you take, even the smallest ones, should be identified and planned out. You want a big speaking gig? Great! Now it’s time to plan out exactly the steps you’ll need to get there. Not sure what those steps are? Have a look at other, big speakers and see what they’re doing. Chances are, it’s a lot.
For any big goal, there are always smaller steps that will help you get there. These smaller steps are what strategic planning is all about – and these are also the things that’ll keep the book marketing train moving forward.
The Right Timing: I’ve talked about this a lot in prior blog posts, but it’s worth mentioning here, too. Not everything has to be done at book launch. Some stuff can be planned out. For example, post-publication reviews can be sent three months after launch date, so set a reminder for that so you can circle back to it later. Blogger reviews though, such as Amazon reviews (top Amazon reviewers, etc.) have to happen earlier so you’ll want to scoot that up higher on your planning list.
How to Market a Book 101 – Make the Early Stuff Count: There are certain things you can’t revisit as the book ages. Book reviews are one of these things. So your blogger pitching, Amazon reviewer pitching, media pitching, online media pitching, local media pitching, should all be done early. How early? If you have a window to do so, I’d recommend starting ahead of book launch. Get your materials prepped and ready to go. Research your lists (this is something you do can months ahead of time, too) so you’re ready to go.
Creating Your Blogger or Media Pitch: As you’re sending book pitches to bloggers, media, or reviewers, bear in mind that they get a lot of mail. So working on this piece early and giving yourself enough time to get it right, is important. Create different pitches for different market segments, or add in different things that will appeal to those bloggers, media, or reviewers. If your book is fiction, there’s less of an opportunity to create different pitch angles, because you’re probably pitching one solid market segment, but you can create two pitches, sort of A/B testing your work. If pitch A didn’t get a lot of interest, perhaps pitch B will – and you can use this for your pitch follow-up.
Smart Pitching Follow Up: Plan on this about 10 days to two weeks post-pitching. Sometimes I’ll just do a check-in, to see if they are interested and maybe offer a very shortened pitch as a reminder of what I sent them. I like to call this a pitch boost.
Blog Posts Planning and Creation: Getting ahead on our blog is always my goal because I can’t write great content on top of a deadline. So I try to plan out topics and then schedule them out, so I know what I need to write and when. Whether you’re doing a blog a week, twice monthly, or once a month, creating a hub of ideas and then planning on a time to write a few of them, can be a great way to bank content so you’re never having to frantically try to decide what you’ll write about.
Social Media Posts and Images: And speaking of banking content, social media is another great opportunity to plan ahead for content. You can create images for upcoming promos (more on that in a minute) or just create images ahead of time that you’ll share on social media. You can also bank content for later, memes you want to share, etc. Keep them so you have something to post – even if you aren’t posting daily on social media – you still have it when you’re ready to get on and communicate with your readers!
Smart Promotions that Drive Reader Interest: Whether it’s on top of your launch day or after, planning out promotions is crucial when deciding how to market a book. For example, when will you do your Goodreads giveaway? Are you going to drop the price of your eBook and do a promo? If so, when? You can do a few of these promos during the first six months of your book launch, too. But planning them out will help you to space out promotions, so you can always keep the book promotion wheels turning.
Planning for Your Post Launch and in Between Launch Time: When your book is out there, you may have some things you can do for the first 90-days, but then ideas start to fade, opportunities begin to evaporate, and you’re left wondering what else you can do to market your book. Am I right?
Planning ahead is always a great idea, not just to plan for the lull in promotion, but what you’ll do when your big push is behind you. Because now is a good time to focus on the things you may not have had time for, like growing your newsletter, or building more fun and engaging things to keep your readers entertained in between book launches. And speaking of that, part of your planning should include that time, well after the book launch and before you launch your next book so you don’t just ‘disappear’ – because readers can easily forget who you are. So plan some reader-focused pieces – even if it’s just keeping that regular schedule on social. Updating readers on what you’re doing, where your next book is at. Using your newsletter is a great tool for this, too.
A lot of authors are very good at planning their launches and maybe the first 90-days out, but then things start to get a bit fuzzy. Momentum dies down, ideas start to evaporate. You may not be running promos, Goodreads giveaways, or special discounts with the frequency you once were, but there’s still a lot to be done.
Use a Book Marketing Planner: This maybe sounds super simple, and it is. But there’s often a lot of power in simple. Whether it’s a paper planner, or a digital one – the first piece of any good book marketing plan is to plot out the pieces you’ll want to execute, and when. You can use your planner for both short and long-term planning. Sometimes I’ll start with the “ideal” launch date for a book, and work back from there. If my launch date moves (as they sometimes do), you can shift everything to accommodate it. But the launch date, at the very least, gives you a starting point. We have a free planner you can grab in the resources section of this post!
The same is true for other pieces you’ll want to do and plotting these out will not only help you build your daily or weekly to-do list, but you’ll have a record of what did and didn’t work.
Finally, though it’s not a planning piece per se. Create a “win” list – even small wins make a difference. Acknowledging what you’ve done and what you’ve accomplished (even if it’s just getting through your blogger pitches) is worth acknowledging. Because celebrating wins helps to keep the momentum driving forward. Jot down everything in your planner, because it all matters, and it all adds up.
Achieving big goals requires that you chunk them down into smaller, manageable pieces or steps – and celebrating these steps, as you complete them (even if it’s just jotting them down in your planner: Yah, me! I finished XYX today!) is really all you need to take notice of what you’ve done. This is also a great way, psychologically, to keep the book marketing train moving, so to speak.
We achieve a myriad of goals, often without acknowledging the path it took to get there. It’s important to do this not just because it’s fun to celebrate (and who doesn’t love a little champagne now and then) but by remembering what you did, it might help you recreate that success with your next book, and your next.