Embarking on the journey of a book launch requires not just a plan but a strategic timeline to ensure each step unfolds seamlessly.
And while it seems easier to download a sample book marketing plan template, I actually discourage authors from doing that. Why? I have two key reasons.
One, you don’t learn as much. And I know that can seem daunting, but truly, getting into publishing is just like starting a business. You don’t have to know it all at the jump, but you need to be prepared to learn as you go if you want to be successful. Templates can be great for a lot of things, but not when they give you an excuse to not know WHY you’re actually doing things.
Two, every author’s journey is unique. So a sample book marketing plan tends to put all authors in the same box, and assumes they have the same needs. And that couldn’t be further from the truth!
The issue with marketing timelines is that they’re not all created equal, and they will vary depending on what’s appropriate for your genre, brand, goals and platform (meaning what you’re bringing to the table).
So my goal isn’t to give you a template to fill out, but instead to educate you on what you should consider adding to your marketing plan and timeline to support your goals.
Start by Defining Your Strategies
The strategies you decide to implement will greatly impact what you’re doing to market your book, and when it needs to happen, so creating a list is a solid place to start.
Here are some of the standouts I typically encourage authors to consider:
- Create a reader profile and do some market research
- Get early endorsements (blurbs)
- Pitch pre-publication reviewers
- Build a website
- Identify the right price point for your book
- Research thought leaders and influencers to pitch
- Find podcasts to pitch
- Research local media
- Research local bookstores for stocking and events
- Set up your social media profile(s) and start outlining a content plan
- Start refining your book description
- Craft an elevator pitch
- Set up your newsletter template
- Decide if you want to budget for pre-order marketing
- Apply for book awards
- Determine your monthly Amazon ad budget
- Apply for a Bookbub daily deal
- Get accepted to the Goodreads Author Program and run a giveaway
Depending on your genre and whether or not you’ve published before, customizing a sample book marketing plan may look a bit different, and your goals may evolve, but when it comes to book marketing there’s always something you can be doing, so this list should give you plenty to focus on to get things off the ground.
Now, let’s dig into some timing considerations as well, to ensure you’re getting the maximum benefits.
Defining Your Target Audience (3-6 months before launch)
Now is a good time to really identify who is going to buy your book. You may think you know your reader, but do you really? Spend a bit of time on this researching demographics, interests, and buying habits. We have a link to a free brainstorming doc at the bottom.
Deciding Which Strategies You’ll be Using (3-6 months before launch)
The list I pulled together is long, I get it – and maybe not all of this is relevant to your book launch. For example, if you already have a website, you don’t need to spend your time there. But figuring out what you’ll do in advance, and creating a general timeline of what elements need to be done in what order, will help with the planning!
Building Anticipation (3-4 months before launch)
Generate excitement around your book by sharing teasers and snippets on social media. Craft visually appealing content and thought-provoking quotes. The goal is to build anticipation gradually.
Developing an Online Presence (3-6 months before launch)
When it comes to being online and being on social media, you don’t have to be everywhere just everywhere that matters. If you’re already on one or more social media platforms, great – make sure they’re up-to-date and active. If you’re just now dipping your toe into social media, a good time to make mistakes is when no one is watching – which is why I like to start this strategy early. If you’re going to be blogging, you’ll want to start this early and expect that it’ll take a while for readers to find your blog and more importantly, for Google to start noticing your website. Blogs are absolutely worth the effort, but can take a while to generate traffic.
Researching your Pitch Targets (4-6 months before launch)
Whether you’re targeting local media, national media, bloggers, influencers, or podcasters it’s best to start this work as early as possible. The research takes time and the last thing you want to be doing is researching your pitch targets on top of your release date. The added benefit to finding these people early is that you can start following them, reading their content, engage with them on social, listen to their shows, etc. This kind of early networking can get you a ‘yes’ a lot quicker later on.
Designing Your Marketing Materials (4-6 months before launch)
Being an author is about being a brand. People are more likely to spend their money if you come across as professional. So start working on your one-sheet, your book club questions, your pitch, your social media banners, all the “extras” that take you to the next level.
Banking Images (3-6 months before launch)
This is something you can start doing early and it’ll save you a lot of time. Once you have the “look” of your book finalized, you can easily start generating images for social media. Think images for teasers, for the release, to share in day-to-day promotions like limited-time price discounts and sales, to promote your Goodreads profile, to encourage people to follow you on BookBub, and more. I promise, having creative images of your book that are ready to use for a variety of marketing and promotions will save you so much time in the long run!
By starting early and planning out the strategies you want to incorporate, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the intricacies of a successful book launch.
And remember, a sample book marketing plan shouldn’t limit your goals or creativity or options, it should support them – so put in the extra effort to design your marketing plan from scratch and I’m confident you’ll be a smarter, savvier author for it.
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