Whether you already published or not, you need a solid marketing plan. As an indie, you may ask how it’s possible to create one when there’s so much to do? Hence, I give you the best blueprint I know of below. My team at PublishDrive helped publish over 200,000 books. With the marketing tactics I’m about to share, we helped sales go up by 69% in 2020.
Why you need a marketing plan for author promotions
Like most business ventures, it’s important to have a plan that outlines how you will run your work. It saves you time, money, and effort in the long run. Your marketing strategy should position your author brand and book(s) in the market. It should also choose the best tactics that fit into your budget and timeline. Spending those extra hours on a marketing plan is worth it.
What’s in a marketing plan?
A marketing plan is a comprehensive document (either in a word doc or spreadsheet) that starts with an executive summary and goes over strategies on:
- Book packaging: like book cover design or metadata
- Pricing: that matches your target audience
- Distribution: the actual channel of getting your book out there
- Promotion: to boost your visibility
- And other related items for a specific budget and timeline
Expect to put in some time and energy to this. But after you’re done, you get an important document that helps you stay focused on the most important things.
Also, you’re not alone. You have this guide as well as several author resources to look at. Here’s how I suggest getting started on your plan – ask yourself:
- WHY should readers read my book?
- WHO should read my book?
- WHO ELSE should read my book?
- WHAT formats should I offer my book in?
- WHERE do I want to sell my book?
- HOW do I want to reach readers?
- HOW MUCH can I invest in marketing?
- HOW LONG do I want to plan for?
- WHAT RESULTS do I want to achieve?
- HOW TO MEASURE my results?
When you eventually answer all of those questions, you have your marketing plan ready to go. Let me expand on each question with the best pointers I have:
1. WHY should readers read your book?
As a first step, identify your unique value proposition for your target markets. In other words, if you’re a romance writer, why should a romance reader choose your novel among others? With fiction books, it’s usually the characters that have the most important roles. So if you have a compelling character, or an unprecedented storyline – anything special – make sure you write those down as your unique benefits.
This comes in handy for most areas in your marketing work. When it comes to having the best book packaging like cover design and metadata, add your unique value proposition as hooks everywhere. For example, with your book’s blurb or description, the very first sentences should have your strongest hooks.
2. WHO should read your book?
In business planning terms, who is your target audience? You may already have a rough idea about your ideal reader. It’s important to get clear on this, so research similar books in your genre and the kind of followers they have. Brainstorm and collect your thoughts by writing (or even visually drawing) on a piece of paper about your intended audience.
You want to put together a somewhat official profile about your reader. It should include possible age groups, geography focus, and any other behavioral elements about them. For example, where do they hang out physically and online? Let’s say your book is primarily romance-based with fantasy aspects like magic. Your typical audience will in the young adult age group (around 14-30), and women who might be following J.K. Rowling on Instagram.
3. WHO else should read your book?
When it comes to books in online stores (like Amazon), there are several other books that are deemed similar to yours and appear under “People also bought this book” sections. It’s important you take notes of books related to yours in stores you want to distribute in. You can use them in your book promotions, specifically PPC advertising strategies.
4. WHAT formats should you offer your book in?
Today, you can sell different digital formats like ebook, print, or audiobooks. All of them require different production tactics, so you need to specify which formats you want to distribute. One of the best strategies I’ve seen is using a multi-format strategy. This is where you offer your original content in all formats to maximize your reach with various audiences.
5. WHERE do you want to sell your book?
There are thousands of stores and libraries around the world to sell your book in besides Amazon Kindle. As I put together reports on the book market on a monthly basis, I see how selling only on Amazon means you lose more than 50% of book sales. where you can sell your book to besides Amazon Kindle.
It takes quite a lot of time and energy, though, to get your books in numerous stores. That’s why you got PublishDrive, where my team helped publish over 200,000 digital books worldwide to over 400 stores and tens of thousands of libraries. I put together a white paper on 2020’s bestselling countries, stores, genres, and more:
6. HOW do you want to reach readers?
This is when your promotion strategy comes into play. The good news is that digital marketing is delivering huge successes. You can use a mix of tactics. Personally reach out to book bloggers to get more book reviews. Build up your email list with reader magnets of free chapters or extra stories. Improve your social media presence with active listings on all platforms, reposts, and hashtag usage.
Also, try running price promotion campaigns and PPC ads. PublishDrive has built-in tools to help you with those. Here is a recent insight after analyzing 800 book promotions:
Plus, PublishDrive helps get you featured in store promotion campaigns or newsletters. I thank our long-time partnerships for that.
7. HOW MUCH can you invest in marketing?
Set your budget early on. Your marketing efforts depend on how much you can spend on specific marketing campaigns. There are several free advertising and promotion tools you can use to boost your sales. But don’t forget to count your time as one of the most important resources as well. I’ve usually seen marketing spendings vary from $100 a month up to the sky. :-) Decide how much you want to profit and how much you’re willing to reinvest in your budget.
8. HOW LONG do you want to plan for?
Many companies have their marketing plans go for a year. For books, the usual life cycle is about six months. After six months, it’s time to tweak your strategy and plan accordingly to re-launch your book. Another tactic is to write another book that can be re-launched with your existing catalog. New books and promotion activities that come with them usually bring out the most sales for back catalogs too.
9. WHAT RESULTS do you want to achieve?
I can’t stress this enough. It’s crucial to think of your book publishing as a long term strategy. If you start now, you can build up a sustainable career for yourself. Yes, self-publishing may take some to take off. But when you set realistic marketing goals and what success means to you, there’s nothing stopping you from following your vision.
I have talked with countless authors who achieved success. Most of them were willing to invest and lose money in their first year. But after that, they started breaking even with more time and effort. You got this!
10. HOW TO MEASURE your results?
Last but not least, it’s important you track your book sales routinely and understand them. Why? This is what helps you make better business decisions. PublishDrive has a transparent system when you can track book sales in real-time. Also, there’s an analytics tool for running custom reports based on various factors.
Book promotion tactics in action
Remember, you don’t ever have to do this completely alone. Watch my video below where I show PublishDrive’s marketing tools in action. Feel free to take inspiration from it and add some or ALL of our promotion tactics into your own.
Power up your book promotions with PublishDrive.