After writing 1,000s of words and revising 1,000 times, you’ve done it. You finished your book.
When your book is ready to be published, it sinks in. YOU have to sell it!
If you have a publisher, they’ll do some marketing for you. However, your book’s success is dependent on your advocacy as well—even if you’re working with one of the biggest publishers.
If this at all feels familiar, don’t worry, it’s human nature!
It’s easy to fall into the ‘panic and procrastinate’ trap when you feel overwhelmed by book marketing.
Instead, I recommend creating a basic marketing plan that can grow over time. A marketing plan will answer the questions of ‘what should I do and when.’
So how do you make a marketing plan?
To start, take a moment to write down the tools and people you already have in your corner. You already have so much working in your favor! Before looking into new tools and marketing channels, you want to first make a plan for what you already have at your disposal. This can include…
- Your family, friends, & acquaintances
- Your website
- Your email list
- Your social media profiles
These are the foundation of your marketing plan. After you’ve build your initial marketing, you may turn to new tools and challenges. But first, use what you’ve got!
Let’s look at each of these items and how you will use them in your marketing plan:
Part 1 — Your Family & Friends
This is the very first place to begin. Make a list of the friends and family who may support and celebrate your new role as an author. Be generous! More people will want to support your book than you may expect simply because they love and support you.
Several months before your book is released, you will reach out to all of these family and friends to tell them about your book. Share the process of publishing with them. Many will want to purchase and read your books. Some will even offer to help you spread the word. These are the easiest sales you will ever make!
But none of that can happen unless they know about your story!
Part 2 — Your Acquaintances
Looking beyond your close family and friends, you have an incredible network of people who are interested in books like yours. These acquaintances are not only useful because they might buy our books. They also may have access to audiences of your future readers, which you can use to build your own fanbase.
Make a list of all of the people you know (or people who can connect you to other people) and note whether they might be a Reader, Connector, or Both.
A Reader may simply want to get a copy of your book and engage with you on an author-reader level.
A Connector will help you build your fanbase. They can exponentially grow your fanbase by introducing you to pre-existing audiences.
Through connectors, you can easily engage with complete strangers because your connector invites you into their world. Authors, booksellers, librarians, and teachers have direct access to groups of readers who may be perfect for your book. People who work in the media or have built their own audiences through social media can also share you and your book.
Part 3 — Your Website
Having a digital presence is absolutely necessary and an author website is the best option for your home base online.
It doesn’t need to be overcomplicated or flashy. Rather, its main goal is to help visitors learn more about your books and get in touch with you. It should professionally convey the information your visitors are looking for. That’s it!
Your website is the #1 resource for accurate information about your books. You can share your books through word-of-mouth, social media, and dozens of other marketing channels. But these can be limited! As soon as you grab a reader’s attention through another channel, you can link directly back to your website where they can learn more, be further persuaded, or actually complete their purchase of your books.
Part 4 — Your Email List
Even if you’re not ready to start an author newsletter, you need to collect a list of emails from readers interested in your books.
In our fast-paced lives, it’s easy for us to want your book but get distracted. A LOT of book sales are lost simply because the readers who want the book forgets to buy it.
Emailing people who have expressed interest in your book does a service for them. You are literally helping those readers get the book they already want.
Be prepared to begin collecting names and email addresses as early as 12 months before your book release.
Part 5 — Your Social Media
Social media is not a required book marketing tool. However, most authors have a profile on at least one social media platform. Whether you use it to connect with fellow book lovers or only family and friends, you have an audience of followers who want to know about your creative work!
I recommend limiting yourself to 1-2 social media platforms for marketing your books. In your marketing plan, note which platform(s) you are most excited to engage with. If you actually enjoy using Instagram (or TikTok or Twitter, etc), your are far more likely to use it effectively.
Finally, remember that your marketing will always be in-progress. It’s a creative project that will grow and change as you become comfortable promoting your books.
When we think of book sales, we often think in the 1000s. But all book sales begin with a handful of people, which is why you start small with the tools you already have. Your fanbase will grow over time as you continue to reach new readers and have your books shared to new audiences.
Want an easy checklist of what to do for your book marketing? Download my free marketing guide below!