Congrats on choosing the path of self-publishing! This is no easy feat. You have to write, self-publish, and promote. Wherever you are in your indie journey, developing your author marketing plan is a must. So here’s your guide on how to create a solid book marketing plan, made easy to digest. Plus, check out the book marketing timeline example at the end. ⬇️
3 Steps for Your Indie Book Marketing Plan
Coming up with a self-publishing marketing plan can sound daunting, especially for newbies. No worries, let’s simplify the process by splitting this guide into three main steps:
- Develop your strategy: Start crafting your author marketing plan with the right strategy. This is where you define your target audience, goals, budget, and other important guidelines.
- Choose your tactics: Learn about the various marketing tactics available and select the ones that best fit your ebook marketing strategy.
- Create your timeline: Put everything together in a book marketing timeline that aligns with your overall self-publishing timeline.
Step 1: Develop Your Strategy
A book marketing strategy is your overarching, big-picture view. It sets the stage for choosing the specific tactics you want to implement in your book marketing plan. This is important work; take the time needed to develop your strategy with care. Start by opening a new document and answering these necessary questions:
Who’s your target audience?
A target audience is a group of people most likely to be your core customers. It’s important to define this before deciding anything with your author marketing plan. You don’t want to waste your time, energy, and resources by trying to grab everyone’s attention. Instead, you’d want to choose tactics that make the most sense for your main audience.
Ask yourself: who is most likely interested in my book?
You can answer this question by thinking about what your book has to offer. What needs does it fulfill for the reader? Why should people read your book? If you got an idea of your ideal readers, collect your thoughts or even draw out your intended audience on paper. And most importantly, research similar books in your genre and take notes on the types of followers they attract.
Target audiences share similar traits, such as:
- Socioeconomic status
You can get more specific by defining:
- Favorite book genres
- Favorite authors
- Favorite hang-out spots (physically and virtually like social media platforms)
Try describing your target audience in a few sentences. Here’s an example: The target audience for my YA fantasy romance fiction novel on vampire love are females aged 13 to 27 who are still in school and live in the U.S. They love to hang out on TikTok and Instagram. And they also enjoy the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer.
With the example above, it’d make the most sense to focus on TikTok and Instagram for social media promotions. Also, the author’s tone of voice when communicating with readers would be youthful and personable (with the use of a lot of emojis!)
You can list as many target audiences as you need. However, I recommend no more than two if you’re just starting out (for now). There’s always room to tweak and optimize your book marketing plan throughout your journey.
What’s your unique selling proposition?
You have an idea of who you want to reach. But will they notice your book in a sea of competition? A unique selling proposition is a characteristic that makes you or your book stand out. It’s critical to acknowledge and emphasize your strengths.
Let’s say that you’re a romance writer. Why should a romance reader choose your novel among others? When it comes to fiction books, there’s a huge importance on the characters. So if you have a compelling character or an unprecedented storyline, make sure you write those down as your unique benefits.
Ask yourself: What makes my book marketable? What about me is marketable as an author? Do I have unique credentials? Have I won any book awards in the past? Jot everything down. These points will be useful when creating most, if not all, of your marketing items, such as the book blurb, website copy, book advertising copy, and more.
What are your goals?
A goal is a statement of direction determined by your needs. With your defined goals in hand, look at each tactic and ask yourself if it helps achieve your goals.
Here are some example goals to help jumpstart your ebook marketing strategy:
- To gain exposure and credibility as a first-time author, preferably online (since I’m shy).
- To land on Amazon’s category bestseller list within two months.
- To generate more clients in my local area by positioning myself as an expert in my field.
- To develop a fan base and increase sales in my fiction series.
Later on, you can refine your goals as you move through your marketing timeline:
- To do more interviews and in-person events because I realize they generate more sales (even if I’m shy).
- To collect more reviews because they influence my target audience the most.
- To boost sales by advertising on Facebook because the last two experiments were successful.
As I mentioned, you can tweak and optimize your author marketing plan at any point. In fact, it’s a good idea to do so as you figure out what does and doesn’t work.
What’s your budget?
It’s crucial to set your budget and select the tactics that fit your budget. Marketing spending can go anywhere from $50 a month to as much as you want. Of course, this depends on factors like your financial circumstances and how much you’re willing to risk and reinvest.
If you’re under a tight budget, don’t fret. There are plenty of cost-effective ways to market a self-published book. We’ll get to them below under tactics, so let’s keep going.
What to measure?
As an authorpreneur, you’re creating not just a writer's marketing plan but a business marketing plan. That means you have to track your performance in order to make smart business decisions. Self-publishing platforms like Amazon KDP or PublishDrive provide dashboards to view sales details, such as when you made a sale and in what country. Use them.
Set up a spreadsheet with columns for tactics, the date you used the tactic, book sales, and sales ranking during that period. Routinely track your activities. You'll start to notice patterns. If a certain tactic doesn’t bring in any results to your ebook marketing strategy, cut it out. On the other hand, if a certain tactic (like podcast interviews) led to significant sales, do more of that.
Get Sales Insights for Your Author Marketing Plan
The ultimate marketing plan includes the numbers. PublishDrive helps you track and analyze your sales performance across numerous stores and countries. Learn more
Step 2: Choose Your Tactics
After fleshing out your self-publishing book marketing plan, it’s time for the nitty-gritty. Tactics are the actual tangible actions of your marketing campaign timeline. And there are quite a lot of them. Don’t use them all, because, realistically, you won’t have the budget or time. This step involves getting familiar with the various marketing tactics out there, then choosing the ones that best fit your book marketing strategy.
Here’s a comprehensive list of the book marketing plan tactics to know. Pay extra attention to the ones marked with a star ✩ – those are the best practices to consider.
List of tactics for your indie book marketing plan
|Develop author brand ✩
Author branding is an extension of your strategy that helps blueprint how you conduct yourself across marketing mediums like social media and email. Ask yourself questions like: What aspects of my persona do I want to share? What tone of voice do I want to use when engaging with my readers? What kind of design elements represent my vibe?
See more: build an author brand
|Optimize metadata ✩
Metadata holds information about your book, used across various stores. It includes author, title, subtitle, description, series information, language, categories, keywords, reviews, and price. It influences your discoverability and engagement with readers, directly influencing your sales.
See more: book metadata
|Optimize book description ✩
Your book description is one of the first elements people come across when browsing for books. You want to pull people in by adding the strongest and most emotional hooks in the very first few sentences.
See more: book description hacks
|Ensure the best book cover design ✩
Your cover design is also one of the first elements people see. If you can, hire a professional designer. Your cover should fit industry standards, look professional, and be enticing.
See more: how to design a book cover
|Create author website
In self-publishing, selling books happens online. That means you have to engage people online. A dedicated online hub like an author website helps people learn more about you. A professional site also helps with your credibility.
|Create a blog page
|If a website doesn’t fit your budget, set up a free page on blog platforms like Medium or Tumblr. Blogging can help boost your author brand.
|Set up email strategy ✩
Trending marketing tactics may come and go, but your mailing list will always remain one of your most powerful marketing tools! Email is a direct way to engage and nurture your readers. To get started with email, you need to create an email plan. Maybe you’d like to send out monthly newsletters about your writing progress. Or perhaps you’d like to send out occasional emails about your book sales. If you have an author website, you can use it to collect email addresses.
See more: how to set up a mailing list for authors
|Set up social media strategy ✩
Social media is where everyone is at. And the potential to get discovered in these digital spaces is huge. Set up at least one dedicated account on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok.
See more: book social media marketing plan
|Set up author page(s) ✩
You’re most likely going to sell on Amazon, the mecca of online books. Be sure to create your author page on Amazon to give readers a space to learn more about you. Consider setting up an author page on Facebook and Goodreads too.
See more: author page
|Collect book reviews ✩
This is an author’s #1 priority – truly! Here’s the rule of e-commerce: people won’t buy when there are zero reviews. Make sure you’re collecting book reviews as a part of your author marketing plan.
See more: book reviewers to reach out to
|Get pre-publication endorsements
An endorsement is a short blurb or testimonial from someone who influences your target audience. You can place it on your book’s front or back cover, author pages, social media bios, and more.
See more: book endorsements
|Distribute a press release
A press release is a professional announcement about your book launch. Use it for interviews with media outlets, speaking engagements, and website traffic.
See more: press releases for books
|Run a pre-order period ✩
Always start with a pre-order period! Stores like Amazon count sales on the first day of release. That means you can use your pre-order period to collect sales and bump up your sales count come launch day. This increases the chances of landing on bestseller lists, exposure you don’t want to miss.
See more: pre-orders for books
|Throw launch party
Organize a launch party to celebrate your book as well as engage with your people. Invite people via your email list, social media, and more.
See more: plan book launch party
|Network & attend book events
Research and build a list of virtual and in-person book events. Networking helps you meet new readers and industry people. Network online, too, by joining forums like Reddit’s group for writers.
|Use reader magnet
A reader magnet is anything you give away in exchange for your reader’s contact information (this is where your email list comes in handy!) Example: offer a free chapter of your book for an email address back. Now you can add a new contact to your mailing list to upsell your book down the funnel.
See more: creative reader magnet ideas
Research and reach out to podcasts, YouTubers, bloggers, radio stations, and beyond. Use a press release to send out important information about you and your book.
|Apply for book awards
Research and build a list of book awards to apply to. This is a great way to gain credibility. With any book awards you do achieve, place them across marketing mediums like your website or Amazon author page.
|Run free/discounted price campaigns ✩
After launching your book, plan a special sales period where you list your book for free or at a discounted price. PublishDrive analyzed over 800 sales campaigns. The main result: indies made 10x more sales. These work.
|Buy promotional spots
If you do run a sales campaign, advertise the heck out of it. Buy a spot on promotional sites specifically curated for readers looking for free or discounted books. Freebooksy has over 368,000 users looking for free book deals. Bargain Booksy has over 277,000 users looking for titles priced $3.99 and lower.
|Run Amazon ads
Amazon captures the majority of the digital book market. It takes a bit of research to get familiar with advertising on Amazon. The cool thing is you can start with a budget as low as $5 a day. Create an advertising campaign timeline to keep track of your ads and see what works for you.
See more: Amazon ads for authors
|Run Facebook ads
Facebook is another giant space to advertise in. I mean, it’s the #1 social platform in the world. Run Facebook ads to promote your book launch, pre-order period, sales campaign, and more.
See more: Facebook ads for authors
|Run BookBub ads
BookBub is a favorite for many indie authors. It offers authors and book marketers a platform to tailor their campaigns and reach custom audiences of readers.
See more: how to advertise a book (BookBub included)
|Land free promotional spots
If you don’t have the budget or feel ready for paid advertising, there are a ton of free options to get into. Google around and build your list.
See more: free and paid book promotions
|Publish wide ✩
Last but not least, distribute your book in every format (ebook, print, audio), store, and country possible. This is about maximizing your reach, therefore, your revenue streams.
Note: keep in mind that each book format will most likely reach a different target audience, so plan accordingly. For example, your ebook marketing plan may rely more on digital tactics while your print plan may focus more on in-person promotions.
See more: publishing wide
Step 3: Create Your Book Marketing Timeline
After choosing your tactics based on your target audience, budget, and overall goals, the last step involves putting everything together in a cohesive timeline. Take a look at the book marketing plan example below. It’s split up into three main phases:
- Planning: Draft your book launch marketing plan, get familiar with the tactics you want to implement, and set up everything you need to promote your book. Your work should align with your publishing timeline.
- Pre-order: Create buzz during your pre-order period until the official launch of your book. Use this period to finalize your metadata and other marketing materials.
- Post-release: After launching your book, marketing should be an ongoing effort. Fill your calendar with weekly to monthly activities.
Book marketing timeline example
When you’ve decided on your book timeline, schedule tasks and deadlines into your daily calendar. Follow through on your assignments. Don’t forget to carve out the time needed to track and measure your results. You’ve got this, dear authorpreneur!
Now you know how to write a marketing plan for a book. What’s next? ⬇️
Boost Your Sales With PublishDrive
Along with publishing and distribution, PublishDrive also provides you with the promotion tools to support your book marketing plan:
Don’t forget to maximize your sales by distributing in as many stores and countries as possible. Sell in thousands of bookstores with a click of a button.