The Author’s Guide to Book Marketing: Part 2

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

The Author’s Guide to Book Marketing: Part 2In part 1 last week, we discussed the two basic questions that should drive any author’s marketing strategy. Below, we show how to turn that strategy into a workable plan.

Step 1: Set your tactics

Using all you’ve learned above, list every way in which you’ll reach your reader around publication. A classic marketing framework may look like this:

• Paid (marketing you pay for): Digital ads, flyers, tchotchkes, etc.
• Earned (marketing you have to earn): Book reviews, features, interviews, social media influencer outreach, events, bookstore adoption, etc.
• Owned (marketing you own or can build): Website, email list, social media presence, promotions, etc.

These are all the tactics that will support your strategy. Be as exhaustive and creative as you can.

Step 2: Build your schedule

Marketing a book can start 6-12 months before a book publishes. This isn’t just setting the groundwork. Events, select media outlets, and a strong social media platform have long lead times.

Looking at each of the tactics you want to employ, figure out how long each will take. If you set a goal of having 1,000 people on your email list, start work early. If you want to create a Snapchat presence, be realistic about how long that will take. Each type of media outlet has its own lead-time, too (plan for at least one month with online, TV, radio, and newspaper outlets; and at least three months with magazines and events). Without establishing what needs to happen when, the amount of work can feel daunting. By creating a schedule, you can compartmentalize the work and diligently build toward your goal.

Step 3: Create your plan!

Once you have your strategy, know the tactics, and have a sense of timing, you’re ready to pull them all together into your marketing plan. Here’s an example plan similar to what we use at Inkshares (with specifics removed) to give you a sense of what it might look like:

Marketing Strategy

When we first talk to an Inkshares author about the marketing of her book, we send her our marketing plan, talk about how we built it, and walk through what she can expect in the months up to and after publication. It doesn’t mean the process is suddenly easy or that there won’t be surprises, deviations or disappointments. But without a direction and a plan, it’s easy to feel rudderless, floating around hoping the fish bite. Once you know where you’re going, figure out how to get there, and pick the right bait, much of the stress and anxiety dissolves—even if no one can guarantee you’ll catch anything. And maybe you’ll even start to enjoy the ride.

This post was adapted from a post on the Inkshares blog titled “The Inkshares Marketing Guide for Quill Authors.” Quill is a “light-publishing” option on Inkshares for authors who don’t hit their full Inkshares pre-order goal.

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3 thoughts on “The Author’s Guide to Book Marketing: Part 2

  1. BooklyWookly

    I like the example plan. Here’s another method to consider: printed sample chapter booklets. Upload a few thousand words of text and we can print small format booklets. Rather than hand out business cards or flyers, put an actual sample chapter into the hands of potential readers (or literary agents). See our website,

  2. Eric Roth

    Thank you for sharing these savvy tips. It’s clear that many others, like myself, often fail to adequately plan how to market or even get around to marketing their books. Your example provides a practical how-to agenda – even with limited financial resources.

    As a small niche author-publisher, however, I would add that managing expectations remains crucial. As the ancient Greeks advised, “kill hope if you want to be happy.” I begin with the assumption that few folks will discover or appreciate my conversation books so all sales bring a smile. While I have run a monthly column in Easy English Times, a relevant publication for my ESL focused books for years that sometimes generates class set orders, I would advise forgetting about newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV. Blogs are far more accessible, trade shows for a profession (English teachers in my case), and speaking at conferences seems like a wiser investment of precious time.

    Of course, you have greater experience and may be focused on authors with a larger potential audience. In my limited experience, I have found focusing on a narrow, specific audience more helpful than larger general audiences. Am I failing to dream big enough?

    1. BooklyWookly

      Chris Anderson’s ‘The Long Tail: How Endless Choice is Creating Unlimited Demand’ (also called ‘The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More’) deals precisely with this issue. The world increasingly is fragmented into smaller and smaller niches, not only with books but also with music and other creative fields. Anderson argues that this is not a bad thing, but rather a natural result of it being easier to make and distribute text, sound, and even physical goods, than ever before. Amusingly, Anderson has sold millions of copies of a book that claims that the mass market is going away and that authors should embrace the ‘small pond’ mentality and find what Kevin Kelly calls ‘1000 True Fans’ ( rather than hoping for a runaway success.



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