A guide on how to create a book marketing plan.

 

You've chosen the self-publishing pathway! As you know or about to  find-out this is not an easy path to negotiate. You'll have to write, self-publish, design a book cover and promote your novel. Wherever you are on the' indie' patway , developing a marketing plan is a must. So here’s a guide on how to create your book marketing plan.  

3 Steps for Your Indie Book Marketing Plan

Coming up with a self-publishing marketing plan can sound daunting, especially for first-timers. No worries, let’s simplify the process by splitting this guide into three main steps: 

  1. 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.
  2. Choose your tactics: Learn about the various marketing tactics available and select the ones that best fit your book marketing strategy.
  3. 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 the plan with care. Start by asking yourself and answering these important 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.  

Who is that audience and most likely to be 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,  researching similar books in your genre and noting the types of followers they attract, can help confirm the idea you have in your mind. 

 

Target audiences share similar traits, such as: 

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Education
  • Socioeconomic status 

You can be more specific by defining:

  • Favorite book genres
  • Favorite authors
  • Favorite hang-out spots (physically and virtually like social media platform.

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  21 who are still in school. They hang out on TikTok and Instagram. And they also enjoy the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer

With this example it makes 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. You can list as many target audiences as you need. However, no more than two for now. There’s always room to tweak your book marketing plan later. 

 

What’s your unique selling proposition? (USP)

You now have an idea of the target audience you want to reach. But will they notice your book amongst the millions of others? A USP  is a characteristic that makes you or your book stand out. It’s critical to acknowledge and emphasise 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 include 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?  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. 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 book self 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 buyers in my local area by positioning myself as an expert in my field.
  • To develop a fan base and increase sales in my book series. 

You can refine your goals as you move through your marketing timeline:

  • To do more interviews and in-person events because I realise 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 Twitter (X)  because the last two experiments were successful. 

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 £0 a month to as much as you want. This will depend on your financial circumstances and how much you’re willing to invest.

If you’re under a tight budget. There are plenty of cost-effective ways or even free to market a self-published book. We’ll get to them below under tactics. 

 

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  provide dashboards to view sales details, such as when you made a sale and in what country. Use them. 

Routinely track your book sales, and sales ranking. You'll start to notice patterns. If a certain tactic doesn’t produce results to your ebook marketing strategy, stop it, if a certain tactic produce's significant sales, do more of it.

 

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? 

 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. 

 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. 

Create author website In self-publishing, selling books happens online. That means you have to engage people online. A dedicated author website helps people learn more about you. A professional site also helps with your credibility. OR

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. ALSO

Use reader magnets  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 later. 

Do interviews  Research and reach out to podcasts, YouTubers, bloggers, radio stations etc. 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 on  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. Most Independent book publishers will tell you to avoid giving books away for free. 'Free book grabbers' hardly ever read the book, instead concentrate on  discounted offers. 

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 discounted books.  

Consider Amazon ads  Amazon has the majority of the digital book market. It takes a bit of research to get familiar with advertising on Amazon. You can start with a budget as low as £3 a day. Create an advertising campaign timeline to keep track of your ads and see what works for you. 

Consider Facebook or X ads  They are the biggest social platforms in the world. Keep track of your ads and see what works for you. 

 If you don’t have the budget or feel ready for paid advertising, there are lots of free options to get into. Search on Google and build your list. 

Last but not least, to maximise your reach distribute your book in every format (ebook, print, audio), store, and country possible.  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.