World’s Shortest Book Marketing Plan

by | Jul 10, 2017

Welcome to the world of book publishing. When you decided to self-publish you became an author-publisher, and that implies a higher level of seriousness and responsibility than someone just messing around by putting a book out.

That’s why you need a plan for how to sell your book, even before you publish it. What you need is a marketing plan.

Trouble is, it’s time consuming to try to figure out how to create your own marketing plan, and costly if you try to get someone else to do it for you. That’s why many authors simply skip it.

However, studies show that the more you put into marketing your book, the more books you’re likely to sell.

So here is one solution, my pared-down, super-time-saving, and, in fact, the Word’s Shortest Book Marketing Plan.

(Just because it’s short doesn’t mean it isn’t a powerful tool to orient you in the right direction. Try it.)

Book Title ________________________

Subtitle ________________________

Estimated publication date __________________________

  1. Why publish this book?
    [Think like a small press publisher. Look at your manuscript. Would you invest $10–20,000 to license this property? Does the book, if it’s nonfiction, have a large enough universe of buyers to support the book? Does the book do something no other book does? Provide new information, new processes, does it do something better than existing books? In other words, what’s the reason this book needs to exist?]
  2. Who will buy and read the book?
    [How well do you know the kinds of readers the book will attract? Can they be categorized, and in what ways? What are their preferences in books? How much do they typically pay for books like yours? What exactly motivates them to buy books?]
  3. Where can you find those readers?
    [Resources are limited and need to be deployed to maximize return because unprofitable publishing businesses eventually publish no books at all. Are there online ways to find and interact with these readers? Offline? Are mailing lists or email lists available? Do your social networks include a high percentage of these readers? Do they know you as an author?]
  4. How can you put this in front of them in a compelling way?
    [What will please, delight, shock, amaze, or otherwise satisfy your readers, since you don’t want to be boring. What kinds of incentives work well with your audience? What’s never been done before? Can you compel your audience to act?]
  5. Who will help?
    [Is there a “network of networks” you can tap into that includes a lot of your readers? Do you have connections with, or can you reach out to media outlets that can spread the word? Do you have your own list of raving fans?]

There you go. Answer these five questions and you’re ready to get started. Good luck!

Photo: Pixabay

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Wendy Anne Darling

    Excellent points! I’m committing them to memory!

  2. patriciaruthsusan

    Good post, Joel. You’ve condensed it to the vital necessities. :) — Suzanne

  3. Noelle A. Granger

    Thanks for this – I am downloading it for my critique group!

  4. theinkcloud

    Hi Joel, I just wanted to say thank you for producing such an in-depth account of a marketing plan. It’s incredibly useful!

    • Joel Friedlander

      You’re welcome, ink, I’ve gone over this so many times with authors, I wrote this post partly to have a resource for people new to book publishing.

  5. Frances Caballo

    I love this post, Joel. Even though your outline seems “simple,” it encapsulates everything an author needs to think about before writing a book. Great job!

    • Joel Friedlander

      As French philosopher Blaise Pascal is reputed to have said to a correspondent, “I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.” In this case, I’ve been mulling these questions for so long, I am able to communicate them in very few words. Thanks!

  6. Jonathan Gunson

    There’s a deceptively large amount of information in this article, but one thing stood out:
    “You need a plan for how to sell your book, EVEN BEFORE YOU PUBLISH IT.”

    Right on. The first book in my children’s series won’t appear until mid next year, so I could be forgiven for thinking that marketing doesn’t need to be top of mind right now.
    Au contraire! I’ve already begun to build a targeted audience following on Facebook in anticipation, plus growing an email list of potential readers and making connections with interested book bloggers.

    Excellent reminder thanks Joel.




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