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 book marketing plan.
The trouble is, it’s time-consuming to try to figure out how to create your own book marketing plan from scratch, and costly if you pay someone else to do it for you. That’s why many authors simply skip it.
However, evidence shows that the more you put into marketing your book, the more books you’re likely to sell. Which makes sense if you think about it. Marketing your book is really just about raising awareness. If people don’t know your book exists, how can they buy it?
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.
Here’s what you need to know to create your own short book marketing plan:
Word’s Shortest Book Marketing Plan Template
Book Title ________________________
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 or new processes? Does it do something better than existing books? In other words, what’s the reason this book needs to exist?
If you’re writing fiction, the purpose of your book may be simply to entertain readers. Then again, it might have a larger message you want to convey to the world. Write that down.
Get clear on the why of your book. Why did you write it? Why do you want to publish it? Why would someone else want to read it? This is the basis for your book marketing plan.
2. Who will buy and read the book?
Defining your target readership is key to creating a successful book marketing plan. 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?
Look at the readers of similar books in your genre. One great way to do a little market research is to read the reviews of books similar to yours, particularly the two to four-star reviews. That’s where you’ll find both positive and negative sentiments about a book’s content. See what readers mention, what they don’t mention, and what they feel is missing from the current offerings. This gives you great insight into how to talk to readers about what your book can do for them.
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?
It’s never too early to start building your online presence. Set up social media accounts specifically for your author persona. You don’t have to be on every platform, but pick one or two to focus on. Different sites have different target audiences. For example, TikTok has a large fiction community, while LinkedIn would be a better choice if you write business books, etc.
Consider getting involved in forums or Facebook Groups where readers hang out, if those forums exist for your genre. Make sure you have an author website, too, where readers can find out more about you and your books (don’t forget the links to purchase them!).
Be sure to include the platforms you want to engage with readers on in your book marketing plan. You should also include any platforms you’re already utilizing and how.
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? The last thing you want is to come across as boring. Readers don’t want to read books from boring authors because they’ll automatically assume your books are boring.
What kinds of incentives work well with your audience? What’s never been done before? Can you compel your audience to act?
What can you do to engage with your readers online or offline? What have other authors in your genre done? What could you do differently? These are all questions to answer in your book marketing plan.
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?
Your book marketing plan should include all of the support systems you can rely on to get the word out about your book. Get specific here and include the names and even contact information for each resource you can reach out to.
There you go. Answer these five questions and you’re ready to get started putting your book marketing plan into action. Good luck!