How to Put Together a Digital Marketing Plan for your Book
Everything you need to know for your book launch
The first thing authors should do before attempting any type of marketing is to put together a marketing plan for their books. As an author, your marketing plan will help you decide whether you'll maintain a blog or have a presence on social media, for example. Even better, it can help you organize your review outreach strategy. It’s worth noting that the strategies are pretty much the same whether you’re traditionally published or self-published.
Your plan can be as involved as a Word document or Excel spreadsheet, or just something simple that you write down in your notebook. No matter how you do it, a written marketing plan helps you organize your time and think clearly about how you should market your book. Once executed, you’ll be able to measure your results against it and refine your plan, if necessary.
There are a number of things you should include in your plan. Keep the following things at hand at all times, ready to give to a blogger or reviewer who requests more details about your book:
Book Basics (title, description, categories, keywords)
Details (trim size, pages/wordcount, formats)
ISBN & Pricing
Retailer and Discoverability Links (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop, Goodreads, etc)
Are you doing discounted deals?
What is your reviewer strategy?
Will you be running a sale?
Are you reaching out to book clubs?
Define Your Goals
You need to ask yourself, “What are my goals as an author?” Do you want to publish a family history? Get listed on blogs? Get press? Get more readers? Your marketing strategy will depend almost entirely on your goals.
Your Book Basics
Getting the basics down for your book is critical, but what are these “basics?” Think about the following:
· Book Title
You need a title that is descriptive of your book and lets the reader know what the book is about.
· Short Book Description
Your short description should be around 150-250 words. This is separate from your blurb or back cover. It’s known as the “elevator pitch” for a reason. You should be able to explain to a stranger in an elevator in a few sentences what your book is about. You never know when this opportunity might come up, so be ready.
Next, you want to think about which categories your book falls into. Mystery, Romance, or Thriller are all great categories, but being more specific in a given category works better, like Spies and Politics or Regency Rom Com.
Decide on five to seven keywords for your book. You want these to be entire word strings, not just single words. Think about the search phrases that a potential reader would use to get your book in search results. Instead of “mystery” to describe an Agatha Christie novel, for example, “late in life women’s murder mystery” might cover more search results.
This is your book size. Will you be using 5.25 x 8.25, or 6 x 9, or another size? There are quite a few good standard sizes for novels. Remember, the size you choose will impact the price of your book, both in terms of your author cost and your minimum price point.
Will you be publishing both print and digital books? You will need a print-ready PDF, an EPUB file, and a MOBI file if you want to be able to send your book to reviewers. For voice search, I would also consider producing an audiobook version.
You don’t need an ISBN to publish on Amazon, BN, or other major retailers, but you do need it for libraries, bookstore distribution, bestseller lists. An ISBN is also a good idea if you want to be listed as the publisher of your own work.
You want to think about both your print book price and your ebook pricing. Your ebook will typically cost less than your print book. One way to figure out your print book price is to search for similar titles to yours on Amazon and base your price on that. Full-color books and illustrated books tend to cost more. Also, Amazon gives you the option to make your ebook free or available to folks for a discounted price who have already purchased a print version.
For your ebook, you want to make sure your book is priced between $2.99 and $9.99 to maximize the 70% royalties.
Decide on your publication date and ask yourself the following questions:
When do you want to publish your book?
Will you be doing pre-orders?
This way you can collect sales before your book is officially out.
Are there any holidays that coincide with your book?
Decide where you want to publish your book. Do you want to upload your book directly to major retailers? Or do you want to go through a third-party distribution site? If you already have a huge following on social media, you can even sell directly to your readers.
You will need a bio that is about 150-250 words and a headshot to go along with it. If you’re publishing non-fiction, make sure to include any credentials that make you an expert on your topic. Are you going to blog or have a website? Or will you use a Facebook author page to send updates to your readers? (See my previous post on why all authors should have a mailing list). Will you have a presence on social media? TikTok? Instagram?
List some promotion strategies that you want to execute or try out, and put dates against all of them.
Are you going to be blogging? Guest blogging on others’ sites?
Will you reach out to podcasts?
Will you do local press outreach?
Will you reach out to book clubs and reviewer groups?
Your Review Strategy:
Reaching out to colleagues, family, and friends and giving them a complimentary copy of your book is a great way to let people know about your book and collect those initial reviews. If you have a mailing list or following on social media, you can let your readers or followers know you are launching a book. Be careful about this, though, Amazon is really cracking down on reviews from family and friends, so it’s important that the reviews are honest.
There are lots of ways to get reviews. Usually, I recommend an author have about 20-30 reviews within a few weeks of the book’s launch.
If you have the budget for it, you might want to consider professional review services to review your book.
Put together a budget for promotional materials like bookmarks and cards. These are great little “calling cards” that contain images of your book cover, a bit of your blurb, maybe a few words from a great review, and other enticing features.
Having a marketing plan helps you put everything down on paper and gives you dates and a budget to work with. You can evaluate the success of your marketing plan fairly quickly, then go back and make adjustments if you see something working really well.