How to Write a Book Marketing Plan: Begin with the End in Mind

How to write a book marketing plan: begin with basic questions.

When authors ask how to write a book marketing plan, they’re often thinking about things like book tours and Facebook marketing, about having a launch party and visiting bookstores in towns they pass through on vacation.

Any of those actions can work for a specific book, a specific author, and a specific audience. But if an author takes them on without thinking through some fundamental questions, they become random acts of marketing, scattershots into the darkness. In that case, authors have no way of predicting what’s going to work, and if they sit down to evaluate later, they have only vague intuition about which actions worked and which didn’t.

Instead, begin your book marketing plan with the end in mind, and then decide strategies and tactics to help you get there. Here are five steps in how to write a book marketing plan:

1. Clarify Your Goals

What do you want your book to do for you, for your reader, and for the world? By definition, “effective book marketing strategies” have to be effective at something. How does your book marketing plan fit in with your larger life goals. Be very clear with yourself about this, because if your stated goals are not your deepest goals of the heart, you’ll sabotage yourself at every step along the way.

2. Know Your Audience

You’ll develop your best book marketing strategies by knowing your audience. Identifying them is the first step — age, social class, location, all the relevant demographics. But beyond that, you need to know their fears, hopes, and motivations. What they want that you can give them through your writing, and the language, colors, and images that convey that message.

3. Consider Your Publishing Options

Book publishing options have proliferated over the past few years. Between the extremes of New York megacorporations and a home-made PDF ebook, there are a wide variety of book publishing options. Only in the context of your goals and audience can you make a decision about which book publishing option is right for your book and your audience.

4. Set Your Budget

Consider the time, money, and energy you have to invest in your book marketing budget. You’ll want to revisit the earlier steps and look at different options as you think about the cost of your book marketing plan. Take advantage of free book marketing strategies that work for you, and find qualified help for the tasks that just aren’t a good fit.

5. Create a Book Marketing Calendar

Using the information you’ve developed in the four prior steps, you’re in a better position to select among the many book marketing strategies available.

Make strategic decisions about how you will reach your audience and how they will find you:

  • What kind of website
  • To blog or not to blog
  • Which social media can you use to reach your audience and how much time will you give them (and I have to remind myself occasionally that checking the LOL pictures in my Facebook stream isn’t “Facebook marketing”)

Plan your book launch and then use unique and creative book marketing strategies you find in the pages of your book. Use the social media where your audience congregates, and skip the media where they don’t.

After the big push at the beginning, you can settle into regular, measured book marketing actions that reach your audience and leave you time and energy to work on the next book.

How to Write a Book Marketing Plan

It might seem odd that “how to write a book marketing plan” begins so far away from book marketing and contains the actual plan only at the last step.

One reason is that every book and every author is different. It would be easy to say, “Oh, definitely go with a big publisher, because that’s the most authoritative,” or “Definitely go independent, because you can make the most money.” But in the new publishing world, those blanket statements just don’t stand.

So you start with the basics: What you want, who is your audience, what is your investment, what is your publication path. When you know the answers to those questions, you’ll have an easier time choosing among the thousands of book promotion methods.

Need Help with Your Book Marketing Plan?

Maybe you need someone with an outside view of your book marketing process. Give me a call. I’ll create a report that will help you clarify your fundamentals and find book marketing promotions to reach your audience with the message of your book in a way that makes sense for you.

How to Create a Book Marketing Plan

Here is a four-part series on how to create a book marketing plan:

Image: loungerie via photopin cc

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  1. Shawn Scarber Deggans says

    Great advice, Jan! Your readers might be interested in setting up their calendar in a program that uses iCal. Using iCal allows authors to share their book campaign with team members who can help with the launch. Google Calendars support this format.


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