How to Create a Book Marketing Plan

Laptop with open book to represent a book marketing plan.

It doesn’t matter if you publish your book through print on demand or traditional publishing, you will always have to market your book in order for it to be successful. Sure, traditional publishers will promote your book more than print on demand publishers, but a publisher appreciates the time and effort you put into marketing your book, and it increases your chances of acceptance.

To promote your book successfully, you need a book marketing plan in place before it hits the shelves. It is also great for helping you write your proposal, promoting the book for pre-sales, as well as after it hits the shelves.

I know, you’re probably thinking this task is difficult, but it’s not. Basically, you answer four questions:

1. Who is the target audience for your book?

2. What makes your book different from your competition?

3. Where will you advertise?

4. How much do you plan to spend on marketing each month?

Now, let’s better define each of these five things through examples.

Who Will be Reading Your Book?

Your target audience is the people you believe will benefit from your book. These are the folks you want to get the message out to.

For example, let’s say you are writing a book entitled Cooking Fun with Kids: 100 Recipes You Can Prepare With the Kids. We know from the title you will be giving us 100 types of food adults can cook with their kids.

Since you know what you are going to write and include, the next step is to determine who you will sell the book to. That being said, you need to target an audience that will be interested in your book, of course, because trying to sell to someone with no interest would just be a waste of your time.

Based on the information above, your target audience might include parents (single and married), grandparents, daycare providers, bookstores and grocery stores.

What Makes Your Book Stand Out From the Rest?

Your next step is to compile a list of things that makes your book different from others that are similar to yours. Why do you need this list? Simple, when you go to create the book proposal, sale ads and other materials, you are going to want to tell agents, publishers and potential customers what makes your book unique.

Because there are already similar books out there, agents, publishers and potential customers will want to know what they can learn from you that they do not already know from reading the many other books similar to yours.

So what do you tell them about your book that makes it different from all the others?

1. Cooking Fun With Kids provides healthy recipes for your child and you.

2. (Author’s name), (title of competitor’s book), fails to provide simple and easy recipes. Furthermore, (author’s name) does not provide meals that are quick to prepare with your kids. Cooking Fun With Kids not only provides you with meals that you can quickly prepare with your kids, but it also presents meals that are simple and easy to prepare.

3. Over (number) recipes in Cooking Fun With Kids calls for simple ingredients that won’t cost you a lot at the grocery store.

4. Cooking Fun With Kids includes recipes you and your kids can make from a can.

5. Cooking Fun With Kids also includes creative recipes for craft projects that are prepared with food.

Researching the Competition

You will want to compare your book to others in the same genre as yours that are selling quite a few copies. A good way to find these is by doing a search on Amazon.

Once you come across books similar to yours, look at only the titles that Amazon is listing as bestsellers.

Finally, read the negative reviews of the bestselling books that are similar to yours. Many times the readers who leave negative reviews will say what the book is missing.

Where Will You Advertise?

As much as you may not like to toot your own horn, getting the word out there about your book is essential in order to start collecting royalty checks. Luckily, there are a variety of places to market books, but I am only going to mention what is necessary in relation to the example I’ve been using.

It is always a good idea to build momentum for your book before it is published. The best way to do this is to sign up for social media accounts and start building a following. Be sure you post regularly and engage with your followers by responding to their comments and questions.

Here are a few ideas for social media accounts that are related to the book I am using an example:

  • Start a YouTube channel with videos of you preparing fun recipes with kids. You can do some of the recipes from your book.
  • Post photos on Instagram of you and the kids shopping for ingredients and preparing recipes together.
  • Share cooking tips and advice on ways to make cooking with kids fun on your Facebook and Twitter feed.

Get in touch with the folks in charge of organizations for kids in your area and see if they will let you come to the group to cook up a fun recipe with the children. Be sure to let them know you’ll need permission from parents to take photos and film. Some organizations to consider are Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and church youth groups.

Referring back to the target audience list for Cooking Fun WIth Kids, we know grocery stores would be a good place for this type of book. So you could get in touch with local grocery stores and speak with them about stocking a few copies of your book. You may even be able to talk them into letting you do a book signing there.

Plan a virtual book tour ahead of your book launch. You can reach out to popular bloggers and YouTubers whose followers fit your target audience. For instance, with the book I have been referencing as an example throughout this post, mommy bloggers and YouTubers who love doing fun activities with their kids would have the right audience for a book in this genre.

Set up a booth at local farmer’s markets and festivals. Not only will you sell your book here, but you can autograph each copy that you sell.

Participate in parades in your area. Get creative and build a float related to your book. Then buy candy to throw out. Put the candy in baggies along with a bookmark that includes information about your book and where to buy it. For a cookbook, the bookmark can have a short recipe from the book on the front and the additional information on the back.

How Much Can You Spend on Book Marketing?

Finally, you need to determine how much you can afford to spend on marketing each month. To stay within your monthly budget, you can increase or decrease the amount at any time.

Tips for Creating Your Book Marketing Plan

Follow your book marketing plan, and cross out or highlight each completed task, but only cross off the tasks that you will do once and strategies that do not earn you a return on your investment. Tasks that remain will require weekly or monthly marketing, because promotion will always be needed for as long as your book remains in the marketplace.

Refer back to your book marketing plan often, so you can record which marketing ideas are not working out well (mark these off your list) and which ones are (make these your top priority).

To help you out, I’m offering a free book marketing plan in PDF format. Feel free to download the free book marketing plan and use it for each of your current and upcoming books.

Best wishes with your marketing endeavors! 🙂

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