Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Creating a Realistic Marketing Plan for Your Book Release

Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books for teens in lots of weird genres like, fantasy (Blood of Kings trilogy), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website.

Marketing is something authors need to do once they have a published book. It's something that doesn't come easy to most authors---especially the introverted type. But authors should market their books. Whether they have a publishing house helping them or not, their name is on the cover. Their career is at stake. And they know their book better than anyone else. It doesn’t have to take over an author's life or drain an author's bank account. But authors should put forth an effort.

It's true, authors are writers first, marketers second. And if you have a book coming out, you might be freaking out a little about how you'll market it. But worrying about how to market your book doesn't help. And trying to do everything isn’t healthy. The best thing you can do is be smart and plan ahead. But you need to be willing to say "No" or "That’s enough." To draw the line in the sand and move on to the next thing.

I tend to start actively marketing a new book five or six months before the release date, all the way up to about four weeks after the book release. I have a system that works for me, but that doesn't mean I'll never try new things, because there is always something new to learn. Here is how I usually go about marketing a new book.

1. I create a MARKETING PLAN that is right for my book (and my publishing house, if I have one for this project). The Marketing Plan contains the following:

Overview- Here is where I pinpoint my marketing goals: target market, message, timing of the marketing campaign, and my budget.
PR and publicity- This includes a press kit, press release, plans for media (TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, etc.), print articles, book reviews, and endorsements.
In Person- Plans I have for speaking engagements, networking, book launch parties/signings, and creating promotional materials that can be passed out in these venues.
Internet- Here I list plans for sharing my new book on my author website, blogs I contribute to, my author newsletter, social media, blogging topics for my own blogs and possible guest blogs, and contests I might run.
Cross-promotions- This is where I list plans to trade promotion with author friends.
Charitable tie-ins- If I want to do a promo in which the proceeds go to charity, I list that here.
Buzz for sequels- Ideas for promoting sequels or writing novellas that promote the next book.


I set aside a reasonable amount of money that I can afford to spend on marketing. Then I brainstorm ideas on how I'll spend that money. I do everything I can to stay within that dollar amount. There are a lot of ways to spend money when you market a book. You can buy ads online or in newspapers or magazines. You can invest in prizes or books for giveaways. You can hire a publicity firm to market the book for you. The sky is the limit here. In fact, if you really wanted to, you could hire a plane to write the name of your book in the sky. My point? There are so many options. Too many. It's important to be careful, patient, and intentional with how you spend money to promote a book. The best ideas are those you can see a return on your investment, though sometimes it's just not possible to know for sure how, or if, your money paid off.

3. I create a MARKETING CALENDAR that lays out my specific strategies from as early as I start marketing to when I'm ready to look back and evaluate. This helps me stay on track and not forget to do anything.

BONUS: Want to see a sample marketing plan? Click here to see my marketing plan, budget, and calendar for The New Recruit.

4. I partner with my PUBLISHING HOUSE. I like to set up a phone call or Skype session with the marketing team from my publishing house. I send them my marketing plan in advance, and they have often sent me their plan as well. This way we can read each other's before the phone call and have a list of questions ready. Even if the publishing house doesn't have time for a phone call or Skype session, I still want to find out what they are doing and when so that I can try to work together to get the most out of each opportunity.

5. I partner with AUTHOR FRIENDS to cross-promote, which is when two or more authors team up to promote each other's books. For example, I have a small following, and my friend John Otte has a small following. If we decided to cross-promote, when his book came out, I would share it with my people and promote his book to them. And he would do the same for me once my book released. Cross-promotion is great because it's free, it's easy (who doesn't love sharing about a new book they love?), and you're promoting to an audience that isn't your own.

Have you ever created a marketing plan? Do you have any tips to share? What are some ideas you have to promote books to readers? Or have you seen an author do something really cool? Share in the comments.


  1. Thank you so much, Mrs. Williamson!! Some agents now want a marketing plan right away, even in the query stage, and that's been terrifying me. It's so good to have it all laid out. There's also this really helpful marketing spreadsheet that I found a couple months ago:

    If the link doesn't work, you can just search "jenny blake book marketing plan". For me, it's the first thing that pops up. It has 15 pages of marketing/promotion ideas.

    Thanks again, Mrs. Williamson!

    1. Thanks for sharing that, Linea! How interesting.

  2. Wow, what an informative post. Thank you!

  3. This is going to be so helpful for me in the coming year with the release of my book. Thank you oh so much!


  4. Thanks for this post! I just announced the publication date for my book today, so working on my marketing plan is top on my list of things to do right now!

  5. Wow! And I thought I was doing pretty good with my book release lol. There are some things here I have never thought about doing during a book launch. Thanks Jill!

  6. I've extensively researched many topics related to writing and publishing, but one topic that I really haven't researched at all is marketing, so thanks for these tips, Jill! I especially loved seeing your own marketing plan. One really neat marketing thing I've seen is for the Book Scavenger. The author set up a scavenger hunt where readers can hide and find arcs of the book. It's such a unique idea!

    1. I've participated in several multi-author scavenger hunts, Ana. They can drive HUGE amounts of traffic to one's author website. Great suggestion!

    2. That does sound like a great idea! What author did it? And do you know how he/she went about it?

    3. The author is Jennifer Chambliss Bertman and she basically had a giveaway where she gave an ARC of the Book Scavenger to 50 people, one from each state in the US. The only rules are that these people had to pass the book along by hiding it in some place for others to find. There's also a website ( where these people can keep track of where they found books, and also give clues on where they hid books.

    4. Oh, I misunderstood. I've never done a scavenger hunt like that. I've done online ones. Here is the link to the YA Scavenger Hunt I've done in the past. The others I've done were one-time things that an author organized and don't have a website.

  7. Thanks for this post! I have saved it and your marketing plan to my Evernote for when I am ready for my own launches. I second Tricia's wanting to know how to do a scavenger hunt.

    God bless, Anne Marie :)

    1. You're welcome, Anne. Looks like Ana answered the scavenger hunt question above.

  8. Wow...this honestly freaked me out a little more about marketing stuff... ;)

    Actually, I could see how it could be fun, but knowing me I'd probably butcher the fun parts and get stressed about it. Sigh. Guess that's a huge thing to work on if I ever decide to pursue publication.

    Thanks for sharing!