So far, we have identified our target audience, established our author platform and drawn up our book’s marketing plan. Now we’re going to lay the groundwork to put these things into action.
Many authors ask when they should start marketing their book. My answer is always the same: as early as possible. Even though you may not have copies of your book in hand yet, that doesn’t mean you should wait until then to start working on our platform and your marketing plan. In fact, if you wait until you have books in hand, you may actually be getting a late start on some of the items in your plan.
With that in mind, we’re going to construct a schedule of your pre-release marketing activities, as well as suggested deadlines for when you begin working on certain parts of your book’s marketing plan. Again, we’re planning ahead, so that when your book’s release date finally does arrive, you will be fully prepared to hit the ground running.
This isn't an exhaustive list, but a sample schedule of the lead-up to your book’s release date could look something like this:
As early as possible:
Start building your platform. As soon as you decide you are going to get serious about being an author and writing a book (and you have a publishing contract or book deal) you’ll need to start working on raising your visibility, letting people know you have a book on the way and networking.
Identify the target audience for your book. This will help you fine-tune your marketing plan as you get closer to your book’s release date.
Join local writing and author groups. This is a good way of networking and learning from other authors. You can get a lot of good information from these groups such as what has worked for them and what hasn’t, good venues for book signing events and date and locations of local book fairs.
6 months before the book’s release date:
This is the time to start working on building your online presence. At the very least, start a blog, launch a Facebook page for your book, sign up for Linked-In and Twitter and start building your list of contacts. It will take time to build a sizeable network through social media, so the time to start doing this is now. Building an author web site at this point would also be good, as it gives readers a “home base” on the Internet to find information about you and get updates on the progress of your book. When the cover art for your book becomes available, you can unveil that on your social networks, too.
Start compiling a list of blogs you would think would be good contacts for blog tours and reviews for your book. You won’t be contacting them yet, but start building the list now.
Build your email contact list. This could be email contacts for your friends, family, co-workers and anyone that would be interested in knowing about your book. You can also collect email addresses from the people who subscribe to your blog or web site. You aren’t emailing anyone yet…just building your email contact list for the release date announcements that will come later.
3 months before the book’s release date:
Order books and promotional items such as posters and book marks for your pre-release events. Have a book trailer made for your book and make it available on your web site, blog, YouTube and Facebook and your other social networks.
Start scheduling pre-release events. If you get pre-release copies of your book that you’re able to resell (and your publisher allows this) start scheduling book signings and readings as soon as you get books in hand. You won’t be able to schedule events with the major bookstore chain stores at this point, but you can schedule events at local independent bookstores, coffee shops, local public libraries, local book fairs…any place that will give you a venue to discuss your book, get some pre-release copies out to the readers and build word-of-mouth advertising for your book. Each book you sell at a pre-release event is an advertisement for your book. Use your email contact list and your social media networks to invite people to your pre-release events.
2 months before your book’s release date:
Start contacting the bloggers and letting them know you have a book coming out in a couple of months, and you’d like to partner with them for a blog tour or book review. Offer them a review copy of your book, but ask them to schedule an appearance on their blog for a blog tour or to hold off on printing a review until your book’s release date or shortly after the book’s release date. This will give the blogger time to read your book, and you’ll be able to pencil in each stop on your blog tour on your calendar. Also, your book won’t be widely available until the book’s release date, so you don’t want bloggers talking up your book before people can buy it through Amazon or order it through a bookstore.
Start working on the media plan for your book. Your publisher may send out press releases on your book’s release date, but at least come up with a list of local newspapers and radio and TV stations you would like to personally contact to try to schedule an interview. You’re not contacting them yet, just putting together a list and preparing for your contacts later.
1 month before your book’s release date:
Compile a list of your target retailers where you would like to do book signings after your book’s release date. These would be the bookstores that will order your book from a distributor for your book signing events. You won’t be able to contact them until your book’s release date to actually schedule the events, but you can put together your list now so you can act on it once you hit your book’s release date. Your publisher may help you schedule these events, too.
Schedule a release date party for your book. This could be at a local independent bookstore, library, a rented hall, or a private residence, but if you plan a release date party now is the time to start planning it, putting it together and inviting people to your event.
By working on these items during these time frames, you will find yourself much better prepared when you reach your book’s release date. If you wait until just prior to your release date to start working on these items, you’ll feel pressured, rushed, and try to do everything all at once. You will have lost a lot of valuable time. By doing your pre-release marketing activities, you will build your fan base’s anticipation for your book and setting up your book for the best possible launch on its release date.
Coming up next: Day 6 – What happens on your book’s release date, and what doesn’t