For more than 20 years I have watched authors blindly stumble from manuscript to published book and then wonder why they aren’t making sales. When they mention low sales, I ask them, “Does anyone besides your friends and family know about the book?”
I wrote this article to help authors avoid a frequent mistake — not setting aside enough money for marketing or not having a clue what steps are involved in marketing their book. There is an investment of time in learning what can be done and potentially how to do it. I ask potential clients if they want to create a business based on their book or just enjoy seeing the book live on your shelf for posterity?
Like any business, planning is required, and knowing the timeline for publishing your book is essential. The first step in your plan is to professionally produce your book. Use editors, proofreaders, interior designers, and cover designers. And if that seems overwhelming, hire a publicist to be your book shepherd. Below are my suggestions for a timeline for marketing a book and building a business:
1 year before publication, know your competition—books similar to yours. Create allies, and contact them for an endorsement or an offer to work together, etc.
6-8 months before completing the book, be actively engaged on social media platforms, which are activated with blogs, posts, and engagements. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, start becoming known.
5 months before completing the book, have a book website created and developed. Start publishing a newsletter or have a way to capture emails, so your email list will be growing.
5 months before publication, you will be starting to send out announcements to your family, friends, and acquaintances. You will continue to do this at least monthly.
4-5 months before publication, hire a publicist to help you develop a marketing plan, create a media kit, and coordinate your current marketing efforts.
4-5 months before publication, send out Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) for reviews, endorsements, testimonials, and securing fans.
4 months before publication, mail media kits and ARCs to pre-publication magazines.
3 months before publication, begin setting up speaking engagements, book signings, and webinars.
2-3 months before publication, begin securing radio and TV interviews and sending ARCs out to magazines that fit your subject.
1 month before any events are scheduled, contact local media, radio, newspapers, community organizations, creating meet-ups to promote the events. Or hire a publicist, if you haven’t already.
1 month before the launch, coordinate events, meetups, and publicity for the events. Review what efforts are producing results, and which opportunities need more effort.
Once the book is launched, you will be soliciting reviews for Amazon and Goodreads. You will also continue to set up speaking engagements, radio interviews, and local media coverage.
There are so many more options to market your book than what I have included here: YouTube channels, blog tours, online meetups, catalogues, mass mailings, book fairs, etc. Publishing is a growing business. There are always new marketing options appearing. But first, invest in your marketing. Then follow my suggestions to create a thriving business for you, as well as making sales of your book. And if all this seems overwhelming, hire a publicist. We help you work smarter and become more successful.
© Mari Selby, December 5, 2017
MARI SELBY founded Selby ink in 1998 after working for a small publisher where she was successful in improving their sales from 20,000 books to over 100,000 books in one year. Prior to being a publicist Mari was a family therapist in private practice for almost 20 years.