Skip to main content

How to Calendarize Your Book Marketing Approach

Whether you're traditionally or self-published marketing your book, is difficult. You have to start promoting your book as early as possible, and you can't stop after it's published. Here's one way to plot out your book marketing calendar.

Whether you’re traditionally or self-published marketing your book, is difficult. Here’s what I know for sure, as Oprah says. You have to start promoting your book as early as possible, and you can’t stop after it’s published. How do I know? I’ve published work in every genre except screenplays—and I’ve made all the mistakes!

Here are some ideas to get you started—but use your own imagination to reach your audience “where they live.” Think outside the box! One of the best marketing tools I’ve seen was for I Love Men In Tasseled Loafers. Author Debbie Karpowicz created chocolate tasseled loafers, as swag for the launch party. She sold more books that night than some people sell in their lifetime, and I’ve never forgotten the title of her book.

Image placeholder title

AS SOON AS YOU KNOW your book’s release date

  • Figure out your target audience and brainstorm how to reach that audience.
  • Start a mailing list. You don’t have one? Yes, you do. What about everyone you’ve ever emailed? Your family? High school and college friend? People at work?
  • Evaluate your social media. Which social media sites are you using? What could you add?
  • Think about a video blog—or better yet, learn how to do it. Facebook Live, Instagram or YouTube.
  • Build your author platform. (Learn what it is, if you don’t know already).
  • Join writer’s groups like the Alliance for Independent Authors, PEN America, Authors Guild, National Writers Union. They often offer free advice to members.
  • Create your book cover, if you’re self-publishing.
  • Check out cost of ads on Book Bub, Goodreads, Amazon, and subject-specific publications.
  • Design your author website.
  • Gather the names of bloggers, writers, reviewers, and book groups interested in your subject matter.
  • Post an excerpt from the book on your website (or social media).
  • Contact libraries, bookstores, organizations, telling them about your upcoming book.
 Writer's Digest 2019 Daily Calendar: Inspiration, Writing Prompts, and Advice for Every Day of the Year

Writer's Digest 2019 Daily Calendar: Inspiration, Writing Prompts, and Advice for Every Day of the Year

SIX MONTHS before launch

  • Build your “author street team.” Ask them specifically to help you with the process of birthing your book. (An amazing group of women helped with every aspect of my trip across country via Amtrak to promote the book.)
  • Connect your book promotion to national events or holidays. (Book about dogs? Post blurbs during the Westminster Dog Show. Romance novel? Valentine’s Day—or a big celebrity’s wedding.)
  • Start setting up book signings with local bookstores or gift shops, plan parties for the launch or with book clubs.
  • Create author profiles on Goodreads, Facebook, BookBub, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.
  • Post your book cover and nail 5-7 target key words that describe it.
  • Create your book trailer. (You can do it yourself on your cell phone.)
  • Start gathering blurbs from writers you know or from experts in the field.

THREE MONTHS until launch

  • Draft more friends to help you spread the word.
  • Print business cards.
  • Post your book excerpts and add a special “gift” like a music list or some recipes from the book.
  • Create “swag” for giveaways: bookmarks, magnets, etc.
  • Distribute free e-book copies of the book to your list of reviewers.
  • Memorize your elevator pitch (if you haven’t already done so).
  • Send press releases to all local press and blogs interested in your subject matter.
  • Post pics of your cover and blurb on social media and blogs.
  • Create pre-launch specials on Amazon, BookBub, NetGalley, etc.
  • Post launch date on all social media.

A MONTH BEFORE

  • Send second press release to all the local press and blogs you reached previously. Remind them of launch date and that you’re available for interviews.
  • Ask for reviews from friends, family, other writers, teachers, students.
  • Create a newsletter. Post your event calendar to the newsletter.
  • Mail invitations for the launch party, as well as the book signings.
  • Post pre-order sales on all social media.
  • Create a short list of topics interviewers can ask you about.
  • Post to BuzzFeed.

LAUNCH and THREE MONTHS+ AFTER

  • Write daily posts on your social media.
  • Post pics on social media. Tag the people in your posts and use hashtags.
  • Create a book giveaway and respond to every single person who shares/likes your page or enters your contests. This is IMPORTANT.
  • Email those who have bought the book or posted about it, thank them. Better yet, write them a handwritten note.
  • Run a Google Ads campaign (or Facebook, or Instagram).
  • Offer to guest blog on your topic.
  • Invite readers and writers to house parties at friends’ homes.
  • Do booksignings (hopefully, you schedule them earlier!)
  • Stretch your social media net. Join groups. Share your knowledge.
  • Refresh your metadata. Find someone to do it for you or to teach you, if you don’t know how.

And last, but most certainly not least: Start writing the next book!

BEST OF LUCK!

Image placeholder title
Writing Nonfiction History vs. Historical Fiction

Writing Nonfiction History vs. Historical Fiction

Author John Cameron discusses how nonfiction history and historical fiction are more similar than they are different.

Bob Eckstein | Publishing Survival Tips

Top 10+ Survival Tips for Publishing

Poignant advice from some of the funniest people in publishing.

Zac Bissonnette: On the Passionate Community of Mystery Lovers

Zac Bissonnette: On the Passionate Community of Mystery Lovers

New York Times bestselling author Zac Bissonnette discusses the process of writing his new cozy mystery, A Killing in Costumes.

My Long, Winding, and Very Crooked Writing Journey

My Long, Winding, and Very Crooked Writing Journey

Every writer’s publishing story is different. Here, author Sharon M. Peterson shares her journey from writing to publishing.

Jeff Adams | Writer's Digest Indie Author Spotlight

Jeff Adams: Publishing Advice for Indie Authors

In this Indie Author Profile, romance novelist Jeff Adams shares his path to independent publishing and his advice for others considering that path.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia | Writer's Digest July/Aug 2022

The WD Interview: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The bestselling author of Mexican Gothic shares her approach to world-building, character development, and what she’s learned about the business of writing in this interview from the July/August 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

9 Pros and Cons of Writing a Newsletter

9 Pros and Cons of Writing a Newsletter

Thinking of starting your own newsletter? Let freelance writer Sian Meades-Williams lay out 9 pros and cons of writing a newsletter.

How to Write a Compelling Premise for a Thriller

How to Create a Compelling Premise for a Thriller

Learn how to create a compelling premise for a thriller or mystery novel by asking a simple question and tying it to a specific circumstance to set the stage for a thrilling read.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Make a Plan

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Make a Plan

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have your characters make a plan.