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A 12-Month Sample Plan for Preparing Your First Book Launch

January 3, 2022

I recently signed a contract for a young adult novel, and my publisher set up a meeting with a literary agency to strategize the promotion of my book. The savvy ladies I spoke with offered a smorgasbord of suggestions, many of which I was familiar with. After all, if you hang around the writing community snack bar long enough, you’re bound to pick up a morsel or two about marketing.

 

Upon piling my plate with the agency’s wisdom, my first inclination—to immediately tackle every idea—was the equivalent of shoving five pizza slices, six chicken wings, and a taco into my mouth all at the same time. But approaching marketing head-on can be overwhelming.

 

After some reflection, I reviewed the information and organized it into bite-sized pieces. I earmarked each step as either easy or difficult and sketched out a manageable sequence that covered a span of twelve months.

 

My list is not exhaustive. Or perfect. If you want your tactics to be more customized, perhaps the best move would be to hire a marketing agency or virtual assistant who specializes in supporting authors. But if you’ve signed a contract and don’t know what to do now, these “12 Months of Marketing” may help you to ease stress during this new phase of your career.

 

One last note: although I don’t mention prayer below, prioritize it above everything else. As we’ve talked about here at Story Embers before, communion with God is essential to every stage of the writing process.

 

First Month of Marketing

  • If you haven’t already, create an author brand. You can find plenty of advice online about choosing an aesthetic that’s unique to you. These visual elements will carry beyond your first book release, so if you write for a broad audience, keep that in mind.
  • Build a website and keep it up to date. It will serve as your hub to collect emails and link to your social media profiles. Incorporate the brand-oriented colors and fonts you selected earlier and include a well-written bio. These days, a blog is optional.
  • Establish a presence on social media. But you don’t need to be a member of every channel. Go with one that you’re comfortable using and watch how-to videos to increase your understanding of it. Interact with and follow accounts in your target audience. And don’t overlook the value of networking with authors in your genre!
  • Identify the prominent topics and themes in your book. These can be your starting points for interviews, blog posts, and other media that will draw attention to your upcoming release.
  • Join professional organizations related to your book’s genre and themes. You’ll be able to form relationships with people who might resonate with your book or volunteer to spread the word. For example, if your protagonist struggles with depression, sign up for a forum that focuses on mental health.

Second Month of Marketing

  • Continue to engage with social media and professional organizations. Set small goals, like growing your fan base, learning more about your followers, or initiating meaningful conversations with other authors.
  • Contact respected individuals who might be willing to endorse your book.
  • Compile a list of blogs and podcasts that might be interested in interviewing you.
  • Search for publications that jive with the topics and themes you singled out the previous month. Study their submission guidelines and content, then draft article pitch letters that can be quickly modified to fit each publication.

Third Month of Marketing

  • Contact the blogs and podcasts you jotted down. Track their responses and book a date to appear if the answer is positive.
  • Write and submit the articles you succeeded at pitching.
  • Engage with social media and professional organizations.

Fourth Month of Marketing

  • Research how to optimize Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon ads so that you’ll make the most of your money. Cyle Young, founder of Serious Writer Academy, recommends spending a dollar a day.
  • Engage with social media and professional organizations.

Fifth Month of Marketing

  • Develop your ads based on the data you’ve gathered.
  • Apply for local speaking opportunities at libraries, bookstores, conferences, schools, and organizations associated with your topics and themes.
  • Pursue and follow up on more article and podcast leads.
  • Engage with social media and professional organizations.

Sixth Month of Marketing

  • Begin your online advertising campaigns.
  • Settle any remaining details concerning local speaking opportunities.
  • Make an email template that can be revised for a variety of media outlets. You’ll want to introduce yourself and your book, mention the topics you can address, and specify your availability.
  • If you have your cover image, design a sell sheet that includes your bio and contact information, plus your book’s ISBN, category, publisher, page count, format, price, publication date, and retailers.
  • Engage with social media and professional organizations.

Seventh Month of Marketing

  • Closely monitor your advertising campaigns. Check the statistics and insights to determine whether you should continue/discontinue an ad or need to adjust it.
  • Assemble a launch team—people willing to review and post shoutouts about your book. Open an exclusive online group where members can receive updates and ask questions. Provide a game plan and timeline for them to follow.
  • Send your book’s sell sheet to potentially receptive companies.
  • Engage with social media and professional organizations.

Eighth Month of Marketing

  • If this is the month when your book cover is finalized, announce the reveal date ahead of time to stir up excitement, then tease your audience for a few days before showing off the artwork. It’s a perfect event to pull your launch team into the action!
  • Craft memes, book trailers, quizzes, checklists, and other fun freebies to entice new people to subscribe to your email list.
  • Maintain your advertising campaigns.
  • Engage with social media and professional organizations.

Ninth Month of Marketing

  • Put your launch team in motion.
  • Handle any leftover work on articles, podcasts, and the like.
  • Maintain your advertising campaigns.
  • Engage with social media and professional organizations.

Tenth Month of Marketing

  • Supervise your launch team activities.
  • Maintain your advertising campaigns.
  • Engage with social media and professional organizations.

Eleventh Month of Marketing

  • Mail out advanced copies to readers who will likely review your book.
  • Supervise your launch team activities.
  • Maintain your advertising campaigns.
  • Engage with social media and professional organizations.

Twelfth Month of Marketing – Release Month!

  • Feature your book in social media posts alongside comparable titles and tag those authors to generate hype.
  • Give away cool stuff. You can let people download the first chapter of your book, hold a drawing for a signed copy, share writing tips or a checklist, or reward preorders with book swag.
  • Host a book launch party. Green Leaf Book Group explains how.
  • Solicit reviews from readers. Reach out through social media or your launch team.
  • Apply for book awards because, well, why not? Aim for reputable ones, such as Goodreads Choice Awards.
  • Maintain your advertising campaigns.
  • Your book is out in the world! Celebrate your hard work. You have a book baby now. Let’s hope it grows up strong and healthy!

Take a Breath

Perhaps you’ve published and marketed books before. Or perhaps this is your first experience and you’re learning the ropes. Since I’m going through the process myself, I’d love to hear what methods have been effective for you. Remember, writing and marketing a book are two separate skill sets. You likely didn’t dash off a perfect novel in one day. Give yourself the same amount of grace when you attempt marketing. Remember, bite-sized pieces, my friend. Bite-sized pieces.

1 Comment

  1. Rachel L

    Needed this! This is one part of marketing that has completely mystified me and I hadn’t been able to find any practical resources until this article.

    Reply

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