Hello Lovely authors! 

The key to success as an author: strong marketing! The first step to that is having an annual marketing plan. Every year, I spend from Thanksgiving until Christmas putting together my annual business plan, and one of the key elements of that business plan is marketing.  If you didn’t do this yet, it is never too late. Here’s how to get started.

Plan Around Your Publishing Schedule

The first step in planning out my marketing schedule is knowing when I plan to publish each book in the year. Book launches are so important, and having that plan on your schedule is KEY to getting your marketing schedule set up. I like to have a physical calendar and use sticky notes of different colors to mark out what will be happening when. After I set my book launch date, I count back 12 weeks and add a sticky for each marketing task needed: creating the media kit, preparing ARCS, planning the book launch details. Then I plug that all into my gmail calendar which is my lifeblood. (If you want to learn more about planning a book tour, check out my course Maximize Your Book Tour Masterclass.)

Planning Offline Events

(AKA I Know We’re Hermits, But We Gotta Get Out of The House!)

The next step to planning my marketing schedule is to plan three conventions that I know I want to go to that year. I stick the dates of the conventions, the date fees are due for the conventions, and a reminder about a month before the due date so I make sure to have the money ready in time.  One that always goes on my calendar is B2B CyCon because I can do it from the comfort of home, and the bang for your buck just cannot be beat! 

 I also pull up a local events calendar and plan book signings around those events. Nothing sucks more (And I know from personal experience) than to set up a book signing and do all the work that goes with promoting it, only to find out that there’s an arts festival across town that same weekend. The competition is too steep and really isn’t worth the fight. Pick a better weekend, trust me! The third thing I do is plan signings around trips. If I know that I’m going to Massachusetts for a family reunion, you’d better believe that I am planning book signings for before and after. This allows you to tap into a new audience, and as a bonus, you can write that vacation off on your taxes. Seriously!

Holidays are Great Inspiration for Marketers!

 The third piece to planning my marketing is to tag all the relevant holidays I can use to market my books. I aim for one event a month, and I go out of my way to find obscure holidays relevant to my books. For example, The Hell School series is about a girl who is being stalked. Most stalking incidents end in rape if they are not stopped. April is sexual Assault Awareness month. It’s a natural fit. In the Clear Angel Chronicles, Clear is a psychic who prefers pets to people because it gives her social comfort without being overwhelmed. I use this awesome Pet Holidays Calendar to plan events around that.   Think about the important features of your books. Find holidays to use for promotions. Every business under the sun uses the big ones (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Easter, Halloween) and you can too, but you will find yourself not having to compete in so much noise if you find those special holidays. Create your own Holidays. If you write  HEA romance or fast-paced thrillers, or other books that are considered great “beach reads” start promoting that they are mid-spring when people are planning their vacations.

Beach Reads Image courtesy of pixabay https://pixabay.com/photos/books-reading-beach-vacation-918521/

Be sure to include the offline opportunities for these holidays. For National Adopt A Pet Day, go down and do a book signing at a local animal shelter, offering half of the royalties to go to donations. People LOVE that kind of stuff. And marketers love what people love because it gets people to buy. Truth.

Save the Nitty Gritty for Your 90-Day Plan

Once I knock out those broad strokes, I work a 90-day plan. I pick three key marketing things over the next 90 days to focus on. That could be a book launch, that could be building my email list, that could be boosting my social media presence, or focusing on a holiday event. Whatever it is, only focus on those three key areas, because that keeps you from getting overwhelmed. We aren’t full-time marketers. We are authors. Marketing can be a full-time job, or you can end up suffering from “Shiny New Marketing Idea” syndrome and then you never get anything finished. If you complete one of those tasks well before the 90 days is complete, you can add another task to fill its place. Two weeks before your 90 days end, do an evaluation and see how everything is going, and start planning your next 90 days. Maybe one of those things needs to carry over. (building my email list is always on my 90-day plan!) Maybe one of those things isn’t working the way you want. (I went through this with Facebook ads.) Can you switch things up? Is it time to let go of one marketing strategy to try a different strategy?

Get those plans in place so that when you start your next 90 days of marketing, you are ready to tackle it head-on. Trust me, if you work this plan, the plan will work and that’s what marketing is all about. 

Well, there are my general tips for planning your marketing schedule. Looking for more? Here is a great panel from Go Indie Now of some top book marketers (Yup, I’m there too!) discussing how we plan for marketing.

 Want a deeper dive into annual marketing planning, be sure to grab Quick And Dirty Annual Marketing Plan for Authors. What are your burning questions regarding planning your marketing? Let me know in the comments below. 

Until next time, 

Keep Writing!