Thursday, July 16

Creating an Author Business Plan: Our Marketing Plan

By Marcy Kennedy, @MarcyKennedy 

Part of the Indie Author Series

If you’ve been following along since January as we’ve been creating our author business plans, then you’re now down to the final two sections—our marketing plan and our professional development plan. (If you missed the previous sections, you can start back at the beginning with setting our goals, choosing our stories, identifying our audience, running our business,crafting our product plan, and analyzing our competition.)

The marketing section of our author business plan is unique in that we need to think about our overall marketing strategy as well as the specific marketing activities we’re going to use for each individual book we produce.

It’s important that we look at it from both levels. Doing so provides us with guidance and stability in an ever-changing environment.

We can’t make specific marketing plans for a book we won’t publish for another year or two because what works then won’t be the same as what works now. What we can do is decide on how we want to approach marketing—what types of marketing ideas are right for our personalities, beliefs, and goals.

We create the how in our overall marketing strategy. Our overall marketing strategy defines what we’re willing to do and not willing to do as part of our marketing.These are our broad strokes. When any new marketing opportunity comes along, we can analyze whether or not it’s right for us by running it through the filter we’ve established in our overall marketing strategy. It helps us focus.

The individual marketing plan for each book will be something we add to our business plan when the time arrives. It’ll be the specifics for that particular product at that moment in time.

So I’m going to break down how to handle both these elements of our marketing plan. Today we’ll focus on our overall marketing strategy.

What marketing activities are you unwilling to engage in?

For example, some people believe that ads are spammy and refuse to run them on Facebook, Goodreads, or anywhere else. Some people won’t do live events because they don’t see enough of a return on investment in them, they have social anxiety, or they hate to travel. Some people don’t blog (or don’t have a blog that appeals to readers of fiction). Some people are averse to making products perma-free.

The idea here is to define both what you think are undesirable marketing practices (from a personal-belief standpoint) and to lay out what marketing practices you need to avoid because they would make you miserable.

Let’s be really honest here. If you dread participating in a certain marketing activity, you’re either going to back out at the last minute or you’re going to do a poor job on it. And you’re going to cause yourself a lot of stress in the process. That’s bad news bears.

Yes, we sometimes need to step outside our comfort zones. We also need to be reasonable and smart about what works for us and what doesn’t. Being an independent author requires self-awareness and savvy along with writing skills. Lay down your guidelines and stick to them. We don’t need to say yes to every opportunity that comes along.

What type of an online platform will you establish?

As 21st century writers, we have to be online. But there are many different ways to be online.

What type of a blog will we have—one focused on writers or on readers? Will we even have a blog? Will we create an email newsletter? How frequently will we blog or send out our newsletter? Will our newsletter only announce new releases or will it give deleted scenes and other tidbits for fans?

What social media sites will we be on? We don’t need to be on all of them. In fact, we’re better to choose one or two, do them well, and not burn ourselves out. What type of material will we be posting on those sites? It can’t be all about us.

What are the 3-5 sources you’ve discovered that provide the best coverage of what marketing strategies are currently working or not working?

Make a short list of great resources—places that share what’s currently working, what’s not, and how to best try these techniques. If they mention something you might use, jot it down and record the link. Then when you’re ready, you’ll be able to fast-track your strategy.

Where can you reach your ideal readers specifically?

I’ve put this in the overall marketing strategy section because this could also be phrased as “where does your audience hang out?” This doesn’t tend to change much over time. Certain demographics have certain interests that are relatively stable.

For example, science fiction and fantasy still has a plethora of short story magazines. If the readers of those magazines love your short story, they’re likely to search out your books.

This is the section where you need to think carefully about what offline (and online) places you might connect with your ideal readership other than social media sites. You’ll use this information when you develop a strategy for each individual book.

Is there anything else you’d suggest including in the overall marketing analysis section of our author business plan?

Marcy Kennedy is a suspense and speculative fiction writer who believes fantasy is more real than you think. Alongside her own writing, Marcy works as a freelance fiction editor and teaches classes on craft and social media. She’s also the author of the Busy Writer’s Guides series of books. You can find her blogging about writing and about the place where real life meets science fiction, fantasy, and myth at

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Internal dialogue is the voice inside our heads that we can’t ignore, even when we want to. We second-guess ourselves, pass judgment on the world around us, and are at our most emotionally vulnerable. And the same needs to be true for our characters.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Marcy, for a really clear and straightforward dissection of the author business plan, Marcy. I've not read all the series--been playing catchup with the world much of this year LOL--but with the release of my new novel planned for late this year, I'm going to go back through and your entire series this weekend. I don't much like marketing and I find it enormously helpful when I see an appreciation of the dynamic and rapidly-changing reality of the book marketing environment and read honest statements like,

    "If you dread participating in a certain marketing activity, you’re either going to back out at the last minute or you’re going to do a poor job on it. And you’re going to cause yourself a lot of stress in the process".

    This is someone speaking to me.

    Thanks and best,