Thursday, August 20

Creating Our Author Business Plan: Book by Book Marketing

By Marcy Kennedy, @MarcyKennedy 

Part of the Indie Author Series

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.

Last month I talked about developing our overall marketing plan, and this month I’m going to suggest ways we can create a successful plan for marketing each individual book.

This is the part of our business plan that we’ll add to most often because, as we prepare to publish each book, we’ll look at what worked and what didn’t for the last book and we’ll look at what’s changed in the market since we put out the previous book.

In last month’s post, I recommended that we list the 3-5 sources that provide the best coverage of what marketing strategies are currently working. Now’s the time when we look at those resources and the ideas we collected from them. We’ll be putting those into practice with our individual book plan.

I’m going to give some of the questions that I think we should start with for our book marketing plan, but remember to add the material you collected from the other sources.

Start the section for each individual book with the title, the regular price you intend to sell it for, your total marketing budget for this book, and the intended release date.

After that, you’ll want to make headings for each of the three marking phases: pre-release (about 6 months to a year in advance), release (about a month immediately after your book is available for sale), and post-release (the rest of your book’s life).


The focus of pre-release marketing should be on building our platform (especially if we don’t already have one) and on building buzz. We already covered platform building in the previous big-picture post, so I’m only going to look at the specific questions we need to ask and answer for this book.

Will I put this book up for pre-order? If so, how far in advance of the release date?

This is an option now available to independent authors, and it’s fantastic. My advice is that you wait to announce your book and to promote it until it’s available either for sale or pre-order.

Why? Well, people want to be able to buy immediately if they like something. Beyond this, if we promote our book too far in advance, it risks feeling like old news when the book actually comes out.

Will I send out advance reader copies (ARCs) for reviews? If so, how many?

These can be sent out to a loyal group of readers or to book reviewers. (If you’re not sure how to approach book review bloggers, make sure you check out the post I did providing guidelines.) Other options for building reviews are to try to enroll your book with Story Cartel (where it’s offered for free for a limited time in exchange for reviews) or to offer it as “Read 4 Review” on Goodreads.

Will I run a Goodreads giveaway?

The purpose behind a Goodreads giveaway is to let people know about your book so they’re interested enough to add it to their “want to reads.”


This is the trickiest part of our marketing plan because we can easily fall into two traps. The first is to stretch ourselves too thin and sacrifice quality for quantity. The second is to forget that, even when we’re promoting, we still need to be offering something of value to the audience we’re talking to.

Am I planning to do a blog tour or some other type of guest posting?

If so, how many guest posts will you write total? How many can you reasonably write each month/week? What topics could you write about? Simple cover reveals or announcement posts tend to be ignored.For fiction, the themes of our book can help us brainstorm topics, as well as find good locations to post.

Will I run ads on Goodreads, Facebook, etc.? 

If we’re going to run ads, we need to research how to do so successfully and then we need to watch our return on investment.


Post-release marketing can be the discouraging part. The initial boom of sales is over, and now we have to figure out how to keep our book selling long-term. The best advice really is to write and release our next book because a new book boosts sales on older books. There are other strategies we can look at as well though.

Will I offer this book for free at any point? 

Free is a much debated strategy anymore, but making the first book in a series free or reducing the price is still a viable way to bring new readers into your series.

If I plan to offer this book for free or at a discount temporarily, where will I advertise this? 

Examples include BookBub, Digital Book Today, and eReader News Today.

Will I enter this book into any self-published book awards?

If this book is part of a series, can I join with other authors to create a collection of our first books?Authors in the same genre can band together and offer a collection of the first book from all their series in one bundle for a greatly reduced price (usually 99 cents). It’s a great way for readers to sample new authors. Another tactic once we have a few books out is to bundle the first three books in our own series together and sell it at a little bit of a discount from what it would cost readers to buy the books individually.

Once you have all your ideas laid out, I’ve found it’s helpful to write all the dates out on a calendar. That way, we’re less likely to forget an important event and can see all our marketing plans at a glance!

Do you have any marketing strategies that you’d like to share? What’s worked for you? What hasn’t?

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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About Internal Dialogue: A Busy Writer’s Guide

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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In Internal Dialogue: A Busy Writer’s Guide, you’ll learn…

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  1. Very informative post. Thank you!

  2. Thank you soooo much for these helpful tips!

  3. Thanks Janice and Marcy for this invaluable information - now filed in my Evernote file. :-)