If you’re an author on the self-publishing path (or an author, period), you already know that a successful book release requires a considerable amount of self-marketing before, during, and after the book is published. However, the “before” part is especially important, and it often takes place months—even years—leading up to your release date.
For those who are new to publishing, knowing when to execute each marketing task can be daunting. You may be asking yourself, When should I create my media kit? What is a media kit? When do I start reaching out to influencers? To address these important questions, we created a comprehensive marketing timeline to help authors get their book promotion in gear. With this reference guide in hand, you can approach your book promotion with confidence—no marketing squad necessary.
Investigate Your Audience
(12–10 months before publication date)
You may know your readers’ demographics, but do you know where they hang out online? Twelve to ten months before your pub date is the time to figure this out. Do your research, read, and join online groups and forums to determine what websites your readers visit, what blogs they read, and whether they are on Facebook and Twitter. This is crucial information to have before you embark on your author marketing journey.
Tips on researching your target audience:
Build Your Channels
(10–8 months before publication date)
It’s impossible to establish your online presence too early. But don’t panic if you have less than a year to go and have yet to leave a digital trace. Ten to eight months before publication is plenty of time to build your digital footprint.
Start by giving yourself a digital audit to determine where your online presence needs the most work. After deciding which social media platforms are best for you, create your accounts and learn how to use them. If you don’t already have an author website, hire a designer or go the DIY route with Squarespace or WordPress. If you have a site, now is the time to spruce it up.
Tips for building your digital footprint:
- Develop your “author brand”
- The benefits of a digital home base
- Inspiration for your author website
- The mechanics of building your site
- Five golden rules for social media
Engage Your Audience
(8–6 months before publication date)
Now that you’ve got your bearings on your various social media platforms, the fun part can finally begin: engaging with your audience. This means planning, creating, and scheduling content designed to draw the attention of your readers on social media.
Post relevant articles and images on your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles. Build up your e-mail list and start blogging regularly to get your audience excited about your upcoming release.
This is also the time to start “teasing” your book. Planning a cover reveal and releasing sample chapters are two wonderful ways to hype your book.
Tips on developing a powerful online presence:
- Set your social media up for success.
- Build a powerful Facebook presence.
- Find a balance between creating and promoting.
- Read books and influence people.
Reach Out to Your Influencers
(6–3 months before publication date)
Remember that e-mail list you compiled? It’s time to use it. Develop and write a monthly newsletter with book updates, blog posts, and upcoming events. Reach out to influencers, reviewers, blogs, and websites that could potentially feature you or your book.
Are you planning to do a book tour? This is the best time to plan any events, signings, and conferences you wish to attend.
Tips on using your connections to market your book:
The Final Countdown
(1–3 months before publication date)
Your publishing date is within arm’s reach, but there are still loose ends to tie up. The final months leading up to your publishing date are the best time to do things like host a giveaway for your book, plan a release party, and create and distribute your media kit to any outlets that have agreed to feature your work.
Take a cue from the pros: develop a promotional calendar for your website that organizes and displays the events and appearances you booked as well as a marketing calendar to keep track of when and where you will be featured online.
Tips on pre-release marketing practices:
Still have more questions? Reply to us in the comments. And good luck with your launch!