How to Write a Business Plan for Your Book, Part 5: Release Phase Marketing

In case you missed the earlier installments in this series on “How to Write a Business Plan For Your Book” you can find them here:

Part 1: Writing a Business Plan for Your Book 

Part 2: The Overview 

Part 3: The Synopsis

Part 4: Pre-Release Marketing

The Marketing section of a book business plan has three sub-sections: pre-release marketing, release week (or “marketing around release”), and marketing efforts after the “release publicity” push. Last week, we looked at Pre-Release marketing, which means it’s time to look at marketing during (and right around) the book’s release. 

In its most expansive definition, “release” marketing starts when the cover is finalized and/or when the book is available for pre-order in stores and online.

The “heavy lifting” portion of release phase marketing won’t start the minute pre-orders go live, but that’s when this phase of your marketing plan should start.

Release phase marketing continues until a couple of weeks (sometimes a month) after the book’s official release–essentially, it continues until the author has finished the book tour, either in person or online.

Normally, most of your book’s sales will be made during this “release phase,” so it’s important to have a detailed and comprehensive marketing plan.

The early release phase – during pre-orders – is a good time to set up (or update) the author website and establishing or strengthen a social media presence. It’s also the time to make sure book tours and virtual tours are scheduled, and guest blogs are prepared.

Here are some tips to help you brainstorm for your book’s release phase marketing:

1. Obtain or Maintain Your Author Website. If you don’t already have a website, get one in place before pre-orders go live. If you already have a website, make sure it’s up to date. 

A website offers an instant, visible platform to talk about the author’s books, share blurbs and reviews, and link to sales pages. Having a blog to share content with readers (and help new ones find you) is also a great idea. The website is also a great place to offer expanded content, like research notes and a list of upcoming appearances. Traditionally published authors should get the publisher’s permission before posting sample chapters–and avoid posting or talking about spoilers, if you can.

Remember: an author’s website is more than just an advertisement with a URL. It should offer valuable extra content, too.

2. Schedule live appearances and virtual book tours. During the time between pre-orders going live and the book’s release date, you (and your publisher, if they’re helping) should set up your author appearances. 

Around a book’s release date, authors usually make in-person appearances (readings and signings), participate in an online book tour, or both. Schedule appearances well in advance (often, 6 months or more), because bloggers, reviewers and bookstores have schedules too.

The types of appearances you make will depend on your book, its distribution, and the best way to reach your target audience. Bookstore signings often work best for local authors who can “draw a crowd.”

Debut authors often feel disappointed with low signing attendance … but don’t worry. People need to get to know you. Focus on building relationships with the booksellers in your area, and remember to invite your friends and family to your events!

3. Track your schedule, and book the number of release-oriented events you can handle.

Try to schedule 2-3 appearances during the ten-day period before your book releases, one (or more) online appearance per day the week of release, and 2-3 each week for the rest of that month. Plan more if you can handle it, and fewer if your schedule won’t permit it. Find the balance that works for you. 

Remember that “appearances” can be online as well as in person–find a reputable online blog tour company and book a tour, or arrange your own with bloggers you know.

Also, remember: an “appearance” should not be the online equivalent of running naked through the street yelling “LOOK AT MY GOODS!”

4. Determine whether you want to use paid advertising, and book your ads in advance. Paid advertising is just what it sounds like. Some authors use it; others don’t. I’ll talk more about this option in another post, another day. For now, remember it’s an available option, if your budget permits. 

 Keep three things in mind when drafting a release phase marketing plan:

1. Provide Value With Your Promotion. The new paradigm is less about “BUY MY BOOK” and more about dialogue. People don’t like to be “sold” – but they like to buy, and they buy the things they consider valuable or interesting.

2. Make a Schedule You Can Stick To. Take note of how much time you can spend, and don’t over-commit.

3. Get the Most Bang for Your Buck. Use your resources as efficiently as possible – and remember that bloggers and readers are PEOPLE first.

In author marketing, especially during the excitement of release phase, it’s important to remember that publishing is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s not all about the opening dash, and people remember the way you behave. On every possible level … make it count.

Next week, we’ll look at “what an author does when the party’s over” – post-release (aka, postpartum) marketing.

For now, I’d love to hear your comments: What do YOU do to market yourself, and your books, when they release?