How to Create a Book Marketing Timeline
If you put off promotion until the day your book is released, you’ve put yourself at a marketing disadvantage. If you know anything about book promotion, you know this already, just as you understand that much of your book’s marketing will fall on your shoulders, particularly if you are self-publishing or working with a small press with limited marketing resources. But how soon should you begin promotion, and how do you start?
Promotion should begin at least six months before your book is released. With that in mind, begin by creating a timeline of tasks to be completed before your book launch.
Launch Party. Will you be having a launch party at a bookstore? If so, contact the bookstore’s event manager early to discuss a time and date. It helps if you have already established a relationship with this person, because a bookseller can champion your book and your event. Depending on the time of year, your bookstore may have limited openings for events—that’s why it’s important to make contact far in advance of your launch.
Confirming the details of your release date and launch party is critical for other promotion activities, such as sharing information with reviewers, bloggers, and media contacts. Initial communication with these contacts may be needed four to six months in advance of your book’s release date.
Reviewers. Reviewers have long to-read lists, so contact them early to increase your chances of being reviewed. Be sure to follow submission guidelines carefully, providing a courteous and professional query that includes all the information the reviewer requests. Some reviewers will only accept a print version of an advance reader copy (ARC); others prefer an electronic version. Find out how much in advance of your release a reviewer needs your ARC, and add this information to your timeline.
Bloggers. Will you be doing a cover reveal? Do you plan on doing a blog tour? As with reviewers, start early in contacting bloggers. Similar to booksellers, it helps to network and build relationships. Some book bloggers are also authors, and may be more open to promoting your book if you are willing to post about their books as well. There are also great book tour companies that organize a blog tour for a fee. Services may include hosting giveaways or conducting a radio interview with you. This can be a tremendous help to an author with few contacts or little time to organize a tour. Research companies to compare services and rates, and connect with your chosen tour coordinator three to four months before launch.
Media. Who do you know in the media? Make a list of your contacts and the publications you wish to target with a query. Pay attention to submission guidelines and timelines, as some publications require materials four to six months in advance. Others may not need as much notice to include your launch party in an events calendar. Depending on the publication, it can be helpful to include a press release with information about you, your book, and your event. It is important to tailor press releases to the publication’s interests. Are you submitting to a local paper? Mention that you are a local author. Does your book highlight current events or a topic of interest to that publication? Make that the focus of your press release.
Book Trailer. Will you be creating a book trailer? Start work on this three to four months in advance of your release, especially if you are designing your own trailer. It is always helpful to build in additional time to complete this project and promote it via social media. If you work with a book trailer company, consider how much time they will require.
Other promotion materials. Will you be creating materials to be shared before your launch or at events? If you will be mailing out postcards, these need to be designed and mailed one to two months before your launch. Think about book-related items for events and giveaways, and make a note on your timeline about when you will need to order them.
All of these tasks can be time-consuming, but having a written plan helps. A timeline allows you to keep track of your progress as you countdown to launch, and hopefully, prevents you from forgetting a task or becoming overwhelmed. Plus, there is an additional benefit if you are working with a publisher: a timeline demonstrates your commitment to the promotion and success of your book!