Writing your marketing plan (plus a free template)

Continuing my journey into looking at marketing for the self-publishing, now that you’ve established your 7 Ps, it’s time to make a self-publishing marketing plan. Don’t worry! It’s not as scary as it sounds. I’ve even created a template for you, because I’m nice like that.

To start this off, I think we need a little Marvel (when don’t we need Marvel?), so here’s an appropriate clip from the brilliant Guardians of the Galaxy (seriously, how amazing is Groot!).

Why you need a plan

Can you imagine publishing your book? Hurray! Now what? Now you want to people to read it. You’ve established your product, price, where you’re selling it, but not really how to make people aware that your book exists. It’s no good just banging out some tweets and some adverts in the hope that it will work. Successful marketing requires research and thought. It requires a plan.

Not only a plan, but also evaluation. So what if you do bang out some tweets (maybe that’s in your plan), how will you know that it’s a productive use of your limited time? How will know if it works?
It pays to be organised about these things.

Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that you write up a marketing strategy for your book (although you can if you wish). There’s no need to write reems for your book. Consider yourself as the author to be the brand (which may need a marketing strategy, depending on how you feel about it), and your book to be one project under that brand. This marketing plan is for individual projects, a strategy is for a company (or brand) as a whole.

 What goes into a plan

Good, I’m glad you’ve gotten this far.

Below are the headings you’ll need in your plan and a short explanation for each. Everyone is individual, as is every book, so you may feel some of these headings are unnecessary, or you may feel something is missing. At the bottom is a link to a free marketing plan template, please feel free to chop and change it as you wish.


As it says on the tin, write down the background of your book. This can include information all brought together in one place, making it easy to find, such as the blurb, release date and any reviews you want to reference.

Your background should also include the books genre, maybe a word count, where the book is available, from what dates, in what format and any future plans.


Unless you have a clear amount you know you can’t go over, when doing my own projects I often leave this one till last and work out how much I can afford once I’ve filled out the promotional plan.
You should keep clear financial records of how much you’ve spent and, eventually, how much you’re making.

Obviously you’ll want to keep your budget low but keep in mind that producing a professional self-published book does require some investment. As with anything, you generally get what you pay for.

Then again, you might be one of these people who picks up technological skills the way I pick up cake, in which case you might see this as an opportunity to learn how to do the expensive stuff yourself (although, please note that the software to do this can cost).


This is what you want to achieve and from early in my career it was drilled into my brain that these need to be SMART. Specific, Measureable, Achieveable, Relevant and Time bound.

For example:

  • I will sell 30 books between September and December 2014.
  • From December 2014, I will sell 20 books a month throughout the whole of 2015.

The rest of the plan then looks at how you will achieve this.

Target Audience

Your target audience is who you are aiming your book at. If your book a crime novel, you may be looking at female readers between the ages of 30-60 (ish). Or maybe you’ve written a book on having a rescue dog, in which case you want to target dog lovers.

Your audience can be separated into primary and secondary, for example a children’s picture book may have children between the of 5-10 as your primary audience, but the parents of those children and schools as your secondary audience.


This is the place to explain anything which may get in your way or you feel may arise while marketing and selling your book. Have a really good think about what might get in your way, write it down and try and come up with a way around it. It’s better to do this now than be surprised and unprepared later.

Promotional Plan

Ah, now to the nitty gritty. Just how are you going to market your book to that target audience and meet those objectives while avoiding those issues?

Take a look at the marketing channels available to you (here’s a post explaining what this is) and have a good thing about your target audience. Where would they find out information? How are they most likely to come across your book?

Your plan can be divided into sections, such as:
– marketing materials (leaflets, postcards, freebies for book signings),
– press (press release and interviews),
– online (your website, social media messages and chats, guest blogging, blog tours, don’t forget to change your email and forum signatures to reflect your new book),
– talks (book signings and talks, and radio interviews),
– advertising (in your local newsletters or online) and
– promotional offers (free book days, sales, competitions).

You might also want to organise a book launch, whether physical or virtual. This can also go into your plan.

Each section should have detailed notes of how you want to go about it, whether you will be doing the work yourself or paying someone else, when it needs to be done and how much it will cost.

Let your imagination run wild! Then organise, cut and add once you put in the finer detail. Remember, the best marketing tool for selling books is word of mouth.


At the end of your plan, add a little section about how you plan to evaluate your marketing techniques. This could be incorporated into the above promotional plan if you find that easier.

For example, you can count retweets to find out what your followers find interesting enough to share. Or site visits through people clicking on the links in your social media messages (bit.ly is great for this. It not only shortens your links to fit them into tweets but also records how many people click on it).

You might also want to consider this if you want to use advertising. Add a voucher or code so you know that the buyer found out about the book through the advert.

After a specific amount of time, maybe six months, maybe a year, you can look back at your plan and evaluation (I recommend saving evaluations throughout and regularly otherwise it is a LOT of work). Then, once you know what works for your, you can tweak your plan, maybe through in some new ideas based on the latest trends (videos and Instagram are hot right now) and carry on and into success.


You can make up your own marketing plan from scratch, but if you’re not sure where to start, here’s my free template (Free marketing plan). As mentioned before, feel free to chop and change it to make it work for you.

4 responses to “Writing your marketing plan (plus a free template)

  1. Pingback: A look at marketing basics | Jenny Lewis·

  2. Pingback: What is a marketing channel? |·

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