how to come up with marketing plan

How To Come Up With A Digital Marketing Plan For Authors

Want to take your book sales to the next level? You’ll want a roadmap to know where you’re heading, and this roadmap is known as a digital marketing plan for authors. Get ready, though, this is an ongoing process. You’re not going to achieve overnight success, unless you are the type of person that wins the lottery every weekend and gets struck by lightning about once a week. 

First, Rethink Your Books

I don’t want you to think twice about what you write. That’s not what I meant. What I mean is that you’ll now have to think as your books as your product and yourself as a company. The only reason anyone has ever bought a book, or anything for that matter, is because it addresses a pain that they have. Not a physical pain, of course. Unless it’s a book on how to get rid of physical pain! Usually, the pain is emotional. You have to first understand this specific pain by asking yourself why anyone would read your book. 

Why Do Readers Read?

If you write fiction, the answer could simply be: escapism. We’re motivated to be entertained because real life is either boring or difficult. We want to forget about our real problems by reading how fictional people deal with their fictional problems. 

If you write non-fiction, you solve another problem: information. You bring all of your solid research into one book so that your reader doesn’t have to do all of that same research themselves.

Your book solves a specific problem, just like any other company’s product or service exists to solve a specific problem. As an author, you are a company and your book is a problem-solving product. Got that picture in your mind? Good! Let’s begin.

Digital Marketing Plan For Authors – Think Lean For More Green 

One of my former colleagues was a strong advocate of the Agile methodology and he’s converted the rest of us as well. If this is the first time you’ve come across the concept, it’s really just a mindset to help you approach your business with a clear goal, develop a healthy outlook on failures (they’re only learning curves), and get rid of the stuff you won’t need for your marketing endeavours. We used something called the Lean Canvas with our new clients throughout the years, and every time we’ve had a client experience a, “Aha!” moment during such a session. To see the Lean Canvas for yourself, check out the Leanstack website here.

With this article, I will take you through the questions in a Lean Canvas, so follow along to come up with your own marketing plan!

Marketing Plan For Authors Step 1 – What Problem Does Your Book Solve?

As we’ve discussed in a previous paragraph, your book will solve a specific problem based on whether it is non-fiction or fiction. Think about this from your own perspective. Most writers I know are obsessed with books and reading. So if you’re a writer, chances are excellent that you are a devoted reader as well. So answer this question… Why do you read what you read? Answers can include the following:

Alleviate boredom;

Escape from daily struggles;

Learning more about a subject.

Here’s a 2012 article on the Pew Research Center’s website where they’ve compiled various reasons for reading.

Marketing Plan For Authors Step 2 – Who Is Your Ideal Client?

Now that you know what problem your book solves, you can envision your ideal client. The person that buys your books because it solves their problem… Who are they? Where are they in life to give them that pain they want to get rid of? Marketers recommend that you have to identify this ideal client down to what car they drive and how many children they have. (I’m not a fan of stereotyping, but in this case it can serve a purpose.) You might have heard of writing for one specific person, and this is pretty much just an extension of that. Once you know who you’re writing for, you can move on to… 

Marketing Plan For Authors Step 3 – Your Solution To The Problem And The Alternative Solutions

If you’re an author, quite simply the answer to the first question is a book! It’s why I’m packaging this with the next question. What are alternative solutions for your ideal reader’s pain? Answers could include:

Other books;




As writers know all too well, the list of life’s little distractions is pretty much infinite! The items on the list will all be in competition for your own books. It’s around this point where authors get to understand how valuable Digital Marketing can be. There are many alternatives that already market themselves to your ideal reader. Get your voice in there.

Marketing Plan For Authors Step 4 – What Makes You Different To The Competition And What Is Your Unfair Advantage?

Your ideal reader will need to have a reason to choose your books over any alternative solutions. Once you know what makes you stand apart from your competitors, you will know better what your marketing message will be. You also need to zone in on that one thing that your “competitors” will look at and say, “Hey, that’s not fair!” Do you have a unique writing style (and awesome penname) like Lemony Snicket? Years of solid writing experience like Stephen King? A die-hard fanbase like J. K. Rowling? Don’t despair if you have no unfair advantage. Remember, we all start from square one and build from there.

Marketing Plan For Authors Step 5 – Your Key Metrics And Channels

How will you know if your business is succeeding? List the numbers in terms of sales and expenses. Then choose your method of reaching your ideal reader. Where does this person hang out whenever they are on the internet? Is it an old lady on Facebook? Or a young adult on Tik Tok? Since communication isn’t a one-way street, consider how this ideal reader will make contact with you and your book. Social media? Your book’s Amazon page? 

Marketing Plan For Authors Step 6 – The High-Level Concept

Once you have all of these answers, it’s time to decide on your strategy. A funnel is the best way is to think of your marketing. It’s literally called a Sales Funnel. You bring cold leads into your digital space at the top of the funnel, and take them on a process that will turn strangers into your rabid fans.

Here is an example of such a process:

  1. Paid ads for free short story on Facebook; 

2. Professional landing page with a contact form to download your awesome free short story, you gather name and email address at this point;

3. Gorgeous and professional free short story download sent to the reader’s email address;

4. You send regular updates on your writing progress and connect with reader on a personal level;

5. Alert this person on email when your new book is published;

6. Potential sale!

Marketing Plan For Authors Step 7 – The Costs Of Your Strategy

It’s time for you to do some research and crunch some numbers, the fixed and variable ones. I highly recommend paid advertising on social media, so work that into your plan if you’re comfortable with it. Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are playing favourites, and will push their ad-buying customers ahead of people who grow their channels organically. Organically here means for free, of course. Organic traffic used to work a lot better in previous years than it does now. This is not speculation. Marketers are feeling the pinch more than ever before.

Just a second, though… I want to add that the article from Hootsuite that I’ve linked to says that Facebook is favouring posts from family and friends over posts from businesses. They base this on something that Zuckerberg said. Call me cynical, but that simply cannot be true. Facebook is not a benevolent non-profit. They make money from your personal data and I suspect that this “favouring” of posts that “encourage meaningful interactions between people” is all smoke and mirrors for the squeeze they put on businesses that do not invest in their ads. All that being said, I still link to the Hootsuite article since it has great tips for social posts. Hootsuite is another tool used for social media, so they might only want you to succeed so that you can keep paying them. My advice to you, dear reader, is don’t trust everything you read online. A lot of marketing material out there can seem legit, but it may only make someone else rich. Anyone can dress up opinions as facts. Read everything online, including my articles, as though it’s mostly opinions with some facts in there somewhere. Onwards to the rest of the article!

Marketing Plan For Authors Step 8 – Where Will You Get Your Money From?

List all the places where you’ll be receiving your income from. This list may include your publisher if you are traditionally published, or Amazon if you’re self-published. In short, list every avenue of revenue.

Where To From Here?

Congratulations on getting this far with your digital marketing plan for authors! The answers you got from going through these steps will be your overview. This will be the foundation on which you build the daily tasks. Keep coming back for more Irrational Pie because I’ll be dealing with the various aspects of Digital Marketing in my articles. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter if you don’t want to lose contact!

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