How Long Should You Market Your Book?

Just heard from an authority over at the Author’s Academy that authors should think about marketing their book over a three-year time frame. Yeesh. That seems like a lot. But, alas, it’s been my experience that this is probably about right. In fact, it’s probably closer to 3 1/2 years because I believe you should be marketing 6-9 months in advance of the actual publication of the book. In fact, for all of my books, it’s taken at least a year to create a basic level visibility once they’ve been published.

Here’s a quick, thumbnail sketch of a three-year marketing plan:

  • Stage I: Pre-publication marketing that builds awareness by creating a web site, getting local media, securing endorsements and early book reviews, holding a launch event; generate “buzz” (6 months);

  • Stage II: Build an readership base/audience once the book is published, primarily by honing your core marketing message based on stage one, publishing articles in key venues, contributing to blogs, building content on your website/blog, and experimenting with marketing toward specific segments (12 months);

  • Stage III: Consolidate your readership base by targeting the most receptive audiences, continuing to do what you did in stage two but focusing more on sales generation, reaching out to targeted audiences for special sales, and creating depth and consistency with your marketing (12 months);

  • Stage IV: Branch out to new markets based on the success of your initial marketing efforts (12 months).

Something to ponder: a second book, targeted for publication in late Stage II or in Stage III. This is a great way to validate you as an author and provide another hook and reason for people to buy your first book. On a personal note, I’ve seen revitalized interest in my first novel, The Pirate of Panther Bay, now that  A Warrior’s Soul has been published.

For more details about the specifics of what this plan might look like, see my earlier series of articles on Guerilla Book Marketing here, here, and here.