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Creating Your Marketing Plan
Part 3: Creating a Timeline for Your Marketing Plan

Now that you know who you’re marketing to, where you need to do that marketing, and how much you’ll spend on the program, you’re ready to map out the timeline for your marketing plan. Although you’re going to want to get your book’s your book’s sales off to a strong start, you want to design a marketing campaign that will be effective for the long haul, not a short-lived blitz that won’t bring you sustained sales.

The sales life of an average book is about three years, so your marketing campaign should extend over that same time period. Plan to hit the first year hard, making your most intense investments of time and money in that year’s marketing activities. Then, you should devise a plan for each of the next two years that focuses on maintaining and building on your book’s sales.

Creating a Campaign for the “Long Haul”

Some promotional activities can take place before your book is complete. You can begin writing press releases, preparing media materials (a book description, author bio, promotional bookmarks, and so on) in the weeks preceding your book’s publication.

Distributing press releases, scheduling author signings, soliciting book reviews, and carrying out direct sales campaigns are all events that work best immediately upon publication and in the first year after your book is published.

As you plan your marketing schedule, don’t forget to plan for holidays, festivals, professional gatherings, and other organizational events that will offer prime selling opportunities for your book. Your target audience research will help you in determining when and where special sales opportunities exist, so you can hit the right markets at the right times.

In the remaining two years of your three-year plan, you can concentrate your sales efforts on maintaining sales. Web-based marketing effortsprint advertising, scheduled speaking engagements, and expanded retail sales outlets are all promotional activities appropriate to years two and three of your marketing campaign.

Marketing as a Work in Progress

You may well need to return to and adjust your plan as you gain experience in your marketplace. As you learn about how your book is received by buyers, and gain more experience marketing to more buyer types, you’ll develop new and more effective ways to identify and reach your audience.

If you come to the realization that sales have dried up and your plan is no longer working, go back through the process outlined here. Rethink and revise your plan as necessary. Perhaps your target audience has shifted, audience needs have changed, or you’ve exhausted a once-viable market. Revisit and revise, but by all means, stay committed. Remember that promoting your book is an ongoing effort, not a short-term event.

*adapted from Your Voice In Demand