How to Develop a Marketing and Promotion Plan as an Indie Author

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Today’s post is by author Emma Lombard( @LombardEmma ).

Disclaimer: I’m in Australia and my publishing and advertisement options may not be available or right for you, but they’re the right path for me as a historical fiction series author. I am not paid to promote any of the services, companies or resources in this article.

I’m going to be honest, my initial foray into researching self-pub author publication and commerce propelled me into a tailspin of information overload. There are so many footpaths and alternatives to choose–but that’s the whole beauty of self-publishing, isn’t it? The following article was born of various columnist acquaintances asking me what directions and options I chose to launch my entry historical romance, Discerning Grace.

Before You Begin

Join the Facebook group called Wide for the Win.

No, severely. Stop reading and move join them. It’s a bright free resource.

Even if you hate Facebook or don’t use it that is something that, “youve been” should hop back on there just for this group. They genuinely are that good! They share a boatload of insinuate programmes about self-publishing. Search the Tree of Knowledge first. Read everything there before you even think about asking questions on the main feed.

If the Tree of Knowledge is too tricky to navigate–it’s gargantuan with zillions of threads and conversations–you can always buy the Wide for the Win ebook. It’s the brain child of Mark Leslie Lefebvre( from Draft2Digital) and Erin Wright( head honcho of Wide for the Win Facebook group ). The datum is much more structured and easier to navigate.

Setting Goals

I had to decide what I wanted from the first six months of my authoring pilgrimage: to be in the best-seller planneds, to have thousands of downloads on a freebie, to garner early reviews, to grow my newsletter customers, or to roll in money like Scrooge McDuck?

I’ve picked two early purposes: garner early reviews and grow newsletter subscribers.

My first-year goals

Publish Discerning Grace( Book 1) in all formats( ebook, paperback, gigantic publish, audiobook) Get as numerous inspects for Discerning Grace( Book 1) as possible, on all storefrontsGrow my newsletter reader listPublish Grace on the Horizon( Book 2) in all formats( ebook, paperback, huge magazine, audiobook)

See how I don’t even mention $$$ or auctions numbers in this first year? That’s not my goal( yet ).

My second-year goals

Publish Grace Arising( Book 3) in all formats Grow my newsletter subscriber listRun a BookBub 99 c promo with Discerning Grace( Book 1) with the idea of achieving sell-through to Book 2 and Book 3Publish the trilogy chest placed( all 3 volumes in one) Run another BookBub promo on the box setTest paid promote on Facebook, Amazon, and BookBub

Only after I’ve achieved these goals am I going to worry about money and sales amounts or paying for advertising. And only then will I work my strategies to grow these numerals into something that determines me a living( that’s a entire different topic for a different article–and for when I’ve swept that connection ).

Now that I’ve laid out my goals, I’m going to stick to them. Of all the research I’ve speak, it seems that most indie author business simply take off after 5 to 7 notebooks. With merely my first trilogy contrived, I have a loooooong highway to go, but having such knowledge also frustrates self-flagellation in these early days. I’m running a marathon here , not a sprint.

Important: I Chose to Publish Wide

I am publishing wide, which necessitates I am not prioritizing Amazon as an exclusive publishing stage over any other storefront. It just so happens to be one of my storefronts where my diaries are available. Now are the distributors I’m using.

Ebooks: distributed through Draft2Digital( which shares to Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, Kobo, Barnes& Noble, plus onus of other smaller international online storefronts, as well as libraries ). Paperbacks: printed and distributed through IngramSpark( which strews to Amazon storefronts in many countries, Barnes& Noble, plus smaller international online storefronts, and libraries ). Audiobooks: produced and distributed through Findaway Voice are connected to my Draft2Digital detail but is a separate company( which gives to all the same storefronts and libraries as Draft2Digital that also admitted audiobooks, plus a few extra) Google Play: I’m merely direct with this storefront because Draft2Digital doesn’t distribute to them

Some may think I’m nuts for not publishing directly to Amazon because Draft2Digital will take an additional 10% of my royalties( as it does from other retailers very ), but the course I see it is if I was prepared to let an worker and a traditional publisher do the legwork, I would therefore be sharing a boatload more in board. So, I personally don’t have an issue with leaving Draft2Digital their owings for uploading to all the storefronts on my behalf.

I chose this route because self-publishing necessitates learning a good deal( no, dangerously, A Spate !) of new technology. My brain could only handle hear the dashboards of these four publishing/ rationing companies to start with( preserving my hour and sanity ).

I was also cracking under the pressure of just THINKING about fastening a propel date with so many unknown variables ahead of me. So, I made a decision a soft start to make the pressure off myself. It’s for this same reason that I didn’t set up pre-orders and don’t ever plan on using them. I’ve seen too many cries from columnists when it is wrong. I’m not cozy adding a potential question to my plate.

Also, you know the saying,’ Don’t keep all your eggs in one basket’? Using different publishing programmes work towards ensuring that if one company travels belly-up( or even has technical kinks ), my bibles will remain in circulation in the other formats.

Marketing Plan and Decisions: My First Three Months

As you will see from the Wide for the Win group, there are actually dozens and dozens of ways to successfully marketplace your books. I “ve chosen” the courses of least resist. It may expenditure me a little bit more in coin, but it saves me a assortment of meter and distres. It is also why I terminated up choosing to do a soft opening instead of a hard open for my debut tale, Discerning Grace.

What is a hard propel?

A hard launching is when you pick a specific date to launch your work baby–and then manipulate like crazy to build as much hype as you can before that time. It involves creating a detailed commerce proposal that starts months in advance of your launch time. For an experienced marketer or existing influencer: it’s a bright challenge to put your skills to the test; for a newbie , not so much.When it’s proposed well, with a huge network of support behind you, a hard start can( but isn’t guaranteed to) thrust you into bestseller status. Indie author Nicholas Erik shares how a intrigue scribe hit the USA Today bestseller list( beginning: The Hot Sheet by Jane Friedman )– personally, I’m spent just reading this. Whew! If your program attains, contacting more readers instantly should theoretically translate into huge sales right out the door( although not definitely, as Nicholas Erik’s article depicts ). But it takes an extraordinary amount of planning and networking–months in advance.If your third-party vendors cause a procrastinate, there’s a risk that the book you’ve predicted your readers won’t be available on your propel appointment. Even with a well-laid plan, if some calamity strikes news headlines on your opening period/ week, this can impact your launching (* cough cough, pandemic anyone ?).

What is a soft launch?

A soft propel intends quietly publishing your record and ironing out the wrinkles before you go in for the hard sell. There is no pressured coming to upload your work links to all your scaffolds and locates. It enables spreading out your marketing after your book is published instead of stacking it all before open era. For me, this is much less traumatic, with fewer possible perils, and fewer parties to rely on.Without a fanfare announcing its advent, you can ensure your book has published properly on your favorite publishing platforms before telling readers that it’s accessible. It’s also a calmer nature to gather examines for your diary before launching into paid advertising.The downside: You’re unlikely to smacked those bestseller charts–but realistically speaking, other than a great feather to stick in your ceiling, what role does it actually act? Do you evaluate a record by its bestseller status? You’ll come lower uptake on sales, including less visibility to start with, but there are ways to build this as you go( e.g. paid newsletters, cross promotion with other generators, paid ads ). Accordingly, you’ll visualize lower initial income that won’t improve if you don’t take further steps to market and promote your bible after it’s published( and keep the effort travelling)

Month One Plan





By the Book Newsletter( my own author newsletter) Announce Book 1 available on all storefronts and libraries


Book ReviewsBlog Posts

* Marvelous book reviews across all store fronts* Blog articles& interrogations* Social media exposure

The Fussy Librarian( with BookFunnel freebie)

USD4 4.00 One-time paid newsletter blast

To grow newsletter subscriptions

600 brand-new subscribers

Why I choice The Fussy Librarian over other pay newsletter companies: They are the only paid newsletter provider I located who let me use a BookFunnel freebie for my record giveaway. Other give newsletter providers require your book to be free on retailers.

Important: You cannot set your diary free of charge on Amazon if you distribute to them through Draft2Digital. Likewise, the quantities of headaches I interpret daily from authors battling Amazon to keep their diaries set at free for promotions was another factor that discouraged me from publishing immediately with them.

Month One Develops

This sales report chart is produced by ScribeCount. It does not include paperbacks from IngramSpark or ebooks from Google Play–these features are still coming to ScribeCount.

Sample sales report pie chart produced by ScribeCount, showing royalties earned for a single Ebook title in month one, broken down by storefront and geographic region.

Month Two Plan





BookFunnelHistorical myth author promo

USD1 00.00 annual subscription

To grow newsletter dues

300 new readers

AllAuthorCover competition

USD5 96 -month subscription

* Build bustle about brand-new volume* Use handy promo tools like Review GIF Maker

* My handle came 6th out of 300 entrants* Parcels of feeling on social media and in newsletter* Smart GIFs for social media

Written Word MediaNewInBooks

USD2 99 One-off

* Exposure* Be will be listed in curated email* Interview

* Nothing perceptible* Great interview for my website* Wouldn’t utilization again

Month Two Results

Sample sales report pie chart produced by ScribeCount, showing royalties earned for a single Ebook title in month two, broken down by storefront and geographic region.

Month Three Plan





The Coffee Pot Book ClubEditorial examine

GPB1 22 One-off

* Make my volume legality from reputable co .* Get quotable convicts for marketing

* Brilliant editorial scrutinize( good for fragile newbie author ego )* Excellent marketing quotes

The Coffee Pot Book ClubBlog tour organiser

GPB1 50 One-off

* Book discuss* Blog posts

* Quality book reviews left on all storefronts* Social media show* Social proof journal and author reputation( Google search for book& writer word situated me on first 7 decisions sheets last I checked)

The History Quill Book Club( Uses Amazon affiliate join)

Free( in beta)

Tailored book discovery emails to readers of historical fiction

Spike on Amazon

Draft2DigitalMother’s Day Kobo promo

Free* Exclusively accessible through Draft2Digital

Find new readers

Spike on Kobo

Books2ReadNew Beginnings promo

Free* Merely accessible through Books2Read

Find new books

Marketings across international storefronts

Draft2DigitalMemorial Day Kobo promo

Free* Only accessible through Draft2Digital

Find brand-new books

Spike on Kobo

indieBRAG( Book Readers Appreciation Group)

USD7 5One-off

Recognized mark of excellence within the self-published book industry

* Recognise GRACE was awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion* Social media advertisement* Quality recognition

* You have to apply exerting this Request for Promotion Consideration form to receive promotional opportunities through Draft2Digital — it doesn’t automatically happen exactly because you’re published through them.

Fun Fact: You can only apply for Apple Books promotions if you’re published through Draft2Digital — you can’t apply for advertisings when published instantly with Apple Books.

Month Three Results

Sample sales report pie chart produced by ScribeCount, showing royalties earned for a single Ebook title in month three, broken down by storefront and geographic region.

What Happened After 3 Months

My sales graph for Discerning Grace for the first three months specific doesn’t show any sales counts or royalties. This is because part of the wide mindset is to aim for growth , no matter how slow. It really ought to have steady.

I sold doubled the number of books in the third month than I done so in the first. Note that each storefront provides their data on different daylights, so ScribeCount can only show you what info they’ve received. Some storefronts have data and information the next day, others have a week or even a month’s delay in reporting. It’s also why I don’t get too hung up on the numbers side of things( in the Wide for the Win group, this appears to be everyone’s headache ). I’m focused on the overall growth and accomplishment of my initial goals.

Bar graph showing increasing sales every month over a three month period.

Month Four: Plan in Progress




BookFunnelScandalous Lords& Ladies promo

Already subscribed

To grow newsletter subscriptions

The History QuillARC revaluation work

USD1 87 One-off

Book refreshes

Draft2DigitalSwoon-worthy adventure marketing Apple Books promo

FreeOnly accessible through Draft2Digital

Find new readers

Months Five and Six: Plan in Progress




Draft2DigitalIndependence Day Kobo promo

FreeOnly accessible through Draft2Digital

Find brand-new books

Discovering DiamondsHistorical fiction diary finding busines


Book scrutinizes

InstaBookToursBook tour organiser

Free( in beta)

Book re-examine

Book Love ToursBook tour organiser

GBP1 70 One-off

Book reviews

Fussy Librarian( with BookFunnel freebie)

USD5 7One-off

To grow newsletter dues

Voracious Readers OnlyBook disclosure assistance

6-week Free Trial( with an option to subscribe for USD2 0 per month afterward)

Book recollects

I’m delighted considering I haven’t laid out any big bucks for paid publicize yet. Publishing wide surely makes constant publicity but it’s heartening to see it all laid out on the sheet like this to realize that the effort is helping me achieve my initial purposes so far.

Read more: janefriedman.com