You didn’t become an author because you love marketing and publicity. You became an author because you love to tell stories. And now the thought of having to promote your book feels confusing and overwhelming. Perhaps that’s why you’re reading this blog post?
In my experience, it isn’t always the actual promotion that overwhelms people; it’s all the promotional opportunities available. Should you start a Facebook author page? Should you host a virtual event? What about influencer marketing? And do I need a newsletter?
This post isn’t about how to market your book. If that’s what you’re looking for, scroll back to previous posts. There’s plenty to listen to. Today’s episode is about the systems and tools to help you streamline and simplify your marketing process.
So if you’re ready to organize, automate, and streamline your marketing tactics, then read on!
The very first step to systematizing your marketing is to create a marketing calendar. This is a place where you’ll identify all your marketing tactics and assign launch dates or spans of time where you’ll be focusing on them. You can write this down in a notebook, use a spreadsheet, or if you’re interested, you can grab my marketing calendar template, which I created using Airtable. You’ll need to duplicate it to your account so you can edit.
What goes into a marketing calendar?
The primary purpose of a marketing calendar is to map out your marketing initiatives. This can include social media content, email marketing, brand partnerships, and so on. I recommend on focusing on two to three initiatives per campaign, otherwise, you’re spreading yourself too thin.
Also, include a timeline and relevant dates. Once you finalize your plan, you’ll add those due dates to your project management system.
Finally, your marketing calendar should include a space to track the results. This will help you evaluate what worked and what didn’t, and where you should focus your attention in the next book launch.
Social Media Tools
Scheduling social media posts ahead of time is not only more efficient, it helps you better strategize your content. Here are some of the tools available, along with the pros and cons:
Buffer is ideal for scheduling posts to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. It allows you to schedule content for multiple platforms at once, and has a chrome extension that lets you queue up posts at the touch of a button. The downside is that it’s not as easy to monitor engagement and interact on the platforms. It’s also less visual and doesn’t support Pinterest.
Later is a more visual tool that is primarily used for Instagram, since it allows you to organize content in a grid view. Later also supports posting to Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Like Buffer, it’s only a scheduling tool, and does not support engagement on the platforms.
HootSuite is the best tool if you want to engage on social media platforms without actually visiting those platforms. From HootSuite, you’re able to see your feeds and comment on posts, in addition to scheduling your content. The downside is they no longer offer a free plan.
These tools will help you schedule your social media posts, but what about actually creating the content?
Canva is a free graphic design tool that allows you to upload images, pull free stock photos, and incorporate illustrations into your posts. There are plenty of templates to choose from, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. They even have stock photos with people holding blank books so you can easily drop in your book cover image and create a photo of someone reading your book!
As I’ve shared in previous episodes, email marketing is one of your most powerful marketing tools. That’s why you need a system for collecting email addresses and sending emails. You cannot simply write an email in your gmail or yahoo account, you must use an email service provider to collect, vet, and monitor those addresses.
Here are a few options:
MailerLite is the program we recommend to most authors. It’s free for less than 1000 subscribers and has all the features you need to create an effective email marketing campaign. Their platform is easy to navigate and their drag-and-drop editor makes it easy to create visually pleasing emails.
ActiveCampaign is what we recommend for more advanced marketing campaigns. If you have a larger list and sell things through your website, ActiveCampaign has more features that are ideal for e-commerce. With ActiveCampaign, you’re able to tag people who purchase books through your website, send follow up emails to those who abandoned their cart, and so on. Most authors don’t need these features, and since ActiveCampaign is more expensive and doesn’t have a free plan, I only recommend it for those with large lists selling directly through their website.
Mailchimp was my preferred program for many years, but since they changed their offerings for their free plan, I no longer recommend it. If you are already on Mailchimp and it’s working for you, then keep using it. We have many authors who do. But if you haven’t yet set up email marketing or have a smaller list, I recommend going with MailerLite.
I shared all the tools you can use to systemize your marketing, but what about actually doing the work? How can you create a system for creating and delivering the content?
I highly recommend batch working.
By doing one task at a time and batching similar tasks at once, you increase efficiency and improve the quality of your work. Batch working can look like writing your book in the morning, then spending an hour on your newsletter in the afternoon. It may look like creating all your social media content on Sunday evenings and writing your newsletter on Friday mornings before work. Whatever schedule works for you, so long as you’re batching similar tasks together.
Lastly, I’m a firm believer identifying tasks that can be automated. Many of your menial, manual tasks can be automated, either through the platform itself, or by using a tool called Zapier.
Zapier connects two different platforms and allows them to talk to each other. For example, when I book a podcast guest through my calendar app, Acuity, they automatically receive an Airtable form to fill out with their name, bio, headshot, etc. When a new client fills out their intake form (also Airtable), Zapier initiates a series of steps in a variety of apps. For example, the new client’s contact information is added to Quickbooks, a task is created in Asana to send them a welcome gift, and a folder is created in Dropbox with their name.
These 12 tasks used to be done manually with each client. It was time consuming and I often forgot at least one step. But with Zapier, everything is automated, which not only saves time, but reduces mistakes.
What could you automate?
When a new reader signs up for your mailing list, could you send them an automated welcome email? Could you set up notification emails for when someone sends you a private message on a social media platform you seldom check? Start looking at the tasks you do on a regular basis and ask yourself, could a computer do that?
There are no shortage of marketing initiatives, which is why it’s so important to choose a few to focus on, create a plan, and stick to it. Batch your content creation whenever you can, identify areas to automate, and create a system to work your plan.