My Do-It-Yourself Marketing Checklist


I’ve got two careers now – I’m an active duty military officer, and I’m also an author.

I really enjoy writing, and do it at every opportunity: during lunch, after work, while waiting for things, while standing in line for some amusement park ride, etc. In fact, I have to force myself to NOT do it and sometimes focus in things like my husband and children, and reading, and sometimes watching TV. After having little sales success with a PR firm I hired to help me market my last book, RETRIBUTION, I decided to take matters into my own hands and begin an aggressive marketing push on my own.

Of course, I have no idea how to do this. I’d really rather be writing. But I sucked it up and put together a little checklist – because that’s what we do in the military – of marketing steps based on some notes I took at a writing conference last year and tips I gleaned off the Internet. I looked at this checklist, then I opened my work-in-progress manuscript and said hello to the characters waiting impatiently for me to continue my story, then I gritted my teeth and closed my manuscript, mentally kicked myself in the ass, and got to work doing something I really didn’t want to do.

Because nobody likes marketing. Except maybe the people who make a living off it, whatever. No author likes marketing. But after working my day job, I drag myself back to my little dorm room on the camp I’m currently in, and use the remaining couple hours of the day to plink away at my list. Here’s a link to my current draft of the list, which is a work in progress, for anyone who’s interested:

  • Schedule daily Facebook posts once a week
  • Write a blog every two weeks (STRETCH: once a week)
  • Spend 10 minutes each day liking/responding to other author’s Facebook posts
  • Compile a list of authors for blurbs/reviews
    • Send author requests for blurbs/reviews
    • Offer to send authors all three books
    • Send ARCs to those who respond; follow up with those who don’t respond
    • Have some suggested blurbs ready to make it super-easy for authors short on time
  • Compile list of romance book review blogs, ask them for reviewso  
  • Update website to focus on my story, not my books
    • Focus on what makes me unique/newsworthy/worth following, and what I can do for my readers
    • Books should be secondary focus (even though primary goal is to sell books)
  • Find out what a pre-sales list is, try to make one myself
    • Pre-sales list is a list of places that will pre-sell your book, like Amazon and Google
    • Already have pre-sales going on via my publisher, so don’t need this
  • Create a sell sheet
    • Used to convince bookstores to sell your books
    • Not necessary for me
  • Create an online media kit
    • A PDF file or webpage (most ppl prefer PDF, cuz it’s easier to copy from) that bloggers or other media people can use to quickly write a story or review about your book
    • Keep it simple; ppl want to easily skim it and find the info they need
    • Include in the kit:
      • A press release, usually the one you write for the book’s launch.
      • Author bio, including previous publications and qualifications to write the book. Include author’s platform information. (keep it very short)
      • Author photo, and it’s smart to include high-resolution files for print and low-resolution for online use.
      • Book photo, with the same resolutions as the author photo.
      • Any awards the book or series has won
      • Testimonials
      • Sample interview questions and Q&A
      • Excerpts from the book and sample chapters
      • Links to everything and contact info
      • Here’s a good example: <https://michaelhyatt.com/platform/media
  • E-mail press release to media and bloggers
    • Create a press release
      • The purpose of a press release is to paint a picture of a kind of story the journalist might want to write. Use an arresting headline. Then start with the biggest news and work down to the least important detail. A press release has more formal language than a blog post because you are cramming facts in and must keep it short. Keep it to one page but use a decent sized font.
      • Think like a reporter. Don’t just describe the book; talk about your own story and how it’s unique, why people should care, and make that the focus of the press release
      • Use the headline in the subject line of the email. Put the text in the body of the email so the journalist doesn’t have to open any other document. Paid/free press release services basically spam thousands of journalists with no targeting, so it’s better to target specifically.
    • Pitch your story (not your book) to the press
      •  You should already have an idea of the target market for your book, your ideal reader. What else do they do apart from reading your book and where do they hang out? Look for publications that target this market, then drill down to the specific journalists who write about specific aspects around the topic. For the maximum chance of success, target them specifically.
      • Best time to reach a newspaper journalist is 1000-1200 (stories are usually due at 1400 local time)
      • First ask if you can pitch them a story (briefly describe in one or two sentences); if they say yes, then send them your press release and media kit
      • (?) HelpAReporter.com is brilliant though, so definitely subscribe. Sourcebottle.com.au is a similar service to match journalists with experts. Having a platform is also fantastic as people find you through the internet.
      • Make sure you have a Google Alert for your name and book title and any key-phrases, since sometimes you won’t be notified if media is actually published.
  • Create some memes (put name & website on them)
  • (maybe) Create a book trailer
  • Come up with special promotion offers ~1 month before book release

And there you go. It’s just that easy. I’m being facetious.

What I really want is not an avalanche of book sales (though I’m not gonna lie, that would be nice), but a readership base I can share my stories with. But in order to make that happen, I need to make people aware of my books first, and that’s the point of marketing. So here’s hoping it’s worth the effort!

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