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When you publish your own book with the intention of selling it, you should always have a marketing plan. One of the biggest mistakes I've seen indie authors make is assuming they don't need one. They just wing it or rely on a low price or a single distribution outlet to cover all of their marketing. Let's assume you have more hope than that. For you and other indie publishers like you, another book marketing mistake comes in deciding when to put together that book marketing plan.

The Wrong Time to Assemble Your Book Marketing Plan

It's understandable that some independent authors think the process should look like this:

  1. Write your book.
  2. Edit / polish your book and get it ready for publication.
  3. Release the book.
  4. Put together a marketing plan so you can drive more sales.

This is understandable because it's easy to confuse marketing and sales. Marketing tactics and tools drive sales, but they aren't synonymous. Marketing isn't just what you do after your book is published to tell people about it and convince them to buy it. Marketing starts much earlier -- or at least it should if you want to give your book the best chance of success.

Why Your Book Marketing Plan Should Come First

Your book marketing plan shouldn't only come before the book is published. It should come before you even start to write the book. Here's why:

  1. If your intention is to sell the book, you should know your audience and target market long before creating a product that you hope will appeal to them. Your market research is a part of your book marketing plan.
  2. Ideally you'll want to build visibility and brand recognition (around your book, series, or you as the author) before the book is ever published. You do this to create an existing demand when you finally hit your release date.
  3. Some marketing tactics take time to work, and you'll want to invest time or money into them early in the game (for example, your cover design is a marketing tool). This also includes things like a pre-launch plan to get early reviews.

Waiting until your book is written or even published is too late. Your launch period is a valuable marketing time, and there should be a solid plan in place well before you get there. If you've already written your book, there's no time like the present to work on your book marketing plan. Make sure your book appeals to the audience you intended it to appeal to, and figure out how you can generate awareness and demand before you release it.

If you've already released your book sans marketing plan, you might have a second chance. If you had a slow launch you can simply re-launch the book with a bang. Or maybe you'll plan a launch for a new version (print vs e-book for example).

When did you write your book marketing plan? Did you have a plan in place before you launch? Why or why not? If you could go back and do things differently, what would you have done? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts, tips, or stories.

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, NakedPR.com, and BizAmmo.com.

Jenn has 18 years experience writing for others, around 13 years experience in blogging, and over 10 years experience in indie e-book publishing. She is also an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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