marketing calendars

Marketing for Life: Building a Marketing Calendar

A month ago I started a series about marketing as a small press or indie author. This is this third post, focused on connecting your books with readers. Basically we’re going to talk about how to create a year-round marketing plan.

The calendar shifted from February to March and people’s minds are turning from Valentine’s Day to Easter and St. Paddy’s Day, and thinking about digging out from snow and welcoming spring.  March is also designated in the U.S. as National Women’s History month and National Craft month.
Connect your book in people’s minds to these celebrations is a strategy for building an effective marketing calendar. Here’s a handy list of the holidays. And here’s an article with some additional advice about when to smartly connect. The graphic shows a few from the beginning of the year laid out for you.

February is a popular romance book roll-out month. So are June (#1 month for wedding dates) and December (Christmas is the #2 most popular holiday for proposals). In order to get sales all year round, you need people to be seeing things about your book at other key times too. Knowing what people are generally thinking about — or giving them something to think about that’s related to your book — gives you a chance to change up promotion and keep things fresh. It is a bad idea to run the same ad constantly.

Angle your pitch

Did you write a story that has a single Dad? Talk up that particular angle during June (Father’s Day), even if you book was released in January. If your main character is an architect, roll out that angle during the month of June also (the national meeting is being held in Las Vegas in mid-June 2019). If your story covers a historical event (whether it’s fictionalized or non-fiction), rolling out new advertising wording connecting to that event’s anniversary date should be top of your plans for whatever month is appropriate. Think about how J.K. Rowling always released stuff about the books, the movies, or Pottermore on and around Harry’s “birthday” (also her own) July 31.

Ideally, you should work advertising from a new angle every week to keep your content fresh. Did you write a science fiction story? Roll out marketing copy for your book mentioning Asimov or Heinlein or N.K. Jemisin around their birthdays. Angle a marketing pitch in the month of the birthday of the actor you based your main character on. Have a character eating blueberries? Share an except of that moment on “National Blueberry Day” (July 8, 2019). Have a character who reads comic books? Share their favorites on September 25, National Comic Book Day.

Another way to alert readers is with hashtags. Here’s a list of holiday hashtags and the dates they trend. Got a character with a dog? Share an excerpt with the hashtag #NationalPuppyDay on March 23.

What kind of content to share

You’ve figured out what days to alter your advertising, but what does the advertising actually look like? Excerpts, #1stlines, reviews, character collages, and reader polls are all different content angles to put your book content in front of readers. Don’t forget your buy link at the bottom. No fanfare.

Here are some ideas:

  1. A blog post with an excerpt and appropriate category labels can be linked on Twitter with hashtags relevant to the holiday/trending topic.
  2. A revised brief story summary highlighting the character’s relevant attributes can be connected to your book’s universal link.
  3. Maybe your original summary doesn’t mention that your MC is collects comics, but on #NationalComicDay tweet an image of your character’s favorite comic AND ask your readers to comment or reply with their favorites.

Add other ideas you have in the comments.

Example

Here’s a snapshot of my angled advertising during the Christmas holidays:

A Christmastime scene (posted to a permanent page on my blog) and its related Tweet.

Note the hashtag #Christmas, but also the content hashtags that are most appropriate to reach the right audience (from the previous marketing post).

Happy marketing!

~ Lara


Next topic: Platform-specific formatting. Because, duh, not every type of advertising pitch is a “best practice” for every SM site.

Sources consulted before blogging:
Media Sprout Social. “Sprout-Social-Hashtag-Holidays-2019-PDF”
TrackMaven. “National Days: The Ultimate List (and Downloadable Calendar).” 2019.

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