The beginning of the year marks resolutions and fresh starts in all areas of our lives, including the one area of publishing that writers tend to dread—marketing. Instead of procrastinating on marketing efforts, this is the best time to create or refresh an annual marketing plan that fits into your life without causing a lot of unneeded stress.
After all, marketing is not about us, at all. Marketing is about meeting the needs of our audience with information that is relevant to them. How can we best serve our audience’s needs based on their schedules? Their needs. Their desires?
If we write fiction, we can lean into the “fandom” of our genre. We can make book suggestions, keep our audience up-to-date with new releases, and share the gems that might not have gotten their due.
If we write nonfiction, we can share the information about the themes and topics in our books right now! We don’t have to wait for our book to come out to begin sharing advice and resources to our audience.
In fact, we shouldn’t wait! The best way to build our audience is to share. But sometimes it can feel overwhelming to know exactly what and when to share.
To take some of the overwhelming-ness out of marketing, let’s look at a few simple ways to share our message with our audience by creating an annual marketing plan.
- Find a year-long calendar.
Use an online calendar like Google Cal, find a paper planner, or search for a freebie calendar online to print out.
- Mark off national holidays, including the fun ones!
NationalDayCalendar.com breaks down each month, week, and day into the holidays that you can celebrate based on your brand and book’s content.
- Think about your audience’s schedule in broad terms. Macro-Level.
If your audience is moms, then her year is probably divided into school terms and holiday breaks with a long summer in-between.
- Now consider your audience’s schedule on a smaller scale. Micro-Level.
If your audience is moms of little ones, then her day is filled with naps, meals, and play times, plus her felt need of wanting some time to herself to recharge.
Take time to brainstorm some ideas for content that can help your reader. What shows or movies are releasing this year that your target audience will care about? If you’re writing a cookbook, your audience might love the reality baking shows. Talk about them. Share your own recipes. Give them tips on how to bake like a pro now. In fact, add some holiday-themed recipes to your annual calendar.
International Picnic Days is Sunday, June 18, 2023. Why not share some fun picnic foods that age-appropriate for your target reader. If you write picture books, include fun kid-approved snacks. If you write for a more mature audience, share about different gourmet sandwiches that can hold up well wrapped up tight in a picnic basket.
Take it to the next level and create a few recipes that your audience can download from your website, thereby building your email list while providing value to your people.
Watch the Stores
There are so many fun things we can do to provide value to our audiences. When we take the time to look at the year as a whole, we see opportunities where we can schedule content in advance.
In fact, supermarkets are great “marketing indicators” for us. They’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on marketing, so when they shift to a new holiday on the shelves, it’s time for your content to switch, too. Become the person your audience looks to for great ideas by sharing in advance, not simply “the day of.”
If you’re using Facebook or Instagram (or hopefully both!), Meta (the parent company of Facebook and Instagram) has a great free scheduler. Open Canva or whatever photo editing software you love the best.
- Create some graphics for the next big holiday season.
- Schedule them.
- Then allow yourself to live in-the-moment with your audience as you enjoy these holidays, too.
Once you’ve got your annual calendar filled-in, with content ideas listed (and some scheduled!), you can spend time thinking about your non-holiday weekly and daily content. Many times, if we would simply post about the things we’re doing that pertain to our audience, we might feel like we’re not “marketing” but merely “sharing.”
If you’re writing a book about England in the 1900s and there just “so happens” to be shows and movies releasing about that time-period, immerse your audience in the anticipation.
- Share the research.
- Share the journey.
If we believe that we’ve been given a message to share, then let’s share it. This is a wonderful time to be a writer—we have our audience literally at our fingertips.
Start sharing and you’ll be surprised at how easy—and fun—marketing can be!
Question: What is your best marketing tip for writing projects and for speaking engagements?
About Bethany Jett
Bethany Jett is a multi-faceted creative who wears many hats: associate literary agent, award-winning author, and marketing strategist. But her favorite roles are that of a military wife to her college sweetheart and mom to their three teenage sons. Her motto is “Teach as you go,” which she lives out as the co-owner of Serious Writer, a company that teaches and empowers writers and authors. Connect with her at BethanyJett.com.