A Simple Marketing Plan for Fiction Authors

Every single time I teach one of my book marketing workshops, I get some form of this question:

“That sounds great, but does it work for fiction authors?”

I get it.

Sometimes it’s hard to wrap your head around. How are you going to build an author platform when you can’t share tips on getting skinny, saving time, or starting a business?

In this article, I’m going to walk you through a very simple system that will take less than 3 hours a month to do.

Plus, you will start getting immediate results.

Let’s get started.

The Goal: What are we doing?

Of course, the goal is always to “sell more books,” but what else are we trying to accomplish?

According to the Connection System, we need to have:

  1. Outreach: A way of moving people from not knowing we exist to knowing we exist.
  2. Content: Putting content out in the world so potential fans will know we are a good fit for them.
  3. Permission: A way to connect with fans that gets their attention and drives action.

All of these steps lead to building an author platform that allows you to sell more books.


So what is a simple way that you can do marketing for fiction authors?

Step 1: Write and publish a review of a book in your genre

This one is pretty straight forward. Grab a book you’ve read recently and write a 500-1000 word review and post it on your website as a blog post or stand alone page.

A few things about this:

  • Pick a book in the genre that you write. I’ll explain why in a minute. If you write in multiple genres, review a book in the genre of the most recent book you released. If you don’t have a book out yet, write a review of a book in the genre of the first book you are going to release.
  • Pick a book you enjoyed. Don’t write a negative review. Both because it won’t work with this system and because there are too many good books to waste time writing negative reviews of bad ones.
  • Pick a book by a B or C list author. Avoid books by Stephen King, Gillian Flynn, J.K. Rowling, etc. It will make this system much more likely to work. Again, you’ll see why in a minute.

Step 2: Send the review to the author

One of the things I discuss when connecting with influencers is the idea of empathy. Put yourself in the shoes of the person with whom you’re trying to connect. See if you can come up with a way to help them get what they want out of the world.

What is one thing every author wants?

To sell more books!

By you publishing a positive review of an author’s book, you are helping them sell more books. (No, it doesn’t matter if barely anyone reads your website.)

This is a perfect way to connect with an author.

I suggest sending it to them through two different channels:

  1. Email. Send a simple email to the author telling them you loved their book and that you have published a review. You can usually grab their email address off their website or, at very least, they’ll have a contact form there.Here’s a template for you:

Hi [AUTHOR FIRST NAME],

I recently read your book [TITLE OF THE BOOK] and love it!

In fact, I loved it so much I wrote a review and published it on my blog. You can see it here:

[HTTP://LINKTOTHE.COM/BLOGPOST]

I just wanted to let you know. Thanks for writing it!

[YOUR NAME]

  1. Social media. Post a link to the review on the various social media platforms you are active on. Tag the author in your post so they will be notified.Here’s a template for you:

I published my review of [@AUTHORTAG]’s book [TITLE OF THE BOOK]. I loved it and you will too! [HTTP://LINKTOTHE.COM/BLOGPOST]

By the way, the reason why you picked a book by a B or C list is author is because they will be much more likely to reply to your email and share on social media.

If you review a book that has already been reviewed 100s of times by an author that probably has an assistant reading their emails and managing their social media, it’s going to be much harder to cut through the noise.

Step 3: Add a targeted email signup form

This is the reason you want to review a book in your genre.

It is going to attract people that are interested in reading books like yours.

Side Note: One of the biggest mistakes authors make is building an audience that is not interested in the genre that they write in. The most common theme here is writers that build a platform around writing. Sure, maybe you grow an email list and build a blog readership. But when it comes time to sell your epic fantasy novel, it’s not going to sell well. Always focus on attracting people that are interested in the books you are writing and publishing.

Now it is time to convert readers of the book you reviewed to be your readers.

Turn readers into subscribers.

Add an email signup form to one (or more) of these places:

  • Sidebar of your blog.
  • Top of the review.
  • Bottom of the review.

Put this on the email signup form:

If you enjoy books like [THE TITLE OF THE BOOK YOU REVIEWED], then you will love my book [THE TITLE OF YOUR BOOK]. Sign up here and I will send you the first three chapters.

If you need help getting your email list and signup forms setup, I show you how to do that here.

Is your book not published yet? Use this template:

If you enjoy books like [THE TITLE OF THE BOOK YOU REVIEWED], then you will love my upcoming book [THE TITLE OF YOUR BOOK]. Sign up here and I’ll let you know when it’s ready.

Bonus * Step #4: Make a new friend

A lot of times when I discuss connecting with influencers it comes across as a very cold or swarmy kind of practice.

In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

All outreach is simply connecting with other people that are nerdy in the exact same way YOU are nerdy.

When you are emailing the author of the book you just reviewed, you have a lot in common with that person. You both probably love the same books and movies. You both write and could discuss story structure and character development for hours.

The start of something long term.

Think of that first email you send to the author as a start of a long relationship with a peer. If they reply, send a follow up email asking for advice, offering to help them in another way, telling them about another book you think they’d love, etc.

A lot of my long standing friendships started with me reaching out to connect with influencers in my space.

This is another reason to start with B and C list authors.

When you connect with people that are still up-and-coming, you will create friendships that last a lifetime.

How it all works

When you write a review of a book in your genre, you’re creating Content that you can share with your current email subscribers and followers. It is also content that signals to people what you do and what you write.

By putting an email signup form on the review, you are getting Permission to stay in contact with readers long term. You’re also getting them to give your book a try by sending them an excerpt.

When you email the author and tag them on social media, you are doing Outreach by connecting with an influencer in your space. Also, many times the author will share your review on social media so you are bringing in people that have a) never heard of you before and b) read books in your genre.

Do this at least once a month.

It will take less than two hours to write the review. A half hour to publish it on your website. Another half hour to post it on social media and send an email to the author.

In three hours a month you will create twelve new pieces of content a year and potentially connect with twelve new influencers a year. Plus, you will slowly — drip, drip, drip — be building your email list with people that read books in your genre.

Book marketing is not complicated or time-consuming

The most common reasons people avoid making progress with their marketing is because a) they don’t know what to do and b) they are afraid it will take too long.

Follow this simple plan to get started and you’ll see it make a difference.

Tim Grahl
Tim Grahl
Tim Grahl is the author of Your First 1000 Copies and the founder of BookLaunch.com. He has worked with authors for a decade to help them build their platform, connect with readers, and sell more books. He has worked 1-on-1 with over a hundred authors including Daniel Pink, Hugh Howey, Barbara Corcoran, Chip and Dan Heath, Sally Hogshead and many others. He has also launched dozens of New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post bestsellers.

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