The “I Have a Life!” Marketing Plan

Okay, so most people don’t enjoy publicity and marketing. They also like to eat and bathe and, you know, do other stuff besides fill out postcards and design schwag.

And I know that sometimes having advice out in the ether can make some people feel bad because they can’t, or don’t want to, or aren’t able to take it. The last thing I ever want is to make another author feel small, for serious.

So, for triple-strength obsessives like myself, I still have the Bossy Self-Marketing Timeline. But today I’m going to share a short, tiny, easy, WTF is wrong with you Saundra, I HAVE A LIFE YOU KNOW marketing plan. For those who want to do some marketing, but not get a secondary business degree and/or learn to love insomnia.

Here it is, in all its glorious two parts:


After the catalog comes out, please get some postcards. Your cover should be on the front, your title, ISBN, release season and URL on the back- and I hear you already saying, “I don’t ever pay attention to postcards, I just throw them away.” And I throw them away too… unless someone wrote something on them.

You’re going to send 12 postcards to the independent booksellers in your region, and you’re going to send 12 to the public libraries in your region. On the bookseller postcards, please write “I’m a local author, and I hope you’ll consider my new (category) novel for (name of store.) It comes out (on this date.)”

On the library postcards, please write, “I’m a local author living in (your city) and I hope you’ll consider my new (category) novel for your collection.” Then, you can add, if it is true, “I’m available for library visits!”

I promise, the hand-written message makes a difference. I have booked no fewer than 40 events from postcard contact alone.

Twenty-four postcards. One a day, takes less time than one tweet, you’re done in a month. Even if that month is February.


Your publisher may write a press release for you. If so, kindly ask your publicist for a copy. If they don’t have one, write a one-page fact sheet about your book. Include your name, the title, any other titles in the series, the ISBN, the publisher, the release date, your publicist’s contact information, your contact information, a summary, your biography and a brief rundown of any blurbs, honors or awards.

Now write a brief business letter that says, “My name is (MY NAME) and my new (CATEGORY) novel (TITLE) will be published by (HOUSE) on (DATE.) I’ve enclosed a signed copy; I hope you’ll enjoy it and consider ordering it for (NAME OF STORE.) Sincerely, (MY NAME).”

How many ARCs and author copies do you have? Print that many press releases, fold them, and put them inside the books. Now personalize and print that many cover letters, and sign them. Put them neatly in a package, and mail them to:

  • Your local independent bookseller
  • Booksellers you’ve met online or at trade shows.
  • Booksellers who host book festivals.
  • Booksellers who have supported you in the past.
  • Booksellers who nominated books like yours for the IndieNext List.


No seriously, that’s the whole plan. If I had to limit my marketing, out of all the advice I’ve given, and all of the things I’ve tried, these two steps are the ones I feel give the most return for the effort (and, conveniently, are fairly inexpensive as well.)

But the most important thing to remember is that the book is what matters. Enjoying your life, and your career, that’s what matters.

So if you hate marketing and never, ever want to do it– don’t do it! There are enough hard things that we have to deal with as writers; you absolutely do NOT have to add extra guilt and obligation on top of it. But if you want to do something, just not, like, all the things, then perhaps this is the marketing plan for you.

Because dude, seriously, you have a life!