You’ve taken the big step of committing to writing a book proposal so you can pitch your book idea to literary agents. Yay, you!
As you work through your book proposal one of the most important sections that you absolutely must nail — is the marketing plan.
Agents, (or more likely their assistants) get dozens of queries a day in their inbox and you need to make sure your proposal stands out.
What’s in a marketing plan for a nonfiction book proposal
The three key sections to your book proposal marketing plan.
#1. Your Author Platform
If you’ve been doing your research, you’ve likely heard how important it is to have an author platform. And it’s true. Agents want to see that you have a built-in audience of readers and a way to communicate with them about your book.
You’ve also probably heard that there are some agents who won’t even look at a proposal from someone with less than 100k in their platform. While this is true, it’s not across the board.
Authors with smaller platforms who present a compelling picture of how they will build and nurture their audience will get attention.
In the marketing plan section of your book proposal, create a sub-section, and title it “Author Platform”.
In a few paragraphs to a few pages (depending on how robust your platform is), describe the elements of your platform, and provide list size and follower counts.
- Website and blog: Describe how long you have been running it, size of daily/monthly readerships, highlight any significant events like blogs that went viral.
- Podcast: Describe your podcast, highlight notable guests, number of subs, other stats you have
- Social media: Include your follower counts and engagement on each of your platforms
- Email list: What is the size of your email list, how often are you connecting with your list, what is the engagement like
Be sure to describe the pillars of your platform in detail, and bring them to life! If you’ve had an email list for 10 years, a 5-star podcast for five years, and you communicate daily with thousands of social followers, this is not the time to play it down!
And similarly, if your numbers are smaller, but your people are highly engaged — always replying to your emails, inviting you to speak in their towns, etc., then play up the level of engagement and highlight strategies you can put in place to put your rabid fans to work helping you sell your book to a broader audience.
#2. Your Outreach Strategy
The second key section is the part of your plan about how you will promote yourself and your book beyond your existing platform.
Publishers don’t have time or money to do your marketing for you anymore. It’s all on you so you want to show them you have through it through and will take action.
After the Platform sub-section, create a new sub-section, and title it “Strategies to reach my target reader”.
Here you will want to identify 3-5 types of marketing strategies, or “pillars” you will use effectively to expand your reach.
Start by picturing yourself out in the world with your book. What do you want to do? What do you not want to do? Identify things that you can actually see yourself being excited to do. Don’t propose a plan full of events if you prefer intimate one-on-one conversations — focus instead on podcasts! Some thought starters:
- Do readings and signings at local bookstores
- Use social media — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn to reach more readers
- Create promotions with other people with platforms of people like your ideal reader
- Produce your own podcast specific to your book launch
- Secure speaking engagements — virtual and in-person events, conferences, other live venues
- Get interviewed on radio, TV, podcasts talking about you and your book
Once you’ve identified your 3-5 marketing pillars, describe the marketing pillar, and identify specific examples of how you will utilize it. Include the size and reach of the pillar.
For example, if one pillar were called Blogs & Social Media, it would then include the specific blogs you would be reaching out to, along with the size of their readership, any previous articles you have run on their blog or social platform, and the specific titles of articles or content pieces you will pitch to them.
Be actionable and uber-specific with each of your pillars
Detail exactly who will you reach out to – name every blog, every podcast, every news outlet. Include how many followers do they have, and what is the title of the blog/article you will pitch, or topics for podcast or radio/tv interviews.
Show you really, really know where your ideal reader hangs out
When detailing your outreach plan, get descriptive about who reads the blog, or who subscribes to the podcast you will pitch. Tie back what you know about their audience to your book’s topic and your people who already follow you and your platform.
Reach high, but be real
When creating your lists for outreach, you want to go big, but you don’t want to go so big as to appear unrealistic. For example, while you can certainly include The Today Show on your list, you also want smaller outlets — local TV, radio, podcasts.
Be sure to think about who can help you reach a broader audience.
If someone in your network has a well-known podcast, is an editor at a magazine, or has clout on radio or TV — they should be in your plan. While they may not be able to promise you anything, use their name and outlet in your plan, and then put in a high-quality pitch, and you just may get it.
#3. Your Blurb Plan
The third key section of your marketing plan is the “Blurbs” section. This is where you will include the names of authors who have agreed to read your manuscript and would be willing to write a little something that could be included as a “blurb” on your book jacket.
A blurb is a stamp of credibility on your book from a well-known or otherwise highly-regarded author. I know of one first time author who reached out to a BIG NAME in her field and he ended up blurbing her book.
It’s ok if you don’t have a blurb list in your proposal, it’s generally considered optional. But if you are connected with respected authors who are in your field, you should absolutely reach out to them. They are not promising to praise your book unless they actually find it to be something they want to praise once they read the manuscript — rather they are committing to being open to reading and then maybe writing a blurb.
We’ve covered all three key sections of the nonfiction book proposal marketing plan and now you are ready to draft your own!