Make a Book Marketing Timeline Work for You

Most people don’t realize that a strategic book marketing timeline can be the secret to executing a successful marketing campaign. Generally, that’s because they are juggling so many different activities that WHEN they happen doesn’t seem nearly as important as IF they happen. Not worrying about the “when” can sink even the best book marketing campaign.


We’ve seen it happen: Review campaigns are launched with no ARC, no finished book and/or no book available for pre-order or order on Amazon. A huge book PR campaign launches and the author gets a great interview – but the book is only available at one (or no) retailer because it was just released. Amazon book reviewers are excited about posting a review but can’t because of availability. On the flip side, a publisher releases a fantastic book but budgets for a year for a major PR campaign – making it too late to secure good publicity for the book.


Your book marketing timeline should serve as your road map, master document and bible for your marketing campaign. This is especially true if you are working with a team: Sales, PR and Marketing. All of these pieces must come together, and be on the same page, for success.



book marketing timeline

Below please find a sample book marketing timeline for a completely fake book that we’ll call “Popeye’s Picks”.


Some things to consider (this feels like one of those Logic 101 questions from college):


  • Popeye’s Picks is going to be ready to be uploaded to Amazon on November 22
  • The book is likely going to be available for sale by December 1
  • The PR Team for Popeye’s Picks has, rightfully, said that launching a national PR campaign for a book in December is challenging
  • The Publisher of Popeye’s Picks also wants it to remain a new book so plans on a 2014 copyright date for the book
  • The Sales team for Popeye’s Picks needs finished books to pitch it to the national accounts. As no ARC is available, they plan on using finished books for all of their sales pitches
  • The Marketing team can get started as soon as the book is available on Amazon to start building the foundation for future PR and Sales work
  • The Announced pub date of Popeye’s Picks is therefore going to be January 14, 2014


Based on this information, the book marketing plan
for “Popeye’s Picks” might appear as follows:


November 1 – Book and publisher information uploaded to any early review/giveaway sites as appropriate

November 15-December 10 – Author/Publisher/Marketing team lines up local and/or professional author events for January and February

November 22 – Book is uploaded to Amazon and all databases

November 22 – Marketing copies are ordered for PR, Sales and Marketing teams with an expected arrival date of December 1

November 22-December 1 – Book sales team finalizes all sales materials

November 25- December 1- eBook is uploaded to all accounts and checked for accuracy

December 1 – Book is available on Amazon

December 1 – Author/Marketing team does final setup of Amazon author page and Goodreads author page

December 1 – Online Book Review campaign is launched to book reviewers, bloggers and Amazon reviewers

December 1 – 10  – Sales team goes out with sales pitch to national accounts, libraries, independents and specialty stores using finished books as early release copies using the planned November 14 pub date in all materials

December 3-10 – Books are requested by, and shipped to, book bloggers and reviewers

January 1-10 – Online reviews, giveaways, author interviews and guest posts begin to populate the internet

January 2-9 – PR team works with publisher to finalize all press materials

January 10+ – PR team launches national campaign; online reviews, interviews and guest posts are visible to any producer, host or editor who Googles book title, publisher and/or author

January 14 – Author/Publisher send email blast to contacts announcing the book’s release and availability for sale

January – March – PR team secures national and regional publicity for author and book. Marketing team secures online exposure, book reviews, author interviews and guest post opportunities for online media. Sales team follows up on sale pitches by updating all accounts on current PR and marketing hits



This type of book marketing timeline might seem really simple. And, it is. The problem is that many publishers and authors don’t put together a master book marketing plan so that all of the different teams are on the same page, with the same goals and the roll out of all activities are strategic and timed to give the book its best possible chance for success.


This timeline is your guide. It will not be perfect – dates will slip and change. It’s okay to be flexible. Just be sure to keep an eagle eye on the full list of activities and don’t get caught up only on what’s happening today. You still have to plan for tomorrow!


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2 Responses to “Make a Book Marketing Timeline Work for You”

  1. consulting cafe says:

    Wonderful thoughts.

  2. Brittney says:

    This timeline is a great resource and something a lot of authors could really utilize. At Smith Publicity we try to stress that overnight success probably won’t happen when marketing a book. It takes time.

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