The other day, fellow author Matthew Anthony Basile mentioned on Twitter that he needs no cost marketing strategies for his book. I replied that I’d address that in a blog as soon as I provided my publisher with my latest manuscript. This morning I sent my publisher’s liaison, Nicky, the latest manuscript, so tonight, I sat down with some coffee and my laptop to write this.
Independent authors face challenges that authors with a publisher don’t. Many indie authors work on a shoestring budget and need exactly what Matthew asked for – no cost marketing strategies. Admittedly, I tossed three low cost strategies into this article, but the other 13 cost nothing.
Also, yes, I just said I sent a manuscript to my publisher, however, that scenario has only existed since 2019. I started writing professionally in 1991, so these work. I tested them. For decades.
You have my qualifications now. Let’s get to the good stuff – the no cost marketing strategies. By the way, I used my own links in this article for examples and referrals when relevant. As my best friend says, “Now, you know.”
Marketing Strategies to Start Before Your Book Publishes
No Cost: Well before your book publishes join relevant forums and participate in them. When people ask you how you developed an interest in the topic, mention your forthcoming book.
No Cost: Create a website and a blog about your book topic or your writing in general. Covering both works, too. Make it look professional. Add to it as often as reasonable.
Low Cost: If you don’t know web design or how to write SEO, get help from other writers through a web platform like Writer Access. Take advantage of the two week free trial to get your blog started.
No Cost: Add the URL of your website to your email signature and, perhaps, your texting signature. Skip the latter if you text a lot and can’t toggle it on and off, otherwise, you’ll probably annoy your friends and family, who don’t need to see a constant advertisement for your book. (They’ll probably buy it anyway.)
No Cost: Use social media to promote your books. Although those posts result in only one to two percent of direct purchases, they influence later purchases. According to Start Up Talky, 71 percent of online shoppers consider social media posts they read when they make purchases. So, post about your books, so the idea of them sticks in the minds of those who see the post. Promote your publisher’s webpage for your book or your author page on its website.
No cost: Network with other writers through writing workshops, weekly or monthly meetups, etc. You can find these online and offline. To find in-person local groups, visit the website Writers Relief and Meetup. Find online groups on Zoetrope, Writer’s Cafe, or Writing.com.
No Cost: If you own a business and have a mailing list for it or you already have a mailing list for your writing, send out a newsletter that features your book. Even if your mailing list focuses on a different topic because it is your list, you should use it. Everyone on it said they wanted to hear from you, so creating an advertisement in it for your book or writing an article about your book makes good sense because it relates to you. If the thought of mass emailing people horrifies you, learn from the pros how to do it the right way. Marketing expert Larry Kim offers a free teaching blog on using email and text marketing.
Marketing Strategies to Use as Soon as Your Book Publishes
No Cost: Write and distribute a press release to local newspapers and newsletters. Make a list of every interest group who might share an interest in the book you wrote. For example, my latest book series, “Infamous Jailbreaks,” explores the six most famous prison outbreaks in the US. Written for young adults, the writing style also appeals to older adults. My list of interest groups would include avid readers, history buffs, criminalists, police, correctional officers, school and public librarians, pre-teens, and teens. Going to Find Newsletters, Inbox Reads, Letter List, Rad Letters, and Stack Letter, I find tons of newsletters on history. I copy the name and contact information of the editor or managing editor of each and send them my press release.
No Cost: Apply for an author profile on each of the bookstores that offers your books, especially Amazon.com. Here’s a link to mine, so you can see Amazon’s updated design for them. If you’re not selling through Amazon yet, get your books on there! If you already published your book or you have a publisher who took care of all of that for you, start here. If you’re still writing and haven’t yet published, start here to learn what you’ll need before you can set up an Amazon author page.
No Cost: Create a Goodreads Author account and feature your books on your verified Goodreads. (Here’s what mine looks like.) Goodreads, a website of avid readers offers you ideal reach into your target audience. No matter what you write, someone on Goodreads reads it. Nabbing your author page on this site costs you nothing and the site offers tons of options for you to market and publicize your book and interact with readers. Here’s how to register for your author page and get verified. If you signed with a publisher, they’ll likely do this for you once the book goes to print.
No Cost: Use a free service like EasyHits4U to promote your website, blog post on your book, or your author profile on each of the online bookstores that offers your book for sale. EasyHits4U offers a web surfing exchange. The users of this service vary, so you’re not stuck surfing profiles of one topic. You’d surf websites and blogs on health food, nutritional supplements, music, affiliate opportunities, cooking, and much more.
Essentially, you look at other people’s sites and they look at yours. When a person sees something that they like, they visit the site, sign up for it, buy it, etc. Use it for free by confirming that you viewed a website by clicking on the matching icon in the upper left hand corner. This also earns you advertising credits. If you have kids, they’ll get a kick out of “helping” by getting to match the icons. Earn extra credits (for free) by sharing your referral link as I’ve done in the first sentence of this strategy.
Low Cost: If you have a few extra dollars, and I mean less than $5, you can forgo the surfing and purchase advertising credits. This lets you start out with a few hundred credits, which gives you enough to either use the surf rotator, banner ads, pay-per-click, and more. Most people using surf exchanges use a mix of free and paid options.
Spending less than $5 a week, you can obtain 100 genuine visits per day to a specific webpage of your choosing. The site has a setting to ensure that you enjoy distinct visitors with no repeats. (Repeats can work to your advantage though because as decades of advertising research reveals, people buy a product after having seen its ads repeatedly.)
No Cost: Identify other authors and bloggers who accept guest blogs or will willingly exchange book reviews. Trade copies of each other’s books and write honest but helpful reviews. This creates a win-win.
Low Cost: If you have a little money, we’re talking less than $50, purchase an advertisement package from a book review website. In addition to interviewing authors about their books, the blog Book-Boost, sells advertising packages. Other blogs that regularly review books offer another option. You can find 25 popular book review blogs here. I consider this low-cost because you need to provide the publication with a copy of your book.
No Cost: Participate in #writerslift (writer’s lift) tweet threads. Some people question if it helps, but I’ve purchased from a tweet of a fellow author before. Here’s the tweet, where you can also find the link to author Kate Warren’s fiction.
No Cost: Related to using #writerslift tweet threads, offer a significant sample of your book on Amazon and your publisher’s website. Provide between the first 500 to 1,000 words for free. This lets the reader experience the first few pages of the book in much the same way they would if they were standing in a physical store flipping through books on a shelf. Kate’s sample let me read a few pages and learn that I love the style in which she writes fiction. If you self-published, you can put this sample on your own website, too.
Contact Carlie Lawson with Your Favorite Strategy
Hopefully, this helps fellow authors get started promoting their books. It’s admittedly easier if a publisher signed you because you have a major company pushing your books. You appear in their catalog, on their website, and they handle marketing all of their new releases to libraries and school book clubs. Independent and self-published authors needn’t despair though. Leverage the strategies in this article to promote your books. When you reach your target audience, they’ll buy your book.
Please, contact me with your favorite free marketing strategy that has worked for you and I’ll add it to this list for other authors to use. Also, fellow authors, please drop me a line to say how your promotion has gone. Thanks for stopping by.