How Authors Can Market A Book With No Money
One of the biggest misconceptions that many authors have is that it’s going to cost them hundreds or even thousands of dollars to market their book.
That’s simply not the case.
Spending thousands of dollars on marketing isn’t a guarantee that your book will sell - not by a long shot. In today’s digital world, there are many opportunities and resources for authors to connect with readers, grow their audience, and sell more books.
You don’t need to be a marketing specialist to effectively connect with readers. Marketing is simply connecting with people who share the same interests as you do.
That kind of takes the edge off of the idea of marketing, right? And the great thing is that you’re able to connect with people all over the world - which is amazing!
If you find yourself with little or no marketing budget for your book, here are a few things to keep in mind as you get started:
Start as soon as possible.
If you wait until your book is completed to start marketing your book, it will be too late. This will take some time to set up and to establish relationships with your readers. Be sure to check out this post to find out how to market your book before you’ve finished writing.
Focus on two to three promotions.
Don’t spread yourself too thin. Pick a few promotions to focus on and do them really well. This will help you to focus and not become so overwhelmed.
Remember that those small audiences are good.
There is no such thing as a small audience. We all start at zero and every person who signs up for your newsletter or buys your book is an important connection. Treat them like gold! Ask them where they like to buy books, where they discover new books, what blogs they frequently visit, etc. A smaller audience can give you the insight, details, and information you need to reach more people.
Don’t just throw this together - be thoughtful and intentional. Think about your goals, what you want to accomplish with your book, and map out a way to get there.
No matter how big or how small your budget is, the biggest thing you need to invest in your book is time. Setting aside a minimum of 2-3 hours per week to focus on your book marketing is key. Here are 15 ideas you can apply today:
Know your ideal reader.
Here I go again talking about the importance of an ideal reader! I keep bringing it up because it's the most important element of your book marketing. Everything comes back to your readers! When you clearly know who you’re trying to reach, you will know how to reach them and where they are online, which makes your marketing so much more effective and easier to do.
To learn more about identifying your ideal reader, sign up for our free training called Answers for Authors: 5 Actionable Steps to Intentionally Grow Your Audience.
So often we are focused on the big hits that we overlook opportunities that are in our own backyard. Reach out to your local libraries, bookstores, the Chamber of Commerce, schools, literary organizations, area festivals, local bed and breakfasts, and consignment stores. It’s a great way to get local support, but you also never know what those connections will lead to!
This is a great way to find local book clubs, other writers in your community, events, and other organizations. Simply message the organizer to introduce yourself and your books. For example, you can write a free reading guide for your local book club that can be downloaded from your website, and offer to come in and speak to the group or do a Q&A. Or if you don’t live close by, you can offer a Skype session with their club.
Contact your local news outlets and publications.
Local news is often overlooked when it comes to gaining media attention. But that’s the first place every author should look to get their media efforts going. A simple Google search will provide you with contact information for your local talk shows, newspapers, entertainment websites, blogs, and more. And be sure to look at their requirements for submissions and pitches.
Tap into your hobbies and interests.
How do you spend your spare time? Do you garden, draw, paint, knit, woodwork, etc.? Use your hobbies and interests to be a part of other blogs, websites, forums, and groups so you can connect with new people. The more connections you make (even outside of your writing) the more people will be aware of you and your book.
Use Adobe Spark to create amazing visuals.
Adobe Spark is hands down my favorite tool to create amazing images, posters, book covers, fliers, social media images, etc. Everything you need is right there. And best of all…it’s FREE! I have two tutorials on how to use Adobe Spark and how to create animated images. Be sure to check them out.
Recruit your family and friends.
One of the biggest hurdles many authors face is getting book reviews - especially on Amazon. This is where you can enlist your family and friends to help you. Many times our loved ones want to help but they have no idea what to do. Give them an advanced copy of your book (a PDF is great) and ask them to leave a review the week your book is released. Send them a reminder email with the link to your Amazon page to make it easy for them. Here’s a blog post to help you get more book reviews.
Get to know your local librarian and booksellers.
You have a treasure trove of information, connections, and opportunities with your local librarians and booksellers. Be sure to introduce yourself and see if they have any book clubs, writers nights, or other outlets for local authors. Gift them with a copy of your book and become involved with your community there. It will open many doors for you!
Focus on one social media outlet.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed - especially with social media - focus on one outlet at a time. Educate yourself on how to best use that outlet and create engaging posts. Read this post to find out which social media outlet will work best for you and your book.
Utilize your blog.
Your blog (or podcast, or video blog - whatever you wish to do) plays a crucial roll in your book marketing. The purpose of social media is to make connections, but you don’t want them to live on your social media page. You want to drive them to your website. A blog with consistently updated posts is the best way to do that. It provides value to your readers, it drives traffic to your website, and it boosts your visibility online. If you’re struggling to try to come up with blog topics, I have 100 blog post ideas available for you to use.
Connect with other authors.
Your fellow authors aren’t your competition, they are your allies. Connecting with other authors provides you with mentorship and insight as well as promotional opportunities. You can help one another promote your books and grow your audiences. There are several Facebook Groups (like The Mixtus Meet-Up) and hashtags on Instagram and Twitter that will lead you to other authors to connect with. Here’s a post to read up on how to connect with authors and help promote each other's work.
Focus on keywords.
Keywords are words that your ideal reader uses to search for topics that they are interested in. If you’re a new writer, most readers won’t search for your name because they aren’t aware of you yet. But they will search for a specific genre or topic. Make a list of keywords that you feel your ideal reader will use and include them in your blog titles, your bio, your Amazon Author profile, your website, blog tags, etc. This will make your page searchable and visible online.
Give readers a taste of your writing.
I’m not an advocates of giving your entire book away for free, but it is important to give readers a taste or example of what your writing and book are like. Consider writing a short story, a novella, a multiple chapter download (more than just one chapter - be sure to leave them at a cliffhanger so they want to read more!) is a great way to introduce readers to your writing. When people sign up for your newsletter they can get the free download.
Focus on your newsletter.
Your newsletter is - by and far - the biggest asset you have for your marketing. Newsletter subscribers are your core fanbase. By giving you their email they are saying, “Yes, I’m interested. I want to hear more!” You have their attention on a newsletter and you control the information and interactions. You don’t have to rely on social media for that. Building a solid newsletter list should be a top priority for authors. And it’s a free way to market your book!
If you want to learn how to set up and send your newsletter, click here.
For a list of 25 newsletter sign-up incentives, click here.
And here’s how you can create a year's worth of newsletter content.
Effective marketing takes a little creativity. When you can step outside of what every other author is doing and come up with ideas that will get you in front of your ideal reader and make them sit up and notice, you will see big results quickly.
My biggest piece of advice is to start simple and get fancy later. When you take it one item at a time, you will find that book marketing is not as complicated or as overwhelming as you think it is.