So you’ve written and published a book, now you need to find some people to read it. You might think you need a marketing budget, but while paid ads are often successful, there’s loads of things you can do at no cost at all!
1. Write more books
The single best thing you can do for book 1 is write book 2. This isn’t to say there’s no point in doing marketing and promotion, but it’s important not to lose momentum on what you actually DO – write! You can’t sell content you don’t have.
Even if you don’t write series, having another book your readers can move onto if they enjoyed their first taste of your work is more likely to gain you sales than any other strategy.
2. Fill in your Amazon Author Profile
This is such a quick and easy thing to do and it makes you look so much more legitimate. Just having an author profile tells your Amazon readers that you’re a professional author who takes your writing career seriously.
Joanna Penn has a great blog on how to make the most of this opportunity. She also has loads more great advice so maybe bookmark her site!
3. Make yourself an author website where you can link your web presence together
I could dedicate an entire blog post to this one subject, but I’m going to boil it down to this:
The more ways people can discover and connect with you, the more readers you can reach. Having all those places interconnected increases your search engine visibility and means readers can interact with you in more ways. The quickest and easiest way to achieve an interconnected web presence is to have a website and connect it to everywhere else you have a profile, a sales page, etc.
4. Start a mailing list
Readers’ email addresses are the most powerful assets you can acquire. With an email address and marketing permission, you have a direct line to that reader.
You can start a mailing list with zero investment. You’ll only be able to grow it to around 1000-2500 subscribers on a free plan, but that can be a tomorrow problem. Try out the free options and see how it goes. Two of the most popular providers are MailerLite and MailChimp.
5. Do a newsletter swap with a fellow author
Finding subscribers for your newsletter can be difficult. One way to tackle this challenge is to pool your resources with other writers. Collaborate with other authors in your genre so you know your collective subscribers have similar tastes.
There are groups and sites dedicated to coordinating swaps and a little online research will turn up lots of advice about how to approach doing swaps.
6. Consider investing in a Book Funnel and/or Prolific Works account.
Okay, so this one is not free, but it’s also not expensive and it’s not a potential money pit like some strategies can become.
Prolific Works has a free basic platform. Bookfunnel’s entry level has a small fee, but their mid-grade plan is cheaper. Both give you digital book distribution functionality that can be used in lots of creative ways. As an investment, a subscription to either or both gets you powerful marketing tools for relatively little money.
7. Write and send out a press release
A press release is a one-page document that covers everything important about your book for media professionals to use. It’s a great little asset you can attach to emails when you approach people for publicity opportunities and might just help you secure a spot.
For a day’s work crafting and formatting an attractive, compelling PDF, you get something you can use over and over. Worth the time, I think.
Google how to put one together, to make sure you’re including the right types of information in the right ways. Get creative with layout and design.
8. Approach some book bloggers and reviewers
The relationship between indie authors and book bloggers can be a little tense, and misunderstandings abound. Forget what you’ve heard. Book bloggers love books, it’s why they do what they do, and they are often very open to receiving free copies. (Book bloggers should also take note that Indie Authors LOVE reviews and will usually trip over their feet to give you a free copy if you ask for one).
When you approach a book blogger, don’t just send your book, open a conversation. Here’s some dos and don’t:
DO read their submission guidelines.
DO be prepared that not all reviews will be 5 Stars.
DO introduce yourself and be polite.
DON’T act entitled. This is their hobby and you are not paying them. They don’t owe you.
DON’T contact them at all if they are closed for submissions, state they don’t accept unsolicited or self-published submissions, or don’t review your genre. Don’t waste their time or yours.
9. Join some social media groups for fans of your genre
It’s tempting for writers to fall into the habit of hanging out in writer communities, but most readers are not writers. If you want to build a bigger and more resilient fan base, you need to reach outside of the writer bubble and go where the readers are. Think like a reader. BE a reader. Mingle and take part in reader discussions and drop mentions of your own work in when it’s appropriate. Find communities on Facebook, Goodreads, Discord and so on.
10. Make a mock-up graphic or commission one
You’ve got a great book cover, now make it shine in a mock up graphic. This can be another asset that makes you look more professional, and you can re-use again and again. There are sites where you can upload your cover and get a render of what it looks like as a book for absolutely free. Just Google “free mock ups”. Some of the free options can be a bit basic. If you ask your friendly neighbourhood graphic designer very nicely, they might do you a freebie that looks that little bit more awesome.
Look for innovative and different ways to promote. Reach out to each other and see what new and exciting ideas your fellow writers have. Here’s a few suggestions from the #WritingCommunity on Twitter and Facebook:
T. L. Philip suggests you get your book in front of YouTube reviewers and podcasters – you could access entirely new audiences by tapping into a different medium!
Staying on the subject of video, Gila Green recommends putting yourself out there with some video readings. All you need to get started is a phone with a camera, and a video can really catch people’s attention!
Mark Morey reminds us that reviews aren’t just reviews, they can be testimonials, blurbs, endorsements – a gift that keeps on giving! Once you have some reviews, you can cherry pick quotes to use as content elsewhere.
eBook giveaways are a fantastic way to generate some hype and attention, and get some copies into reader hands. If you can absorb the cost, paperback giveaways are even better.
What tips do you have? Add yours in the comments below!