Marketing. The “bad word” of the self-publishing community, as it appears. This little word is another huge reason why many authors try traditional publishing. But here’s the good news–marketing isn’t impossible. Marketing can actually be simple and easy. While there are huge investments, ads, campaigns, and other wallet-hurting things that you can do… This post is about marketing tips that you can try for FREE!
This post is for any self-published author or soon-to-be-published author, but especially those who are in the beginning stages of their journey, or those who just feel lost in their pursuit of marketing. Before we begin… With hard work and God, you’ll accomplish your goals, so keep your head up!
I pray these free tips help you, and feel free to adjust them to fit your unique needs!
DO SOME RESEARCH
If you are present on your social media platform and follow fellow authors on that platform, you might get insight on what “goes”. What are authors and writing posting about? What kind of posts make people talkative?
I know, it sounds like homework, but once you find your audience (age range: adult, young adult; genre: thriller authors, contemporary authors, etc etc), find some accounts, big or small. Don’t mimic them, but try and get a feel as to what that audience likes.
Then, make it your own! You are your own person, so your “author brand”, your social media presence, it should be uniquely you, too. With the research you’ve done, you can get a proper idea of what you want to offer the community, what content you want to share, etc.
CHOOSE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA
Many author events cost money (setting up a booth at a con, etc), so don’t feel bad if you can’t “get out into the world”. You can get out there on social media!
You should pick social media you actually enjoy and look into the demographics, first. Facebook is great if you are focused on an adult audience. Instagram is great if your audience is young adults. Not every social media platform is equal, so before you dive in, give this some thought!
SUPER IMPORTANT PLATFORMS: I suggest having a website or blog, no matter what other platforms you choose. This is a very basic way to 1) grab new readers 2) post quality content 3) give back to the writing community. You don’t have to post every single day but it helps to have a shiny website you can direct people. Your website should include information about yourself, your books/projects, contact info, etc. If you’re serious about publishing and gaining readers, consider starting a newsletter, which can be started before you publish, as well. A newsletter is a simple way to reach your readers and they can be lots of fun!
Once you’ve decided on your social media platforms, the key is 1) being yourself 2) posting regularly. Basically, never try to mimic other authors, post quality content on a schedule, and if you really are into it, consider Googling ways to find your “author brand”.
POST YOUR STUFF
As I said before, your content should be your own, so own your stuff!
If you write contemporary fiction, you can share your favorite contemporary reads. If you write historical fiction, it might be interesting to share facts about the era you write in–or even dress up in the era! Never feel limited by who you are, where you live, what you write–own your social media and make it unique to you!
Remember, people like pretty things, so it really pays off to put extra effort in quality of photos, spelling in your posts, and adding proper hashtags (especially on Instagram, Twitter, etc)! Making a schedule and posting regularly helps immensely, too.
SHAKE IT UP
Many authors get stuck. They either post “too much” about their books or “too little”. Where is the balance? Here’s the trick: people usually aren’t following you because of your book. You are marketing yourself and your books. Sounds tough, huh? It doesn’t have to be!
Personally, I rarely follow anyone because “hey, their book looks cool!” and I never just buy an Indie novel because I like the cover. Maybe I’m just picky, but I want to know about the author before I invest money! (Most readers I know are like this, too…)
Keep that in mind when you post your content. I’ve seen polls on Facebook and the results are that most people don’t want to see 9/10 Instagram posts being photos of an author’s novel. Personally, I don’t want to see 9/10 posts being selfies or coffee pics, either. Obviously, you can’t please everyone!
Don’t be afraid to change things up, just don’t forget to post photos of your books, book quote graphics, etc! Be proud of your book(s)! Just don’t forget to add some other content and let followers know a bit more about the person behind the keyboard.
ENSURE YOUR BOOK IS TOP-NOTCH
If you are published, or if you are about to be, don’t forget these crucial tips before you begin marketing:
- Do you have a hook? For every book you have, make sure you have a quick hook that you can pitch. If someone in the cashier line asks, “What is your book about?”, you probably won’t be able to tell them the entire blurb (though, definitely make sure the blurb on Amazon/the back cover is solid). So, have a hook, and use it on social media, too. Grab people’s attention as quick as you can! Need help doing this? There are tons of links online. Here’s one to get you started!
- Do you have a quality cover that fits the genre? The cover is kind of like your book’s handshake. Is it limp? Clammy? You get the drift–make sure your cover is quality and fits the genre. People are more likely to click this way!
- What will readers see when they peek inside? Most authors will insist that you hire an editor. While you might not be able to afford a ton of different types of editing, I always invest in a copy editor, since that is an area I struggle in most. (I’m also a developmental + line editor and I offer affordable prices, so if you’re interested, you can always contact me!)
- Has your book been read already? A book should not hit the shelves if it has not been read by someone, preferably someone besides family and friends. If you’re concerned over developmental editing or big-picture problems in your manuscript, consider beta readers. I have a whole post about that here!
GUEST POSTS + AUTHOR INTERVIEWS
Guest posts and author interviews are really easy and super fun! They’re ways to get out in the community and market your books.
How to get them: Find a few friends, bloggers in your genre, or put out a post asking for guest post/interview swaps.
Don’t forget: add a small author bio that includes your website and your published works so new readers can find you!
JOIN SOCIAL MEDIA GROUPS
Once you picked your favorite social media and you’re pretty active, it’s a great time to join some groups! There are tons of writing groups on Facebook. I’m sure they’re elsewhere, but I do best on Facebook. Goodreads has group options. Instagram has group chats that can be fun. Get out there, put some effort into new relationships, and watch your following list grow!
If you’re novel is published and you want to spice up your marketing posts, consider review endorsements.
- Ask Amazon/Goodreads reviewers if you can quote a part of their review. You can make review graphics and share them online. They look really cool!
- Email authors in your genre and request a blurb endorsement. Research how to write a blurb request email and send them out to Indie or traditional authors. Expect a lot of rejections, as most people are busy, but I cannot stress this experience enough. It’s worth the time and effort. (I talked to Lois Lowry, y’all!)
These review quotes can also be added in the novel itself within a “PRAISE FOR…” type page. If you’re novel is already published, you can still add review quotes once you have permission from the reviewers. If you’re novel isn’t published, consider gathering the quotes before the novel is formatted.
I also offer review services (for free) so if you want to learn more, click here!
Amazon can be picky when it comes to reviews, so I won’t go into great detail here, but consider emailing complimentary copies of your novel to interested readers. They will have to add a FTC disclosure but the reviews can be immensely helpful. If you’re interested, there are lots of articles online on how to properly do this, before or after your book is published.
PUT YOUR BOOK ON SALE
Putting your book on sale is a great way to market the novel and get a few downloads! Discount your book’s price on Amazon and go shout it from the social media rooftops.
Once again, as part of marketing, put some thought into your sales. Do you write romance? Put the novel on sale during Valentine’s Day. Do you write Christmas books? Mark them down around Christmas.
CREATE A STREET TEAM
If you’re making your writing journey a business, consider creating a street team! A street team is basically a group of people who are willing to help you market your books and share your news. You usually give street team members exclusive updates, cover sneak peeks, and fun info! It’s definitely worth the time and research. My street team is amazing!
OFFER BONUS MATERIAL
If you want to gain followers (or newsletter subscribers), a great way to gain interest is bonus material that relates to your book(s). Some free options can include; prequel stories (many authors, myself included, will offer a free short story as a way to grab attention for newsletter subs), music playlists, mood boards, and free recipes. Generally, bonus material is exclusive for street team members, but some things, like music playlists and mood boards, aren’t so secret and are great ways to grab readers.
USE AMAZON KEYWORDS AND CATEGORIES
Amazon offers keyword and category options. Make sure you’re using the right ones and if you’re really invested, many authors will play around to see which ones work best.
Amazon allows you to update and add more categories, as well. Many have great luck with this. I’m one of the few who can’t seem to figure it out and Amazon hasn’t helped me much, but I will be working hard to figure it out this year. (If you struggle with this, like me, Google does have help, you can email Amazon, and if you’re in a writing group, they’re usually helpful!)
If you’re releasing a new novel, consider a blog tour. Yes, this can be done for free, if you have an email list and readers! Blog tours can be a great, free way to gain attention for your new book.
I have always hosted my own blog tours to date and really enjoy it. It does helps gain hype and new readers, from my experience. I will be doing another blog tour this summer for my dystopian thriller, The Grim Alliance, The Infidel Books #2, so if you’re interested in what a blog tour can look like when you do it yourself, follow along!
DONATE YOUR BOOK(S) TO LIBRARIES
Libraries are amazing places, so don’t forget to donate your novels to as many as you can. And if you donate other Indie novels to libraries, it is really fun to share that on social media, too. Finding out my novel is in libraries elsewhere in the US tickled me pink!
ASK YOUR LIBRARY IF YOU CAN DO AN AUTHOR SIGNING OR WRITING WORKSHOP
While some cons and festivals require payment for booths, my local library didn’t cost a dime for me to do an author signing and a small writing workshop! Contact your local library (or a few of them!) and see if you can do an author signing, etc. It’s a great way to give back to the community and meet new readers without spending an arm and a leg.
A friend recommended this website to me. I’ve yet to properly figure it out, but I know many Indies who have had great luck with it! Basically, it helps you promote your book for free.
DO LIVE VIDEOS
Live videos on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube–it is a booming way to gain reader interaction and let people know “hey, I’m here, I’m writing, and I have a book you just might love!”
LOOK INTO PODCASTS
Podcasts, like Youtube, are growing in popularity. While they aren’t my thing (I’m still trying to get my Youtube running…), they are useful and lots of fun. Look into finding podcasts that fit your niche.
Facebook events are a great way to have fun and gain new readers. If you are in Facebook groups, keep an eye out on hosts looking for participants, or try creating your own!
Don’t forget to market your published books, but don’t forget to keep writing! Keeping people up to date on what you’re currently working on is a great way to gain interest. The best way to grow, both in marketing in writing skills, is to keep writing!
Above all… be yourself, engage with your readers, and keep writing.
Thanks so much for reading. I hope some of these tips helped and encouraged you. If you have some great free marketing tips, feel free to drop ’em below!