99 Virtually Free Marketing Ideas For Self-Published Writers | Self-Publishing Relief

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Self-published authors embrace the freedom to write, package, and release books on their own terms. But with that freedom comes lots of responsibility, including the cost of book promotion. Lacking the budget of a traditional publisher’s marketing and sales department, self-published writers have to be creative, flexible, and innovative when it comes to book marketing ideas. At Self-Publishing Relief, we know an author website is an absolute necessity, as well as a social media presence—but this infrastructure is just a start. So how can you kick your book up in sales rankings and still stay within your budget?

99 Practically Free Marketing Ideas To Help Self-Published Writers Boost Book Sales

  1. Include hotlinks in the back matter of each of your self-published e-books to promote additional book sales.
  2. Include a teaser chapter for another of your e-books at the end of your new release.
  3. Include a “to the reader” letter in the back matter of your books to thank readers and encourage them to check out your other work.
  4. Use Canva to make free graphics for posting on social media.
  5. Use short quotes from your own book superimposed on graphics to share on social media.
  6. Rebrand all your social media headers with images from new releases before a launch.
  7. Set up an Amazon Central Account before your book release to harness the power of Amazon’s New Release email alert on your book birthday.
  8. Set up a BookBub profile before your book release date to take advantage of BookBub’s New Release email alert on your book birthday.
  9. Start a Facebook Business page for your author name so that you can “boost” important posts in order to expand your reach. Boosting costs start at as little as $5.
  10. Schedule a Facebook launch party and invite fellow authors in the same writing genre to offer giveaways.
  11. Use your Facebook Author Page insights tab to determine the optimum time to post your content to reach the most followers.
  12. Do a live video Q&A on Facebook specifically about your book or something related to the book.
  13. Start a Facebook Group specifically for your most vocal and avid fans. Be involved and engaging!
  14. If you’re writing a long book series, consider creating a Facebook fan page for your main character.
  15. Stream a Facebook Live author Q&A, or host a Q&A on Snapchat or YouTube.
  16. Pin a post to the top of your Facebook or Twitter feed announcing contests, releases, or any other special news.
  17. Update your Twitter bio to include a link to your book on your website.
  18. Host a Twitter chat Q&A.
  19. Make a hashtag specific to your book and promote it to your fans on Twitter and Instagram.
  20. Take advantage of popular writer and book release hashtags to expand the reach of your tweets and posts.
  21. Include links to your website, social media profiles, and new book release in your email signature.
  22. If you’re involved in any writing forums, such as Kindle Boards, maximize your signature line by including all your books, a link to your website, etc.
  23. Start and maintain a blog.
  24. Make your blog easy to share by using AddThis free website tools like a sliding bar of social media icons.
  25. Start a video blog (vlog).
  26. Be a guest on someone else’s blog.
  27. Comment frequently on the blogs of other authors in a similar genre.
  28. Plan a blog tour.
  29. Join the Goodreads Author Program and set up an author page.
  30. Feed your blog into your Goodreads page—it’s one of the perks.
  31. Join a relevant Goodreads Group to engage with other booklovers.
  32. Embed your YouTube videos, book trailers, etc. into your Goodreads author profile.
  33. Add your book release events and invite your Goodreads friends and followers to attend.
  34. Sign up for LinkedIn and include your books in your profile.
  35. Grow your network on LinkedIn by connecting with like-minded writers and influencers.
  36. Contact book reviewers on Amazon and offer them a copy of your book for review.
  37. Claim a LibraryThing Profile, where you can give away limited copies of your e-book for a short time in exchange for reviews.
  38. On social media, kindly ask your fans who’ve already read your book to post a review.
  39. Set up Google Alerts for your author name and the titles of each of your books so you’ll be notified of new reviews, interviews, and mentions.
  40. Post your gratitude for a great review.
  41. If you have a book series, make sure the books are all linked on a series page in Amazon to encourage readers to buy a set.
  42. Offer an opportunity for readers to click through to a sample of your book using the <embed> feature found on your Amazon book page (under the buy button).
  43. Optimize your Amazon book page description by using HTML effectively.
  44. Grow your mailing list by offering a “reader magnet” of some sort, whether it be a short story, novella, dossier on your major character, or one of your backlist books.
  45. To build anticipation, email your subscribers and post on your website about a book cover reveal, exclusive sample, and preorder alert.
  46. Pick the optimum subject line for your new release email blast to encourage the maximum number of opens.
  47. A week later, send a second new release email blast with a different subject line to those on your list who didn’t open the first email.
  48. Write a series of onboarding emails for your subscription list in order to encourage your subscribers to check out your backlist books.
  49. Cross-promote by exchanging newsletter announcements with other authors in your genre.
  50. Cross-promote by offering a multi-author anthology using BookFunnel’s Book bundles.
  51. Run a Rafflecopter contest and offer a free e-book or other free digital content as a prize through BookFunnel.
  52. Preschedule social media posts on sites like TweetDeck or Hootsuite to make sure you’re getting the word out about your new book in a frequent and time-effective way.
  53. Look for podcast opportunities.
  54. If you are distributing books through Kobo, apply for low-cost ($10) book promotions.
  55. Check out these websites where you can announce your new release for free.
  56. Set up a secret Pinterest board for your new book and then, on social media, do a big reveal.
  57. Pin your book cover with a link-to-purchase on Pinterest.
  58. Organize your Pinterest boards so that the ones for the book being promoted are the first ones a reader will see.
  59. Join online affiliate marketing programs like Amazon Associates, Apple Book’s affiliate program, and Barnes & Noble’s affiliate program to earn a little extra money to pay for your promotion efforts.
  60. Make a book trailer on the cheap on Animoto or make it for free with Powtoon.
  61. Consider selling your e-book directly from your website by setting up your own online store and then send traffic there.
  62. Write a press release about your new book and send it to local newspapers.
  63. Send a press release or other announcement to your alma mater and/or its alumni magazine.
  64. Attend book festivals.
  65. Do a talk at your local library or community center.
  66. To promote buzz, leave a print copy of your book in a public place with a note: “It’s free! Pass it on when you’re done.”
  67. Spread goodwill and encourage buzz by donating copies of your book to your local library, retirement home, school, homeless shelter, prison, house of worship, or community center.
  68. Offer to give a portion of the profits from the sale of your book to a cause that resonates with the subject or story.
  69. If you write nonfiction on a specific subject, sign up for Help A Reporter Out (HARO) for the chance to be a journalist’s source on your subject of expertise.
  70. If you have specific expertise relating to your nonfiction book or research you’ve done for a novel, check out the conversations on that subject on Quora, answer queries, and mention your book.
  71. Write articles for magazines, e-zines, or newspapers about an area of expertise tied to your new release.
  72. Promote your book on social media by connecting it to a relevant National Celebration Day.
  73. If it fits your subject, pitch a book as a gift for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduation, or any other relevant celebration or holiday.
  74. Ask a question on social media to provoke conversation, such as “Which do you prefer: High Fantasy or Urban Fantasy?”
  75. Ask fans to post pictures of your book on their reading devices—especially in unique locations!
  76. Post behind-the-scenes pictures on social media of your writing space, your TBR list, your bookshelf, your book-related research, etc.
  77. Poll your readers about their reading preferences and listen to what they say in order to influence your marketing plans.
  78. Build an author street (promo) team.
  79. Print business cards at inexpensive printers like Vistaprint and hand them out to anyone who shows interest.
  80. Write a better book blurb.
  81. Write a better author bio.
  82. Update your book keywords.
  83. Update your book categories.
  84. Consider dropping your price.
  85. Rethink the effectiveness of your book cover.
  86. Go wide with your distribution and make it easy with an aggregator like Draft2Digital.
  87. Put your book in KDP Select for a 90-day period to take advantage of Amazon’s powerful promotional tools and the Kindle Unlimited book-page payments.
  88. Enter writing contests. They’ll establish credibility for your work.
  89. Optimize your website for search engines to boost Google rankings.
  90. Master your elevator pitch: that verbal, one-minute pitch of your book that’s meant to excite and entice the listener.
  91. Use free QR codes on your business card, bookmark, or other marketing materials to make it easy for readers to access your website on their mobile devices.
  92. Publish a book bundle of a book series, or a bundle of stand-alone books that is centered on a theme.
  93. Excerpt your book on Wattpad.
  94. Try Fiverr for low-cost help in your promotional efforts, such as e-book covers, writing promotional copy, book formatting, and posting to social media.
  95. Draw the attention of book clubs by offering to visit them live, by phone, or by Skype.
  96. Use free Bitly links to give you click-through statistics that’ll help you hone and direct your marketing efforts.
  97. If you have a long book series with popular characters, consider selling themed merchandise on your site.
  98. Make a calendar of events for your website to include both live appearances such as book signings, digital events such as cover reveals, and online events like Facebook book launch parties or YouTube Q&As.
  99. Get your cat or dog involved by posting pictures of your beloved pet with your books.

Many of your book promotion and marketing activities will focus on building a platform on social media and connecting with influencers and colleagues. As with these and all other book marketing and promotion ideas, it’s important to start early, continue to engage, be polite, and, most of all, be yourself.

 

Q: What is your best free or low-cost book marketing strategy and how did it work for you?

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