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Promote Your Book on a Budget: 20 Thrifty Ways to Get Your Writing Out There

Some folks say that the success of a book is 10% quality and 90% marketing. As an independent author you’re probably not working with a big promotional budget. You’ve already paid for pro editing, pro book design, book printing, and more, and the funds for anything AFTER the book has been made may have dwindled.

I’ve got good news, though: while it wouldn’t hurt to have some serious cash to throw behind your promotional efforts, nowadays savvy and motivated authors can spread the word about their books in really effective ways for cheap, or even free!

[Note: this article is based on a list by Penny Sansevieri of ways in which you can promote your writing for under $50 (featured HERE). So be sure to check out that post too!]

 20 ways to promote your book without breaking the bank

1. Set up a professional author website- Domain name registration and hosting are quite affordable these days. A company like HostBaby (our sister company!) can help you create a great looking site in minutes, equip it with social media integration, a blog, and all the other goodies that’ll help you sell more books.

2. Make sure your site is media-friendly- When you start approaching the media, you don’t want to make it hard for them to find the info they need. Set up a page on your website that has everything the media will need in order to cover your story. This includes any previous press quotes, your bio, hi-resolution photos of both you AND your book cover, a Q&A, links to all your social media profiles, and whatever else you want them to see. (For more info, check out our article “Is Your Author Website Ready to Meet the Press?“)

3. Guest blog posts- A great way to drive traffic to your own website and to boost your search engine rankings is to contribute articles to other peoples’ sites. Find some simpatico folks and ask if you can write a piece for their blog. Or do a blog exchange and trade articles.

4. Plan your book launch event early- Signings are ok, but readings are best! Plan an awesome event that combines a reading with a signing and Q&A opportunity. Go ahead, strut your stuff. (For more info, check out our article “How to Throw a Book Launch Party That Isn’t a Waste of Time.“)

5. Hold a social media contest or giveaway- People love prizes, and they love to share tweets and Facebook posts about contests. Have some fun; use social media to interact with your fans and give away some copies of your book.

6. Do radio interview, and lots of ‘em- Getting radio exposure might sound daunting, but there are countless internet, community, and college radio stations that are happy to interview writers. News shows may be interested in your story to fill a couple minutes in their program. Other radio shows focus specifically on the arts or writing, and you might be able to get an hour of air time or more. For more information on approaching these stations, check out CD Baby’s Complete Guide to Radio Promotion. (It was written with musicians in mind, but the same principles apply).

7. Promote yourself in your email signature- You probably take your email signature for granted. But it’s valuable real estate. Make sure to include your contact info, your website and social media links, and maybe even a quote or blurb about your book!

8. Send your book to 7 reviewers each week- That’s one a day. And all it’ll cost you is a few dollars in postage and a few minutes of research. Make sure they’re open to unsolicited review copies first, though!

9. Craft a catchy press release- Make sure the story of your book launch grabs the media’s attention. Spend some serious time on this press release. When it’s ready, send it out through some of the online press release companies. Penny suggests the following: http://www.prlog.org/,  http://www.1888pressrelease.com/http://i-newswire.com/, and  http://www.prfocus.com/. Also, be sure to contact all the appropriate radio and TV stations in your area, local magazines, weeklies, newspapers, and events blogs.

10. Start your own email newsletter- This is the best way to interact with your fans on a regular basis. Find a way to entice your website visitors to leave their contact info (in exchange for a book discount, free chapter of a book in-the-works, etc.). Have an email signup sheet at all your events.

11. Use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.- There are dozens of social networks out there. Find the 3 that you enjoy using most and that give you the best results– and then spend 20 minutes a day on each. An hour of social networking every day should be plenty, and by the end of the first month or two you should see results. Check out these articles to get started:

Facebook for Authors

Twitter for Authors

Pinterest for Authors

12. Follow-up with everyone that helps you- Whether they’re a fan, bookstore owner, literary critic, family member, blogger, or DJ, stay in contact and show your appreciation via email, thank you card, or gift (something inexpensive but personalized– maybe a bookmark with your contact info and elements of your book cover art?)

13. Be good to book clubs- Offer to Skype in for their discussion sessions, write up some discussion guidelines with questions that book clubs could employ in their meetinsg, and maybe even attend a few local discussions in-the-flesh!

14. Ask a friend to host a book party- It’s like a mini version of your book launch/reading/signing, but smaller and more informal. The intimacy of these events usually gets the audience engaged (and ready to purchase a book).

 15. Explore consignment options- It can be difficult to get shelf space for your book even in smaller independent stores. But I recommend visiting all the stores within an hour’s drive, talk to the person in charge of acquiring inventory, and ask if they’ll take a few books on consignment. There’s little risk for the store. If they don’t sell in 3 months, you can always come back and pick them up. But they’re going to sell, right?! Yeah, that’s right.

16. Subscribe to Google Alerts- Google will notify you any time someone out there in the wide world of the internet writes about you, your book, your brand, your genre, etc. Then you can contact those people to see about further promotion opportunities, or simply to thank them for mentioning your work.

17. Write a letter to the editor- Does your book touch upon a topic that is trending in the news? If so, you might be able to write an editorial for a local newspaper or weekly about that subject (oh, and mention your book, of course)!

18. Subsidize your vacations- If you’re headed out of town, why not set up some reading events in bookstores or libraries in your destination city?

19. Books aren’t just for bookstores- Maybe other local retailers would like to feature your book in their stores, too! And don’t forget public and school libraries.

20. Post every positive review to your web site- If someone else is singing your praises, it’ll speak volumes to your potential readers. Make sure you put all your good press on your website, and let your email newsletter subscribers and social media followers know any time you get really great coverage.(But if you’re in the midst of a successful media blitz, make sure you’re not tooting your own horn every couple days– save that up for the really exciting news).

If you’re looking to put serious effort and time into a promotional campaign for your book, these are just a few of the ways you can continue to build your author platform. Be sure to check Penny’s list too, for more great ideas.

How have you promoted your book without breaking the bank? I’d love to hear your ideas. Please feel free to leave comments in the section below.

Publish your book today

Chris Robley

About Chris Robley

Chris Robley has written 578 posts in this blog.

is an award-winning poet, songwriter, performer, and music producer who now lives in Portland, Maine after more than a decade in Portland, Oregon. His music has been praised by NPR, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, and others. Skyscraper Magazine said he is “one of the best short-story musicians to come along in quite some time.” Robley’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in POETRY, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Magma Poetry, and more. He is the 2013 winner of Boulevard's Poetry Prize for Emerging Writers and the 2014 recipient of a Maine Literary Award in the category of "Short Works Poetry."

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