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Book Marketing Tips: 12 Free or Low Cost Promotional Ideas

Updated on August 13, 2016
heidithorne profile image

Heidi Thorne is a self publishing expert, author of 21 (and counting!) business books and eBooks, and a former trade newspaper editor.

Book marketing doesn't always have to be expensive. In fact, there are many low cost—even free!—ways to promote a book. That's good news for self published authors!

Here are 12 easy and cheap ways to help generate buzz and sales.

1. Add to Your Website

This is a "well, duh!" item. Yes, add your book to your website! Here are some ways to do that:

  • Create a separate page for your book(s) and include a link to it in the navigation bar.
  • Include a clickable graphic of your book cover in your website's sidebar that links to the book sales page that's on your website or retail site such as Amazon.
  • If signed up for the Amazon Associates program, create a banner ad link for your book and embed the HTML code in a sidebar or other locations throughout your site. See the Amazon Associates program website for details.
  • Include your book's information and a graphic of the cover on your About page.

Cost: Free, unless you hire someone to update your website.

Should you create a separate website and domain for your book? See why (and why not) by clicking here.

Create a Page on Your Website for Your Books!

Source

2. Create an Author Page on Amazon with Author Central

Amazon allows authors to set up a page on Amazon to give customers more information about the authors and their books. Authors need to sign up for the Author Central program. Amazon verifies the author's identity and their connection to the books prior to posting the page.

In addition to displaying and linking to the author's available books, Amazon also allows authors to include the following on this Author Page:

  • Author photos.
  • Author biography.
  • Links to social media accounts such as Twitter and Facebook.
  • Link to author's blog.
  • Videos.

For authors who don't have their own website, this can be exceptionally helpful. But it's a must-do for all authors who have books for sale through Amazon.

Cost: Free.

Source

3. Set Up a Facebook Page

In addition to setting up an Author Central page on Amazon, setting up a Facebook page for the author and books is another free way to help promote book sales online. Like Author Central pages, Facebook pages allow authors to upload photos, biographical information and links to the author's websites, and more, but with the added bonus of being able to start conversations with fans on Facebook through posts and comments.

The question comes up as to whether to create a separate page just for a specific book. Yes, that can be done and may make sense in some cases. However, it's often more effective to build a page for the author since fans are usually looking for the latest from their favorite authors. As well, maintaining an individual page for each book published can be time consuming.

Cost: Free, unless hiring a social media expert to set up and maintain the page.

4. Add Books to Publications List on LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn offers the capability to list books and other publications you've written on your Profile page, including a description and an active link to Amazon or other site where readers can purchase the book.

Especially if it's a business-related book, this can help build credibility for business and career opportunities. And even if your "business" is creative or fiction writing, adding your books to your LinkedIn profile is a great way to showcase your body of work.

Cost: Free.

Source

Learn More About Internet Marketing

5. Promote on Social Media

Another "well, duh!" category! These days, it might even be the first or only type of marketing a self published author does. However, while social media can be useful in getting the word out on a new book, what do you do when the book is no longer "new?"

Though it might not be possible for all types of books (particularly fiction), grab quote snippets and tips from your book and post as a "Quote of the Day," including a link to site where readers can buy the book. Always, ALWAYS note that the quote was from YOUR book! Other than the book cover graphic, including a relevant stock or personal photo can help draw attention to the post. (Of course, use only properly licensed photos AND use them properly.)

Cost: Free, unless you hire a social media expert to manage your networks. Some stock photo images may have fees for licensing.

6. Public Speaking

Approach relevant associations and groups for opportunities to speak at one of their events about the subject of your book... not about the book itself. Your book is merely the lead-in and establishes your credibility to speak on the topic. You might even get paid to speak!

Cost: Free... or you might even make some money.

7. Write and Distribute a Press Release

Yes, real people write press releases... not just big PR firms. Writing a book is newsworthy and worthy of a press release! But remember that editors want to be able to take your release and drop it into their publication or website with little or no editing. So...

  • ALWAYS write in the third person!
  • Be clear as to why reading your book is important to the target audience.
  • Spend the most time getting the headline right. It's what will grab the attention of both editors and readers.

Also, don't limit your distribution to just editors. Post in on your website, link to it on social media and send it directly to your fans and customers.

Cost: Free, unless you physically mail the press release.

Business cards can be a cheap way to spread the word about a book while at events.
Business cards can be a cheap way to spread the word about a book while at events. | Source

8. Get Business Cards for Your Book

One way to help your books get the attention they deserve is to get them some business cards to distribute at networking events. Today, a few hundred business cards can often be ordered through online print sources (e.g., Vistaprint) for less than $20, plus tax and shipping. Some sites even offer a small supply of business cards for free. Plus, these sites usually offer free online design tools so you can avoid design fees, too.

What information should you put on the card?

  • Book title.
  • One sentence description of what the book is about.
  • Author's name.
  • Author photo. (Optional; may not be available on freebie business cards)
  • Book sales page URL (link). If the book is sold on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc., the URL for the page on which it is sold can be an extraordinarily long string of gobbledygook. Use a URL shortening service such as bit.ly to create a short URL that will fit comfortably on the card. Bit.ly also offers some customization of the short URL to create one that's memorable. Click here to see if it makes sense to buy a domain name for your book.
  • Author's website, Facebook page or Amazon Author Central page.
  • Book cover graphic. (Optional; may not be available on freebie business cards.)
  • Links to major social media feeds such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. (Optional)
  • Author's email. (Optional)

Cost: Usually free to less than $20 (plus taxes and shipping) for a small supply.

Bookmarks to promote a book can be a cheap as a few cents each up to several dollars each (such as this leather-like design).
Bookmarks to promote a book can be a cheap as a few cents each up to several dollars each (such as this leather-like design). | Source

9. Bookmarks

A bookmark is the perfect promotional giveaway to help promote a book! They come in a wide variety of sizes, materials and price points. But for authors on a budget, printing business cards in a vertical orientation can suffice. (See No. 8 above for more information on business cards.)

Cost: If using vertically printed business cards as bookmarks, cost to print through online sources can be less than $20 (plus taxes and shipping) for a small supply. Regular promotional bookmark prices vary from a few cents each to several dollars each, depending on product and quantity.

10. Get Reviews

Soliciting book reviews prior to publication can help get the online reviews started quickly after the book publishes. Share the pre-publication manuscript (or a portion of it) OR the actual published book with select potential reviewers with the understanding that they agree to write a review for you.

Also, be sure to remind reviewers that when they post their review anywhere, they need to disclose that they received an advance copy of the book to be in compliance with compensation disclosure guidelines.

Cost: Free if sharing electronic version of manuscript. Cost of printed book plus shipping if sending physical book to reviewers.

Learn More About Email Marketing

11. Add a Book Link to Email Signature

Every email you send can be a promotion! In your email signature, include a "Get my latest book, [title], by clicking here." type link. The link would go to the book sales and information page online.

Cost: Free.

12. Offer a Sample Chapter for Email Subscription Opt-Ins

Your readers and fans are your "customers" for your writing. So collect them as a valuable business asset! Encourage them to subscribe to your email list by offering a free sample chapter in exchange for opting in.

IMPORTANT! ALWAYS use a reputable email broadcast service (e.g., MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc.) for email marketing. NEVER use your personal email account to send broadcasts about your book. That will likely result in having your email account suspended for spamming.

Cost: Free, except for the cost of the email marketing service. Some email marketing services offer free use of their service for a trial period or free forever up to a certain number of subscribers or messages. See each service's terms for details.

Disclaimer: Any examples used are for illustrative purposes only and do not suggest affiliation or endorsement. The author/publisher has used best efforts in preparation of this article. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered or allowed and all parties disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for your particular purpose. The advice, strategies and recommendations presented herein may not be suitable for you, your situation or business. Consult with a professional adviser where and when appropriate. The author/publisher shall not be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. So by reading and using this information, you accept this risk.

© 2015 Heidi Thorne

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    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 2 years ago from Auburn, WA

      This was great, thanks. There are couple of things I did not realize I should do. Biz cards? Why not? Voted up and shared.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 2 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      I am bookmarking this hub because one of these years I hope and expect to write a book. Shared with followers.

      The most effective way to market a book is to write it so well that readers love it and gladly and spontaneously recommend it to others. Your marketing techniques multiply that effect. They won't much help a so-so book.

    • dashingscorpio profile image

      dashingscorpio 2 years ago

      I would also add sign up for email free alerts on Radioguestlist.com.

      There are lots of blog radio and podcast host looking to interview authors and this is especially true if your book fall in the self-help genre. The interviews are conducted over the phone. You just need to pitch them a good show idea.

      You can also sign up for alerts from Help a Reporter Out. These are writers of articles who are looking for contributions from experts and authors on various subjects to help them add to their feature. If they use what you send them they'll give you credit. Naturally your signature should be Blah Blah, Author of .....

      Approach various book clubs and other groups listed on Meetup.com in your area. Many would be interested in having a "guest speaker" to discuss their book or how it ties into the group's primary objective.

      Lastly you could write a proposal to your school district or community college offering to teach a (continuing education class). These are usually a one and done class lasting up to 2 hours. The district advertises the class/workshop in their student catalog. They'll pay you and you can arrange to have a "material fee" that students pay in addition to the class for your book. This is especially worthwhile if your class is a "how to" class.

      Even if it's not you can always teach a class about how to get published or self-publish a book! You would offer tips and tricks you learned through your experience. Best wishes!

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      Voted up. Some good ideas about book promotion.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      All great ideas. You do realize, of course, that most writers will not do #6. I don't know why that is but I'm positive of it. Anyway, thanks as always for some very practical ideas. Have a great week, Heidi!

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi lions44! Glad you found a couple new ideas to try. Thanks for stopping by and sharing! Have a great week!

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      You're right, B.Leekley! I could have added word of mouth as another free marketing idea. Agreed, all the marketing in the world won't help that which is unmarketable. Thanks for adding that important insight and for sharing! Have a wonderful week ahead!

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi dashingscorpio! Yes, Radioguestlist.com, HARO and Meetup are excellent--and often low cost or free!--ways to get the PR buzz a-rollin'! And sharing self publishing experience in classes, seminars or through coaching can definitely build a following. Thank you so much for offering these great tips to the list! Have a wonderful week ahead!

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi poetryman6969! Thanks for your comments and your vote. Have a terrific week ahead!

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      I so know that, Billybuc! But then you and I both know that a writing career cannot be pursued in a vacuum. Unfortunately, most writers try to do otherwise. Appreciate your support, as always! Have a terrific week ahead!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      Great advice as usual heidi, and some of these are good reminders, and some I totally didn't even think of, so thanks!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      You offer such expert advice here. Of particular value are your recommendations regarding email and spamming. Voted up and more and sharing.

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi Nell! Glad you got some good reminders & new tips from the post. Always good to see you here. Thanks for stopping by & have a beautiful day!

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Thanks, FlourishAnyway! Indeed, once writers cross the chasm from writing for fun to writing for profit, their world changes. But they often don't have the systems (such as email) in place to keep them out of trouble. Appreciate your always kind support and comments! Have a wonderful day!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      What a useful hub! I love your advice and suggestions, Heidi. Your article is a great reference source for writers. I'll share this hub.

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi AliciaC! Glad you found the tips helpful. Thank you so much for your support and sharing! Have a wonderful day!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Heidi, this is super useful for those who want to promote and market there books. I would keep this in mind when I come to that stage. I do have a blog and a Facebook fan page, just in case. I would do the best with social networking, too. Voted up!

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi Kristen! Glad you found it helpful. And we'll be looking for announcements on your own book sometime in the future. Thanks for stopping by & have a great week ahead!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      You're very welcome Heidi. Maybe in 2016, you can help me promote my book.

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Kristen, you know where to find me. Good luck with your future book adventures!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      I'll keep that in mind, Heidi. Thanks so much.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great tips Heidi. Some of these I would never have come up with. I don't know if I'll ever publish a book but I think many of these can be applied to writing travel articles. This one gets bookmarked for future reference. Thanks for sharing your area of expertise.

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi bdegiulio! We'll all hope to see a book from you someday with all your amazing work. :) Glad you found the tips helpful even for your currently articles. Appreciate you stopping by and commenting. Have a terrific day!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Very good advice for authors. I do some of these, but you have given me good ideas for doing more. For example, I didn't know I could create my own amazon author page.

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi Catherine! Many authors who are unaware of the Amazon Author Pages. Do check it out. Glad you found a few tips here. Thanks for stopping by and have a relaxing Memorial Day Weekend!

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 2 years ago from the Ether

      Great tips! I will bookmark this page so that once I've self-published my novel this year I will use these to promote it. Thanks so much!

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi Kitty! So exciting to hear about your novel coming out this year! Glad you'll be able to use some of these tips to get the word out. Appreciate you stopping by. Have a beautiful day!

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 2 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      Thanks! Tips are as welcome to writers as they are to bellhops.

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi Perspycacious! Glad you appreciate the tips (both kinds). :) Thanks for stopping by!

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Wonderful tips! Very helpful.

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi Larry! Glad you found the tips helpful. Good luck with your book marketing adventures. Cheers!

    • kalinin1158 profile image

      Lana ZK 21 months ago from California

      Very helpful ideas! I especially liked the Amazon Author Central program, going to apply right now.

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 21 months ago from Chicago Area

      Hi kalinin1158! Indeed, I think Amazon's Author Central program is an amazing perk for authors. Glad you found the tips helpful. Thanks for commenting and have a beautiful day!

    • Tricia Deed profile image

      Tricia Deed 12 months ago from Orlando, Florida

      I see why you were referred by another Hub person. In a few more months I will be ready to promote my book and I will be following your hubs for advice.

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 12 months ago from Chicago Area

      Hi Tricia! Thanks for checking it out... and thanks to your fellow hubber for recommending. We'll look forward to hearing more about your new book. Good luck with it and have a wonderful day!

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