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Promoting a Self-Published Book

Updated on July 5, 2017
Virginia Allain profile image

I'm carrying on my mother's research into our family history. I've self-published some family memoirs & learned a lot about different eras.

Send Postcards to Libraries

I used Vistaprint to make the postcards. One side shows the book cover & half the other side gives a pitch for the library to buy the book.
I used Vistaprint to make the postcards. One side shows the book cover & half the other side gives a pitch for the library to buy the book. | Source

Getting the Word out about a Book

Once you self-publish or use print-on-demand, you need to let book buyers know that it's available. Sure some people will happen upon it, but you'll sell a lot more if you work on promoting it. Here are some ways to promote that recently published book.

Most self-published authors don't have a paid publicist working for them, so they need to be innovative to get the word out on their own. The internet makes a great tool for spreading the word.

The recommendations below are all ones that I've used in promoting my mother's book, My Flint Hills childhood.

Best of luck to you with your book and reaching an audience of readers for it.


Cover of My Mom's Book

This is my mother's memoir. The tips on book promotion are from our experience with her books.
This is my mother's memoir. The tips on book promotion are from our experience with her books. | Source

More Ideas to Promote Your Self-Published Book

  1. Have your friends and family tuned in to promote your book. My mom even left a copy with her hairdresser to promote to customers who came in. Who knows how many sales that might generate.
  2. Be sure to set up the profile and bookstore at the print-on-demand site. Write a good blurb for the book, describe your credentials for the profile and put a good photo with it. This is what potential buyers see when coming to the online bookstore. Add tags and a category if that's offered.

    If the site has a preview option, like blurb.com, then be sure you've checked the box for that feature to work.

  3. If the site offers a badge (or widget), follow their directions to place that on your blog, Facebook profile and other websites that you have.

    Take advantage of any post-to-the-web links that the site offers, like Stumble upon, Digg, etc. If they don't offer these, you can find them on your own and plug in your book's web address to get more attention for it.

  4. Create an author's website where you can put contact information, and press releases. Make it clean looking, so readers can easily find the press release, the link to where to buy the book, and information about the author. I suggest having this separate from a blog, so it can be more focused.

    Wordpress is one site where you can choose a format, add in your text, photos and links to create a professional looking site for free in just a few hours. I've included links to my sister's and mother's author websites that I created for them on Wordpress. That will give you some idea of this.

  5. Brainstorm and come up with a list of newspapers, magazines and websites that would find you and/or your book topic interesting. Write a press release to post on your author website. Send the press release to these media outlets. You can add and subtract paragraphs in the standard press release to tailor it to special audiences.
  6. Send lots of emails. Spam your friends. Well, try to be tactful about it, but do email them and exclaim about your excitement over finishing your book. Give them the link to preview the book or at least to see the cover. Try not to get too pushy about their buying a copy, but you do want to let them know about it. Do this via email, or regular mail.
  7. Contact local radio and television to see if they want to interview you about your book. Publishers send out review copies to media for nationally published authors. This is too expensive to do for a print-on-demand book. Use your press releases to generate media interest.
  8. Contact local clubs to see if they would like you to speak about your book or have an author reading. The local public library is a good site for a reading or book signing. Ask the librarian if they would want to host it.
  9. Take a copy of your book to show to local bookstores, museums and gift shops. They may take some on consignment to sell in their shop.
  10. Create video book trailers (sort of like a movie trailer). Upload it to YouTube and other video sharing sites. This is an exciting and new way to promote your book. Here are some tips on how to create a book trailer and some examples for you to watch.

Create Wearable Book Promotions - Be a Walking Billboard for Your Book

I used VistaPrint for this and their stock image. Since my mother's book was about her childhood in Kansas, this VistaPrint graphic of a sunflower worked just fine. I could have paid more and had her book cover on the shirt.
I used VistaPrint for this and their stock image. Since my mother's book was about her childhood in Kansas, this VistaPrint graphic of a sunflower worked just fine. I could have paid more and had her book cover on the shirt. | Source

Order a t-shirt that says, "Ask me about my book." If possible, have the t-shirt show the book's cover. Have the webpage address where people can buy the book. Most important of all, show the title and author's name.

You can custom order t-shirts online (Vistaprint, CafePress, Zazzle) or get it done locally.

I would suggest contacting local community radio stations - they might have a smaller audience than the big ones, but their listeners are often more engaged in local news and culture.

— Jen of Chicago

Get Some Good Photos of Yourself to Use with Press Releases Promoting Your Self-Published Book

Go through your existing photos and see what look appeals to you the most. I recommend getting a professional photo taken. Choose your clothing, hair style and background to project the look you want.

Photo of my mom, Gail Lee Martin, that we used for her book jacket.

How to Promote a Book Using the Internet

The world wide web provides a multitude of ways to boost a self-published book. Check out these articles to get started.

Example of a Book Promotion Using Smilebox

Post it on Facebook, on a Blog, or other Site

Smileboxes can also be e-mailed. They are slideshows where you add your photos and text to their appealing layouts. The one I'm showing below was e-mailed out to my mailing list in the autumn.

The slideshows have musical accompaniments. These are free but the viewer has to sit through an advertisement first. You can get a paid subscription to Smilebox that is ad free. Probably worthwhile if you are going to use this often and look professional.

Example of a Smilebox Promotion for a Book

Click thumbnail to view full-size
I created this promo for my mother's book using Smilebox. It was emailed and also posted on Facebook. This is the promo on Smilebox for my father's biography.
I created this promo for my mother's book using Smilebox. It was emailed and also posted on Facebook.
I created this promo for my mother's book using Smilebox. It was emailed and also posted on Facebook. | Source
This is the promo on Smilebox for my father's biography.
This is the promo on Smilebox for my father's biography.

How To Market, Sell, Distribute, And Promote Your Book: Critical, Hard-To-Find Information For Authors And Publishers

How To Market, Sell, Distribute, And Promote Your Book: Critical, Hard-To-Find Information For Authors And Publishers
How To Market, Sell, Distribute, And Promote Your Book: Critical, Hard-To-Find Information For Authors And Publishers

So, how do you get your book stocked into major bookstores? How do you get bookclubs to feature your book? These and other questions are answered in this book.

 

Is Your Book Published Yet?

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Here's my 85 year old mother with her second booksigning at a bookstore near her hometown.
Here's my 85 year old mother with her second booksigning at a bookstore near her hometown.
Here's my 85 year old mother with her second booksigning at a bookstore near her hometown. | Source

Talk About Your Book - Everywhere

Contact bookstores, libraries, museums and schools to arrange an author visit. It can be a book launch, a book signing, a meet-the-author or a reading from the book. Also contact clubs that might need a speaker or program for their group. Send press releases to radio and television stations and call them about the possibility of appearing on their media for an interview.

The Public Library Promoted Their Author Talk with a Lighted Sign

The library also handed out bookmark-sized flyers to each customer before the event.
The library also handed out bookmark-sized flyers to each customer before the event. | Source

What a Thrill to See Your Name on the Billboard

I stopped by the public library to work out the details for my upcoming presentation. It gave me a real ego-boost to see my name on the marquee out front.

My talk is part of an author series that one of my writing group buddies arranged. She deserves a real pat on the back for thinking this up and pitching it to the library. Maybe I'd better take her out to lunch one day to show my appreciation.

My topic was "Self-Publishing Your Family Memories." It was a chance to show off two family books that I self-published using Blurb.com. That site is a print-on-demand publisher which means as people order one of the books, they print an individual copy and send it out to the person.

It works great as you don't need to print and pay for a batch up front and end up with boxes of unsold books in your basement. I bought a couple of copies to have available locally for people who aren't able to order online.

When you have a book signing or an author talk, be sure to have copies on hand for those impulse buyers. You can't count on them taking the time later to order the book. Catch the buyer while they are excited about the book.

Send Photos and a Press Release to the Paper for Book Signings

Send a press release in advance of the event, then follow up with pictures and a story. Get the newspaper to come out to cover the event if you can.
Send a press release in advance of the event, then follow up with pictures and a story. Get the newspaper to come out to cover the event if you can. | Source

Make It Available for Book Clubs - Create a Book Club Guide for Your Book

Booklovergifts created this magnet: I Love My Bookclub It's available from Zazzle.
Booklovergifts created this magnet: I Love My Bookclub It's available from Zazzle. | Source

Tips for Creating a Book Club Guide for Your Book

Here are some examples of book club guides that I've created on Hubpages. Make a list of sample questions that the leader can use to get discussion started in the book club meeting.

Since many book clubs have refreshments or lunch, I include ideas and even recipes in the guide that coordinate with the theme of the book.

Note that many books include the guide in the back of the book. You can do both, have it online and inside the book.

Example of a Facebook Fan Page to Promote a Book

Build up your following with a fan page. It's free and lets you keep your fans informed of book signings, new book releases, and other promotions for your book.
Build up your following with a fan page. It's free and lets you keep your fans informed of book signings, new book releases, and other promotions for your book. | Source

Tips for an Author Page on Facebook

Facebook has Pages or Groups. I like the pages format for a book promotion site. You can make it for a single book or make it for the author. I prefer the author page. It's free to create one of these.

Post regularly, at least once a week, with some tidbit about the book or the author. It can be a link to a good review, news about book signings, insights into the author's life, a notice of a special sale price for the book, a reminder to buy copies of the book to give for Christmas gifts, etc.

A Facebook fan page is a good place to build enthusiasm for an upcoming book. Talk about your research or share small excerpts before the new book comes out.

© 2009 Virginia Allain

Any Tips to Share about Book Promotion?

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    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 3 years ago from UK

      Some useful tips here, I have just started publishing books on Amazon, via Createspace, and am looking for ways to promote them - thanks

    • Arachnea profile image

      Tanya Jones 3 years ago from Texas USA

      As a self-published author, I'm always on the learning curve for making this endeavor work. Thank you for sharing your info. One tip, is twitter. It's a powerhouse tool for driving traffic to other more detailed information.

    • KathyZ1 profile image

      KathyZ1 3 years ago

      Great lens. Thanks for you sharing the tips. As a matter of fact, I just finished my own eBook.

    • profile image

      Colin323 3 years ago

      I am currently editing an anthology of short stories, soon to be published, with part royalties going direct to a UK charity. The charity concerned will take on a fair bit of the publicity to boost sales, which obviously benefits them.

    • DAEdmonston profile image

      DAEdmonston 4 years ago

      Thanks for the tips. I am planning a self-published book.

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @rattie lm: It's very competitive out there. Now with the self-publishing options, writers are enjoying finding an audience even if a standard publisher won't take their book.

    • rattie lm profile image

      rattie lm 4 years ago

      GREAT idea! I tried writing years ago and joined a local writers' group, but getting published is not easy. I saw others 'making it' and bought their books just to get an idea as to why mine didn't make the grade. (I write for children by the way!). I still haven't worked out the secret!

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @SeanYeagerAdv: Excellent suggestion, Sean. Libraries love getting books from local authors and may then be inspired to feature you in some way (review in local paper, invite you to an author event at the library, etc.).

    • SeanYeagerAdv profile image

      SeanYeagerAdv 4 years ago

      Great stuff, I'm working through the list of ideas.

      One more - gift a printed copy of your book to your local library.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Turn your car into a mobile marketer by putting pictures of book promo in windows or making magnets for side of car with book title/picture of cover.

    • GregKuhn profile image

      GregKuhn 5 years ago

      I love this lens! Another winner from you Vallain! Thank you. When I published my new book, Why Quantum Physicists Don't Get Fat, I thought about approaching a publishing house. Then I thought, "Who will be more passionate about my book than me?" and published it myself. So far it's been great fun spreading the word and it's working - my book is getting great reviews on Amazon. This page is a goldmine and I've now got it bookmarked. Your lenses are all great, please keep writing!

    • teristazko profile image

      teristazko 5 years ago

      I don't have a self-published book, but I would sell millions with all these tips. Great work!

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 5 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Lots of great ideas... THANKS! ;-)

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      Excellent tips for book promotion. I am hoping to get busy on a self publish book this summer. Life is always so busy on the internet. So much to do.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      I definitely have bookmarked this lenses - I am working on several lenses and I will come back to it when they are up and finished. Angel Blessed, there is a lot of good information here, nicely put.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Excellent lens. Great information.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thank you for taking the time to publish this lens and for sharing it with us fellow squids.

      Its a fantastic lens. One squid thumbs up vote given!

    • viscri8 profile image

      viscri8 6 years ago

      Thanks for all the examples here on how to promote a book, it is useful, be the book self published or not -- your lens is inspiring !

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

      Excellent book promotion resources. Thank you! I will be following up with the links you provided. Congrats to you and your mother for the coordinated efforts in promoting her Flint Hills Childhood book. Very nicely done. ** Blessed**

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      I had never heard of smilebox but it certainly looks like something which I can use. Thank you for sharing. It is amazing what I learn from the many lensmasters as I do my morning coffee and Squidoo visiting.

    • RomeSal profile image

      RomeSal 6 years ago

      I love your piece - thank you! I will need all the help I can get and your lenses is very informative! I have no time and self-publishing is what I am looking at for now.

    • profile image

      lilyofthevalley1 6 years ago

      Thanks for the useful resource. As an aspiring author, I will be checking this lens out again...hopefully ;)

    • howtocurecancer profile image

      howtocurecancer 6 years ago

      I want to publish a book about my mom journey and your lens is like a blessing to me. Thanks.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 6 years ago

      Czertainly some great ideas here and as a self published author I really appreciate all the tips. Featured this on How to Write a Book.

    • awakeningwellness profile image

      awakeningwellness 6 years ago

      What a lot of great ideas, I am passing these on to a friend that has written a book.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 6 years ago

      I have been so addicted to squidoo, I've been neglecting the reason I started, which was to promote my book!! So, it's awesome to have this lens as a guide to start promoting my work, many thanks.

    • YsisHb profile image

      YsisHb 6 years ago

      Thanks for the very useful information. I am following the instuctions step-by-step on each of the sites you recommend.

      Thanks to your guests too who have provided more links.

    • profile image

      huvalbd 6 years ago

      If your book is available through Amazon, you can establish an Author Page for yourself there. You can also establish one at GoodReads.com, which is sort of an online book readers' club.

    • GospelSmith profile image

      GospelSmith 6 years ago

      Thanks for a great resource. Don't have any tips yet, but I wrote a 3rd draft of my final chapter today and am looking for good promo ideas. Yours are great. Thanks -- Stan Smith

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I do need to create an author site, but didn't know I could do that on wordpress. Never thought of using Zazzle for book promotion, even though I do have a gallery. You've given me so much to work with, Virginia. Thank you!