10 free resources to market your self-published book that actually work
So, you’ve written a novel. Congratulations! You’re in the small percentage of people who do what they say and stick with what they do. But to make a career as an author you have to go one more crucial step and sell your novel to your intended target audience. “But how?” you ask. “And how much will it cost?”
Let’s answer the easy question first. The cost is almost entirely up to you. Will you be able to sell more books with a bigger budget? Quite possibly. But if you’re working with your purse strings pulled tight (like the usual aspiring author) there are a number of high-value, FREE marketing options below that can put your book on the map for a number of readers and—depending on your ability to write a compelling story—may even kickstart your entire career.
Promote your book online
As soon as you have a description and a cover, make sure to add your book to your Goodreads author dashboard. Feature it prominently on your website and integrate it into your stories and social media feed. Ask your social network to promote the book for you and build a list of book blogs and online news outlets that serve your intended target audience and are willing to feature your novel.
Remember that most readers will need to see your cover multiple times before they make the decision to buy.
Once you’ve successfully hooked your readers with your marketing message, make buying your book as easy as possible. Create a sales funnel on your website and clearly label your buy links.
As a self-published author you can submit your book for a free Publishers Weekly review on the BookLife website. Sounds too good to be true? There’s a catch: Reviews can take 12+ weeks and are not guaranteed.
In addition to their review program, BookLife runs a column in the BookLife section of Publishers Weekly every month, where they feature the best first lines from BookLife books. You can submit your first line, along with the name of the book it's from, to BookLifeEditor@booklife.com.
Voracious Readers Only
Struggling to get those initial reviews? Connecting readers with authors is one of the main goals of US-based website Voracious Readers Only. The website offers an introductory 20-book giveaway option for your novel. The idea is to get readers to opt-in to reading your book and writing a review. The giveaway facilitates a direct connection with your target audience and allows you to start building a mailing list. The support on the website is very good and you may be invited to extend your trial at the end of your giveaway. The percentage of actual reviews will vary, depending on your genre and your ability to build rapport in the email you send with the free copy of your book.
Book Launch (library)
Your local library may just be your best bet to get your book in front of a crowd who is both local and heavily invested in reading. Libraries in Australia offer different events for authors, including author talks, book launches, and read local events. If you’re providing copies of your book to the library, make sure to check your eligibility for the Australian Lending Right Schemes where…
This one takes a bit of time and is best done over a number of weeks or even months. Start building your mailing list with a free tool like MailChimp, before you even commit to writing your first chapter. Keep your audience engaged with regular updates and exclusive content. Send a special feature on release day with all the details of your book. Make sure to include enough information to hook readers who haven’t visited your website or social media profiles in a while.
Something to offer to your super-fans or mailing list subscribers. Digital ARCs are free for you to provide and a great incentive for readers to commit to an early review. If you don’t want to send out your files via email you can use iBooks promo codes and Content Reviewers on GooglePlay.
BookBub New Release Alerts
Sign up for a BookBub Partner Account to claim your Author Profile and take advantage of a free feature called New Release Alerts.
New Release Alerts are different to BookBub’s Featured New Release, which is a paid marketing service.
Ask your tribe to build Word of Mouth
Friends, family and your neighbour’s dog. Ask anyone who is willing to talk about your book to do exactly that. Know your sales pitch by heart if you get asked by an interested stranger to summarise your story.
Discount your other books
If the new release is a series title you can entice new readers by offering the first book in the series for free. For standalone books you can discount a relevant backlist title. Promote the discounted books through the same channels are you do with your new release.
Play the long game
Don’t expect your debut novel to be the next Harry Potter. Continue building upon your previous success with every subsequent release. Stay plugged into the scene and research new options to reach a wider audience with every new book you write. Give it your best shot, turn up to the party and keep going, even if your sales seem to plateau. Sometimes it just takes that little extra commitment to break through the ceiling and hit that sweet spot where your marketing efforts turn into an avalanche of sales.
Which one of the above marketing tips will you try first? Let me know in the comments.