You’ve just dumped hundreds, if not thousands of dollars into creating your book, and your marketing budget isn’t anywhere near the size of that granted to some books published by major houses. It’s essential to use that budget wisely, and that means pursuing many free and low-cost opportunities to market your book.
I’ve put together a list and mini-guide of ways to advertise your book for free.
Guest Post on Relevant Blogs
There are thousands of book-centric blogs out there, and some of them are bound to feature books like yours. Soliciting reviews can be difficult (more on that another time), but almost all blogs are willing to accept guest content in the form of well-written, relevant, and informative/entertaining blog posts.
Guest posts are a great opportunity to introduce yourself and your book to a blogger’s audience. Brainstorm some possible topics while developing your publication plan, and pitch them to bloggers when you’re ready to coordinate your book’s launch. It’s extremely unprofessional (and damaging to a blog’s rankings) to publish the same post on multiple sites, so be sure to offer original content to every blogger you contact.
As an example, here’s a guest post I published during the promotional period for my novella, Love Among Pigeons. It received a lot of engagement compared to other posts I did that month because it made people laugh, and Candace, the blog’s owner, does a great job of cultivating a community within her blog.
Twitter has paid advertising options for businesses, but you can do a lot to leverage Twitter without spending a lot of time or effort on the site. The reason why so many people struggle to gain traction from Twitter is that there is so much other content to compete with, and new information travels so fast, that it’s hard to be more than a blip on followers’ screens.
One of the best ways to get around this, and network at the same time, is to put time into Twitter when you know a segment of your market will be online. Look for Twitter parties that are relevant to your genre, topic, or industry and use these to join a community for an hour or two. Alternatively, make use of popular hashtags that are relevant to your target audience.
You can also:
- Use Twitter cards to make your tweets more visually arresting
- Schedule tweets using apps like Hootsuite, Buffer, and CoSchedule
- Leverage your mailing list to host a Twitter party of your own
Like Twitter, Facebook has paid options for advertising (more on that below), but it’s also an excellent way to connect with segments of your target market. Seek out Facebook Groups that might be of interest to your audience, and join those communities. Truly be part of the community, not just a self-promoting bobblehead. Most communities have rules about such behavior, so be respectful of those.
For example, if your book is a romance novel, look for groups of romance enthusiasts, ladies’ book clubs, romance writers’ groups, or even groups focused on romantic relationships.
Pinterest is the ideal place to leverage the visual components of your book. It converts well when used correctly, and has a wide user base comprised mainly of women. For that reason, it may work better for some genres of books than others.
There are a few things you can do to increase the performance of your pins, such as:
- Create a pin with a vertical orientation
- Think beyond your book’s cover to create a dynamic image
- Join and pin to group boards that are relevant to your genre or topic
This is an example of a pinnable graphic for book promotion. Its call to action is clear, it has a vertical orientation and red tones (both factors for high pin performance), and it gives readers a taste of what they’re in for with your book.
Like Goodreads contests, Rafflecopter contests are free to set up (paid upgrades are available) and run on your website/blog. Entrants exchange social tasks (Tweeting a message, sharing a Facebook post, etc.) in exchange for ballots. Rafflecopter will automatically select winners for you, as well as give you access to back-end data that will allow you to weed out cheaters and fake entries.
Like Goodreads contests, a Rafflecopter contest could cost you as much as your prize’s value plus shipping, but it’s possible to do this for free by offering an intangible prize, such as a Skype call with the winner’s book club.
Gleam is a comparable alternative to Rafflecopter, but I find its interface bulkier and not as intuitive to use. However, it does have more entry options in its free plan compared to Rafflecopter.
Low Cost Advertising for Your Book
Goodreads will allow you to set up a contest for free, and doing so will get your book noticed on this social reading site as contest entrants ad the book to their Want to Read shelves. Those users’ followers will see your book in their activity feed, which leads to more exposure. Although setting up the contest is free, this option is only for physical books. The cost of a contest is the price of a book and postage to send it to the winner.
I talked about leveraging Passionfruit Ads to promote your book/build your platform in my last post, but it bears mentioning as a low-cost form of promotion. Some very good, dedicated blogs are willing to sell ad space and social promotion for low prices. You can do plenty on Passionfruit with a $15 budget.
Facebook’s ads can be run on a small budget. Be sure to make the most of your ad by tailoring it to Facebook’s unique online culture. The ads that perform best don’t look like ads — they’re conversational, casual, and have photos that don’t look “corporate” or deliberately branded in any way.