Low-Cost Tips to Market a Self-Published Book

In an ideal world, we’d all have a million dollars to market our books and ourselves lavishly, but that’s almost never the case in the indie publishing world. Many self-published authors struggle with how to market their books. Here, we’ll talk about some simple, no-to-low-cost ways to get the marketing ball rolling.

First, tell everyone you know about your book. No, really. Word of mouth can be very effective, and you might be pleasantly surprised at the number of promotional opportunities that come up from someone mentioning your book to someone else. Tell your friends, family, coworkers, and mail carrier. Ask them to buy and tell their friends. Ask everyone to leave reviews.

Next, be sure to have an online presence. Establish a .com website that looks professional (this can be done easily and cheaply with many hosting providers’ drag-and-drop website makers) and an author page on your choice of social media—using several platforms is best, but choose what makes you comfortable.

Start a newsletter. Configure your website to allow readers to opt-in by providing their email addresses. Incentivize newsletter signups. A good way to do that is to offer something free—the first few chapters or your current book (to entice them to buy) or the first few chapters of the next book (and the next and the next—more on this in a moment). Treat your email list/followers as friends. Don’t inundate them with emails and cause them to cancel or opt out. Whenever something new comes up—an award, an appearance, an article, and so on, or when you’ve got some new information (“Hey, gang, I thought you’d want to know that I just finished the first draft of my new book. Things are coming along nicely, and if I continue at this pace, I should have a new work in your hands by…”).

Another great tip is to reach out to local media. Send out queries and get your book mentioned in local newspapers or info sources. People love to support local authors. Contact local bookstores and see if they’d let you do a signing or virtual event (which you’d have to promote with word of mouth, Facebook, Twitter, news stories, or announcements). (For in-person events, you’ll have to bring your own stock, usually.) See if bookstores in your area would carry a book by you (a local author).

And last but not least—write more (I can’t stress this enough!). People aren’t as willing to take a chance on a new book by a one-off author. However, if you’ve got several books or a series, and they know you’re sticking around, they’ll give you a try. And if they like you, they’ll keep coming back. The key to building success is to write and to keep writing. Successful authors are most often authors with more than one book. So, keep writing! You might find that this strategy is the one that eventually allows your books to practically market themselves. 

Good luck with your book!

Ginny Glass, editor at Book Helpline

Should you do a Kindle Free Book Promotion?


Kindle Free Book Promotion is an option when your eBook is enrolled in Amazon’s KDP Select. This is available for authors who have published their eBook via Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon). Every 90-day period, you can offer your book for free for up to five days.

One of our authors asked us what we think of this option. He had just published his first eBook and wondered if the Free Book Promotion would be a good way to boost sales.

Some writers have found that freebies boost reviews, so this can be handy if you haven’t got any or only a few. However, the better sales boosts from freebies come from what’s called buy through, when authors have more than one book for sale. Buy-through is when you give, say, the first book of a series away, and everyone who likes it buys the rest of the series, netting the author increased profit. We really haven’t heard much on how a freebie giveaway boosts single-title sales.

Another way to boost sales is to do the buy-through in reverse. But it requires some work on your part. For instance, you’d write a 5,000-word short, preferably related to the story you have now, maybe featuring a peripheral character who figures in the story, or maybe a central character before the action occurs. You offer that story for free. Those who like it will then buy the next one, your actual full-size novel!

There’s debate about whether to make the smaller freebie a cliffhanger. Some people say it annoys readers who then refuse to buy the next one. (But would they have bought anyway without the freebie?) Others say the cliffhanger aspect, if done properly, brings the readers to the next book.

We do think it seems a cheat to offer something for free that the reader only gets resolved if they buy something else from you. So, a self-contained story (even if it features some or all of the characters from the main feature), but one without the heavy-handedness of a cliffhanger, seems a friendlier option.

In any case, the buy-through in reverse method means you’d have to write a short. So that means doing some extra work. But we think it’s better than giving the main event away for free.

Have you got other experiences with free book promotions? We’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.



Book Helpline provides independent authors with professional feedback on their book. We also offer copy editing and proofreading, and publishing your book to Amazon. This way, we can help you get your book in the best possible shape so you can proudly present it to the world.