Book Marketing on a Budget
Below I am going to give low cost, no cost, strategies for marketing your book on a budget. These are best practices that everyone should be doing no matter their budget but for those just starting out having this foundation is a great way to start. There is a trade off, for what you can’t invest with money, you have to invest with your time. While on the surface this list might not seem quite about “marketing” but the truth is to market your book this is stuff you need to be doing/have in place. This is the basic stuff that will help you in the long run and also give you a good start to your book marketing strategy.
You need one because you need a landing page to send your fans when you can’t put an amazon affiliates link in a newsletter and because you need a site that you can install a Facebook pixel on for when that time comes. You need a place for fans of one book to fall in love with other books and a place for people who haven’t heard of you before but google you find out why they want to read your books. Your site needs to first and foremost be clean and simple to navigate. View your site from a newbies eyes and while you might understand where everything is they might not.
I encourage a self hosted WordPress.org site (NOT WordPress.com) or Squarespace is also a good option for something that is easy to build. Yes, these two options cost money. If you own your page from the start and can collect traffic data from the beginning (such as installing a Facebook pixel. You can read my post on why you need a Facebook pixel installed NOW here) then you have that much more to work with when you are finally time to invest in ads. I tend to get my domain names from Godaddy, they have some awesome deals that can make the first purchase super affordable. For hosting I’m going to throw out (if you are not using Squarespace) possibly using SiteGround.com. While I haven’t tried this hosting place myself I have heard from others it is a good affordable choice. I’m a little tempted to try them considering they have a plan that begins at less than $6 a month.
What should your website have?
- About you / Bio with picture
- Your books and their buy links
- Upcoming works page
- Events and appearances
- Social media sites
- Contact email (I suggest an email over form)
- Newsletter subscription page
Again, a clean easy to navigate site. Not too cluttered feeling.
Yes I know, it is like I am beating a dead horse but no really you guys need to be cultivating your newsletter list. You need to build a newsletter list that is engaged and eager to hear from you. To do this you need to have a good rotation of content such as the type I describe in these articles:
- Newsletter Content Ideas to Keep Your Newsletters Interesting
- How to Keep Subscribers Opening Your Newsletters
- The Power of the Newsletter Exclusive Story
Not only that but it is extremely important that you have your newsletter setup correctly with a welcome email that will wow them. your welcome email is the most opened email you will most likely ever have and you need to utilize that and not just use whatever default welcome email there is. Your opt in form, confirmation email, welcome email all need to be branded to you and I highly suggest a 2-3 step welcome automation, as I linked previously, to get the readers to know you and trusting you. Also design is important here too. Emails should again be branded to you, clean, easy to read and deliver. If you say they will hear form you [x] times a month, or in a few days, FOLLOW THROUGH. You can’t have a list and ignore it. It doesn’t matter if you have no books coming out for a few months you need to use that list consistently and NOT JUST TO SELL. You let people get to know you, trust you, and be part of your life a little without always selling them on something and when the time comes to sell something you will have a better response. You can’t just have a list of emails that you never sending anything to and then with your release BAM here buy my shit! It won’t work like you are hoping. This is all part of investing your time to help you market down the road.
Check out this post if you need some ideas on building your list: Tips for growing your newsletter subscriber list.
Consistent Social Media Presence
You need to be consistently posting to your social media outlets so your name stays fresh with your potential readers/fans. If you are only posting when you are doing a new release you are hurting yourself. Be consistent and diverse! It doesn’t always need to be about your books, it should in some way be about you too. This is a new age where an author’s personality and likability helps to sell books (and in some cases, the lack of personality/likability can also turn people against wanting to read your books so I suggest keeping things neutral on hot topics).
Sit down for a few hours one day and schedule out your Facebook posts, making sure you are engaging with commenters too. NO SERIOUSLY ENGAGE. Page engagement can be awesome and not dead but you have to work for it. You need to like comments when people do, respond to some of the, ask them questions and interact and you will see much better reach. Scheduling on Facebook itself won’t hurt your reach. Using third party apps that announce to the viewer that your post came from Buffer, Hootsuite, or etc can potentially hurt reach though. Stay engaged. And keep it up all the time. If you only plan to release 2 books in a year your fans should still be seeing you active on social media.
Facebook/Instagram/Twitter and Pinterest are what I recommend working with. Pinterest is not a social media site but for ease, I’m placing it in this section. Pinterest is actually a search engine and can be used to your advantage more than you might think. You will want a Pinterest business account, board covers that match your branding 15 + boards and good quality pins. To start with if short on time don’t worry too much about Pinterest optimized images but down the road make separate ones for Pinterest sizing such as 735 x 1100 or taller. They do better. Luckily book covers tend to be the perfect size. AND truthfully the people who do well on Pinterest are pinning upwards to 30-50 pins a day. Tailwind and BoardBooster (especially the looping feature) are two helpful programs that have free trials that you can use to test them out until your trial runs out. They make it so you can sit for an hour do all your pinning and have them schedule them out over the next forever how long, and repin them too, so your board looks active.
I do plan on diving deeper into Pinterest for authors soon.
In line with consistent social media use and presence, you need to use Goodreads. It is where your readers are. I have gone into much greater detail about how to use Goodreads to benefit your marketing strategy and I’m going to say it again. Don’t avoid Goodreads, use it to your advantage. DO NOT ENGAGE NEGATIVELY. Avoid the negative reviews, reviews are for readers. Are they important for authors, yes. But readers get their opinions on your book, you are putting it out there and once you do you lose control over it and what people might think. So avoid the negative, promote the positive.
Book promotion sites
Promote your book on book promotion sites, there are several you can use for free. No doubt BookBub is one of the best places to promote to see huge gains but that will cost you. Here are some resources with book promotion lists:
Work with your fellow authors and collaborate on cross-promoting each other. It is very important that you do this with authors you can genuinely back. You want their work to be something you read/might read, respect and admire because if you promote someone else to your fan base who doesn’t put out quality work, you will lose trust with your followers. When you find other authors you feel you can truly back and they feel they can back you, offer to promote them in your next newsletter, maybe their latest release or if they have a sale you share it on your site. If you have an active reader group let them take it over one night and you take over theirs.
You can read my post on Collaborating with other authors here: Collaborating with other Authors as a Book Marketing Strategy
You might be going “Wait I thought this was a cheap marketing ideas post!?” It is I promise. First, if you don’t already invest in something like photoshop you can use Canva. Then take my tips on this post on how to create nice looking graphics on your own. Finally, there is this post where I teach you how to make those freaking awesome 3D book renders (if you have photoshop) for free with hardly any time. You don’t have to spend a lot on graphics, but honestly, I believe making them the best they can be is hugely important. People judge books by their covers and they also judge whether they want to stop and read more about a book by the graphic that is presented to them in their feed. I personally blow right past graphics of books that are just not aesthetically pleasing when I go through my feed.
Saving one of the best for last. Book bloggers are a huge source of marketing for authors especially if done right. How does one use bloggers in the right way? First, you don’t mass email them unless they have consented to be on your promotional mailing list. You take the time, do the leg work and go to each blogger’s site find out if they review your type of book, read their review request policy and follow them. Email them 1:1 and use their name! If there are 5 different reviewers then address them all in ONE email. Check out my post on my 5 tips for working with book bloggers. Keep a chart of who you have contacted, who you need to contact still and take your time and go through this process. It is a lot of work but taking the time to personally address them can make a HUGE difference.
What are your suggestions for low cost no cost book marketing that has worked for you?