A Publisher's Conversation with Authors: Inexpensive Book Marketing


It is Tuesday. Time to tall turkey. Monday's madness is over, and Wednesday will take us over the hump, so Tuesday it is--for some serious discussion with authors. Tuesday talks mean to address authors in waiting and self-published authors who would like to go a more traditional route or who would at least like to take their steps with a publisher by their side.

Today's topic is about how to market books inexpensively. If you have big pockets, go for the television, radio, newspaper, and saturation ads. Buy time on radio and television shows. However, most authors do not have deep pockets. So, looking at inexpensive ways to get the word out is not only necessary but sometimes the only way to market a book. This post describes some sources and activities for inexpensive marketing. It is, of course, not complete. Do all these things, then seek out more opportunities, or start again with another virtual blog tour.

Things to do (not necessarily in any kind of order)

  • Word of mouth is the best advertising possible, and it is completely free. Talk! Tell everyone you know about your book. Hand out some copies and ask for reviews. Offer to talk anywhere that a speaker is needed: local library, coffee shop, 
  • Send out information, teasers, hints, any little thing you can share on your social media platform. (Don't have one? It is time to get one because selling books without one is more than a daunting task; it is an impossible one.)
  • Send out press releases where you can send them for free
    • local media
    • free online sites
      • The top-listed, and our favorite, is prlog.org; it also distributes to other sites, and we have had a good response from press releases about our books posted there.
      • Click HERE for a list of free sites. Among those, these are considered the top ten.
      • Of course, your own website and your own mailing list (Build those up with great energy; they are your best source of sales!) are your most important point of departure.
    • inexpensive online sites
      • Some of the free sites listed above will charge a small fee to do a larger or more targeted type of distribution.
      • If you simply do not have the time to send to all of these on your own, this site will send out press releases for you very inexpensively. 
  • Build a mailing list from your blog or website and send out a monthly or weekly newsletter about your book(s), you, your activities, your topic and what is happening in that area.
  • Write posts for blogs, do a virtual blog tour (more on that in an upcoming conversation), write articles for local papers and genre jounrals--wherever you can (and use your book for credibility as an author). 
  • Some websites will post your book information for free. Here is a list of 65. Use the list carefully. Some sites will want copies of your book in pdf form. Our recommendation is never to share in that way; it is too easy to have your book stolen that way.
  • Run a contest with your book as the award.
  • Get as many book reviews (without paying) as possible. There are websites and services that review for free, and use your word of mouth and other connections to get reviews as well.

Places that help

  • Upwork. You can hire someone with experience to help you; the cost will depend upon the amount of help needed and the level of experience; while it can be inexpensive, it can also be pricey, especially if you are asking for help with the preparation of a press release
  • Some of the press distribution sites listed above will prepare press releases for you.

What to avoid

  • Payment of any amount that is not nominal. Seriously, that is what this post is about: inexpensive, and better than that, free. 
  • If something seems too good to be true, it probably is not true. Check it out before undertaking any interaction.
  • Scams abound. If a company wants to promote your book, ask what is in it for them and for you. Check out their history. Go HERE to see if they are on a book promotion/marketing scam list. If you still have doubts, but the company is not on this list, then do the following:
    • Google the company name and the word scam.
    • Google the company name and the word complaint.
    • Just on the off chance, check the company with Better Business Bureau (not likely to be there, but you never know).
    • If the company comes up on any of these three searches, send a copy of what you have found to SFWA so it can be checked out and, if it fits, added to the list of scam companies. You will be doing other authors as a service.
  • Amateur reviewers
    • While you do want your book on Goodreads, keep an eye on it. Those reviewers are amateurs, and sometimes something gets into someone's craw (who knows what, it is usually something personal), and, if they are part of a group of people who review books, suddenly your book will be in review hell. Moreover, there is currently being reported an extortion scam with review bombing. Click HERE to learn what that is and how to deal with it.
    • Library Thing can also be a problem, but in a different way. With books listed to be sent out for review, you are playing review roulette. 
      • These are amateur reviewers and some definitely have biases. We had a Christian book demolished for little things (did not like the tone of a particular section, etc.) by someone who self-identified in her profile as an atheist and requested religious books (so she could demolish them, rather than think seriously about the contents in a professional manner). LT knew her profile but sent her the book anyway.
      • Some of the writing even in good reviews does not service to the book because it is not literate enough.
      • Often, LT will send a list of 15 reviewers, but only 1-2 will post a review, and a dozen books have been given away to people you do not know who, as far as you will be able to tell, have brought your book no promotion.
      • On the other hand, LT will let you put up a title and talk about it. That could be a better "in" than sending out dozens of books to amateur reviewers.

The actions described above are not the limits for what you can do to market your book inexpensively. The limits are set by your imagination.

Click HERE for more posts on book marketing and HERE for more posts on book promotion. They overlap but are indeed different one from the other.

Lesson for today's Tuesday talk: Don't pay for something when you can get the equivalent for free!
The mistake that many new authors make is to avoid book marketing because they think it is too costly. They fail to explore the inexpensive and free options either because they do not know that they exist or because they do and, unfortunately, are not willing to put in the work to take advantage of them. (As they say, nothing is free. If you do not pay for it with your money, you pay for it with your time. This post has been about how to pay for it with your time.) 

Read more posts about publishing HERE.

The Tuesday talks reflect real discussions between the management of MSI Press LLC and our own authors or those would-be authors who come through our doors but don't make the cut--yet. If you have a topic you would like addressed, leave the question in the comment section. Chances are, in our 17 years of publishing first-time and experiences authors, we have had a conversation with one of our authors that we can share with you.


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