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Book Promotion Ideas: Book Marketing for Self-Published Authors

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Marketing self-published books can be hard. These book promotion ideas and book marketing strategies for self-published authors work to sell books.

You’ve spent hours researching, writing, and self-publishing your book. Now, you want to reap the benefits of selling it yourself. But how do you promote your book and get more sales?

Too many new authors believe that once their book is written and published, the sales will just come pouring in and they will make a bundle. Sadly, this illusion is shattered when they receive a royalty check.

Why Book Signing Events Don’t Work

Should I consider doing book signings or events? Are in-person events, such as book signings, readings, or author talks, even worth the effort in terms of marketing books?

Many new authors feel their only path to success is through book signings and bookstores stocking their books. They’re wrong! Here’s why book signing events don’t work.

While in large cities with good promotion, a book signing or book reading event may result in as many as a few hundred one-time sales, smaller venues can expect less than 10 sales.

Is this worth the two hours or more that you spend at the event? And that’s not counting all the preparation time and effort of marketing the event, the expense of creating your book promo materials, and any displays that you designed and possibly paid for ahead of time!

These venues do not pay authors to host an event, so any sales they do get will not even cover the traveling costs, hotel costs, meals, parking, or supplies – let alone the time they put into it.

Nor do they result in long-term sales, as the books only sell during the few days around the event. Bookstores can realistically stock less than 1% of the millions of books available on the market, and their discount with the publisher or distributor is large.

Authors are paid royalties on what their publisher receives. So is all the time and effort going into getting spots on bookstore shelves worth it?

“Bookstores are lousy places to sell books,” said self-publishing guru, Dan Poynter in USA Weekend. “Find the places where your audience gathers and sell directly to them. If your book is about cats, go to pet stores.”

“Bookstores are lousy places to sell books.” ~ Dan Poynter

book marketing

Best Book Promotion Ideas That Actually Work

What self-published authors need to do is figure out where their book promotion efforts will produce the best results that result in long-term sales.

Here are some book promotion ideas and book marketing strategies that work for self-published authors:

#1. Start building an author platform

The truth about book marketing is that your book promotion campaign starts before your book is released! Before you start writing your book, you must understand your target audience and know who will be interested in purchasing it.

Ideally, you should have done this research before you started writing your book, because bestselling writers know their target audience even before they type a single word!

They know what their audience wants and what topics they’re looking for, so when it comes time to sell their book, they already have a large list of readers waiting to snap it up.

The first step to building an author platform is creating an author website and compelling book promo materials to help your book stand out among the hundred thousand new books released annually.

In the free How to Build an Indie Author Website course, you’ll learn how to build your own website using an author-focused theme and beginner-friendly templates, including your homepage, about page, books and books overview pages, events page, and much more.

book publishing

#2. Build an email list of raving fans

Building an email list offers authors a direct line of communication with their readers, free from the constraints of social media algorithms. This direct connection allows authors to engage with their audience, fostering stronger relationships over time.

By consistently providing valuable content and updates, authors can build trust and loyalty among their subscribers, creating a dedicated fan base eager to support their work. One of the key benefits of an email list is the ability to promote new book releases effectively.

Authors can use their email list to announce upcoming releases, share behind-the-scenes insights, and offer exclusive previews or pre-order opportunities.

This targeted approach ensures that news of a new book reaches readers already interested in the author’s work, increasing the likelihood of sales and generating excitement around the release.

Building an email list provides authors valuable insights into their readers’ preferences and behaviors. By analyzing email marketing metrics authors can better understand what resonates with their audience.

This information can inform future marketing efforts, helping authors tailor their content and promotions to better meet the needs and interests of their readers.

Nick Stephenson’s training, How to Find Your First 10,000 Readers, emphasizes the importance of building an email list for authors to establish direct communication with their readers.

He teaches a step-by-step system to grow your audience on autopilot, strategies for converting website visitors into email subscribers, and practical techniques for turning email subscribers into raving fans eager to buy your books.

Email marketing can be expensive for new authors. But there are ways to build a list and engage subscribers without overspending by using free or low-cost email marketing services.

book marketing agency

#3. Launch an AMS book advertising campaign

An AMS book advertising campaign refers to using Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) to promote your book on Amazon. AMS allows authors and publishers to create targeted advertising campaigns to reach potential readers on Amazon.

These campaigns can help you sell more books by increasing the visibility of your book to a relevant audience. Here’s how it works:

  • Targeted Advertising: AMS allows you to target your ads based on keywords, interests, or specific books or authors, ensuring that your ads reach readers who are likely to be interested in your book.
  • Increased Visibility: By placing your ads on Amazon search result pages, product pages, and other relevant locations, you increase the chances of your book being seen by potential readers.
  • Improved Sales: A well-targeted AMS campaign can lead to increased sales as more people discover and purchase your book.
  • Analytics and Optimization: AMS provides analytics that allows you to track the performance of your ads, such as the number of clicks and conversions. This data can help you optimize your campaigns for better results.

An AMS book advertising campaign can help you reach a larger audience, increase your book’s visibility, and ultimately sell more copies.

Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing Launchpad provides a range of free eBooks and popular courses tailored to support self-published authors and writers. Among these resources is a thorough collection of modules covering advertising options for authors.

Mark also shares tips on how to promote books on social media on his podcast. If you intend to self-publish on Amazon, you should learn these Amazon Kindle promotion tips to sell your book on Amazon.

Publisher Rocket is a professional tool that helps authors unlock greater visibility on Amazon. This powerful tool offers real-time insights into the search behavior of Amazon book buyers, revealing the keywords they use and the search volumes each month.

With its Category Feature, you can swiftly identify relevant and niche categories for your books, and discover the sales threshold needed to become the new #1 bestseller in that category.

Publisher Rocket helps you access your competitors’ data, including reviews, book covers, and earnings, enabling you to craft book titles, subtitles, and descriptions that resonate with readers, boost your Kindle rankings, and drive more sales.

Publisher Rocket will help you discover profitable keywords that you can export and upload for your AMS book advertising campaign. Their Free Course on How to Sell More Books With Amazon Ads will help you improve your Amazon advertising strategy.

Here are some resources from Publisher Rocket to help you launch your AMS book advertising campaign:

book promotion

#4. Explore other publishing platforms

Publishing and marketing books beyond Amazon helps cater to readers who prefer alternative platforms, enhancing visibility and potentially boosting sales. It can help authors create multiple income streams, reducing reliance on a single platform and mitigating associated risks.

Different publishing platforms, like the ones below, offer unique pricing options and promotional opportunities, allowing authors to maximize their book’s visibility and sales potential.

  • IngramSpark

IngramSpark is a self-publishing platform that can help you reach a broader audience beyond Amazon customers. It provides access to a wider network of retailers, bookstores, and libraries worldwide, including non-Amazon outlets.

Authors can often set higher prices for their books on IngramSpark, potentially leading to higher royalties per sale, and it allows for the return of unsold copies by bookstores, which can be an advantage for getting books into physical stores.

Some authors find that the print quality from IngramSpark is slightly superior, especially for color printing.

  • Draft2Digital

Draft2Digital is a self-publishing platform that helps authors publish and distribute ebooks to online retailers such as Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and many others, helping you reach a broader audience.

Draft2Digital stands out for its user-friendly interface making it easy for authors to format, publish, and distribute their ebooks without extensive technical knowledge. Its wide distribution network makes it a great choice for authors looking to reach a broader audience beyond Amazon.

  • Wattpad

Wattpad is a platform that allows people to discover and share stories. It’s a community-driven site where writers can publish their work, connect with readers, and build a following. Wattpad stories span many genres, including romance, science fiction, fantasy, and more.

The platform is known for its interactive features allowing readers to comment on stories and engage with writers. Wattpad has also been a launching pad for many writers, with some stories gaining massive popularity and even being adapted into movies or TV shows.

best book marketing services

#5. Send ARC books to bloggers & reviewers

What is an ARC book? This is an advance reading copy or advance review copy of your manuscript. It is also called an Advance Reader’s Edition (ARE).

This free copy is usually given by a publisher to booksellers, librarians, journalists, and celebrities, or as a giveaway or contest prize before the book is printed for mass distribution.

Book bloggers and influencers can be valuable members of your book launch team as they have a large and engaged audience interested in books. They often conduct author interviews, host guest posts, or feature books on their platforms.

You can reach out to book bloggers, bookstagrammers, and professional reviewers and email ARC book copies of your manuscript to help generate buzz around a book, especially during its launch or promotional periods.

Book bloggers can help authors connect with readers and share more about their books and writing process. You can also use TikTok’s book lover community, BookTok, to reach more readers and sell more books.

Politely ask bloggers and influencers for reviews you can print on your book cover and include in your book promotions before they go to print. Positive reviews can help build credibility and attract new readers.

Don’t be shy to talk about your book. Carry a copy and look for every opportunity to mention it. Offer to send an ARC or published copy to those willing to write a book review.

The Kindle Book Review Formula Course will show you how to master the art of garnering Kindle book reviews with ethical, best-practice strategies so you can secure more 4 and 5-star reviews using white hat methods.

Learn how to formulate a book launch review team to ensure a minimum of 10-15 reviews upon launch, and identify and engage your target readers, fostering ongoing engagement with your book.

Deploy sustainable strategies to continuously boost your reviews, enhance your social proof for increased book sales, and learn how to effectively handle negative reviews and turn criticism into an opportunity for book improvement and better reviews.

arc book

#6. Find beta readers for feedback

To find beta readers for your manuscript, start with your network of friends, family, or colleagues interested in your genre. Use social media platforms, writing groups, and forums to connect with fellow writers or readers willing to provide feedback.

Join online beta reading communities or platforms to find experienced beta readers. Consider exchanging manuscripts with other writers for mutual feedback. Clearly outline your expectations, timeline, and genre preferences when reaching out.

You can also hire beta readers on Fiverr to read, critique, and provide feedback on your manuscript. Establish clear communication channels and provide guidance on the type of feedback you’re seeking to ensure a constructive critique process.

#7. Use book promotion sites

Once you know your target market, research where they shop and spend their leisure time. What online blogs and magazines do they watch, read, and listen to regularly? Which social networks do they hang out on?

Consider using book promotion sites like BookBub and Goodreads to promote your book to a wider audience. This list of book promotion sites by Reedsy will help you find the best book promotion websites that work for your price range.

Each book promotion site caters to different genres and types of books. Choose the best websites to promote books based on their popularity with your target audience and align with your book’s genre and theme.

In your promotional copy, let readers know why they should read your book and provide reader reviews to build credibility. Also, share a story about your background and journey as an author to set you apart from others in your genre.

Engage and respond to comments, reviews, and messages on book promotion sites. Leverage their promotional options, featured deals, newsletter placements, or social media promotions.

Take advantage of book promotional offers that best suit your budget and marketing goals, such as author interviews, book excerpts, or featured articles, to further promote your book.

#8. Organize a virtual book tour

A virtual book tour is a promotional event for an author and their book(s) that takes place online, typically through blogs, social media, podcasts, and other digital platforms.

During a virtual book tour, the author is featured in various online venues to reach a wider audience and promote their book(s). This can include author interviews, guest blog posts, book reviews, social media takeovers, and live online events such as webinars or virtual book signings.

Virtual book tours are a popular way for authors to connect with readers and promote their work without physical travel. It helps to get virtual assistance to save time and keep you focused on your book launch goals.

Organizing a virtual book tour involves several key steps to ensure a successful book launch event. Here’s a general guide on how to organize one:

  • Define Your Goals: Determine what you want to achieve with your virtual book tour. Whether it’s increasing book sales, building your author platform, or connecting with readers, having clear goals will guide your planning.
  • Plan Your Schedule: Decide on the duration of your tour and the dates for each tour stop. Consider how many stops you want to have and how often you want to post or participate in events.
  • Identify Tour Stops: Reach out to bloggers, podcasters, social media influencers, and other online platforms in your niche or genre. Ask if they would like to host you for an interview, guest post, review, or other promotional content.
  • Create Promotional Materials: Prepare a press or media kit with your author bio, book synopsis, author photo, book cover image, and other relevant information. This will make it easy for tour hosts to promote your book.
  • Coordinate with Tour Hosts: Once you’ve secured book tour stops, work with each host to determine the content and format of your appearance. Provide them with book promotion materials and promote your tour stops on your own social media channels.
  • Engage Your Audience: Interact with your audience during the tour by responding to comments, participating in discussions, and offering giveaways or promotions to generate excitement.
  • Track Your Progress: Monitor the success of your tour by tracking metrics such as website traffic, book sales, social media engagement, and email sign-ups. Use this data to assess the effectiveness of your tour and make improvements for future events.
  • Follow Up: After the tour, thank your tour hosts and continue to engage with your audience. Consider offering exclusive content or discounts to keep the momentum going.

By following these steps, you can organize a successful virtual book tour that helps you connect with readers and promote your book effectively.

book promotion services

#9. Send out a press release

Once your author branding website is up and running, you can send out a press release. Press releases can be effective in book promotion, especially when used strategically.

Here are some tips on how to use them best:

  • Targeted Distribution: Identify the media outlets, blogs, and websites that cater to your book’s target audience. Distribute your press release to these outlets to increase the chances of reaching interested readers.
  • Compelling Headline: Craft a catchy and informative headline that grabs attention and conveys the essence of your book. A strong headline can entice journalists and readers to learn more.
  • Clear and Concise Content: Keep your press release clear, concise, and focused on the most newsworthy aspects of your book. Include relevant details such as the book title, author name, release date, synopsis, and unique selling points.
  • Quotes and Testimonials: Press release quotes from the author, reviewers, or other relevant figures can add credibility and interest to your press release.
  • Multimedia Elements: Incorporate multimedia elements such as images, book covers, author photos, or videos to enhance the visual appeal of your press release.
  • Distribution Timing: Time your press release distribution to coincide with key events or milestones related to your book, such as the release date, book signings, or promotional campaigns.
  • Follow-Up: After distributing your press release, follow up with journalists and media outlets to gauge interest and offer additional information or interviews.
  • Online Visibility: Publish your press release on online press release distribution services and your author’s website or blog to increase its visibility and reach.
  • Tracking and Analysis: Monitor the performance of your press release by tracking metrics such as views, clicks, and media coverage. Use this data to refine your approach for future press releases.

Press releases can be a valuable tool in your book promotion strategy. By targeting the right audience, crafting compelling content, and utilizing multimedia elements, you can maximize the impact of your press release and generate buzz around your book launch.

#10. Pay for book marketing services

Paying a book marketing agency for book marketing services can assist authors looking to promote their work effectively. Here are some reasons why you might consider hiring one:

  • Expertise: Book marketing companies have experience and expertise in promoting books across various platforms and to different audiences.
  • Time-saving: Marketing a book can be time-consuming, and a book marketing agency can handle the promotional activities, allowing you to focus on writing.
  • Access to resources: Book marketing experts often have access to resources such as media contacts, influencers, and promotional platforms that can help increase the book’s visibility.
  • Targeted marketing: Book marketing firms can help you identify and target your book to the right audience, increasing the chances of success.
  • Professionalism: A book promotion service can provide a professional image for your book, which can enhance its perceived value and appeal.

To find affordable book marketing services, follow these steps:

  • Research: Look for a book marketing agency that specializes in promoting books in your genre or niche. Consider their experience, client testimonials, and the results they have achieved.
  • Budget: Determine your budget for book marketing and find a book marketing firm that offers services within your budget range.
  • Consultation: Consult with the book marketing agency to discuss your book, marketing goals, and budget. Ask about their strategies and how they plan to promote your book.
  • Contract: Once you have selected a book marketing service, review and sign a contract that outlines the services they will provide, the timeline, and the cost.
  • Collaboration: Work closely with the book promotion company to provide them with any necessary materials, such as book covers, author bios, and promotional images. Stay in communication throughout the marketing campaign to track progress and make any necessary adjustments.

You can find done-for-you book promotion services for authors on Fiverr by trying out different book marketing experts and deciding which one helps you reach a larger audience and increases your book’s visibility and sales.

#11. Participate in online author events

Online author events are virtual gatherings that allow authors to connect with readers, promote their books, and engage with their audience. These events can take various forms, including:

  • Virtual Book Tours: Authors are featured on blogs, podcasts, and social media channels to discuss their books, answer questions, and interact with readers.
  • Virtual Book Launches: Authors host online book launch events to celebrate the release of their books, often featuring readings, Q&A sessions, and giveaways.
  • Webinars and Workshops: Authors conduct online seminars or workshops on writing, publishing, or other topics related to their books.
  • Virtual Readings: Authors read excerpts from their books and engage with readers through live chats or Q&A sessions.
  • Online Book Clubs: Authors participate in virtual book club discussions about their books, often via video conferencing platforms.
  • Book Promotion Interviews: Get interviewed on online radio shows and podcasts that will promote your book to their listeners.
  • Author Collaborations: Partner with a group of authors who target the same audience and create what Nick Stephenson calls “Reader Magnets,” to build a list of potential readers and sell more books.
  • Social Media Events: Authors host live sessions on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter to interact with readers and promote their books.

Online author events offer several benefits, including reaching a wider audience, engaging with readers globally, and saving on travel costs. They have become increasingly popular, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to the cancellation of many in-person events.

book marketing plan

#12. Publish an audiobook

Publishing an audiobook can significantly enhance your book’s reach and revenue potential. The audiobook industry in the United States saw substantial growth in 2022, generating $1.8 billion in sales, marking a 10% increase from the previous year.

Over the past five years, audiobooks have experienced remarkable growth, expanding by more than 50%. Currently, audiobooks account for 9% of all book sales in the US, highlighting the increasing popularity and demand for audio content among readers.

This segment stands out as the fastest-growing sector in book publishing. You can tap into a wider audience and boost sales by self-publishing your book in Kindle, paperback, and audiobook formats.

By offering your book in multiple formats, you make it accessible to readers who prefer audio content, expanding your audience and increasing your book sales and earning potential.

In this Audiobook Creation and Self-Publishing on Amazon and Audible Course, you’ll learn how to narrate your audiobook, or find the ideal narrator, and discover tips to maximize your income from both Kindle and audiobook sales.

book promotion ideas

#13. Promote your book covers on Pinterest

Because Pinterest is a visual search engine where vertical Pins rule, promoting a book (or book covers) on Pinterest can be a great way to reach a new audience and drive targeted traffic to your author’s website.

Here are some steps to effectively promote your book on Pinterest:

  • Create a Pinterest Business Account: This free eBook will show you how to set up your Pinterest account in 5 steps and get access to Pinterest analytics and other business features.
  • Optimize your Pinterest Profile: Use your author name as your profile name. Include a brief description of yourself and your book(s) in your profile bio.
  • Create Pinterest Boards: Create multiple Pinterest boards related to your book’s genre or theme. For example, if your book is a romance novel, create boards for “Romance Books,” “Favorite Romance Quotes,” etc.
  • Pin your book covers: Create captivating book cover pins and pin them to relevant boards. Add links to your book’s landing pages on your author’s website.
  • Test different book covers: A good Pinterest best practice is creating multiple pins for your book cover with mockups and quotes from book reviews. You can test different book covers for your book and see which ones get the most engagement and clickthroughs.
  • Engage with your audience: Follow other Pinterest users, comment on their pins, and respond to comments on your pins. Engaging with your audience can help build a loyal following.
  • Collaborate with Pinfluencers: Reach out to Pinterest influencers in your book’s genre and ask them to share your book pins in exchange for sharing theirs. This can help expose your book to a larger audience.
  • Join Pinterest Group Boards: This will allow you to share your pins with a wider audience. Follow the board’s rules and share high-quality, relevant content to maximize your impact.
  • Use Pinterest Ads: Consider using Pinterest ads to promote your book to a targeted audience. They can help increase visibility and drive traffic to your website or online store.
  • Track Your Performance: Use Pinterest analytics to track the performance of your pins. Pay attention to which pins get the most engagement and adjust your strategy accordingly.

By following these steps, you can effectively promote your book on Pinterest and reach a larger audience of potential readers.

Sign up for this free Pinterest email series and learn an easy once-a-month system that helps you manage Pinterest efficiently with a simple strategy to schedule 30 days of content in just a few hours.

Pinterest search

#14. Participate in book awards and contests

Book awards grab the attention of bookstores, publishers, libraries, and readers, which can translate into increased sales. If you win a book award, such as the Readers’ Favorite Book Award Contest, you can display the award seal on your book and marketing materials.

This will allow you to promote your book as an “award-winning book” and yourself as an “award-winning author.” Contestants of this award range from first-time authors to New York Times bestsellers and celebrities.

Winning an award can give you and your book instant credibility and influence booksellers and readers to buy your book. This huge list of literary awards from around the world showcases the most notable book awards in numerous languages.

#15. Leverage your business relationships

Leveraging your business relationships can be a powerful way to sell more books. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Collaborate with other businesses: Partnering with businesses that share your target audience can help you reach new readers. Consider collaborating on promotions, events, or co-branded content to increase exposure for your books.
  • Utilize your network: Reach out to your professional network, including colleagues, clients, and industry contacts, to promote your books. Offer them exclusive discounts or incentives to encourage them to support your work.
  • Tap into existing customer bases: If you have a business or service, you likely have a customer base. Use this existing customer base to promote your books, either through direct marketing or by offering incentives for referrals.
  • Offer bulk discounts: Businesses often buy books in bulk for their employees or clients. Consider offering bulk discounts to businesses to encourage them to purchase your books in larger quantities.
  • Offer free coaching sessions: If you’re a coach who works with large corporate organizations, offer to give them a few free coaching sessions in exchange for purchasing your book in bulk and distributing it to all their employees.
  • Attend industry events: Networking at industry events can help you forge new business relationships that can lead to book sales. Be prepared to pitch your books and make connections with potential buyers.
  • Become a public speaker: If you’re a good speaker, give presentations to groups catering to your target audience. Speak at local networking events and offer valuable information about your book’s topic without being too salesy.
  • Tap local businesses:  If you’ve used a local printer, ask if you can leave a few copies at their front desk. Visit local establishments and leave a flyer about your book on their notice boards.
  • Create merchandise: Print out small calendars, checklists, bookmarks, and other merchandise to promote your book while offering value to potential readers.
  • Tap libraries and bookstores: Leave a few copies of your book at your local bookstore or library. If visitors pick up the book and read it, the bookstore may decide to stock it and contact you to purchase additional copies.
  • Use your email signature to promote books: Including a brief description and a clickable link to purchase. Keep the design professional, update it regularly to highlight different books or offers, and consider adding social media links or reviews for added impact.

free book promotion

#16. Venture outside your target market

After you’ve exhausted all avenues that target your ideal audience, start marketing your book to other groups outside your target market. Look for secondary sources interested in purchasing your book as a gift for a friend, co-worker, or family member.

Perhaps you can partner with a business, charitable organization, or hobby group related to your book topic? You can create newsworthy events to draw attention to your book, as these activities don’t necessarily cost money.

In this course on how to get featured on CNN, ABC, and NBC for free, you’ll learn how to craft stories and create events that can get you featured on major media outlets for free and get insider tricks and tips to get coverage in major media outlets with no marketing budget.

You just need to think of some creative ways to highlight the unique benefits of your book and take the extra time and effort to plan, coordinate, and follow through with your ideas.

Keep in mind that book marketing is a long-term campaign that will reap greater rewards as the results of your book promotions continue to snowball.

Spend some time learning all about book marketing for authors so you can develop a long-term book marketing plan and stick with it. Marketing self-published books can take time, and your book marketing strategies are likely to adapt and evolve as time goes by.

Start by focusing on your target audience, working on the business relationships you already have, and tapping into your creativity when you promote your book. Soon, you’ll be on your way to becoming a bestselling author!

self publishing

Book Marketing Courses & Tips

How To Promote Book On Amazon
Book Marketing For Self-Published Authors
Book Marketing Ideas
Book Marketing Companies
Book Marketing Services
Book Marketing Strategies

© 2024, Priya Florence Shah. All rights reserved.

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