10 Book Marketing Strategies on a Budget

This post is sponsored by AppSumo. More about their limited time offer later in this post. Some outbound links are part of an affiliate program that compensates for any sales made through them. I appreciate the support.

10 book marketing strategiesThe goal of book marketing is to increase the visibility of your publication, allowing more readers to discover and engage with your book. But how do you market your book when you’re working on a tight budget?

Believe it or not, you don’t need a bottomless bank account and you won’t have to spend countless hours posting and engaging on social media.

Let’s discuss ten effective book marketing strategies on a budget that’ll get your book in front of more people and grow your readership.

#1 Limited-Time Discount or Free Promotion

When I say there are hundreds of websites devoted to promoting free and discounted ebooks, I mean hundreds! Every cash-strapped author should leverage these sites on the regular. Some promotional services cost a hefty premium, whereas others are 100% free.

You might wonder, “What’s the catch?”

Some free book promo sites use affiliate marketing programs to help pay their bills. Are all these sites effective? Well, it varies based on your niche and timing. Not every site has the same traffic—some have significant organic traffic, while others are lucky if they get a few visitors per month. But, you can’t beat free.

For the premium book promo sites, be selective. Never stack a promo with other promos till you know it’s a proven winner with your books. I like to test these services on a single day, record the results, then stack them later with other services for future book promotions.

Yes, you will have to discount your ebook or even make it free, but that’s the cost of doing business on a budget. Now, before I have someone commenting:

Why would you give your book away for free?!

Giving your book away for free helps you reach a wider audience, generate buzz, and potentially attract new readers who may later purchase your other books or recommend them to others. Should every author make their book free? No, especially if you don’t have a plan to market and promote that stellar deal. I truly believe authors with a backlog should you use this strategy, not so much brand new authors.

You can get access to a list of lists containing free and low-cost eBook promotion sites when you visit DaleLinks.com/BookPromos. FAIR WARNING: You will have a lot of sifting, but once you’ve done it once, you won’t have to do it again. BUT, I’ve got a trick that’ll save a LOT of time, more about that later.

#2 Graphics & Videos

Book marketing online isn’t as simple as tweeting that you’ve got a killer deal or an upcoming launch. You really can’t get away with text-based promos because of who and what you’re competing with and the audience you’re reaching.

Everyone is scrolling like crazy whether on their desktops or mobile devices. One of the greatest ways to stop the scroll is with an attention-grabbing image, GIF, or video. Lean on graphics or videos to increase the likelihood of stopping the scroll.

Sites like Book Brush and Canva offer free and premium graphics and video options. Create a simple graphic with a 3D image of your book, a snippet of a review, and an appropriate backdrop.

use Canva for book marketing

Or, you can create a book trailer or teaser video. Canva offers a free option for video creation, but you can also search for book trailer templates using PowerPoint. Post your video on social media, your website, or even sites like YouTube, TikTok, Facebook and more.

The key to a good book trailer is to keep it simple. I’ve seen some book trailers that are entirely too long and way too boring to keep people’s interest. One minute or less is perfectly fine for a well-crafted book trailer or teaser. Heck, even fifteen to thirty seconds is sufficient.

Worst-case scenario: You can always shoot a video discussing your book on-camera. I’d recommend having the print version as a prop to hold in the video.

#3 Author Collaborations

The rising tide truly does raise all boats, but you need to be docked in the same harbor as other boats, just like yours. That’s why networking with authors in your niche is essential for all authors working on a budget.

The best place to meet other authors is through online forums or Facebook Groups. Feel free to join my Discord community or search out other places that appeal to you. Don’t be shy, because contributing nothing to the conversation will get you nowhere. Ask or answer questions. You could even comment on something that tickles your fancy.

Remember, the point of marketing is visibility, so if you want to leverage networking to its fullest extent, you must engage with other authors. Keep an eye out or ask about other authors within or around your niche, because those are the difference makers in collaborations.

You can collaborate on several marketing campaigns, including newsletter swaps, group promos, or even giveaways. For newsletter swaps, you’d promote another author’s book through your email newsletter in exchange for them promoting your book to their email list. Group promos are like newsletter swaps on steroids, because an author collective promotes a list of books whether discounted or free. Of course, giveaways are a great way to grow your email list while tapping into another author’s platform.

Side note: KingSumo is an excellent and inexpensive resource for creating a giveaway that generates a landing page and randomizes the winners. They have a free plan, but I’d recommend the lifetime upgrade to unlock all features.

use KingSumo for book marketing
KingSumo Giveaways for book marketing

#4 An Author Website or Blog

Every author needs a hub—a central place for all your readers to dive into the world of your books. Though you could set up a free website, I highly recommend relying on premium web hosting services to avoid having ads or non-author-related branding on your site.

The likelihood of getting searched is higher for premium websites than for free websites. Premium websites offer additional features, superior design, and enhanced functionality, which can boost visitor numbers and improve search engine rankings. Additionally, premium websites often have better technical optimization, which can help them rank higher in search engine rankings.

All that aside, showcase all your books, share updates, and provide value for your readers on your website. Blogs are an excellent way to show why you’re a competent writer and also an excellent resource to use for guest blog posts. And, this goes both ways, meaning that you can have other authors posting on your site or display why you’re the right person to post on another author’s website.

Big tip: Create blog posts that are about 1,500 to 2,000 words if you want to rank well. Also, use a specific keyword in the post, the title, and the metadata for graphics that’ll bring in additional search engine traffic. A little goes a long way, so don’t overdo it.

As for frequency, that’s entirely up to you. Just be consistent and don’t bite off more than you can chew. If all you have the time for is one post per month, then stick to it. Consistency is key.

#5 Local Marketing

Your local community would love to spotlight authors like you in the area. The best part is it’s usually everyone’s favorite cost—free. Between local libraries, bookstores, community centers, and even schools, you have an unending supply of local marketing. It’s just up to you to do the outreach.

Consider offering workshops, book signing events, and speaking engagements at niche-related conferences. Promoters for conferences are always on the lookout for speakers who’d be willing to join a panel or put on a solo presentation. Will you get paid for it? Probably not, but remember, this is all about being visible. The money will come later.

You can also approach local newspapers, radio stations, or even podcasts. Look into local book fairs, conventions, or literary events. Yes, in most instances, if you want to run a booth at a conference, you’re going to be out of some money, so choose this option wisely.

When you arrive at an event or meetup, you must make every effort possible to chat with folks. I know my inner introvert is slowly dying inside when I force myself to strike up a conversation, but it always pays off because I meet someone new and make a worthwhile connection that’ll benefit my author brand in the long run.

Not sure where to start? Ask around. Chat with other authors in your area. You can find local authors through sites like Meetup.com or ShutUpWrite.com. Or talk to a local bookstore or library about who you should speak with. Just don’t expect the world to come to you. You have to go to them.

Storiad, for the Win

So far, I’ve given you only half my list of low-cost book marketing options in this video, but I’m sure quite a few might feel overwhelmed about where to start and what to do next. That’s why I thought I’d lean on our sponsors, AppSumo, to share the path of least resistance in Storiad.

Storiad is a platform that provides tools and resources to help authors and publishing professionals streamline their publishing and marketing processes. It offers features such as an author profile, market research, and promotional opportunities, all aimed at supporting your journey in the publishing industry.

Remember how I mentioned a website would cement your presence online and serve as a great tool for book marketing? Well, Storiad provides you with not only an author profile, but they give you a fully customizable website. But hang on, it gets better.

Let’s say you want to search up all the free book promotion sites rather than sift through that massive list I gave you earlier. Just go into the Contacts Database, click on the Contact Type dropdown, then type “free” and you’ll find quite a few options. Once you find a great service, you can always save it on a customized list, so when you do promotions later, you can easily pull it up later.

book marketing with Storiad

How the heck are you going to even find a radio station, blogger, or conference? Yep, as you could guess, with a database of over 43,000 contacts, Storiad has something for everyone. Once you find the right contact, you can email them directly within your dashboard. To make matters even easier, Storiad has email templates and the option to customize emails based on the contact you’re reaching.

And since you’re working on a limited budget, it only makes sense you track every last earning and expense related to a title. Storiad has you covered in the Calculators for Profit & Loss and Book Worth. Simply enter all the relevant details, and you can easily see where you’re making the biggest gains and losses.

Normally, Storiad costs $29 per month or $280 for lifetime access. For a limited time, get lifetime access to Storiad for only $59, exclusively on AppSumo, when you visit my affiliate link at DaleLinks.com/Storiad. The AppSumo deal is about the same cost as two months with Storiad and 79% less than Storiad’s lifetime deal. Come mid-January 2024, the deal is gone, so don’t wait!

SIDE NOTE: AppSumo has even more bargains for authors, so make sure you browse their marketplace for inexpensive tools and resources to level up your marketing efforts. I nabbed quite a few lifetime deals to my favorite software, including Missinglettr, DepositPhotos, ContentStudio, and more.

Special thanks to AppSumo for sponsoring this post!

#6 Ask Friends, Family & Readers

While I don’t recommend having your friends and family to buy or review your books, I encourage they assist in other ways of marketing.

I’m sure a few of you are probably wondering why I’d say this. It’s because your friends and family are not, in most instances, your ideal reader. Having them buy your products in places like Amazon can wreak havoc on algorithmic recommendations. And, since you have a direct relationship with them, nothing screams review bias them praising your latest ABDL Romance book.

They can help in so many other ways in being an ambassador of your books and brand. They can recommend your book in places like Goodreads, or even share links to your book through online retailers like Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, and so on.

They can be further incentivized through affiliate marketing programs related to specific platforms. For instance, they can enroll in the Amazon Associate program and get up to 4% commission for each sale. Affiliate programs don’t affect what you get paid or what the reader spends.

Your current readership could do the same thing, just point them in the right direction. Much like any of the previous options, all you have to do is speak up and ask. Don’t just assume people know or will do it for you.

Side note: Don’t get all twisted up if your friends and family aren’t willing to go the extra mile for you. Just thank them for keeping you in their hearts, and move on. The success of your author business doesn’t hinge on the involvement of your friends and family. They’ve got their own problems to worry about, least of which is your author business.

Those who are willing to go the extra mile, make sure you take care of them and show them your gratitude by shouting them out in the acknowledgements of your next book or on social media.

#7 Amazon Advertising

book marketing with amazon adsYes, you do not have to spend a lot of money to use Amazon Advertising. In fact, you can start advertising for as little as a dollar per day and as low as two cents’ cost per click. Will you get incredible results with such a low budget? Probably not, but something is better than nothing.

If you have the discretionary expense, fire up an automated targeting campaign for a Sponsored Product ad. Set it at a dollar and the cost per click at least between $0.02 and $0.10 cost per click. Don’t think of this option as a way to get rich, more of a way to:

  1. Be more visible on Amazon.
  2. Learn Amazon Ads as you go.

There’s no greater way to learn than doing it. If you feel at all overwhelmed, I recommend taking the free Amazon Advertising Certification Courses available in your ads dashboard. Take ALL the courses, because you’ll learn so much about the Amazon platform that’ll help you understand how the online retailer functions.

Here’s the part you need to pay closest attention to—when Amazon serves your ad in front of customers, it’s called an impression. You do not pay a dime for impressions in a Sponsored Product ad. Yep, talk about being more visible—this is exactly what you’re shooting for. It’s all the better if someone buys your book after seeing your ad.

You only have to pay if someone clicks on your ad. Hopefully, those customers clicking on your ad will buy your book, giving you a positive return on investment.

If you’re not seeing any impressions, increase your cost per click by about $0.02 to $0.03. Give it a few days, then adjust where necessary.

If you want a deep dive into Amazon Ads, be sure to catch my interview with SellerMetrics founder, Rick Wong. It’s a great starting point. Subscribe to my YouTube channel and turn your notifications bell to “all” if you want to catch the second part of the interview coming out real soon.

#8 Exclusive Reader Links

I believe I once heard prolific author Craig Martelle once say that nothing promotes your current book better than your next book.

I could say the same for the other way around. Nothing promotes your next book better than your current book.

At the end of your book—also known as the back matter—include an insert of your upcoming books.

Think about it. If a reader just successfully read your book and didn’t add it to their DNF pile, then chances are pretty likely, they’re probably eager to read more of your content. They’ve already paid for and read your book, so you might as well strike while the iron is hot.

Insert QR Codes within the print book that guide your readers to your next book or your author profile. For ebooks and audiobooks, create a call-to-action in the back matter—or front matter if you’re feeling ambitious—that tells readers to check out your other titles. You could even entice them to get a downloadable PDF or special report where you push your backlog of books or a pre-order.

The whole idea is to keep readers circulating in your author system. Between other books, social media, your website and email newsletter, you’re staying in front of mind with your readers. Speaking of email marketing

#9 Email Marketing

Since day one I’ve preached the importance of building an email list and it’s now more important than ever as self-publishing platforms like KDP are getting rather heavy-handed with account suspensions and terminations.

If you were to skip all the other advice I give you—which I wouldn’t recommend—at the very least, don’t ignore this advice. Start and build an email list, so you take your readers with you wherever you go. Regardless of your circumstances, your readers will always be with you, so you can directly market to them.

Starting an email list is easier and cheaper than ever with platforms like MailerLite, MailChimp, and ConvertKit, offering free plans up to a certain subscriber threshold. Once you surpass that threshold, you should, in theory, be able to offset the costs through subscriber revenue.

Much like the previous advice, you can capture more email subscribers by creating a call-to-action in the front or back matter of your book. You can further grow your list by collaborating with other authors in your niche with newsletter swaps or giveaways.

Be sure to communicate with your subscriber list consistently and don’t be afraid to cull the herd every few months. Inactive subscribers won’t move the needle and will only further frustrate you when seeing declining open rates. I like to see my open rates at least 30-50% and clickthrough rates around 1-12%. If it’s higher, great! If not, it’s time to re-evaluate my approach and trim the list of any disengaged subscribers.

#10 Gather Reviews

Reviews provide social proof and credibility to potential readers, influencing their purchasing decisions. Positive reviews can generate buzz, increase visibility, and help an author build a strong reputation within the literary community.

Between book review bloggers, Booktubers, Booktokers, and even your readers, you have more opportunities to become more visible by leveraging reviews. In fact, I covered all this and more in a recent video. And I even share how Storiad is the ideal tool to get reviews without all the extra hassle of research and individual outreach.

So, if you’re an author struggling with getting reviews, then check out my previous post about it.

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