Lola’s Advice: Free and Cheap ways to promote your Book

Posted September 5, 2016 by Lola in Lola's Advice / 26 Comments

Lola’s Advice is a monthly feature on my blog Lola’s Reviews, which will be posted on the first monday of the month. Lola’s Advice posts are usually how-to or tips type of posts. They are mainly aimed at authors, but I also try and show the blogger/ reader side of the topic I address. I share my knowledge or personal opinion on mostly book, authors, marketing and promotion related topics. I hope it’s helpful for authors and bloggers alike. Also even though it’s advice please understand that even if you follow all my advice it still won’t guarantee your book will be a success, but it hopefully will be helpful. I also believe that not everything works for each author, every author and book is different and different strategies work for different people. So please use whatever you want to or fits with your style. The banner for this feature is designed by Michelle from Limabean Designs.

Publishing your book can be quite costly, so today I wanted to talk about some cheap or free ways to promote your book. Do keep in mind that free or cheap isn’t always better than paying for things, but I do think that using both paid and free methods to promote your book can be a good idea. Also some free options might cost more time than paying for it, so that is something to consider. I don’t have a hard/ fast rule on what is considered cheap, but I try and give an estimate of the things that cost money. This is more a summary/ overview type of post where I list a lot of different ways to promote your book and go into a bit of detail of the things I list.

Free or cheap ways to promote your book

  • Cover. I think that if you can sell your book with the cover you should go for it. Yes people judge a book by it’s cover and having a good professional looking cover is often the first step to attract readers their attention. In most cases a cover will cost money, but I’ve heard from authors that for 100-200$ you can get a good cover. And I believe it’s worth to invest in that and it isn’t too much money, especially as you likely won’t ever need another cover for your book if the first one is good.
  • Blurb. Besides your cover, the blurb is one of the first things a reader sees and reads. Try and convince people to buy your book in your blurb. Give them a feel for what your book is about and what to expect. I believe a blurb/ synopsis is very important in helping people decide what to read, so you want to make your blurb as good as possible. For some more tips on writing synopsis I would recommend How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis by Bryan Cohen. I’ve read this a while ago and I think there are some great tips in there for authors. Other options are to ask someone else to write your blurb for you or ask other authors or readers for feedback on your blurb.
  • Free services. Some sites or companies might offer a free or cheap service option for new clients. Or maybe you can even get a discount. For example on Lola’s Blog Tours I offer free advice and free cover reveals. If you search well, you’ll probably find more sites that offer a free promo post or a free or discounted service of some kind to promote your book.
  • Discounted/ free days. Discounted or free days are a great way to promote your book for little money, yes you also make less money, but often these discounted or free days will help your book in the hands of more readers who hopefully will read it and maybe buy your other books afterwards. Ofcourse free or discounted days runs are most effective if you can stack ads around to promote it. But you could do it without or maybe use other methods, like promoting your discounted or free days on social media, your website, newsletter or even asking author friends if they want to feature this. I will do a post in more depth about promoting your cheap or free book in November.
  • Free/ cheap promo sites. Promo sites are sites who will feature your book in their newsletter, usually for a price. And they usually require a minimum number of reviews and you book needs to be discounted or sometimes 2.99 or lower at least. Promotion sites are a great way to give your free or discounted days a boost. One of the most well known and effective ones is Bookbub, but there are a lot more promo sites out there. They all vary in price, bookbub isn’t cheap, but from what I heard it is worth it. Most other promotion sites have more affordable rates. There are those who are free, although they often don’t guarantee to feature you. But a well written blurb and cover can increase your chances they will feature you. There are also some that do cost money, but for 5$-50$ per promo site you can still find a lot of sites within that range that will feature your book. For each genre and book there are sites which work better than others and it’s a bit of trial and error to find out which ones work for your book.
  • Collaborating with other authors. I’ve been seeing this more and more often and I think it’s a great way to expand your reach. You can collaborate with other authors in your genres, for example feature each others books in your newsletter, do a discounted promo/ free days run with a group of authors and have everyone promote a web page where all the books are listed. Or even a facebook party where multiple authors stop by. I recently saw a multiple author promo for urban fantasy books where they had a webpage with the sales, everyone send out newsletters about that and promoted it on social media and they did a facebook party. I am not sure if it terms of sales it was effective for them, but it seemed very effective from an outside point of view and I even picked up some new books and had fun at the party.
  • Social media parties/ promotion. Social media is a free way to promote your books. It might not always be the most effective one, but it is free. You can also pay on most sites to get your posts seen more or buy ads, but it isn’t necessary. Or you could do a social media party like I mentioned on my previous point already. You could do a party alone or invite other authors to stop by and post giveaways during your party as well.
  • Newsletter. Your newsletter is a great way to promote your new book, discounted days etc. Ofcourse you have to build your newsletter audience first, but even if you only have a few subscribers I think it’s still a good idea to utilize your newsletter.
  • Reviews. I think reviews can be very important for promoting your book. I’ve heard bloggers/ readers who bought a book from reading reviews and they also give your book credibility. They are a usually free way to promote your book (some reviewers do charge money for reviews). Although it does cost time to find and contact reviewers. I’ve talked about reviews a lot already, for more information you can read the following posts: How to Get More Reviews for your book, How to get reviewers to cross post their reviews and How to use reviews to promote your book.
  • Guest posts or interviews on other blogs. Some blogs offer guest posts or interview stops for authors. You do need to invest some time to write the post or answer the question, but you can get some exposure this way.
  • Giveaways. In most cases giveaways will costs money, but not if you give away your own e-books. There is some debate on how effective it is to do giveaways for your own book especially for example during a book for said book. If you have multiple books written you can always give away another book than the one that is on tour. But if you think of giveaways on social media for example I think giveaways for the book you want to promote can be very helpful. Next month I’ll do a post about running giveaways.
  • Street Team/ Fan base. Using a street team or your fan base to help you promote the book can be great as then you aren’t the only one talking about it, so you’ll reach more people. You can ask your street team to help promote your new book or even ask your newsletter subscribers for help or encourage social media followers to share your post or graphic. More information about setting up a street team can be found here.
  • Shareable Graphics. If you want to promote your book on social media and have people share it, using a graphic that has the information about the book can be very helpful. You can make graphics or teaser images yourself or pay a designer for it. They usually aren’t too pricey and I think they can be helpful.
  • Blog Tours. It really depends on the tour itself whether these are considered cheap or not, but I’ve seen tours from anywhere between 25$ till the hundreds of dollars. But I believe you should be able to book a decent blog tour for somewhere between 50$-150$. So without spending too much money. For more information about blog tours, check out my post about How to make the most of a blog tour

Authors: Which cheap/ free options do you use to promote your book?

Bloggers: what are some ways that I listed here through which you heard about books?

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26 responses to “Lola’s Advice: Free and Cheap ways to promote your Book

    • Yes the cover is the thing many people see first so if you can pull someone in with your cover that’s great. And I agree that reviews are very important too.

  1. This is a big part of what shuts me down when I think about self-publishing. Even though I think it’s the way to go these days, self-promoting a book just overwhelms me. Even reading your post – which has great info – overwhelms me a bit, just thinking of all those decisions to make. Sigh, I guess I don’t need to worry yet, still have to finish the writing… Great post!
    Berls recently posted…Deeper | My TBR List ReviewMy Profile

    • I think it depends on the author, if you know you don’t want to do all the marketing you can still try to get traditional published, but I do believe it’s a good idea to consider indie publishing as well. And there are lot of resources out there for indie authors.
      Just focus on writing the book first, the marketing comes later. And if you ever need help with the marketing aspect just let me know, I would love to help you where possible :).

  2. The cover and blurb are super important, and I think many self-published authors maybe don’t realize just how much. Even more important than the cover being super pretty is that it needs to accurately portray the genre and type of book. I mean, often times I just scroll through lists of giveaways or related books or whatever, and so the cover is all I’m going by. If something looks paranormal, dark, not *too* PNR, that’s what I click on. If it looks like contemporary romance though, I won’t click that. And then it doesn’t even matter how great the blurb is or how amazing the book or what the reviews say because I’ll never even make it that far. And same for blurbs. Sometimes only a little snippet of a blurb is shown and there’s a “read more” thing or you have to click to another page. If I have to go hunting and do all that work just to figure out what the book is about, I lose interest. There’s a much greater chance I’ll look into the book if the blurb brings up what the book is about right away.

    And I think GR giveaways are a great means of promotion for authors that could cost very little but get them lots of exposure. Especially now GR allows ebook giveaways. But even for the cost of sending out one paperback, it could get 1000 people interested. I often scroll through giveaways and end up adding a bunch of books to my TBR. Even if I don’t win, they’re still on my TBR after that, and I might end up actually buying some.
    Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight recently posted…Blogging Organization: Keeping Track of Review Copies with a SpreadsheetMy Profile

    • I do see more and more indie authors with great covers and blurbs, so I do hope/ think that is something that’s changing. But yes there are still a lot of not so good covers and blurbs out there. And having the cover fit the genre and adequately portray the book is very important too as sometimes the cover is the only thing you see. And indeed the blurb doesn’t matter if you don’t even make it that far.

      I think it’s very promising that Goodreads now allows giveaways, although if I remember correctly they do costs some money, but then again you probably do reach a big audience so it’s probably worth it. And the nice thing about goodreads is that if someone adds a book to their to-read list it will also show up on timelines of their friends, so you get even more exposure that way.

    • Thanks! I don’t host a lot of giveaways on my blog. But the giveaways I set up for tours still do well, I do notice differences between giveaways, with some doing better than others, but I general I still think they are a good way to promote your book. Although most of those giveaways are for gift cards and such, not books. With book giveaways you target a limited group as only those interested in the book enter, but that might not be a bad thing as at least you know those who enter are interested in the book.

    • Oh good one! I forgot to mention instafreebie here. I did have it in my head to list that in a post about growing your newsletter, but I realize it would’ve fit in here as well.

    • I think having a good cover is very important as it’s the first thing people see and they are more likely to check out a post or the book when the cover gets your attention. And I love freebies as a reader as it’s a great way to try out a new author or book and get a fee for their style. And reviews and a blog tours are a common way for me to hear about new books as well.

  3. I’ve found that a combination of all these things is necessary. I learned in a small business class that people have to see something several times before they actually make the purchase. I think that is true of books b/c I’m that way. I rarely buy it the first time I see the book even if it has a cool cover or blurb, but exposure to reviews, tours, social media announcements, etc does eventually move me toward the purchase.
    Sophia Rose recently posted…DNF – Oh No, We can’t go, it’s not worth finishingMy Profile

    • Yes that’s what I learned during my psychology study as well, people need to see something multiple times and then they get more familiar with it and more likely to buy it. So I definitely think that’s true in part for books as well. There will be people who buy a book the first time they hear of it, but also some who won’t give it a chance until they’ve seen it multiple times.
      And a combination of multiple of these things is probably most effective. As that way you bring your book in front of people multiple times. Exposure is a very powerful thing, it just takes some time and effort to build it up.

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