The Best Free And Paid Websites For Authors To Promote Their Books
How to promote your book as a self-published or traditionally published author is one of the biggest concerns and this article aims to deliver all the precious resources, websites, links, Facebook and Goodreads groups where an author can promote their work.
I’ve teamed up with my author buddies and asked them how they promote their books on both free and paid platforms, how they use Social Media to promote their work in the hopes that we can all learn from each other and get better at the craft of Book Marketing. If you’re doing it right, book promo will undoubtedly result in sales, yet so many of us complain that despite being active on social media or digging deep in our wallets for Amazon Book Ads or Twitter Promo, our efforts still don’t translate into book sales.
For the ones of you who are new to my blog, I’m Esther, writer, content creator for authors and massive nerd. If you’re interested to know all the tips & tricks surrounding the process From Writing To Publishing Your Novel, you’re only a click away. For writing and marketing tips consider subscribing to my YouTube Channel.
A fairly common problem can be the quality of your Digital Art. Flooding Instagram, Facebook or Twitter with amateurish pictures promoting your book can have the exact opposite effect. You need to work with the color palette of the book you are trying to promote and create images that are true to your genre. You can’t use a whimsical font to promote a Sci-Fi novel, so educating yourself on what fonts better describe your genre & subgenre is imperative.
I create my own digital art using Pixlr that has its own free stock pictures via Unsplash or you can go to Unsplash directly and search for beautiful backgrounds and royalty free pics that go with your books. It’s an incredibly intuitive tool for the lot of us who are not Photoshop proficient and I’ve managed to create amazing digital art: from pictures with quotes from my novels to my very cool YouTube thumbnails & Instagram story content.
If you’re PC clumsy, then consider asking your graphic designer to create some digital art for your books. The picture with the hands holding my novel, Found in Amber is the work of my designer, Ana Voicu. You can find affordable graphic designers on Upwork or Fiverr.
I’ve heard great things about Book Adrenaline for Mysteries & Thrillers (paid) and Profile Critics (free) from Amnesia Desk on Facebook.
But let’s welcome my author buddies & extremely cool people Carole P. Roman, Erica Graham, K.C. Julius, Rebecca McNutt, Lissa Oliver, Rebecca Hefner, Alex R. Carver, Ian Miller, Karen Eisembrey, Lucy Appadoo and Rhonda Smiley as they share their tools and resources for authors to promote their books and answer some of the most popular questions in the writing community.
Q1: What are some ways a self-published author can approach book promo?
Carole P. Roman: If you are paying for promotions match the promo with your theme. If it’s a horror book, Halloween is the best time. Romance should be on Valentine’s Day. Those are dates when I pay for promotions. Once you start with some of these sites, they send you coupons. I try to use those savings when I give the extra push. However, I am always promoting. I make timely ads on Canva and put them on social media. I post at least three times per week. This cost me nothing but time.
K.C. Julius: Many authors begin with an “organic” approach—promoting their books to family and friends, then letting “word of mouth” spread about their work. In today’s competitive market, I believe it’s essential to have an author website on which an invitation to join your subscriber’s e-mail list is featured front and center. You also need an FB author page and an active presence on Twitter and/or IG.
Rebecca McNutt: It depends on the author, the method of publishing, the genre and which platform you are using for promotion. A lot of traditionally-published authors have most of the promotion taken care of for them. Indie authors, not so much, unless they pay a third-party to do it. I’ve personally found that there is a fine line between self-promotion and spamming.
Websites like Goodreads offer platforms where authors can get the word out about their books for example, but they make it clear what author behavior is going too far when it comes to self-promotion (not to mention unwritten rules, such as avoiding giving your own book a star rating). Making a YouTube video can be a good way to promote a book, and I’ve found some success in the past with KDP free book giveaways. I also give away print copies of my books to a couple of readers for free during holidays sometimes.
I try to be careful with promotion, though. Pitching a book to potential readers/reviewers can either come across as reasonable or gimmicky, depending on how it’s done.
Lissa Oliver: Look to local help – far & wide! Your local radio and local newspaper will promote your news. Remember that “local” means where you live, where you previously lived, where you work, where your family live, etc. Don’t limit yourself, be creative! Local media want interesting news, preferably unique. Not just another book. What makes you or your book different? Find an interesting angle.
Once you have coverage in the local media, tell the bookshops in that area and ask if you can do a book signing or “meet’n’greet”. Offer to give a talk on the subject of your book. Bookshops love events that cost them nothing and get potential customers through the door.
Libraries have a budget for local authors, so go in and sell them your books. Again, offer your services, for a reading or talk. Is there a specialist organisation connected with your subject matter? Tell them about your book and offer your services for talks.
You won’t get paid for your time, but it costs you only time!
Rebecca Hefner: I always sit down and write in a notebook what I’m looking to accomplish. For example:
• Which authors’ readers am I going to target?
• How much do I want to spend?
• How many sales/KDP page reads will I need to consider it a success?
Karen Eisenbrey: It’s a good idea to cast a wide net. You might not see an obvious, immediate outcome from any one promotion, so you won’t always know what worked. Try a mix of social media posts, interviews, live events, paid advertising, etc. And be creative! You’re promoting your creative work, right? Approach promotion as an outgrowth of that, and think of it as offering your audience something they want—maybe something in addition to the book. For example, my St. Rage series is about a teenage garage band, so I make the songs available for streaming and download on Bandcamp.
Ian Miller: There are two reasons why a book (or anything else) won’t sell, and it starts with the logic statement: either people know about it or they do not. If they do know and won’t buy, what they are telling you is either they have heard it is terrible, or they don’t buy that sort of book. Either way, they are lost causes, although if you hear it is terrible, you might be better off to pull it and make a better effort next time. For those who don’t know about it, you have to tell them it exists, which essentially means advertising it in a form that interests them, and this is difficult. Standing on a street corner shouting “buy my book!” usually does not work. The problem is to find advertising that strikes the people who might buy it, and are interested in that sort of book.
Lucy Appadoo: I believe that participating in social media, such as Instagram, Facebook, and Linked In is effective. I like to comment on other author posts, engage with others, and post about me as a person before selling my books. I like to get the community to know, like, and trust me, and I share personal tidbits about myself, while at other times, I’ll market my new releases.
Barbara Ann Mojica: Have a long-term business plan. Think in terms of five years from now. Know your target audience and think from their perspective, not your own. Appeal to their emotions and their needs. Map out your emails and newsletters a few months in advance. Ask your email subscribers and social media followers questions and invite their input. Adjust your marketing plan accordingly.
Q2: How often should we promote our books and what are some of our free tools before jumping into our wallets?
Carole P. Roman: Recently, with the help of Erica Graham, we set up a Facebook page for authors to place their ads for other authors to promote. As of yet, very few are participating. I don’t understand. It cost nothing to cross-promote someone else on your social media. It makes your page more interesting. There’s nothing worse than constantly banging the same people on the head with the same books. So, by bringing in other authors, you are diversifying your page.
Hopefully, that author is putting your books on their media, doubling the eyes on your books. It feels simple to me. I also post both my and other author’s books to other book pages on Facebook. I don’t know if they see a difference, but I’m selling more books since I started doing this. Lastly, I feature other authors on my blogs. I send out mailchimps offering a giveaway with both my and other indies books. (Kindle only). If people feel they may win, they’ll read your email. I make sure to include something about one of my books as well.
I write to bloggers asking for reviews. Sometimes it involves giving them a free book, but most will accept a kindle copy. Ask to be on as many blogs as you can find.
Erica Graham: We should promote our books every time an opportunity arises, so long as promotion does not prevent an author from writing. Blogs, social media, creating a free website, and networking with other authors are just a few important tools we can tap into before paying for promotion.
K.C. Julius: I’m just starting out on this journey. I’m seeking a delicate balance in promoting, and how often I do so depends on the venue. I personally don’t send out emails more than once a month unless I’m building toward a launch. Since I’m rapid-releasing my series, I’m mindful that my subscribers are hearing from me more often now. On Twitter and IG, I post something nearly every day, although it’s never “Buy my book!” GIFs featuring my book reviews are interspersed with photos of my dog, sunsets over the Rhine, and places that inspired some of the settings in The Drinnglennin Chronicles.
Rebecca McNutt: I use KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing via Amazon) to promote my books, as well as my own author blog (https://rebeccamcnuttcobwebs.blogspot.com/) and my Goodreads author profile to promote my books. I used to use Goodreads Giveaways, by it’s no longer economically feasible since they started charging for authors setting up giveaways.
There is also a free website called Diabolic Shrimp (https://diabolicshrimp.com/) by which fellow authors can get free reviews and review the work of other authors, sort of a pay-it-forward kind of model. I try not to spend any money on promotion if I can avoid it, although some authors have had success with paid promotion. It can be extremely expensive.
Lissa Oliver: I’m with a mainstream publisher and had a No.1 bestseller. My royalty cheque would not pay for a half-page advert in a paper. Indie authors expect investment to pay off, but usually it doesn’t. Be cautious about spending. Investigate every free tool at your disposal and be as creative as you can.
How often to promote a book? Never stop promoting it. But be subtle, don’t devote a Facebook page, for example, to BUY MY BOOK!!! People don’t want to be pressured. Let them decide to buy, if they want. Just post sample chapters and character, plot news on social media and include news of other relevant things, to keep it interesting and not only about your book.
Rebecca Hefner: The best free tool I’ve discovered is StoryOrigin. It’s fantastic.
Karen Eisenbrey: Timing can be tricky. You want to promote often enough that people don’t forget but not so often that they get annoyed. When I have a new book coming out or an event coming up, I promote as often as daily in the week or two before. Otherwise, weekly seems tolerable. Free tools include social media (Facebook pages and groups, Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), blogs, Mailchimp email marketing (free for small lists).
Lucy Appadoo: I believe that we should promote our books at least several times a week, but not only directly but indirectly. For instance, I like to explain to the community that I write stories as a way to evoke particular emotions in readers rather than directly tell people to buy my book. For example, ‘’I write suspenseful books that keep you on the edge of your seat, entertain you, and give you a thrilling ride.”
Some of the free tools for promoting our books include Wattpad, Goodreads, Booksprout (for reviews), social media, Amazon giveaways, book talks in libraries, and Canva or Flickr for free images to advertise or promote our books.
Barbara Ann Mojica: I follow the 80/20 rule. I try to share 80% of the time and promote 20%. This includes my blogging, social media channels, and email subscriptions. Being retired, my budget is limited. Free advertising can be supplemented with local personal appearances, free book signings, interviews, and cross-promoting with authors.
Q3: We tend to imagine promotion as having our books featured on a big scale like with Amazon ads, but what are some other things which can attract readers to our websites/books, etc.? (interviews, cross-promotion with other authors, etc)
Carole P. Roman: It’s always the giveaways. Nothing gets people more excited than a free book. If you can’t afford it, as a bunch of authors to participate and ask them to provide the winners with a free book.
Erica Graham: Opportunities for book promotion are only limited to our creativity. I have found group promotions, author interviews, book blog features and giveaways, and cross-promotion are all useful promotion tools. In addition to these, public appearances are a unique way to connect with readers. Talk to local libraries and bookstores about the potential for book signing events. I have had the most luck with events that feature a group of local authors and artists.
Some authors gather a “street team” to hand out flyers or other giveaways at public events. Though I cannot personally speak on the success of this tactic, these authors claim they noticed increased website visits and sales.
K.C. Julius: I’ve done a number of interviews (including with you—thanks again for this opportunity!), and I think this is a great way to introduce yourself to more readers. On Launch Day of Portent of Chaos, the first book of The DC, I sent the word out to my friends and followers that if they planned to purchase the book, this was THE day to do it. As a result of the surging sales, Portents was listed in four categories on Amazon’s Hot New Releases list for the first week. It’s still trending in Historical Fantasy and New Adult/College, and I hope to keep it there until I release A Realm at Stake next month.
I also entered the beautiful cover of Portents in AllAuthor’s Cover of the Month contest, which is another great way to be seen by potential readers. My cover features the original art of Gwen Shackleton, and is currently at #3 in the contest, out of something like 300 entries. AllAuthor does both free and paid promo (at a very reasonable price) and you can check it out here: https://allauthor.com/
I submitted Portents in manuscript form to The BookLife Prize contest, and although I wasn’t a finalist, I received an excellent review and used snippets this review on the back blurb. If you’d like to know more about The BookLife Prize, you can read my opinion piece on the ALLi blog here: https://selfpublishingadvice.org/opinion-the-booklife-prize/
Rebecca McNutt: Doing a YouTube video, if you have decent video editing skills or a friend/acquaintance willing to help you out with creating one, can be a good tool for book promotion. YouTube videos can be linked to Goodreads’ book pages and author profiles. Interviews can also be a good promotion tool, if you can find bloggers or those with a podcast willing to do one with you.
Lissa Oliver: Guest blogs and author interviews are excellent. How about interviewing favourite fictitious characters, including your own? Think outside the box!
Karen Eisenbrey: Share reviews on social media, including a good quote from the review. If you write a blog for an audience that might also like your book(s), include links at the end of each post or in the sidebar. Participate in multi-author online events, such as page or event takeovers and newsletter hops. Donate ebooks or other swag to giveaways. Do interviews on blogs and podcasts; it’s also a good way to keep in practice talking about your work.
Lucy Appadoo: I believe in cross promotions with other authors (sharing a book in their newsletter or sharing on Facebook), promoting our books to newsletter subscribers, having a free book to give away in exchange for signing up for our newsletter, Instagram stories, and the list goes on.
Barbara Ann Mojica: Free advertising can be supplemented with local personal appearances, free book signings, articles in local news media outlets, interviews, and cross-promoting with authors. Doing blog launches with giveaways and cross-promoting new releases of authors in the same genre also generates interest.
Q4: Did you ever run a cross-promotion with another author buddy? Could you explain the process?
Carole P. Roman: Yes. I’m always doing that. We make a beautiful mailer and feature an indie who’s book will be described. maybe it’s an interview or an excerpt. I always include one of my book trailers or a cover of one of my books. It’s nice when you can pair them together. “If you like my books, then you will love Blah, blah’s…”
Erica Graham: I have participated in various types of cross-promotion with fellow authors and highly recommend this approach as a way to reach new readers. My favorite cross-promotion events are Facebook parties and takeovers. For example, when the Bulwark anthology released, we teamed together to hold Facebook takeovers in various Facebook reader’s groups. Each involved author took a time slot to promote their book, hold Q&A sessions, play games, and host giveaways. We were able to connect on a personal level to the group members. In addition, we were able to introduce each other to our personal circle of readers.
Lissa Oliver: I’ve done several guest interviews and it allows the sharing of followers. Both authors will share their news on social media and attract double the footfall. The process is simply to invite an author (or someone else linked to your subject) and pose some interesting questions.
Rebecca Hefner: I ran a really cool promo with author C.D. Gorri. She also writes paranormal romance and we did a $25 Amazon gift card giveaway. Entry required the person to agree to sign up to each of our newsletters. So, we basically doubled our newsletter size with one promo. Very worth it.
Ian Miller: Put other stuff out there, such as blogs, contributions to fora etc. I also do reviews for indies, although I am not sure that helps sales particularly.
Karen Eisenbrey: I’m with a very small publisher, so much of the promotion is done by the authors. When a new book is coming out, we all have the chance to advance read and review it, and even offer a blurb to be printed on the cover and/or featured on the publisher’s website. We post about the book across our platforms and expect similar support when our books come out. We promote each other’s events, and whenever possible, we do events together or attend each other’s events, which is an opportunity to talk up the other authors’ books. Having advance read them, I can speak knowledgably about each one.
Lucy Appadoo: I am part of a Facebook Writer’s Group and I replied to an author who wanted me to promote their new book to my newsletter subscribers. I shared this author’s book to my subscribers on a particular date, and in exchange, this author shared my new book to their subscribers at a later date.
Barbara Ann Mojica: I did a couple of cross-promotions around the holidays on another author’s Facebook page. Several authors took turns promoting the holiday titles and each author used a raffle copter to do a giveaway. There are other ways to do this by signing up for blog tour promotions. In my case, as a children’s author I often link up with other children’s book authors on blog launch sites like The Children’s Book Review.
Since its inception seven years ago, I have reviewed books for the Children’s Multicultural Book Day event at the end of January. This year I have a book being reviewed as well as reviewing a book on my blog. The event gets lots of attention and is linked to teacher classroom events and a Twitter blast party. This promotion is free unless you choose to become a paid sponsor for the event.
Q5: What are some of the things authors can do to promote each other?
Carole P. Roman: We should be liking each other on social media, tweeting, snap chatting, and featuring each other on blog posts. Many of my friends and I have chipped in and purchased table space at a convention, taken ads together. and I’ve featured many of my friend’s books in a gift bag I give out.
I also make sure to plug their books at my books club and encourage people to write reviews. I met an author recently at a book club whose only agenda was to get people to read her books. It became tiresome and she ended up dropping out.
She only wanted to talk about her books and constantly went on and on, and you could feel people retreating. She got her reviews and ended up pulling out right after. I want to add, I read and reviewed her book, she did not make any attempt to read anything I suggested. (Including my own)
Erica Graham: It is challenging to gain interest when you are promoting your own work; however, if someone else is promoting your work, people tend to listen. In addition to cross-promotion, watch for opportunities to promote books written by your fellow authors. This can be recommending their book in groups or to someone looking for a good read in that genre.
Most local libraries accept book requests for new titles to add to their collections. I hand out flyers at my live events with book recommendations that support authors who have supported me in the past. These are just a few examples of ways authors can promote each other.
K.C. Julius: I love being part of the world-wide writing community, in its numerous supportive venues. I regularly retweet posts featuring author friends’ books, pinned posts and/or reviews. I would consider doing some sort of co-promotion with another author, provided we write in the same genre and I admire his/her work. I’m still pretty much flat-out between my releases and editing the final book of my series, but I intend to read other indie authors’ works so that I can review them. Writing and posting reviews on Amazon and Goodreads is a great way to give a fellow author a boost.
Rebecca McNutt: Authors can review one another’s books or feature them on each other’s blogs, although as a general rule, it’s important to give honest feedback. If another author asks me to deliberately give them a 5 star review, I decline, but if it’s just swapping books for honest reviews, that’s a common enough occurrence and a good way for authors to help each other.
Lissa Oliver: As above! Join Groups, network, attend every book launch you can. Mix and meet and get your name out there.
Lucy Appadoo: I believe that authors can write testimonials for an author’s book and share them on social media. I had a few authors and counselors write testimonials inside my book, Moving Beyond Grief. Authors can also retweet or share an author’s work on social media, as well as participate in a group giveaway or competition.
Barbara Ann Mojica: Authors can share each other’s posts on all social media outlets, or link up together to organize interviews, podcasts, webinars, you tube promos or forums on topics of common interest.
Q6: How effective do you find social media in promoting your books and reaping the benefits (sales, growth opportunities, etc.)
Carole P. Roman: If I don’t post to Facebook, our sales drop. I was busy with a bunch of distracting activities and didn’t post much at all. Soon my sales dropped to seven or eight paperbacks per day. We are back at posting regularly and I’ve have seen a significant rise in sales. (Only in my children’s books) Now we average anywhere from 20- fifty paperbacks daily.
I want to add, Kindles have fallen off, in a major way. We used to sell many more kindles, but I think with the flood of authors, the books tend to get lost in the ocean. They do pick up when I run them for free on Kindle and for a few days after, we see more sales. We try to rotate the books to once a month in each series. I am promoting close to a hundred books that include my son’s three pen names and two of my own. I want to stress nobody address the elephant in the room.
How much can you make and how? What works for you in hard numbers? Well, these are no bullsh** numbers that I don’t mind sharing. I hope to hear how someone else doubled the amount and what they did to do it. I am all ears and want to learn!
Erica Graham: Social media is a very effective tool that doesn’t need to cost much, if anything. I have found many authors and readers group that provided opportunities for networking, and even making some new friends to help me as we navigate the author journey together. These networks and friendships have lead to some great promotional opportunities. Social media allows you a means to reach new readers around the world and connect with them on a more personal level. I would say most of my readers have discovered me and my books through live events and social media.
Rebecca McNutt: It depends. I’ve published quite a few novels and short stories, and started using social media almost ten years ago for promoting my published works, when I was thirteen years old. It’s given me more time to build up a following.
Truthfully, there’s often to rhyme or reason to success that way. Sometimes I just get lucky. I also write for a niche genre (occult horror), so social media makes it easier to find readers who are specifically into those types of books. Other times, social media doesn’t work at all for me. I’m really bad at actually keeping track of my own sales records (I don’t actually look at my own royalty reports very often; I’m lazy that way), but I’ve earned a lot more money on books that are new and subsequently being promoted via social media.
Lissa Oliver: Social media is time-consuming, but essential. It’s vital to engage with followers and not merely sell your book. Follow them, comment on their achievements, don’t ear-bash them with your work. Let them decide if they want to look at your work. Simply Follow, Share, Comment and be a Friend.
Rebecca Hefner: I find it effective in that it keeps you “front of mind”. I’m not sure how many books social media actually sales but I do find that it keeps the readers engaged until I can get a new book to market for them to buy.
Karen Eisenbrey: I find it fairly effective for cover reveals and book releases, but it seems to tail off quickly after that. That being said, I’m mostly on Facebook and my target audience is mostly not (though their parents and grandparents are, so there’s gift potential).
Lucy Appadoo: Through social media, I managed to get sign-ups for my newsletter in group promotions and individual promotions, but I struggle to get any book sales via social media.
Barbara Ann Mojica: Social media does not have a big impact on my sales with a few exceptions. A virtual reality interview garnered international interest but most of my interviews and posts lead to referrals that lead to forming new relationships that bear fruit in the long-term, rather than having an immediate result. But focusing on one step at a time is how you build your following. Persistence and patience are virtues much necessary though sometimes difficult to sustain.
Q7: Paid promo: when, where and how? Do you have any advice on how often we should pay for promo and what are the go-to websites or platforms?
Carole P. Roman: I do a lot of paid promos. As I said before, I watch for coupons and try to stay away from promoting on holidays like Christmas and Easter. I regularly run blog tours – at least once a year for each book in a series to keep pitching the book to new audiences. I have done ads in major magazines, but unless you are going to run it for several months, one ad won’t make much difference. I do run ads in both the Foreword Review and Kirkus- These are periodicals that libraries use to find books. I see a bump in distribution sales when I run one of those.
I am a big believer in entering your book in award contests. If you win, it’s a great validation. Many people don’t like the idea of paying entry fees. I pick and choose very carefully which ones I want to take a chance and because of these awards, both my son’s book and mine were featured in an announcement in the Huffingpost and Forbes. The honors have brought interest from producers, and publishers. I don’t think it’s a coincidence we have both been picked up and are now writing from small presses.
I also send out flyers that include many of my friend’s books to both book stores and libraries. I do that once a year for each. I am in the process of sending out to libraries this week, so the flyer with be Cozy Winter Reads theme. If it nets sales, it’s great. I do a brisk business in mass distribution.
Rebecca McNutt: I’ve never paid for promotion personally, and I think that whether or not it’s worth it depends on the author individually and how much they can afford. Some websites are cheaper than others. I would recommend first exploring what is cheaper; for example, Publisher’s Weekly has a paid submission option which is quite costly, but also a free submission option for self-published authors.
KDP allows free promotions for five days every so often to authors whose books are enrolled in KDP Unlimited. As for paid options, and how many times it makes sense to use them, that again is very personal to the author in question, I would think. The greater chance there is of “return on investment”, so to speak, the more it would be worth to look into paid promotion options.
Lissa Oliver: I’ve heard a lot of good about BooksGoSocial, but have never ventured down the pay-for-promo path.
Rebecca Hefner: In this day and age, you have to pay for promo. It’s just a necessary evil. But there are some that are really cost effective. I’ve found some great PR firms that do book promotions as well as book tours that are quite cost effective.
The best way to find these is to follow Bookstagrams on IG and look at their hashtags. They will list what PR firm they’re working for. Examples: #silverdaggerbooktours #givemebooksPR #wildfiremarketing etc.
Lucy Appadoo: How often we should pay for promotions is up to each author. It depends on their budget and time. I did a couple of book tours for my Italian Family Series a couple of years ago via a book tour company, but I didn’t reap any rewards from this. I got a lot of exposure but no book sales. It was a lot of work, writing a range of blog posts for a range of bloggers and it was quite expensive, so in the end it wasn’t worth it for me. I won’t be doing this again.
Other paid promotions have included Amazon and Facebook advertisements, which have not helped much with book sales either. I don’t have any go-to websites or platforms that have worked for me, other than group promotions when I paid a small fee to another author who organised the giveaways.
Barbara Ann Mojica: Personally, I don’t have much success with Amazon ads even though I have listened to many webinars on how to successfully set them up. AskDavid.com is free or low cost and they allow you to do a nice feature on any book you would like to feature. They promote on their social media and allow you to link to your website. If you have reviews on Amazon, they will show a few of them as well as linking back to your buy link on Amazon. My niche audience is rather small.
I try to link the books in my series with current issues in the news and figure out new ways to attract new subscribers. I do best with personal book events and one on one meetings. This year I plan to do more with you tube and set up more appearances at local events to build up my email subscriber list. I use Facebook groups targeted to the children’s book market and blogging/reviewer groups to network with authors and follow up with links of influencers who may be interested in my niche.
Q8: Do you know any specific online groups, websites or platforms you could recommend?
Carole P. Roman: I am in the minority, but I like to legitimize my books with a review from Kirkus, Forward, The Feathered Quill, and Blue Ink. These cost a lot, but many times it’s kickstarted a book’s sales. It has also gotten both my son and me some press. Each of these periodicals has done articles on us. I also send my books to Publisher’s Weekly (Booklife) in the hope it will get a review. Reader’s Favorite is another one I like. I purchase the five reviews and this kickstarts getting editorial reviews. Many of the reviewers have active blogs and are top reviewers on Goodreads.
I like a bevy of blog tours Pump up your books, Rockstars, Silver Dagger (asks only what the author can afford), I read blog tours, Goddess Fish, The Children’s Book Review, to name a few.- Sometimes they are more successful than others, but either way, your book is being seen by more eyes. Amy from AXP author group and The Children’s’ Book Review have helped me build my mailing lists to over 6000 people.
Simple things like your wonderful newsletter is a way to get noticed. You are doing a great service to the community and not only will I support you any way I can, I will never be too busy to help.
K.C. Julius: I’m a member of The Alliance of Independent Authors, which has been an invaluable resource on my indie journey. As far as on-line book promotion goes, Twitter and IG have flourishing writing communities. Great FB writer’s forums for indies include:
The Indie Author Mindset
Rebecca McNutt: I would recommend Goodreads, Diabolic Shrimp, KDP/Amazon, LibraryThing, YouTube and Facebook for authors. I’ve also heard that Twitter can be a useful tool, though I’ve never used Twitter personally.
Rebecca Hefner: As a fantasy romance author, I’ve had success with blog tours (Silver Dagger to be exact) as well as promotional newsletters like ExciteSteam, Hot Stuff Romance and I Love Vampire Novels, to name a few.
Karen Eisenbrey: I belong to several Facebook groups that exist for book promotion or allow it. I find I spend more time in the groups that are a mix of promotion and discussion.
Writers, Authors, and Readers
Seattle Writers and Readers Network
Teach a Unicorn to Read Author & Book Promotion
Indie Author Collective
Lucy Appadoo: I am part of the First 10,000 Readers with Nick Stephenson Facebook Writer’s Group after completing his marketing course and Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing Group after competing his Facebook Ads for Authors course. Both these courses were great value for money. Podcasts by Joanna Penn and Self Publishing Formula (Mark Dawson) provide a load of tips on marketing and promotion.
1 – Free/Bargain Booksy
2 – Bookbub
3 – EreaderNewsToday
4 – Group Promotions
5 – Blog-go-rounds (organised sharing of interviews/posts on a schedule)
6 – Giveaways
7 – Professional blogtours
1 – effective, has always delivered a nice boost on the day and increased visibility for a while afterwards, though doesn’t make back the cost very quickly.
2 – extremely effective, the best really. Very expensive, though, and hard to get selected. Odds are you’ll either make the money back on the day or within a week, especially if you have a series because it tends to lead to follow-on sales.
3 – see #1
4 – I’ve had good and bad, depends really on the people involved and the work everyone puts into it. If it’s well organised and run and has a good mix of people who all do their best it can be very effective.
5 – see #4
6 – Some people have had success but it depends on the type of giveaway, and can be troubled by people who aren’t interested in the book on offer so much as the ‘high’ of winning. There’s a lot of people who enter every giveaway they see, regardless of the prize.
7 – Depends on the organiser. There are some very very good blog tour organisers out there, and they don’t all charge an arm and a leg. I want to sort one out this year as part of my get better at promoting thing.
Barbara Ann Mojica: I would sign up to the Book Buzz site for newsletters and updates. Most of the online book promotion sites don’t seem effective for children’s books. I would recommend the Independent Author Network and Indie Reader websites and newsletters. Readers Favorite offers free reviews and a forum to share ideas on writing and marketing. For podcasts, I recommend Storyteller Radio and Blog Talk Radio. There are dozens of groups on Facebook. Find the ones that focus on your genre, marketing/writing focus or blogging interest. Join and post on them regularly, making sure that you promote others more than you promote yourself.
Rhonda Smiley: Giveaways are a great way to get eyes on your books and to build an audience. You can do them at any time and promote your giveaway on any social media platform (Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter), but you can also find organized events where other authors participate, thereby cross-promoting each other and driving more traffic to the giveaway. The holidays are a great time to look for these events. I’ve participated in an “Advent Calendar” giveaway as well as a “12 Days of Christmas” giveaway. The best thing about giveaways is if your budget is tight, you can use an app like Story Origin (https://storyoriginapp.com/) which is in beta and free for now, or Prolific Works (https://www.prolificworks.com/) to safely give away your ebook with no cost to you.
If you use an editor, most of them happily promote your book on their sites (and other social media) once you publish, and then you can share that as well. It helps them and it helps you. Some even do giveaways and other types of promotion. For instance, the editing house I used to proof my last book does a themed “Book Lovers Box” giveaway each month. Readers enter to win and tweet about it, so you can get a lot of exposure. (https://www.pikkoshouse.com/)
Winning awards is another great way to promote your book, but it’s best to set a budget. Some contests can be pricey and not all contests are equal, so it’s important to research which ones are worth the money. My first book has an indieBRAG medallion, and indieBRAG is very active in promoting their winners, setting up giveaways, and sending out genre-themed newsletters. (https://www.bragmedallion.com/)
I also like to enter The Book Designer monthly ebook cover contest. Whether you get praise, or win, or just simply get feedback, it gets your cover in front of many eyes. And it’s free to submit.
If blogging is your thing, doing a guest post on someone else’s site is a great way to promote yourself. Most bloggers welcome guests. It widens their audience, offers different points of view, and helps fill their content. Usually, you would just contact them with a short intro of yourself and the topic you’d write about for them to decide if you’re a good fit.
Q9: What is the biggest challenge you face when promoting your books?
Carole P. Roman: Motivating other authors to DO something. The problem is this is a long game and anyone expecting to see immediate results should stick to their day job. While I do spend and spread myself anywhere I can, most of the things I mentioned have no cost but time. It takes commitment and when you do get a budget, careful choices go a long way.
Erica Graham: The biggest challenge for me is time. There are so many great opportunities to promote my books that I would love to utilize; however, my family is my priority and for that reason, I do not invest as much time into book promotion as I would like. I do what I can though. Every bit of promotion I am able to invest time into is important and helps.
K.C. Julius: Sorting through all the information/advice out there! 😀
Rebecca McNutt: I wouldn’t say that I’ve faced many challenges in promoting my books, just the financial barrier. Being a student, I can’t afford promotion, so I have to get creative when/if I want to promote. The trick is finding websites that work and sticking with them, or finding a platform and working at building up a following.
Lissa Oliver: Actually physically getting out there. Put a box of books in the car and drive to bookshops and libraries. There are wndows of opportunity you miss because they’re not well advertised or too far away. Try to travel to meet your potential customers. Google and research those windows.
Rebecca Hefner: Not getting discouraged. There are things that will work with one book or series that don’t work with another. I think you just have to carry on and remember that even if only one reader finds your work through a promo, but loves it, that’s a win!
Karen Eisenbrey: My own personality! I am really uncomfortable saying “Buy my book!” over and over, whether in person or online. It helps to re-frame it as “talking about books with people who like to read.” With practice I have become much more comfortable with face-to-face promotion.
Lucy Appadoo: The biggest challenge I face when promoting my books is finding the time and getting huge book sales, as I work in another job four days a week so only write in my spare time.
Barbara Ann Mojica: My biggest challenge is getting the word out about my books to parents, homeschoolers, and teachers. The mass market publishing groups like Scholastic have a corner on listings in the catalogs that many teachers are forced to buy from. History has almost disappeared from the elementary school curriculum. Parents and teachers are unaware of what independent publishers offer and online outlets like Amazon and Barnes & Noble are reluctant to open their doors to something new.
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