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Five Free and/or Low Cost Online Marketing Methods for Writers

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I’m an introvert. You may be too. If so, it can be a challenge to market your book. That doesn’t mean we should crawl under the covers, pull out our laptops and write our next novel without any thought to how our books will get into the hands of readers. Unless, of course, we can afford to pay others to market for us. Sadly, that is not the case for me. I have to do the marketing myself.

1. Social Media. The first thing we need to do is set up a presence on social media. Ideally, this should be done long before our books are published. At an absolute minimum, we should have a presence on Twitter and Facebook. I would also recommend Pinterest and Google+. I haven’t found any benefit from Linked-In or About Me, but it probably wouldn’t hurt to set yourself up on all of them if you have the time and energy.

We will annoy people and hurt our brand if we publish only “buy my book” posts. We need to work to build relationships. Talk to people. Post memes. Share Bible verses. We don’t have to spend all day. If we spend fifteen minutes in the morning and another fifteen minutes in the evening every other day connecting with people, that will be enough to begin building relationships. I used to spend a great deal of time on social media, but have found that it’s unnecessary and a huge time waster. Log-in. Make a few comments on other people’s posts. Log-out. We can use hoot-suite to schedule our posts and then we will only need to spend a few minutes a day monitoring our Twitter and Facebook accounts and sending out a few shares and re-tweets.

2. Blog. If you don’t have a blog, you may want to consider starting one. A blog is an author’s online home-base. It helps people find us. Owning a domain name is an added bonus. I recommend the small expenditure for an extra touch of professionalism.

It will be most beneficial if our blogs somehow relate to what we write about. For a historical romance writer whose books take place in Scotland, this might be a blog about Scottish history or traditions. For a contemporary fiction writer whose books take place in Philadelphia, it might be a blog sharing local tidbits and happening in the Philadelphia area.

Unfortunately, my blog doesn’t relate to my novels. On my blog, I write about writing. However, I hope my zeal shines through and draws a few new readers. Which brings me to the most important factor for our blogs, we should be passionate about the subject matter. If we don’t care about it, our readers won’t either. If we write fervently whatever the topic the readers will find us. Don’t forget to add your tags and categories  to make it easier for them to find you (more on this in a future blog post).

3. Amazon and Goodreads. We should have an author profile on GoodReads and an author page on Amazon. They are worth our while to set-up and will also increase our visibility in search engine results. If we have blogs, linking them to both of these websites will offer additional exposure for very little extra effort. GoodReads is another platform can help us build relationships. It can also be a time suck if we overdo it. I recommend setting a timer to remind yourself to log-out.

4. Reviews. If we offer free advanced review copies of our books in exchange for honest reviews, we can build up some valuable reviews before the release date. This will help in our rankings on Amazon.com. GoodReads has groups where you can find readers willing to review your book in exchange for a free advanced review copy. Search the groups for “ARC” and you will find the groups. We need to be sure to read the rules for each group before posting. Facebook also groups where we can post offers for advanced review copies in exchange for honest reviews. I moderate one such group and if you are a Christian author, you are more than welcome to join us at Christian Readers and Reviewers. Expect that we will only get reviews from about half of the people to whom we send copies, so if we want to release our book with twenty-five reviews, we will need to give away about fifty copies. Sending out a reminder on the release date to early reviewers, so they know that Amazon is ready to receive reviews. GoodReads can receive reviews in advance of release.

We shouldn’t worry about those free books eating into our profits. It is very unlikely that the people who take our books when they are offered for free would have been the same people browsing the Amazon bookstore, finding our books, and hitting the purchase button. On the other hand, offering them that one free book, may just hook them on our writing enough to bring them back to purchase the next book in the series.

5. Release party. This can be online or in-person. A release party is a simple way to generate some hype and get people to talk about that book on release day. We can recruit friends to help. We can ask early reviewers who loved our book if they want to participate and spread the word. Getting the word out is crucial. Once we have built relationships, we can invite all those new friends and acquaintances to join our release party. Then they will know we are selling a book and they may care about our success. We have shown them that we care about them and their successes, so they want to return the favor.

What marketing tip would you add to this list? Please share in the comments.


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