In today’s world, book marketing is a pay-to-play system. If you are trying to sell books, you’re going to pay for advertising. There is no other way around it. BUT, whether you have books to sell or are just starting out, there is some publicity you can still do for free that will help you grow your following. That following can help you sell books when the time comes.
Instagram is the hottest and fastest growing social media site in the United States. (Fun Fact: it’s also the fastest growing in Japan). Because of that, you can easily build a good sized following and do some book marketing on the site with little effort.
- Post a picture every day – a slightly artsy one is better than a regular one. Post up to three for a carousel affect but only do this once or twice a week. Instagram videos are on the rise but photos still get more than 60% engagement on the platform.
- Post a video at least once a week – make these short! 30 seconds or less and the first 10 seconds better be awesome or you’ll lose the viewer.
- Use filters. This is why Instagram is fun. It will show you know what you’re doing.
- Use hashtags. A lot of them. Instagram lets you use up to 30, but put them in the first comment, not the caption. Make sure they are relevant and not ones you’re making up on the spot. Use what others are using.
- Follow the type of person you want following you
Whatever you may believe about email, the fact of the matter is that you will receive more click-through rates on your email than any other platform, even those you pay for. The information will be in front of more people than any other platform because 75% of emails actually get delivered to inboxes; as opposed to 20% on social media (and that’s the high end)
- Create a compelling email landing page to entice readers to follow you. Here’s ours.
- Look at similar authors in your genre for ideas for your landing page
- Offer something for free. If it’s a full book, that’s the best freebie around. But you can also offer free additional chapters, character interviews, alternate endings, Q&A with you about the book or your writing process
- Build this list using all your social media outlets
Build this for free on any number of sites on the internet. Posting blogs or articles with really good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) will increase the probability of being picked up with search engines.
- Use a free site like Wix, Weebly, WordPress or Squarespace
- Use Yoast SEO on WordPress or something similar on other sites to make SEO easy
- Include Author information – head shots, bio, events
- The only way a website works for you for free is with content. If you have videos, audio, photos or blogs, use them. Make sure each of those posts are maximized for SEO by using keywords or phrases people you are targeting will already be looking for.
Video is king on the internet. If you can create a video series and post it to YouTube, Instagram or your website, you’ll maximize your free publicity online. As a writer, video for book marketing is a no-brainer. You could do a series about your books where you read a bit of it every day or you interview your characters or you talk about the plot or themes or your writing style. Remember this is about readers (not other writers). What will they want to know about your book? Create a series for it.
- Post to YouTube for max exposure. YouTube is always competing with Google and Facebook for the top website. Exploit that.
- Make them short. Average video is 4 minutes 24 seconds. Make yours 2-3 minutes and you’re golden
- Use a good microphone. This is key and not that expensive.
While none of the above will make you a millionaire or help you sell thousands of books, it will help you build a following. A good following will help you spread the word about your books. I don’t want to make it sound like you can make a living writing without having a marketing budget, because in this day and age, you can’t. It’s that simple. But if you’re just starting out or want to maintain a community online, you can get started for free. Build the community, the following, so when you do have something to sell, they are ready to buy.