Book Marketing: How to Get Recognition on a Budget

(Guerilla) Marketing Your In-print Book

Following are a few of the things I’ve implemented to market some of my own books, which have received top ratings on Amazon and hundreds of “Likes” on my official author page on Facebook.

All it will cost you is some time, some gas, a lot of creativity and perseverance, and less than $200:

$40 – for 1500 business cards on Vistaprint

$75 – for 20 copies of your book (if less than 300 pages) on CreateSpace

$1 – for a roll of tape at the dollar store

$30 – for an ad on Facebook

$50 for postage (to mail 10 copies of a book to 10 different people)

If on a limited budget, get the copies of your book for $75 and 1 box of business cards for $10. Almost anyone can lend you tape, and you can hand-deliver copies of your book instead of mailing them.

Your strategy:

+ Create an intriguing ad on Facebook and set your advertising budget to $1 per day. ($30 per month)

+ Mail copies of your book to tv / radio personalities, bookstore owners – and include a handwritten note asking them to read the book or pass it along to someone who may be interested. Make sure your handwriting is clear. ($5-8 per book print, plus $5 postage if you mail it priority)

+ Post a link to your Facebook page or website on a relevant Facebook page – for example, if your book is about a child with Down’s Syndrome, post a link to your book on Down’s Syndrome Association, Downs Side Up, and Down’s Syndrome Scotland page. Most page owners are OK with you doing this as long as the topic or book is relevant. FREE!

+ Get articles or stories published in a magazine like Harper’s, Tropics, Apex Magazine, etc. This usually pays you $0.50 to $1.00 per word, and it gets your name out there. FREE (can actually pay for the rest of your marketing efforts!)

+ Subscribe to a writer’s magazine like Writer’s Digest. You can also read copies for free at your local public library. ($15 per year or FREE)

+ Social Media: create a profile on the following, and maintain them regularly (schedule at least one day a month – it should take you just a couple of hours to maintain all of them! Fill in your username, password, and a link to your profile in one place, such as this file.

(Facebook pages should be created for your main characters, your books, and an author page for yourself)

Facebook:

Twitter:

Google+:

Pinterest:

GoodReads:

LinkedIn:

Yatedo:

Tumblr:

Picasa:

Instagram:

AIM:

MailChimp:

AlterEgo:

Blogger:

Plaxo:

Snapchat:

Your Website:

Amazon Author Page:

Smashwords:

(ALL FREE!)

+ Ask local bookstores if you can do an appearance or signings. Most small bookstores welcome this, and it benefits them as well. I recommend you offer the owner a flat fee or a commission for each book you sell. (FREE – can even pay for your other marketing efforts!)

+ Most public libraries will host local author appearances and readings, usually with themes such as “Women’s fiction”, “Black History / Literature”, “Hispanic Heritage”, “Mystery Month”, etc. contact them and see if they’ll feature you at one of those events. (FREE!)

+ Networking – attend parties, events. Dress to impress! A good place to start is ProfessionalNetworkingGroup.com, which hosts a networking event for local professionals every two weeks. Here you can make connections that can help you land work as a freelance copywriter, ghostwriter, gets your name out there, and may help you promote a book. Plus, they’re fun! (and FREE!)

+ Book Fairs – take advantage of your local market. Most cities and towns will host a book fair, and it’s usually not too expensive to get a booth. Or, you can buy a ticket to get into the book fair and give away business cards or copies of your book(s). (Cost will vary). An alternate FREE option is to volunteer for the event. Check the event website.

+ Reading clubs – These actually exist, and if you are an author people will buy copies of your book, read it, and sit around and discuss it over tea. Be sure to offer your books for a decent discount to the members of the club. You can find book clubs on Meetup or Booksprouts. PaperbackSwap is like Netflix for books, and you can lend out copies of your printed book in exchange for someone else’s. I recommend including a handwritten request on the inside cover for the borrower to rate your book on Amazon and Goodreads if they enjoyed it. (Free – can actually pay for your time!)

+ Writers clubs – such as those on Meetup (Free!)

+ Chatrooms – although dying out and becoming more focused on adult entertainment, regular chat rooms are still a great way to connect with readers. (FREE!)

+ Book Websites – such as Shelfari, Goodreads, Whichbook, Librarything, Gnooks, TheStaffRecommends, GetGlue, Blippr, 22Books. (FREE!)

+ Donate copies of your book to libraries and universities, or school libraries if a children’s book. Again, handwrite a note on the inside cover asking for the reader to rate your book and pass it along if they enjoyed it. ($5-8 per book print)

+ Post business cards (with tape if needed – but don’t damage property!) EVERYWHERE a lot of people can see them: bus stops, tables at Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, mailboxes at apartment buildings, the checkout lanes at Target and Walmart, INSIDE SIMILAR BOOKS AT THE LOCAL LIBRARIES, on the shelves of your genre section at a large bookstore like Barnes and Noble (ask management if this is OK with them first), bulletin boards, grocery stores (usually have a bulletin board), doctor’s office waiting rooms (here you can leave copies of your book as well), movie theaters that feature a film in the same genre as your book(s). Get creative – but stick to places large numbers of people can see them, and display them prominently. ($10 for 250 cards, less expensive if you buy more)

Note: I tried leaving business cards door-to-door in my neighborhood, used 380 cards, and only got 1 new “Like” on my Facebook. The other way above works better. Also, If using this strategy be sure to avoid places in which the books are on timed consignment. That is, the books they have are on the shelves for 3 months or so and then unsold copies are sent back to the publisher. These places include Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, KMart, Target, etc. If you choose to do it anyway, make sure you only place your card in 1 copy of each title.

+ Make sure your cover looks good as a small icon. Remember that your book may appear on a list with several other books – and if your picture is a jumbled mess, nobody will click to learn more.

+ Similarly, make sure your business card catches people’s attention. Plain cards tend to get filed or thrown out without a second look. Use an eye-catching picture on it (not necessarily of you) and consider printing something unique on the reverse side (an excerpt of a story, pictures, motivational words, etc.) – things that will entice people to keep the card on their desk at work or fridge at home.($10 for 500 cards)

+ Monitor your online presence by opening an account on Yatedo. This website monitors search engines and is able to maximize searches by moving sites that are not relevant to you lower on the search results list. It also helps you monitor any negative websites that could affect your online reputation. (FREE)

+ Sign up for Google Alerts (http://www.Google.com/alerts). This will send you an email whenever a new website or result pops up on Google, and will help you monitor websites that may be illegally selling your book (Thailand, China, and India are notorious destinations for this kind of thing). It also helps you to find if anyone has posted a review or anything about you online that is searchable immediately. (FREE)

+ Get reviewed. There are numerous ways to do this – you can pay $400-550 at Kirkus Indie – but remember that they can review you negatively and will not issue a refund. Another, less expensive, option is Publishers Weekly’s PW Select, which costs $150. However, despite paying them, you may not get reviewed. What you pay for with them is consideration for review, not a review itself. ($150-550)

+ Consider doing a book trailer. Many writers are doing this (James Patterson, Dan Brown), and it gives you the opportunity to tap into YouTube’s millions of users. Make sure you tag your video with commonly searchable terms (Coming Soon), plus some very specific terms (murder with knife). Do a search on YouTube to get an idea of what these look like. (FREE – 1000’s of dollars)

+ Do a Press release and send it to local newspapers. This is quick, easy, and FREE. Many newspapers (and don’t forget the small-print ones, like your local municipality’s newsletter or paper). Newspapers need to fill pages, and sometimes news are just not there on a given day. Press releases are used to fill this space – but be sure you follow the proper format or they won’t even consider it. (FREE)

+ Create an Amazon Author Page (author central). This adds credibility to your work and you as an author, in addition to getting you on search engine results. EVERYONE should do this, even if not published yet! (FREE)

+ Create a Wikipedia article for yourself and/or your publishing company. This will take you some time to master, because you will need to cite sources before getting it approved and posted, but it will help get you in search engines and more. It also adds credibility to you as an author, since not many independent authors are on there. Again, don’t submit a bio you would put up on an Amazon Author Page. SPEND TIME ON IT. (FREE)

+ Giveaways. These are powerful marketing tools. Make sure that the item you are giving away clearly identifies you and your product (book). One great and inexpensive option is stickers. I created stickers shaped like my latest book (cover) which has the title of my book and my name as the author. I purchased sheets of 24 on Vistaprint (if you place an order for business cards, they will offer these to you at a great discount – but order only 1 sheet – you’ll see why later). Once you complete your checkout process, Vistaprint will take you to their limited time offers page, with a clock that starts counting down from 10 minutes. When it reaches 0, the offers will no longer be available. This is where you will purchase more sheets of stickers at a fraction of the discounted price. For me, the first sheet cost me $5. After checkout, each sheet cost me $1.50. You can cut these up into individuals and ask the manager at ANY store (preferably a book store, though) if they would mind giving one away to each customer in their bag or whatever, and you can do this with branded pens, pencils, or whatever. Most managers will do it, because it looks like they’re the ones giving the customer the gift. ($1.50 -?)

Remember that when you are a writer, you belong to the class of “creative types”. So, when it comes to marketing yourself or your work, why use that creativity? There are many options to get the word out about you or your work, and many of them are free. Now go out there and get famous!