5 Free Tools Every Author Can Use

Limited budgets. Most of us live on them. We have limited dollars to spend on publishing and marketing a book.

The good news is that publishing a book is now very affordable, and promoting a book does not need to cost you a fortune. Here are five free tools to help you be a more successful author without having to spend a dime.

1. Get a Free Website

Every author needs a website. I am still surprised at how many independently published authors don’t have a website. In today’s world, you don’t exist if you don’t have a website. A website is one of your most important marketing tools. If you don’t have a website, you can create one easily and for free at Carrd. Now you don’t have any excuses. Go get a website.

2. Create Free Visuals

Every author needs to engage in marketing—promoting your book. One of the easiest and cheapest ways to do this is on the Internet through your own website and through social media sites (think Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.). To grab people’s attention, you want to create interesting visuals for your website and social media posts. One website that lets you create all sort of visuals for free including blog graphics, social media pictures, infographics, and web banners is Canva.

3. Host a Free eBook Giveaway

Any author with a book on Amazon Kindle can host a free ebook giveaway through Amazon. However, doing so only gets your ebook into the hands of readers. It does not allow you to capture emails of interested readers so that you can continue to communicate with them. Instead, host your ebook giveaway right from your website using Instafreebie.

4. Track Your Business Income and Expenses

When you publish your own book, you can now call yourself a sole-proprietor and begin using this to your advantage come tax time. If you choose this route, you will need to carefully track your business income and expenses. You can do this easily using the free online program provided by Wave.

5. Never Forget a Password

If you are using the Internet to publish and promote a book, then the number of websites where you have to remember a password increases. These include the sites where your book is published, the sites where your book is sold, your own website and social media accounts, as well as the resources listed here. Now you can use this free resource to never lose a password. Generate strong passwords and store your login credentials, securely, and locally at LastPass.

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Photo courtesy of LUM3N on Unsplash.

Age-Old Marketing Wisdom for Authors

Wise King Solomon said that there is nothing new under the sun. His advice is still relevant today, and so are these eight common English proverbs. Let each one give you wisdom for your book marketing journey.

1.  A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Anything that takes a long time to finish begins with one step. Marketing a book can be overwhelming. The number of tasks can be daunting. Instead of looking at the whole picture, look at one step at a time. Ask yourself: What is my next step? When that one is done, then ask again and repeat the process.

2.  A picture is worth a thousand words.

An image not only tells a story, it draws people in. This is especially true on the Internet with social media. Use images to convey your marketing messages. Studies show that people engage more with social media posts that contain images. In fact one study showed that social media posts with pictures are 40 times more likely to be shared than those posts that don’t feature a picture.

3.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

What is “beautiful” is different for each person. That means that not everyone will like your book. Not everyone will find your story beautiful. Don’t take it personally. Know that your book is not meant for everyone and seek the people who will find the beauty in your book.

4.  Better late than never.

Promoting your book should start about a year before you publish it. If you failed to promote your book before you brought it to fruition, take heart. It is better to start marketing your book late than to never market it at all. If you have stopped marketing, it’s not too late to pick it back up again and remind people that your book exists and meets a need for them.

5.  Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

In marketing, it is a little of this and a little of that makes the most impact. No one marketing channel or task will ensure your book sells well. Don’t just use social media. Don’t just advertise online. You have numerous options for promoting your book. Use as many as you can.

6.  Fortune favors the bold.

Those who are willing to take risks tend to be more successful than those who play it safe. Take some risks with your marketing endeavors. Some will fail, but some will pay off.

7.  Honesty is the best policy.

It is always better to tell the truth than a lie. Make sure that your marketing messages are truthful and that you can fulfill your promise to your reader.

8.  There is no time like the present.

Don’t procrastinate. Don’t wait. Do it now. Yes, it may be uncomfortable. But, if you don’t try, you can’t succeed. Start doing whatever marketing tasks you have been putting off today. Write that press release. Email that influencer. Call that radio producer. Schedule that book signing.

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Photo courtesy of Picography.co.

How to Gain More Readers for Your Books

All authors face the one same challenge: Finding readers for their books.

All sorts of gimmicks exist to lure customers to purchase products. Advertising experts even study which words and phrases work best for grabbing people’s attention. Tested Selling Institute and Word Laboratory Inc. looked at words and phrases salespeople could use to get customers to buy. They discovered a few magic words that tend to grab attention include:

  • New
  • Advice
  • At last
  • Truth
  • Love
  • Facts you should know

Advertising legend Robert Collier believed that writing advertising text was like a science. He used the studies done by Tested Selling Institute and Word Laboratory Inc. and applied their findings to printed advertising. Collier’s own research revealed that the word “how” in an advertising headline appeared to be the most useful word in improving the success of an advertising piece.

Each of these words reveals that people are searching for answers. People want practical solutions to their problems. They want to improve their lives.

I frequently say that marketing is simply letting people know that you have the answer to a need in their life. If you publish books, your book meets a need in someone’s life.

We all know that advertising is expensive and often does not have a very high return, especially for books. After all, people need to see and hear about a product multiple times before they decide to make a purchase (with the exception of impulse buys). So, what other marketing techniques can authors use to grab readers’ attention?

Enter content marketing. Content marketing is about sharing information that educates, inspires, and entertains readers. Content marketing allows an author to develop trust with an audience so that these people buy the author’s books.

If you are interested in learning more about content marketing and how you can use this powerful tool to grow the audience for your books, I encourage you to watch my new on-demand seminar Grow Your Audience with Content Marketing. This 40-minute seminar will walk you through six practical steps for sharing content on a regular basis to grow your audience.

As always, these on-demand seminars are free for Members of Christian Small Publishers Association. Other publishers and authors can access this seminar, Grow Your Audience with Content Marketing, for just $15 online at https://mcbuniversity.selz.com.

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Creative Marketing with Bookmarks

Effectively promoting a book takes dedication and effort—and not just a little effort, a lot of effort.

There are more books available today than at any other time in history. Some estimate that Amazon has over 11 million titles available for purchase on its site with a new book added every five minutes. With so many books competing for readers’ attention, creative efforts are necessary to grab that attention.

I am always on the lookout for creative marketing ideas. I like to pass these ideas on to authors, so that you can either copy the idea or use it to get your own creative juices flowing for out-of-the-box marketing ideas for your own books. I frequently highlight innovative ideas that I come across on this blog and a number are listed in my book Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace.

Recently, I ran across an author who suggested that since bookmarks are cheap to produce (you can purchase a thousand bookmarks for under $100), that authors should make use of them in their book promotion activities. This author said that he had printed a number of bookmarks with the image of his book and a little information about it, along with the URL of his book’s website. He then offered a stack of these bookmarks to his local public library.

This author figured that since public libraries have tight budgets, they can’t afford to purchase trinkets to give to patrons. So, offering his bookmarks as a freebie that his local library could give to their patrons was a win-win proposition.

This sounds like a good idea. Since many people still read print books, bookmarks are a great handout. However, many public libraries might be reluctant to accept a bookmark for a book that promotes Christianity and/or is not available for checkout in their library system. So, where else might Christian authors use bookmarks to promote their books?
Here are four ideas I came up with.

  1. Offer your bookmarks to your local church’s library or bookstore to give to patrons.
  2. If you have a book for children or young adults, offer your bookmarks to local Christian schools to give to the students in whatever grades your book is geared to.
  3. If you have a book geared for seniors, offer your bookmarks to your local senior center to give to seniors who frequent the center.
  4. Put a stack of your bookmarks in your local Little Free Library for your neighbors to use.

If you have more ideas on how Christian authors can use bookmarks to promote a book, please share them.

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