5 Ways to Promote Your Book for Free

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused economic distress for many people. As an independent author, you may be struggling financially.

As an author, you have at least one book to sell to generate a little income. Maybe you are struggling with sales. You don’t want to spend money on advertising and promoting your book because money is tight.

Free Book Promotion Ideas

You have to spend money to make money.” This common phrase may have you in a double-bind. You just don’t have the funds to play with.

Fortunately, there are many ways to promote your book without spending a lot of money. My book Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books is dedicated to helping authors market their books on a small budget.

Following are five no-cost marketing strategies that you can employ right now to help sell more copies of your book.

1. Create a Website

If you do not have an author website, you need one. Readers like to learn more about authors. One method readers use to find out more about an author is through an author’s website. Having an author website sends the message that you are serious about being an author, which raises your esteem in readers’ eyes.

If you do not have a website, you can create one for free. BookLaunch provides any author a free landing page. This landing page is easy to create and provides you with a custom URL.

BookLaunch.io

If, for some reason, you are not able to create a website, then I recommend that—at the very least—you complete your Author Page on Amazon. You can then use this page as your website.

If you are unsure what a complete Author Page on Amazon looks like, check out my (Sarah Bolme) author page on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/author/sarahbolme.

2. Run a Price Special on Your Book

It doesn’t cost you a dime out of your pocket to reduce the price of your book. Consumers love bargains. Offer a summer sale on your book to get people to buy it now.

Scarcity drives people to buy. Think about the recent toilet paper shortage. Stores were short of toilet paper, causing people to buy more than they needed so they would not run out.

Special Offer

You can use this same idea with book sales. Make your special book price or discount time limited or limited to a select number of copies. This helps people choose to buy it now rather than wait until later because they don’t want to miss out on the special price.

3. Get More Book Reviews

Book reviews are marketing gold. As humans we operate with FOMO. FOMO stands for Fear of Missing Out. When people rave about your book, then other readers will be more inclined to buy your book because they don’t want to miss out on the great information or story you provide.

One option for getting more book reviews is to give away a limited number of your books for free in exchange for a review. The saying “You have to give to get” applies here.

Sweeten your request for reviews by offering a select number of free books in exchange for a review. You can ask your friends and followers on social media, as well as the members of the forums and groups you belong to.

4. Write Articles and Guest Blog Posts

Writing articles costs nothing but your time. As an author, you are an expert on the subject matter of your book. This means that you can write and speak with authority on the subject and people will take notice.Christian Writers Market Guide

You can leverage your author authority through writing articles and guest blog posts. Then you can submit these articles and posts to magazines and blogs for publication. When people read your article or post, they are exposed to you and your book, increasing the chances of more sales for your book.

You can find a list of Christian magazines that accept article submissions in the Christian Writers Market Guide. If you want to guest post, you can find a list of over 200 websites and blogs that accept guest posts at https://www.websitehostingrating.com/list-of-200-websites-that-accept-guest-posts.

5. Be Interviewed on Podcasts and Radio Shows

Exposure is key for selling books. After all, people cannot buy something they don’t know exists.

You can leverage your author authority to gain more exposure through radio and podcast interviews.Christian Indie Publishing Association

You can search for podcasts that speak to your subject using a podcast search engine like Listen Notes. Or you can sign up for Membership in Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) for just $75 and have access to a list of over 100 podcast and radio outlets interviewing Christian authors. The list alone is worth more than the $75 Membership fee.

The famous saying “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” applies to your book marketing. You must venture something—whether that is time, money, or effort—to gain book sales.

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Photo courtesy of Chronomarchie.

 

 

Does Your Book Need Refreshing?

Is your book selling as well as you would like? If your book sales have slowed down or are lacking, maybe your book needs refreshing.

Does Your Book Need Refreshing?

Ponder the following four points to determine if you need to engage in updating or refreshing your book to improve sales.

1.  Book Reviews

I am amazed at the number of books that have no reviews on Amazon. Some of these are indie authors that are paying for advertising for their books, yet their books have no reviews on the largest book selling website. Reviews are essential for selling books.

My advice is that before you launch a marketing campaign for your book, get reviews. Give readers a free copy of your book in exchange for a review. You need reviews.

If the average rating of reviews for your book on Amazon or any other bookseller site is less than four stars, this means either your book needs some work or you are not targeting the right audience for your message.

The competition is stiff. Readers have exponentially more choices of books to read than they have time to read. An average rating of less than four stars means your book is just that—average. Your book needs to be more than average to sell well. It needs to be compelling.

2.  Provide a Sample

Buyers like to have some assurance that what they are buying is worth their money. This is why when browsing for books in a physical bookstore or library, readers will not only read the book’s cover, they will open the book and read a section of the interior to decide if they want to invest in the book.

Buyers need this same access to the interior of your book when browsing online. Give your potential buyers the ability to sample your work so they can make an informed decision that leads to a purchase. You can offer the following samples for potential readers:

  • Enable the Amazon Look Inside feature for your book.
  • Offer a link to read the first chapter of your book.
  • Offer a digital prequel, short story, or tip sheet for free to potential readers.

3.  Update Your Cover

First and foremost, your book should be sporting a professional cover image. Your cover should look as good as or better than the top 10 sellers in your category or genre. Your cover needs to be eye-catching to rise above your competition.

Sometimes book sales lag because your book’s cover—your number one marketing tool—does not accurately reflect the contents of your book. Make sure the image on your cover conveys the emotion off your message to the reader. If you are selling a romance story, your cover should speak romance. If you are selling a thriller, your cover should feel suspenseful.

Do a quick review of your book’s cover. Sometimes updating or changing the image can spur sales.

4.  Listen to feedback

In response to feedback around editing, I have had authors say, “This is the message God gave me.” Good editing does not change the message. Instead, it makes your message more relatable and compelling.

Once I told an author who requested my help that her book was too long for her target age group. I suggested that she either condense it or break it into a series of books. Her response was that children needed the whole message so she was going to leave it the way she had it.

Clearly, she was not open to my suggestion. I would rather my children eat part of their meal than none of it. At least by eating part they are getting some nutrition. The same can be true for a message. Pieces eventually add up to the whole.

Listen to the feedback you receive from your readers. Take the strengths from the positive reviews and improve the weaknesses pointed out in the negative reviews. Your book (and you) will be better for it.

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Photo courtesy of Malte Luk.

Don’t Lose Focus

The events in our world and our country in 2020 cannot be ignored. They are affecting all of us.  Yet, I would encourage you to not allow these events to sidetrack you from the message that God has given you.

Don't Lose Focus

I recently read a post by an influencer in the indie publishing world. This individual was advocating that indie authors take a break from marketing their books to spend some time dealing with the pressing issues in our country.

While this advice might be beneficial for secular authors, I don’t think it is good advice for Christian authors.

2 Timothy 2:4 says “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and teaching.” In season and out of season means when it is favorable to do so and when it is not favorable to do so – or when it is convenient to do so and when it is not convenient to do so.

We are in an out of season time. There is pressure all around us to jump on the hot topic of the moment. Don’t get sidetracked.

It is easy to get dragged down by worldly concerns involving conflicts and fears. When this happens, we get distracted from the hope we have in Christ.

Do not lose your focus. As a Christian author, your gaze should remain fixed on spiritual things that offer the hope, security, and peace people need in this trying time.

Whatever your message was before the events happening this year, it is still needed. People’s spiritual needs have not diminished with current events—in fact, these needs are growing since churches have not been open and people have been isolated.

People are still struggling with relationships, parenting, finances, health problems and other issues related to Christian living and spiritual growth. They need the hope you offer in your books. Hope both for this life and the life to come.

So, I encourage you to not veer from the message God has given you. Your message is timely. Your message is needed. God’s word never goes out of season.

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Photo courtesy of Elena Taranenko.

Use Direct Mail for Better Response Rates

The average response rates for an email marketing campaign are about 1%. That means if you send out an email promoting a special on one of your books to 100 people, only one person will act on your email and buy the book—if you are lucky.

So, the question that marketers ask is: How can we increase this response rate?

The answer involves direct mail. Yes, it is more expensive. But it can also be more effective.

According to a study by Millward Brown, physical media generates a deeper brain activity than digital media, leaving a longer lasting memory when compared to email or television.

Studies also show that direct mail has the highest response rate when used in conjunction with digital channels such as email, website, and social media. Check out this infographic on The Power of Direct Mail & Digital.

The Power of Direct Mail & Digital

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Extend the Reach of Your Marketing Videos

Video has become one of the most effective ways to grow an audience. Studies show that 8 in 10 people would rather watch a video than read a blog or social media post.

Video traffic on the Internet keeps growing in popularity. Experts estimate that by 2022, video will make up 82% of all Internet traffic. Since search engines know that people prefer videos, they tend to rank video content higher in search results.

Video Tips

If you are creating videos to market your books, you may want to consider the following two steps to make your video content more accessible for everyone, and thus extend the reach of your video marketing.

1.  Add Captions to Your Video

Adding captions to your video means that the text of your script is synced with the video in real-time. Having your spoken words appear as captions in your video means that your content is available for any audience.

People who want to watch your video in a place where they may not be able to have the volume on can still do so. In fact, 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound. Studies have found that videos with subtitles are 80% more likely to be watched in full.

You can easily add captions to your videos via your video editing software. In addition, you can also add captions to your videos using tools that Google Drive and YouTube video editor provide, or a service like Subly.

2.  Make a Transcript of the Video Content

Not everyone wants to watch videos. A smaller percentage of people still prefer to read when consuming content online. These are often people who are busy and are either great speed readers or like to scan articles for important information.

You can reach these people by providing a transcript of the words in your video on the page the video is published. The full script of the video should be written out from start to finish.

You can either write out your script yourself, or you can use a free service like Happy Scribe or oTrascribe to convert the audio in your video to text.

The Apostle Paul said, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” In a similar fashion, as an author, by adding captions to your videos and including a full-transcript of your videos, you are ensuring that your content is accessible to anyone who may be interested.

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Photo courtesy of CreaPark.