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Book Marketing Ideas for Self-Publishing Authors on a Budget

Updated: Oct 27, 2023

Marketing your books doesn't have to break your budget. With creativity and the right strategies, you can extend your reach, pique your audience's interest, and sell more books.
book marketing ideas on a budget

Book marketing is as classy as you make it. I’m opening with this point for authors who find marketing icky based on the faux pas they’ve witnessed from other authors.

It doesn’t have to be that way for you too.

Promotion is a necessary step in reaching potential readers. It’s how you connect with and convert them into consumers and fans of your work.

But at the same time, there’s no denying the underlying stigma of the salesy pitches. It’s the Sleazy Car Salesman Syndrome many of us fear catching. This article aims to help you find an alternative. One that aligns with you and your brand, plus, most importantly, your readership.

The best marketing strategy for you and your books covers these grounds:

  • What attracts your ideal reader;

  • What you’re comfortable with and can afford (right now);

  • What creates a human connection between you and your readers.

Let’s expand on these three aspects.

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How Do I Market My Book As An Author? (And avoid Sleazy Car Salesman Syndrome )

Understand who you’re trying to reach from thousands of readers.

All writers have their lane. Whether it’s one frequently traveled by authors before them or they carved a new one out of the bedrock of the literary world.

As you did during your writing process, create a character profile of your ideal reader or reader persona. These are the readers who’ll embark on the journey with you.

Defining your ideal audience is a pivotal step in your author brand strategy. You can only appeal to some avid readers—Who are they? Where can you find them?

When you speak into the crowd, you’re talking to your “Waldos.” Once you understand who your Waldos are, developing an effective marketing strategy will be easier. No one strategy fits all. Test out a few and see which reaps the best results.

Your strategy should align with you as well.

You can borrow ideas from fellow authors, but some might not stick. Why? Because it’s not a strategy that naturally aligns with you.

Most authors are, by nature of the trade, introverts. Some of us expend an incredible amount of energy when we interact with others. It’s true in our everyday lives and when we’re mingling with readers. We love our readership and want to interact, but our mental energies can only sometimes keep up with the extroverts.

Marketing is a high-energy task. Applying techniques you are comfortable with that connect with your readers is your sweet spot to remain consistent and make the most of your social energy.

Maintain the human aspect of marketing.

Human-centric marketing isn’t sleazy. You’re reaching out to other humans who share a similar interest, not merely customers you want to purchase your books.

You’ve spent time understanding their wants, needs, perspectives, values, and beliefs and then tailored your book marketing to meet and reflect them.

Humans naturally seek connections and respond more favorably to brands that display empathy, compassion, kindness, and a sense of justice.

Book marketing strategies that hold your readers at the forefront will:

  • Unlock better results as you meet your readers’ needs;

  • Strengthen your relationship with your fanbase because they feel heard and understood;

  • Set your author platform apart as you build and strengthen your authentic author brand.


Book Marketing Ideas for Authors

There is a myriad of book marketing ideas to choose from. Grab a couple and apply your creative spin. Tailor them to your target audience in a way that also facilitates consistent action on your part.

For the book marketing ideas on this list, we’ve broken them into categories. Using a mix of each will help you build a robust marketing strategy while organizing your efforts into three main goals:

  1. Building and increasing your online presence;

  2. Assemble an active fanbase;

  3. Building and growing your author brand and platform.

Ideas to Build/Increase Your Online Presence

Your web presence crosses two major platforms—your website and social media. For an illustration of the importance of each, think of your website as your Avengers Tower, while social media is your Helicarrier.

Everything links back to and gathers on your website as your Author HQ. While at the same time, your social media disperses your messaging to where it needs to go (i.e., your audience).

Create an Author Website

  • Add a media kit page to your website with all the relevant information about you and your books for easy access to readers, collaborators, and publicity partners. Provide links to your content library where readers can learn more about your books and where they can buy them. Check out this blog to learn how to create an effective author media kit.

  • Add a reader testimonial page for social proof. Let your readers sing your praises with book reviews, as word of mouth dramatically influences your marketing efforts.

  • Set up SEO on your website. Some website providers like Wix offer a step-by-step walkthrough for setting up your site’s overall SEO. Following each step to maximize your online is a valuable investment of your time.

  • Add a blog to your author website. Use it for press releases to keep readers updated on current events like your book signing and new releases. Or for previews of your WIPs. You can also cater to other writers with writing advice and peeks behind the scenes.

  • Use keywords throughout your website and blog posts with tools like Google Trends and Google AdWords’ Keyword tool.

Create an Author Facebook Page

  • Ask your fans to follow your official author page and leave their reviews. Open discussion threads where readers can gush over your books and link to their friends as recommendations.

Create an Amazon Author Page

  • Register as an author on Amazon and fill in all the relevant information to make it easier for readers to find you. Be bold about asking your readers to leave reviews on your page, boosting your visibility.

  • Create KDP A+ Content and enhance your book listing with captivating visuals that tell potential readers more about your book and give them more reasons to buy it.

Create a Goodreads Page

  • Register as an author on Goodreads and upload your books with catchy blurbs. Like your Amazon page, ask your readers to leave their honest reviews.

Cross-Platform Promotions

  • Reach out to book bloggers/booktubers and offer advanced reader copies in return for an honest review. This might be anxiety-inducing because you don’t know what they’ll say, but cross-platform promotions increase your reach.

  • Approach other authors and swap audience access with guest posts, podcast author interviews, or social media page takeovers. Promote their books while they promote yours on your respective platforms. Collaborations work on reciprocity.

Create a Street Team

  • Create a book launch team of volunteers to spread the word about your upcoming release. Create a suite of on-brand graphics and upload them to a password-protected page on your website or cloud service, where those who signed up can download them to share on their social platforms.

Social Pro Tip:

  1. Clean up your social media presence before diving into your online marketing.

  2. Decide on two sites you want to focus on and audit your previous posts.

  3. Delete or archive the ones that aren’t relevant from your social media profiles.

You may also have to change your social media handles. This will disconnect you from any posts you’re currently linked to, but a relevant username makes your branding cohesive.

Design Pro Tip

Consistency builds brand awareness. Create cohesive marketing graphics for your books and stress to your collaborators and street team that these are the ones they need to use. Grant them easy access to a suite of graphics they can choose from formatted for various platforms.

Premade graphics eliminate the hassle of figuring out what image to use while maintaining control over your brand and building brand recognition. The more professional the designs, the more likely they will use them.

Ideas to Assemble a Loyal Fanbase

Readers want access to you as much as you want access to them. Set your boundaries, but remain accessible.

Make it so they can ask questions and gain insight into their burning questions about the stories they love while gathering feedback on what they want more of and how you can improve their reader experiences.

Create Reader Chats/Forums

  • Create a Q&A event where readers can speak with you directly. This could be over Twitter (using an event-specific hashtag), on your author Facebook page, or any other social platform where your readers gather. How often you host these chats is up to you, but a semi-regular timetable (every week or bi-weekly) has the best effect.

  • Create a Discord group where readers gather and talk to you and others about your books. Discord groups make chatting and sharing bonus content more straightforward, and you can create different channels for various book topics.

Create Reader Activities

  • Create reader activities to boost engagement and build fun and buzz around your brand and books. Encourage fan art and fan-made book trailers, create quizzes based on your books, etc.

Use Custom Hashtags

  • Include custom hashtags for book-related news. A lot of things get lost in the socialverse. Custom hashtags create a digital archive of all the posts linked to you, your books, and events.

Create Book Extras, Special Incentives, and Exclusive Content

  • Create extra content for your popular books. Readers want to live in their favorite fictional worlds and avoid book hangovers for as long as possible. Tap into this by creating content that helps them relive their favorite moments and hang out with the characters they love.

  • Include reader magnets in the front or back matter of your book. Reader magnets are fantastic ways to introduce readers to your other works, add an extra perk to their purchases, and boost your email marketing.

  • Start a character-POV blog and social media posts (maybe even an entire page). Commission or create illustrations, merchandise, short side stories, etc.

  • Create a Patreon or Ream page to monetize extra features. If you already have a fan base, funneling them into a Patreon page is less complicated. Starting from scratch with zero active readers as a first-time author is tedious, so this option is a tier above a beginner’s level.

  • Create a Substack account and monetize your exclusive content in newsletter format. Extra content could be short stories from the worlds you’ve already created. May it be side stories, scenes you wrote but dropped from the books, etc.

  • Host book giveaways for special occasions like your release anniversary. Include signed customized bookplates and other mementos readers would appreciate. Host joint giveaways with your author friends. Again, this widens your reach to a larger audience.

Create a Newsletter

  • Create a newsletter for email subscribers and stay in touch with your fanbase. Include a sign-up form on your website and link it on social media. Email addresses are more secure than your social media platforms as algorithms change, sometimes disconnecting you from your audience.

Fanbase Pro Tip

A fanbase is a community of people with mutual interests. This interest isn’t limited to your books. Tap into other sources like:

  • Other books you can use for a book club;

  • Favorite television series, movies, and animes;

  • Similar hobbies like book merch collections.

Run a poll and ask your readers what they want more of and what outside interests you share that they’d like to discuss.

  • If you set up a Discord server, assign separate channels to facilitate specific discussions.

  • If you write romance, build a following around your readers’ favorite couples with their designated hashtags.

Active engagement is paramount for the success of building a fanbase. If social interactions drain you, keep your venture small; consistency is critical in your book marketing efforts.

book marketing ideas

Ideas to Build Your Author Brand + Platform

Building your brand as a self-published author is an ongoing process. Everything you do, say, or write funnels into this. It’s a connected network you need to tend with intention always.

Create a Recognizable Brand

  • Develop a strategic author brand that connects with your ideal readership. A purposeful, well-crafted brand equals an effective marketing strategy. Once readers recognize your brand, promoting and advertising will be less hassle, as you’ll immediately stand out from your competitors.

Prioritize Quality and Aesthetics

  • Provide readers with quality content, as this fuels their reader experience. If your books are often riddled with typos, word will spread. Your brand image reflects your book content, cover design, website, and overall aesthetics.

Brand Expansion

  • Expand your brand as you grow. Your readers are your first audience, but what about other authors? How much have you learned over your career? Can you turn your knowledge into an ebook, course, or, better yet, both?

Branding Pro Tip

Audit your author brand and see where it’s lagging and requires improvement or what you can add. You may have changed your genre focus but haven’t adjusted your target audience profile. Knowing who you’re speaking to reduces the guesswork about what you need to say and how.

It also streamlines your options for book promotions.

book marketing ideas

Closing Note

While creating your book marketing plan, remember that marketing is about building relationships.

The relationship you build with your target audience is your brand’s flagship and the measure of your overall success. Your author platform can only thrive with meaningful connections.

Choose the mix of marketing tools that fits your audience, personality, and marketing goals.

↬ If you found this blog helpful and insightful, consider sharing it with other authors who might benefit from practical tips and guidance on building a thriving author career with branding and marketing strategies that create an immersive experience for your readership.

​Unlock the power of professional visuals for your author brand! Let Writerly Owl Designs bring your vision to life, elevate your online presence, and captivate readers with stunning visuals. Get started today and focus on what you do best—writing!



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